Sunday, October 27, 2013

Japan Mission Trip: Week 2

Day 1

It was now Monday October 7th, 2013. This day everyone was busy, so it was the first time that I had some down time to go explore Hiragashikarumi alone as well as rest. I was able to reflect on what happened during the week before leaving that evening to go to my second week's events in Sendai, Japan.

 random sign


I do not recall the exact time, but I left in the evening to take the trains alone to Sendai after I had sushi for lunch with Pastor E. The previous night Nobu san had printed out some instructions for how to get to the bullet train. Mrs. A's father gave me a ride to the station where I would begin my next journey. The key to this part of the trip was TRUST because I did not know much Japanese. (I can read hiragana and katakana, but do not understand what they translate to! lol!) So, I went through the first station and followed the map and times closely from place to place. At the third stop I had only eight minutes to get from one side of the station to the other. Only one problem: the Sushi that I ate for lunch was coming up and I had to use the restroom very badly. I only had 4 minutes left and had to decide fast, so I quickly ran into the bathroom. Believe me I was praying the whole time! I quickly got out and ran up the stairs and made it through the doors literally when the train was leaving. That was intense. Next I landed in the main train station where I had to buy the bullet train ticket. I asked the Japanese lady in broken Japanese about buying a ticket to Sendai. She did not speak any English, but just patiently pointed and smiled at the buttons on the screen. I believe that it was a miracle that we got the correct bullet train ticket. After getting the ticket I went through the gate only to find about 20 different signs. I asked a worker which way to go for my ticket in broken Japanese. He smiled at me and pointed me in the wrong direction. I knew it was wrong so I kept on asking him, and finally asked another guy. After that and some prayer I went up the stairs to the correct spot and got to the train with a few minutes to spare. At this time I was pretty thirsty so I decided to get something from the vending machine. Turns out I ordered some HOT tea. lol! nice! After I got on the bullet train the rest of the trip went fairly well.

 Fukushima


 bullet train

After a nice ride on the bullet train I arrived in Sendai. Sendai had a huge train station from what I recall. After finding my way around I boarded the train to Geba station. Once I got downstairs to board the train I noticed that there was no English anywhere to be found. Upon getting on the train I noticed that there was no English either! I basically had to Trust God that I was on the right train. Fortunately when I arrived at the last station I saw that it was Geba and got off. I then waited for about ten minutes and met with Hope Miyagi missionary Robert who took me to Hope Miyagi. There I met my new mission team from 'Woodstock Church near Atlanta Georgia' (SBC), and immediately got to work making bracelets for the presentation the next day. I did not know what to expect from total strangers, but decided to jump right in and get to know everyone and cooperate from day one. Fortunately, we all got along great.


Day 2

This day we awoke quite early to do some training with Hope Miyagi at 8:00am and to get an idea of what was going to happen during the week. The original intent of this ministry was to be an active arm of Shiogama Bible Baptist church in Sendai after the Tsunami occurred in 2011. Now this ministry takes in volunteers for all around the world to go in areas around Sendai, Japan to do ministry to people devastated by the Tsunami. Our job essentially was to come alongside the full time missionaries to assist them with their work to help build long term relationships with people.

 team meeting

 SBBC

Our first project was at 1:30pm. We were to meet at the location of a group of elderly people who were living in temporary housing due to losing their homes to the Tsunami. We were essentially there to tell them demonstrate the 'love of Christ', tell them about the USA, and do a craft with them to make a bracelet. This was our first action as a team, so we started off a little slow in meeting with the people. By the time the craft was finished I was able to get permission to speak to the group as a whole about our true purpose for being there, and to direct them to the SBBC ministry. I could sense the presence of the Holy Spirit there, which was followed by an open period where we could give the people some hugs. Some of the old ladies really enjoyed hugging! lol!



I was also able to talk to a high school student that was there to help translate. He spoke English quite well, went to a Christian High School, and had dreams of being a singer someday. (Pictured on the left below.) He admittedly was not a Christian. We spoke for about 15 minutes about Christianity and life. He had a lot to say. My prayers go out to him for his future. Pray for him.


We then went to a park near a large housing complex to play various sports with local children. Children really do have limitless amounts of energy! The trick was keeping them busy! lol. Before the night was over, a member of our team named Wes was able to give a small gospel presentation to about 6 children. They had never heard anything like that before and did not know what to think. They were directed to the SBBC ministry.

We then went back home, ate dinner, and ended the night with a devotional.

Day 3

This day we would again get up early in the morning and drive to Oginohama fishing village about two hours north of Sendai. This village was an Oyster farming village that was destroyed by the Tsunami. Only two buildings remained out of about fifty. The damage was essentially cleared, but we went to help out the local people who had remained. We spent the first half of the time clearing out a small park area.

 on way up

 Oginohama

 park cleared

Next a man came in a car and asked Chas (another team member who could speak Japanese) and I to help him with some projects. We essentially helped him move all of his fishing nets, clear out his backyard, and then helped him move some ropes from one shed to the next. He was highly thankful and brought us into his house (1 of 2 houses left in the area) to cook some oysters, give us something to drink, and to talk. We told him why we were there, and thanks to Chas I was able to share my testimony with him when he asked why/how I became a Christian. We were able to talk to him about Christianity for a good 20-30 minutes. He stated that he had never met a foreigner in Japan let alone a Christian until after the Tsunami. (He was over 50 years old!) Pray for him as well.

x

After this we went back to the main village area for lunch, and to talk to Hope Miyagi's contact person for the village. We were able to hear his about his life. He was so grateful that he gave us some Oysters and clams to take back home. And of course Tomo (team member) the real Japanese, ate an Oyster raw! He also brought us into his house (the other remaining house) to show us pictures of the devastation of the Tsunami to the area.


 go Tomo!


