Facing Death, Planting Seeds of New Life

3 comments Written on July 7th, 2011     
Filed under: earthquake
Today was our last full day in Iwate. Once again we began with morning devotions.

Pastor Dan brings a good word

Then we piled in the two vans and once again headed south to Otsuchi. We registered at the volunteer center for a half day’s work. Our assignment was in the immediate neighborhood and involved removing several dead trees and bushes from a garden. The garden had been swamped in sea water, killing the trees and the owner was an elderly person who was unable to do the work alone. But realistically we didn’t need all morning, and we certainly didn’t need fifteen volunteers. So half the team went for a prayer walk while the rest worked on the garden. We were done in about forty five minutes so we returned to the volunteer center and asked for more work.

Removing dead trees

Dan and Jonathan on the failed river dike

We ended up alongside the main river in town and were coached by an absolutely delightful older man who was working there alone.  He is a retired truck driver and now he is spending his time working along the river to prepare it for some fields of rapeseed. On March 11 the entire river was flooded and countless tons of debris washed up from all over town along with at least eight bodies. We were told that they cleared it with heavy machinery, but if left as is it will turn into nothing but a jungle of chest high weeds in a matter of weeks. So this gentleman decided to till the ground alongside the river and plant fields of rapeseed. Such fields are very popular in Japan, especially in rural areas. We spent an absolutely delightful hour with him, digging and weeding. Of course it’s a job he could do with a rented machine in about one hour, but instead he is spending day after day tilling the earth by hand and claims that his primary motive is to mourn those whose remains were found in that immediate area. As we prepared to leave Dan asked if he could pray for this gentleman, and he agreed. It was a simple prayer, and I can say with some confidence that in all likelihood it was the first time in his life that this elderly man had ever been prayed for by a Christian. You should have seen the smile on his face when we were finished. He said, “Wow! That gave me goosebumps!” As he prepares to sow the seeds for a field of flowers we felt privileged to see even just a few seeds of life sown along that riverbed today.

Preparing for a field of flowers

With a very inspirational man!

Our time on the river was over in a flash and we packed up to return to Miyako with a quick lunch stop at a convenience store. Once back at basecamp we only had time to quickly wash up and change clothes before heading north to the town of Taro. Over the past three months our teams have probably spent more time in Taro than anywhere else. I’ve told the story of this town many times before so will just give you a link to a very informative video clip about this town. http://youtu.be/xBKtw9JMba4

Today was a first for our network because we were given the opportunity to help out with the Taro latchkey program. This is a place where elementary kids come after school to play, study and wait for their parents to get home from work. Every Japanese town offers these services and it is a very unusual treat for a church group to be allowed in. But we were warmly welcomed and spend close to three hours playing with the kids. It was clear that our team members were having every bit as much fun as the kids… maybe even more.

Breaking the ice with some songs

After about one minute the ice was completely broken and gone for good!

Team members learning origami from the kids

New best friends!

A first grader who has lost more than we can imagine

The universal appeal of iPod apps… or maybe it was his personality?

A boy who found it very difficult to interact

But simply couldn't resist the amazing world of dominoes!

Happy Family

There are a few people in Taro who were the age of these children when the last tsunami struck in 1933 and destroyed 500 of the 560 homes. While these children will never forget this experience we hope and pray that future generations will be spared the suffering they’ve experienced. We rejoice in the vitality of these kids who are so full of positive energy and pray that God’s light, mercy and compassion will shine brightly on them.

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3 comments “Facing Death, Planting Seeds of New Life”

This is a significant step to revive the land and the people. Great!

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The photos of our pastor and college group have brought tears to my eyes every day. I am so moved by their compassionate work and the unity among them is apparent. Praise God for Dan’s vision to head this team over to Japan. Your blogging, Jim – has been an incredible blessing to read and the photos are outstanding!!!

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