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.