As of this writing, I have been in Japan three days, and already I have seen God move powerfully, first in my own heart as well as in others’. God is so good!
When we arrived on Tuesday evening, people at Honda Chapel were busy, busy busy! Some of them were helping to load up a truck with goods to take north to the affected areas. I was blown away both by the amount of stuff that was donated, as well as by how hard people were working well into the night:
That evening we also got to meet with Dan Iverson, who was conducting this operation like the Marine that he is! Between the marked-up map on the wall and long discussions about “recon” and “logistics,” I thought for a second that I had somehow found myself inside the headquarters of a special ops brigade or something:
Wednesday was our “planning day,” so I expected it to be a straightforward and easy day. Instead, it was a confusing whirlwind of frantic energy, and I often felt overwhelmed by it all, and consumed by a feeling of personal inadequacy (focused on my own efforts rather than God’s sufficiency). One of my big tasks that day was assembling the “Life Packs,” rather than being a well-organized operation, it was a complete goat rodeo of chaotic energy. In processing it afterwards with my team-mates, it was obvious to me that I had been wanting to be competent, to be valuable, and to be noticed. No wonder that God did not bless my efforts, and instead decided instead to humble me and bring my spirit low again so that I could serve Him.
After loading up our truck, we drove four hours north to Iwaki City, where we met with a Japanese pastor named Mori. Mori-sensei showed us the incredible amount of donations that they have received:
Afterward he took us to Yumoto 2nd Junior High School, which had been converted into a shelter for those who had lost their homes. When we arrived there, we set up some wood stoves in order to heat up water to give the residents of the shelter a warm foot-bath (they had not experienced heated water in 10 days). Many talked and laughed and a few even cried; many hearts were touched. And you know what part I played? I chopped wood:
Yup, there I was—a counselor in training with fairly good Japanese skills, and I was the one chopping the wood. And you know what? I was happy there. Unlike the previous day, when I was proud and wanted to be important, I was happy to just sit there and chop wood for the Lord. And it seems He blessed our efforts! I would rather be a wood-chopper in the house of my Lord than to stress myself out trying to be all important!
Today was the most blessed day of all, hands-down. We drove to a town about an hour south of Iwaki, and delivered water and toilet paper to some local residents. While we were there we saw some of the tsunami damage first-hand. Compared to other places it was fairly light, but there was still a huge pile of scrap that was being sorted on the beach:
After that, we drove to another shelter were about 50 people were housed in an old, drafty, non-insulated elementary school gymnasium (thankfully today it was fairly warm). It was a rare outreach opportunity: Pastor Mori spoke in greeting about God’s love for them, a Hawaiian woman and her daughter performed a “Gospel Hula” (Hula dancing is fairly popular in Japan), and a semi-professional Christian singer-songwriter performed some of his songs. Then our team presented the Life Packs to everyone. I wish I had pictures, because it was a truly beautiful moment. I spoke briefly, and God gave me supernatural language ability (thank you for praying!). I told them that I had lived in Fukushima and that I considered it my home, so when I learned of the devastation I was very sad; this moved peopled’ hearts, and a few even cried. Overall, though, what moved them most was the fact that 4 people had come all the way from America to encourage them, and that people in America had cared enough to send these Life Packs to them.
It’s getting late, and I have to drive tomorrow, so I should end my blogging here for now. Please pray for all the people that our team was able to touch, especially those who received the Life Packs, that God would work in their hearts and that they would be one day come to believe in the God who loves them dearly and is touched with all our griefs and sorrows.
Thank you for sending me to Japan! May God do even greater things than these as we head for Sendai tomorrow!