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Bethel Japan Missions Trip 2011 Newsletter 3


It's hard to believe that our time in Japan is almost over. We have just one more day of work before heading back to Tokyo for debriefing and rest! Thanks for all of your support and prayers for making all of this possible!

In this issue:
  • Work Progress
  • Team Changes
  • Devotions and Sharing
  • Prayer Requests

Work Progress

Little John prepares to tear paneling out of a closet

Rick works in his hole
"Everyone, Thank You!" sign from a tsunami survivor
The store house completely stripped
Dexter's six stitches
5 months later, street lights in Ishinomaki are still not working
New military tents set up at the SP base to house more volunteers
Organizing bags of food for the temporary housing facilities

John shows off two pairs of jeans ripped after a week of work

Matt enjoys a fish cake that is no longer made; the factory was destroyed by the tsunami

Agnes hauls off a stump from the garden
For the remainder of the first week, we focused on the home that needed walls to be stripped and the store house that needed to be stripped to the frame.

Significant progress has been made on the store house. The steel siding was completely removed, as was all dry wall. Due to the corrugated steel siding, the store house was the primary source of minor injuries. Several team members received multiple small scratches and cuts, however last Thursday Dexter received a severe cut on his finger despite his leather work gloves. He was taken to the Red Cross hospital where he received six stitches. His wound is healing well.

The home being stripped has seen significant progress as well. All five closets were stripped and the owners were so pleased with our work (we didn't damage or ruin any expensive wood pieces) that they requested that we perform additional work. Unfortunately, Phil stepped on a rotten floor board on Friday which gave way and dropped him half a meter to the ground, resulting in a sprained ankle. His ankle is healing well and he should be fully mobile in a couple days though he will not be able to do any more heavy lifting or strenuous activities.

We finished Friday by driving to the coastline of our city, Ishinomaki, to view the destruction there and pray for the city. After five months, much of the coast line is still devastated and several intersections, including major roads, remain without traffic signals or electricity.

Over the weekend we continued various projects in the neighborhood but also prepared to visit some temporary housing facilities (trailer homes) by purchasing over $1000 of food, including non-perishables, fresh produce and frozen meat for forty families. On Sunday we visited a small home church for worship service where our translator, Pastor Mas, gave the message.

After church we distributed clothing and basic supplies at a small temporary housing facility. We then visited another housing facility and distributed food to the families there. This was a tough time emotionally as we got to meet and talk with families that had lost their homes. Some tears were shed and we received many thanks for our help. In this city alone (Minami-Sanriku) there are 58 housing facilities with over 2000 units housing approximately 6000 displaced Japanese.

In the second week we focused on finishing as many projects as possible. We finished "mudding out" the newly exposed sections in the home being stripped. We also power washed and disinfected the store house in time for Japanese carpenters to begin rebuilding it. Other tasks included removing several dead trees and stumps from a garden, putting up a fence to protect a field, weeding the area around a house, cleaning a graveyard, removing debris from a farm field, moving accumulated trash to the road for pick-up and power washing the street.

Lastly we canvased the neighborhood and invited the community to our final event, a Hawaiian Hula show and Kaki-gori (shaved ice) party. This gave us an opportunity for the whole team to spend time in the community developing relationships, listening to stories and offering additional help. This was another difficult time emotionally as we heard many stories and saw many tears.

Team Changes

On Friday, the team said goodbye to Ken and Gerry Millhous. This couple served in Japan for 40 years and retired 6 years ago. After the disaster they felt called to return to Japan and spent two more months serving. This was their last week in Japan and their kindness faithful service will be missed. They also took their car back to Tokyo leaving the remaining 9 team members and all of our gear to fit into a single van for the weekend.

Sunday night, the team welcomed two new Japanese members: Suzuki Hirohumi and Araki Hiroto. These fresh volunteers joined our team for the second week of work. They will be a great asset as they are native Japanese speakers and will make it easier to build relationships at our Hula and kaki-gori party. They also brought a car so we will be able to return to Tokyo with all of our equipment in two cars (like we arrived in).

Devotions and Sharing

John (left) leads devotions with Andrew translating into Japanese
Sayuri (center) shares in Portuguese which is translated into English and then to Japanese
Rick and Andrew (SP Staff) lead evening hymns. Yes, that's an accordion.
Our team has been trying to be good stewards to the base, which means volunteering to wash dishes, participating in evening sharing time and singing hymns. It also means preparing and leading morning devotions which are translated between English and Japanese. John, Ken, Mas, Phil and Yoji have all led devotion time. Attached below is Phil's devotion, which includes verses that some of you may recognize from his support letter.
In the midst of all the destruction that surrounds us in Japan, some of you may be asking, "Why did God let this happen?" Maybe some of you have even struggled with your faith because of this disaster.

I hope to encourage you with some favorite verses from Habakkuk. If you don't know who Habakkuk was, he was the 8th out of 12 Minor Prophets in the Old Testament. His book can be found about 9-10 pages before the New Testament, between Nahum and Zephaniah.

Chapter 1, verse 5 is one of my favorites and became my theme verse for my first short term missions trip to Japan in 2001.

"Look at the nations and watch - and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told." - Habakkuk 1:5

We all know that God has a plan. But God's plan is so amazing that even if He told us what it was, we would still not believe it.

Now, just so you know the context, Habakkuk was a prophet that was frustrated by the sinful decline of the nation of Judah. He cried out to God and asked Him to do something about it. What do you think God did?

God told Habakkuk he would raise up the Babylonians to destroy Judah. That's probably not what Habakkuk expected.

So Habakkuk asked why God would let such a thing happen? God's response can be found in Habakkuk 2:4 "See, he (the enemy) is puffed up; his desires are not upright - but the righteous will live by his faith."

In the rest of the chapter, God assures Habakkuk that despite the coming destruction, all will be made right at the appointed time. All Habakkuk needed to do is wait for it and live faithfully.

I'm guessing here, but this is such a powerful verse, that I think it was one of the Apostle Paul's favorite verses. Paul actually referenced it three times in his writing.

Romans 1:17 - For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

Galatians 3:11 - Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith."

Hebrews 10:37-38 - For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay, but my righteous one will live by faith..."

As we look around at all the destruction around us, we may not be able to fathom or comprehend why it happened or what the future will bring. But that's ok, because God has an amazing plan that we would not believe anyway.

Like Habakkuk, all we need to do is live faithfully: to faithfully serve the Japanese in the name of the Lord.

Now that I have shared one of my favorite verses and what I like to think is one of Paul's favorite verses, let me leave you with some of my sister's favorite verses, found at the end of Habakkuk.

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior." - Habakkuk 3:17-18

I hope that despite all of the destruction around us and our inability to comprehend God's plan, you will continue to serve Him faithfully and rejoice and be joyful in the Lord.

Prayer Requests

  • Continue to pray for health and safety in our work environments
  • Pray for continued healing without complications for those who sustained injuries
  • Pray that we would build more bonds in the community at our final party day
  • Pray for the relationships we have made and built with the Japanese and the seeds we have planted in their hearts
  • Pray for safe travels back to Tokyo and back home
  • Pray for physical and emotional health of the team as we are fatigued after 9 straight days of hard labor

Posted 08/16/2011 07:48 AM in Christianity, Japan | Total Comments: (0)
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