Eric and our friend Nozomi got home at 7 pm from the long drive from Sendai. We have not had a lot of chances to talk, but I have been so encouraged by the reports that they bring. I will share just about their day yesterday.
The dad of one of the young women who is a student at the karate center asked the team to come and do a barbeque on Monday for lunch. Eric and Peter and others had prepared last week for 500 people’s worth of food. They used half on Saturday night (see previous post) and then had half for Monday. Thankfully Peter went out Sunday night before his group travelled back yesterday and bought a lot more chicken — just in case.
They were going to an evacuation center about 45 minutes away where there were a lot of kids. When they arrived, the team discovered that they were serving an elementary school full of children! And this was instead of their school lunch – how awesome is that? But it wasn’t just one school; it was three. That elementary school has combined with two others that were destroyed in the tsunamis. As Nozomi said, it broke her heart to think of how many children are no longer at these schools – either they died in the tsunami or they are in an evacuation center somewhere… But the three schools’ populations have all been cut by one-third. For the kids remaining – so much grief they have experienced!
Eric was asked to meet with the three principals who were all there, and wanted to know why the teams were serving in this way. Eric said they were really fun and welcoming. As 230 kids came pouring out of the school, and then the teachers and parents from the nearby community, they realized that they were going to be serving many more than 250 people (what they had prepared for). Nozomi kept looking at the line and thinking, “We’re not going to have enough food! We’re not going to have enough food!” Hotdog, chicken, grilled vegetables, potato chips, juice, watermelon, apples, and oranges, and TONS of candy (Nozomi said they had to ask permission of the principal to give out the junk food – the principal said, in effect, “Bring it on!”) The kids filled their plates with SO much food that there wasn’t room for the candy; so the kids all came back and filled their shirts and pockets with American candy. In the end, there was food left over that they were trying to give away! Nozomi said it felt like Jesus feeding the 5000 — that He kept multiplying the food.
As the festivities were winding down, the three principals came over and wanted Eric to share. He was still cooking hotdogs, but they said, “please go now and share!” They hooked up a microphone in the gymnasium, and Eric found himself in front of three hundred people. He shared about being with Be One, and that the name says what the teams are seeking to do – that we are all in this together. “We want to let you know that people from around the world are on this team – but we are all here with one purpose. We are a Christian organization, and we are all here for the purpose of showing God’s love. We hope through this barbeque that you get a taste of His love.”
After the lunch was done, the kids still enjoying candy, one of the moms from nearby came up with her younger son. He was sucking on a big blue lollipop from the U.S. that was dripping all down his chin and she asked, “excuse me, but what flavor is this?” Eric apologized and told them, “blueberry.”
As Yasko heard this story, she said, “you know – those kids are never going to forget about this barbeque today.” I pray that even if they forget about the yummy blueberry candy and the one time in their entire lives as students that their principal let them eat junk food during school lunch- that they don’t forget the taste of God’s love that they experienced yesterday.