Friday, July 22, 2011

The Most Recent Trip... in Pictures

Our wonderful team, working hard. 
The Samartitan's Purse camp sleeping quarters...many interesting experiences there.
The dobo muck and oil spilled throughout the farm, with deposits of rotten potatoes, made for some very interesting smells and dirty butts.
Combing the field to remove debris that might catch and break Abe san's plowing machinery. Never have I been so proud of a square of straight clear dirt.
A quick trip to Minamisanriku, which is right near Tome. This town is so destroyed, that there are no plans to rebuild it. But places like Ishinomaki already have people wanting to rebuild their lives there, and a lot of clearing and rebuilding is needed there in order to make that possible.
Kimiko Isaya and her husband Isaya san, standing on part of their farm we helped clear. What a joyful, persistent couple. I'm so glad I got the chance to meet them.
Abe san's farm--a section he has cleared to test if he can still grow crops even with salt still mixed into the soil. There are beans and squash growing in his experiment plot, which is a sign of hope in front of the rest of his huge uncleared farm.
We helped to muck out houses in Shintate, Ishinomaki so that they could be restored and fixed to be livable again. These houses go through many steps with Sam. Purse before they are livable, but it is part of their 300 houses by Christmas plan.
It was so encouraging to see almost 50 volunteers pour onto the field the morning we left Tohoku to return to Tokyo. We showed them what we had been doing, gave them advice about the work, and said goodbye to all our newly acquired friends. It was hard to leave, but we knew we were leaving everything in many good hands.
Yeah... this sums up our team members.


Samaritan's Purse Tohoku Trip with CAJ Alumni

The Dates: 7/6-7/12.

The Location: Staying at Tome base and working in Shintate, Ishinomaki

The Organization: Samaritan's Purse

The Team: Amos Cole, Aaron Winter, Jordan Foxwell, Krysta Carrick, Ruth Fujino, Hikari Morimoto, and Sara Nozaki. Every member was a CAJ alumnus, and a great friend, and I really appreciated the strengths that each person brought to the trip. It gave me a very clear picture of the diversity of gifts in the body of Christ. Some people are strong workers, some are good at networking, some are good leaders, some are calm encouragers, and everyone works together for the glory of the kingdom of God. 
We bonded over ridiculous snoring and sleep talking during the night, a steaming van with no air conditioner during the day, some strange music playlists, navigation disasters, ominously empty rural train stations, tiring but fun work, interesting encounters with people, and the passion to give back to the country that has been home for all of us, and that we have all missed since being away at college.

The Mission: Clear Abe san's farm of plastic pieces from the nearby wrecked factory and oil, salt, and muck in the dirt so that he can farm once again. It was slow, smelly, and hot, but everyone worked hard, and we had some fun as well.

The Passage: Galatians 6:1-10...Carry each others burdens, Test your own actions without comparing to someone else, Share good things from the Word, Sow seeds that please the Spirit... “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people...” The S.P. Base camp director shared this with us one morning, and it was a challenge that resounded through the whole week.

The Moment to Remember: On 7/11, at 2:46 pm, exactly 4 months after the earthquake struck Japan, the nation had a moment of silence. At that time, our team was in the middle of clearing the farms of Abe san and Isaya san, who are neighbors. We took a break to gather in a circle and share a moment of silence with the Isaya family, but before that, our team huddled and prayed over the nation of the Japan, and the block in which we were working specifically. It was a powerful few minutes, in which the hearts of people across the country were simultaneously linked through the bonds of empathy and hope.

The New Friends: Besides growing closer to and making memories with the friends already on our team, we also were able to make many new friends during the trip, whether from sleeping in the huge room of cots with other teams, working with volunteers from various organizations and places during the day, or chatting with the owners of the houses where we were working. Kimiko Isaya was a very generous and compassionate women at one house where we were working, and kept trying to give us food and drinks, even though she had hardly anything to offer. She started crying a few times as she told us of her experiences and how much they had lost, and how grateful she was to us. We had a lot of fun working with her in her field and being able to bless and be blessed by Kimiko.  

Monday, July 4, 2011


This week since getting back from the last Tohoku trip, I went with Jordan to meet with the head of Habitat for Humanity in Japan to see what kind of work they have been doing, and what help they need. They are sending weekend trips up North every few weeks and still trying to work out all of the strict Japanese building requirements so that they can begin more intensive house-building work around September. Let's hope they don't come across too many more obstacles, because there are hundreds of thousands who need homes right away.

I was also continuing to work with CRASH doing team coordination, taking people around Tokyo and making sure they got up to Tohoku, and documenting our most recent trip by writing an article and sorting through photos to be put on the website. It's kind of exciting to be doing media work with a relief organization like this, because it's the kind of thing I'd like to do in the future. As I sat in the headquarters typing my story on the laptop and editing other articles, I tried to keep a professional face on, but I kept thinking to myself "This is so cool!!" (yes, with 2 exclamation points).

BUT whenever I come back to Tokyo, my heart longs to be up in Tohoku with the affected people, in the affected area. So I'm going back up tomorrow, this time with about 8 CAJ alumni friends. We will be in Ishinomaki working with Samaritan's Purse for a week. I hope we can work out the details of this trip and really be a blessing to both the victims we are helping and the host organization with which we are working.