We then drove back home. On the way back we stopped to see a small ministry that had apparently taken broken pottery from the Tsunami and turned it into jewelry.


We then arrived back home, ate dinner, prepared the crafts for the next day, and did a devotional before going to bed.


Day 4

This day we were able to sleep some followed by two events meeting with elderly people who were living in temporary housing units because they had lost their home in the Tsunami. We again spoke about America and did crafts. We were told just to love on these people, but not to speak about Christ. The first house had a few people, so I sat to the side and listened mostly. This day would mostly consist of me keeping my mouth shut, listening, and playing a secondary role. I do remember an old lady with a sweet spirit who had been a Kimono designer. She was very old, and slowly walked into the building and quietly sat down on her feet on a chair. Wes was able to talk to her. Afterward I remember her quietly walking out to the garden and paying respects to something.


 sweet old lady

We then ate lunch and went to the second temporary housing unit. We again met with some elderly people who had lost their home, spoke about America, and then did a craft. The team was able to connect with these people quite well. I spoke with the director of this home briefly in broken Japanese. I do not think we were able to speak about Christianity here either. I do recall a man named George who really liked American visitors. He made some kind of Shinto prayer charm for the members of the team. I had to politely refuse it. He also had a Buddist prayer necklace, to which he described the meaning in detail. He was apparently a religious man in the sense of the world. Please pray for him as well.



 George on Right

After the housing unit we went back home to SBBC to do a craft with the church children and to help assist with an English class. 


That night I attended the SBBC prayer group, where a second time the passage Matthew 10:35-39 came up to me. (The first being during David Platt's sermon the last week.) This particular time it was intense for me to hear this, and I believe that God was definitely speaking to me. After the prayer, I spoke with the team again, and went to bed.




Day 5

This day would be much more encouraging than the last. Again we would get up early and travel to the other side of Sendai about forty minutes away to meet with a group of displaced elderly people in a live-in hospital like setting. This time we would be meeting with the pastor of a local church plant. Also on this day we would be encouraged to speak about Christ and Christianity which was nice. We arrived, met the people, did some crafts, and sang some hymns before leaving.



We then went to the second location, which was by far the largest with about 25 people total. Again it was a temporary housing unit for elderly people who had lost their home during the Tsunami. We again spoke about America, Christianity, and did some crafts. I remember being able to sit at a table of older women and speak broken Japanese to them. It was a good experience as I did catch a few of their words, and they could understand me.



Next we went out with the pastor of the church plant to see his story of what happened during the Tsunami. This was a moving part of the trip as he showed us the school where he stayed at during the Tsunami, the events of the Tsunami before and after, traumatic experiences, and his ideas for the future. In the picture below you can see just how high the Tsunami got. It was apparently during the winter, so they had to huddle together on top of the roof to stay alive until help could arrive. You will also see a picture of where the pastor's house used to be, and where he plans to rebuild the church. We were able to visit the spot where he plans to rebuild to pray over it. This man said that he was depressed after losing everything to the Tsunami, but that he was encouraged because many Christians from around the world came and helped to encourage him and to clear the debris to rebuild. He was so encouraged by that, that he gained his hope back and decided to rebuild his house and church plant. His faith is greatly increased.

 new church plant site

 school

 watermark on chalkboard was the max height

 area where house used to be



( Also if you would like to find out about how you can help this man rebuild his church please feel free to email me at MTwitness@gmail.com. ) This is where some of your mission money for this trip went. After the day was over we headed back home.

Day 6

This day we had about a half day to do beach ministry with a local missionary out of SBBC named Garett. He was from LA and had lived in Japan for 6 months. His Japanese was excellent for such a short period of time. We got up in the morning and prayed, then went to a beach near Sendai for the ministry. Garett liked to surf, so he established a ministry for surfers. Basically after people surf, Garett is ready to meet them when they come out of the water with some free coffee and snacks. It is there that he tries to establish relationships with the people which hopefully leads to witnessing opportunities. So we arrived at the beach early and started to clean up the garbage. Later on we were able to talk to some people. I met a college student who spoke some English and was eventually able to befriend him on Facebook. He was interested in America. His friend was out surfing for the first time and could speak English quite well.



The rest of the day the team went to watch a baseball game and shopping as it was their last day in Japan before leaving early the next morning. I decided to stay behind and bike around Sendai as well as check out local things. At about 800pm everyone came back and started the cleanup process so that they could leave the next day early in the morning.

Day 7

This day the team got up early and left for the airport. I stayed behind and attended the morning worship service at SBBC.



I was then given a ride by a Japanese man who helped to buy my ticket all the way back to my original station in Tokyo. I did not get to get his contact information for the future, but I am thankful for his patience. I then took the train to Sendai, and got on the bullet train to Tokyo, and then came back and was met by Pastor Elisha.


Pastor E immediately told me that there was a man in his nineties in the hospital who decided that he wanted to know about Christ, and that we needed to go visit him. So visit him we did. Pastor E spoke with him and reassured him while I prayed. In Japan a pastor's duties are endless. I suppose it is the same here in the USA in many ways.


I then went to T Bible Baptist's BBQ, talked with a lot of people, and went home to go clean and pack for the next portion of my trip to Kuriozawa.