After arriving at the 3.11 Iwate Church Network base camp the night before, we spent Saturday in Ofunato working at a one day event called “Summer Festival”. The base camp is a medium sized home that suffered significant tsunami damage with four to five feet of water washing through the first floor. But the owner has agreed to rent it to 3.11 for two years and given us permission to fix it up. Our team spent the night there and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast before heading to the festival.
The festival was held along the river and featured several attractions including a charcoal wiener roast, BBQ burgers, cold drinks, kids’ crafts and games, musical performances, crafts for adults, foot massage, and more. Most of our team worked the BBQ corner while others helped with the kids’ corner and parking. The festival was sponsored by 3.11 and two local community centers. It was geared toward the entire community so we had some folks who lost their homes to the tsunami and are living in temporary housing and others whose homes were spared. Our intent was to draw people together and help rebuild community while sharing the love of Christ in tangible ways.
The great news was that the BBQ burgers were a big hit! The challenge was that there was a fairly long line of hungry people waiting for their food the whole time! Our team did a fantastic job cooking, assembling and serving, but still standing in line is never fun when you are hungry! When the tsunami happened many of these people had to stand in countless lines every day just to get the basics like food and water, gas and blankets etc. You might think they were a little bit tired of lines. But the amazing thing was that I never heard a single negative comment or even saw a frustrated face the entire day! At one point an older woman came walking up and cut in front of the entire line of twenty or more people and asked for a burger. Now if that isn’t a perfect recipe for a temper flare up I don’t know what is! Right away the woman handing people their plates said, “Did you wait in line with everyone else?” Before she could answer the woman at the front of the line who had probably been waiting for fifteen or twenty minutes quickly jumped in and with a big smile on her face said, “Oh don’t worry about it. Just go ahead and serve her!” And I thought we were here to share the love and joy of Christ with these people… What a blessing it was to witness that act of kindness from a woman who had every right to be angry!
Seeing all the smiling faces and connecting with local people is always such a blessing for us, and this day was no exception.
After cleaning up our team piled into the cars and made the two hour drive to Morioka. It’s a route that took us over the mountains and through some absolutely lovely countryside.
Once in Morioka we enjoyed a great dinner with several other 3.11 volunteers.
Once again, serving others has proven to be a huge blessing to us. Perhaps this is the new song that we’ve been looking for.