This morning started with a time of worship for those in the Ishinomaki karate dojo- fifty or so people I believe. Eric was asked at breakfast to give a brief message. He said he shared about love, with I Corinthians 13 as the foundation. The love that Jesus gives is powerful, transforming, and hope-filled. So thankful for that.
Eric and the other volunteers then all worked together to continue cleaning up the large park near the apartment buildings where they have been ministering. He said that of all the days that he has done relief work the past two months, today was the hardest in terms of physical labor. They were moving appliances, rotten tatami (straw) mats, large pieces of metal, wood — all kinds of crazy things that had been deposited by the tsunami waves in this cleared section. Once they got down to the ground, they had to bag up the glass, metal, and dirt into large trash bags and carry them onto large piles of trash that still have not been removed. Their chain saw from yesterday was “removed” during the night, so a new one was purchased and used to help cut up the large trees and wood pieces that were deposited.
Despite the physically hard work, Eric said it was such a good day! Many from the community came to help out, as well, which was our hope. There was a great spirit of comraderie as everyone worked really hard to get as much cleared as possible. There is now a park that will allow kids who have been stuck inside due to safety issues since early march to play. What a great thing! Eric said that our Sanda team is doing well – they had a good debrief on the way back from the bath tonight (there are no bathing facilities in the karate dojo where they are staying).
Tomorrow the large group will split into teams and spend the morning delivering supplies to different areas and locations. Then in the afternoon they will meet back to prepare for the big BBQ. They are telling whoever they can, and hopefully many people will be able to come to the newly renovated park to enjoy a rare treat. The team is going to make large vats of pasta salad over the charcoal burners, then cook hotdogs and BBQ’d chicken for about a thousand people. I hope many, many come! Please pray as this will be a wonderful time to bring people together, treat them to something special, and have many individual conversations.
Years ago my sister Hannah pointed out to me a phrase in I Corinthians 13 from the Message version that has stuck with me. We had it in our wedding: “love extravagantly.” Verse 13 says, “1But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” I love these commands! It is what we all need as we minister. It is the key for those who bringing aid to the victims in Tohoku. Praying that a park where children can now play would speak of the extravagant love of Jesus. And that the smell – and taste! – of barbequed chicken and Costco hotdogs in that park tomorrow would fill many with His unswerving hope.