First of all, our plans changed a lot from what we thought we would be doing. Instead of staying in Iwaki for 5 weeks straight, we ended up going back to Noborito every weekend to be with the PAZ churches, participating, learning, sharing, teaching, and encouraging our brothers and sisters in Christ. Micah & I worked a lot with the FUSE, a church for young adults led by Pastors Mark & Yuiko. We participated in the street evangelisms, church services including set up and tear down, life groups, even a beach camp!
During that time I was given several opportunities to share at the church and lifegroup which was really cool…I think it was my first time to share with translation (usually I’m the translator :)
During our weeks in Iwaki, Fukushima, many times our Brazil group was split up, so I got to do several different jobs. First we worked with Mr Sato cleaning out his brother’s house next door. The name of the game was throw pretty much everything away but you’re in Japan, so you have to sort all the trash to burnables, glass, metal, etc. The sorting was one of the hardest and longest parts, not to mention taking the trash by small truck-loads to the appropriate places, about 45min drive each way.
Our second job was cleaning a hotel and helping the owners get it back into working condition. The work wasn’t so heavy, but there was a lot of it, washing dishes, cleaning tatami, putting paper on windows (a real art, we learned it but didn’t master it, had to undo a whole day’s work one time :)
But that was a long on-going job that we would skip every once in a while to work on a short, heavy job, then go back to the hotel. The whole hotel job was an amazing experience as it was during that job that I think our team felt the most culture shock, but through that the Lord taught us so much about serving cheerfully, lovingly, and whole-heartedly, even if it isn’t the kind of job we expected or hoped to be doing. Through that job I think we really touched the life of Abe-san, our driver/volunteer leader. At the end of our trip, when he was in Tokyo, he and his wife visited our church and participated in one of our Brazilian lunches. We believe if he hasn’t already that he soon will make his decision to follow the Lord.
My third job with some other guys from our team was to tear down part of a factory of a family who we found out over lunch with them that the owner’s wife and sister died in the tsunami. We also were asked to clean a public location one day which we did while praying the entire time. Our last different job in Iwaki was to load and unload water and rice…the first day was a decent size truck with only 5 tons of water not counting the rice, but the second day was a semi of water! But the good thing about working at unloading with Brazilians is that in assembly lines we toss things instead of hand them off which I think is much easier :)
Finally our last place of working with disaster relief was near Sendai, the worst hit part of Japan. There we saw destruction like I’ve never seen before. We worked with Samaritan’s Purse in tearing out the destroyed floors and walls of houses so that the Samaritan’s Purse carpenters could
come in and replace them…of course that was only for the houses that weren’t completely destroyed, because the government wasn’t even allowing any new buildings to go up. We also took donated blankets from a church in the US to the temporary housing for displaced families. There we experienced some cold in the mornings around 4 degrees Celcius (39 degrees Farenheit) which was very nice just before coming back to warm Brazil.
The whole experience was amazing and I would definitely do it again. But I realize that what they need
the most there are more full-time missionaries, not just the 2-month boosts. The harvest there is so ripe and so large, being one of the least evanglized countries in the world. And truthfully, the part I enjoyed the most wasn’t the hard work (which I loved) or the experience of a new country (and driving on the left side of the road, I was the only one with an international license so I drove a lot :), but the times I was with the FUSE, reaching out to the youth of Japan and sharing the vision of discipleship. Who knows, maybe God is calling me to Japan…let’s pray and see…and until then, let’s continue to grow and reach out where God has placed us now!
All my love,