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Bethel Japan Missions Trip 2011 Newsletter 2

8/10/2011 - Newsletter 2

In this issue:
  • Arriving in Tokyo and Tome
  • The Samaritan's Purse Base
  • The First Two Days of Work
  • Prayer Requests

Arriving in Tokyo and Tome

The Tokorozawa house
The entire team arrived safely in Tokyo. Some early travelers stayed at John's home in Machida (southwest Tokyo suburb) but then all team members met at a Converge Worldwide volunteer house in Higashi Tokorozawa (northwest Tokyo suburb) on Sunday night (where there was one shower for 9 people). We gathered all of our supplies and re-packed to minimize our luggage. Monday morning we ate breakfast together at 6:30am, had orientation at 7:30 when we met our last two team members, then gathered all of our supplies and packed it into a wagon and a van.

At 10:00 we left the Tokorozawa house and headed north to the Samaritan's purse Tome base (about 45 minutes north of Sendai). The trip took 8.5 hours including two rest stops, lunch and some significant construction traffic but we arrived just in time for dinner and orientation.

The Samaritan's Purse Base

The SP Tome Base
The team at the base entrance
The Men's Quarters
The SP Base is an old sewing factory (you can still see the ceiling mounted electric outlets and compressed air lines) that has been rented out for two years and converted into a volunteer center. The one floor building is split into 4 areas: Office, Kitchen, Men's Quarters and Women's Quarters. The men's quarters contains 36 cots for volunteers while the women's contains 16, supporting a total of 60 volunteers (ear plugs are highly recommended). Last week the tiny kitchen prepared nearly 1500 meals for volunteers (including some meals for other external groups)!

Outside the main building are a large storage shed, 4 portable bathrooms, 8 portable showers and one sink. When running at full capacity, lines can be long during the morning and immediately after work, however we are fortunate that only a couple other teams are present this week so the base is only half full. Two more sinks will be installed and eventually these facilities will be enclosed. Three military tents will also be set up to house long term volunteers.

The base is run by a dedicated staff of volunteers that handle everything from registration, orientation, work assignments, translation, worship, cooking and cleaning.

A typical day at the base:
  • 6:00 - Cold Breakfast (bread, cereal, yogurt)
  • 6:30 - Hot Breakfast (eggs, meat)
  • 7:00 - Daily Devotion
  • 7:30 - Head to work site
  • 12:00 - Lunch
  • 4:00 - Return to Base
  • 5:00 - Shower and rest
  • 6:30 - Dinner
  • 7:00 - Sharing
  • 8:00 - Hymns (led by an accordian)
  • 9:30 - Lights Out

The First Two Days of Work

Sunflowers planted in Shintate after 3.11
Eating lunch together
Converge Worldwide has been focusing its work in a neighborhood in Shintate (we are the fourth CW team to come to Japan). By focusing on one neighborhood, returning volunteers have been able to build relationships in the community and provide continuity and reassurance to the people they have met.

Tuesday morning we immediately began working on several projects in Shintate. First and foremost was cleaning up and weeding an empty lot that had been lent to volunteers by the owner. On the lot is a storage shed for CW supplies that had to be completed as well. Meanwhile three others moved belongings and supplies out of a building so it could be worked on. In addition to these tasks, any interaction with neighbors was considered ministry, whether it be talking, listening, playing with children and even supporting local businesses by getting hair cuts.

Removing steel siding
Packing the car with tables
After lunch teams were switched with three working on tearing out a water logged closet in a sound proofed house (due to it's proximity to the Japan Self Defense Force flight path). Four more closets will be completed throughout the week. The rest of the team worked on stripping the cleaned out building to the frame. This required removal of corrugated steel siding on the outside and drywall on the inside. This building also caused our first (minor) injuries of the trip, two cut arms and a minor head injury.

Wednesday our focus was on a community barbecue and concert. We arrived early in the morning and worked on setting up tents, a small stage, tables and a kitchen area in preparation for 60 guests from the community. Music was provided by two Japanese Christian musicians from Sendai that lived through the disaster. In addition, a Japanese chef who works at the Swedish and Norwegian embassies brought and cooked meat and yaki-soba (stir fried noodles) to supplement our terriyaki chicken and hot dogs. Following the concert we had shaved ice and cookies for dessert.

The day was extremely hot with temperatures in the mid 90's, 95% humidity and an intense sun, with little opportunity to work indoors. Some team members were quite fatigued and heat exhaustion was a concern for those working around the four grills, however regular sprays from the hose and an ample supply of water, tea and sports drinks kept the group in good spirits.

Prayer Requests

Thank you all for all of your prayers. They have been encouraging and powerful as God has provided for us in every way. Here are some new prayer requests.
  • Pray that those who we helped and attended the concert would be touched and would want to know more about God
  • We have heard stories of people who have lost loved ones and wish they had died as well. Please pray that we can give them hope that God has a plan.
  • We have already made new contacts and been asked to help with more relief work around the neighborhood. Pray that we would continue to be diligent, Godly workers
  • Weather will remain hot and humid this week. Please pray for health and endurance in these conditions
  • The Samaritan's Purse base will be filling up at the end of the week. Pray that all would be gracious and we are not constrained too much by time.

Posted 08/10/2011 07:54 AM in Christianity, Japan | Total Comments: (1)
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Working on the frontlines!
...I'll be prayin' for you. Stay cool!
Submitted by Dan on 08/13/2011 07:38 PM

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