Eric came back with many wonderful stories from this past week up in Ishinomaki. One of the Ishinomaki residents whose story has made a big impact on Eric is Mrs. S. She has been an amazing partner to Be One. Whenever they have gone into her neighborhood, she has opened up her home, her driveway for distributing relief supplies. She’s been a leader in the community, gathering people to receive help when it comes. She also goes around and greets people to just make sure they are okay. After the tsunami, she took it upon herself to make a book of her neighborhood. She went around door to door of over one hundred homes to find out who had died, survived, who was still living there, etc.
Mrs. S.’s home is located at one of the worst locations in terms of the tsunami– near the ocean and at the mouth of a river. When the tsunami came in, it travelled in from the ocean side as well as up through the river. That neighborhood was hit from both sides.
Over the five months or so that Eric and others have been visiting Mrs. S., she has been exuberant and always welcoming. It wasn’t until August, when Eric met her Tokyo daughter that they found out the heartache that she has endured. Mrs. S. was away when the earthquake happened. The next day when she finally managed to get home, her daughter wasn’t there. Mrs. S. went out searching. Her body was found a week later at the nearby cemetery, where Mrs. S.’ husband and other daughter were buried. Those first few days were incredibly difficult with no power, water, food, heat, etc. The neighbors who survived all pooled resources, sure that they only needed to wait a day or two until the Japan Self-defense forces would bring relief in. Three days passed; they did not come.
It was about the fourth day when God led some Be One members to her area. They brought food, water, and necessary relief. Mrs. Suzuki says, “I thought Japan was going to save us. But instead, God came first.”
Be One members continued to visit and bring relief supplies in. Every time they would come, her Tokyo daughter said she could tell because her mom would have hope in her voice again.
In August, Be One had a worship gathering in Ishinomaki. It was an important Buddhist remembrance day , so Mrs. Suzuki could not attend, but she sent her daughter. Her daughter gave an amazing testimony through tears of how important this group has been to her and her mom.
Last week, Eric, other members of Be One, and the Hawaii team went to her home to take out her old floors (destroyed by the tsunami) and put new ones in. A huge project, but a great group to take this on. They worked hard for two days, but Eric said Mrs. S. continued to make amazing meals for the team members throughout their time of serving. At one point, she scolded one of the Hawaii team for trying to do her dishes.
Once some of the flooring was in, some of the women on the team helped to wash off and put away some of the family’s interesting collection. She and her husband had collected large stuffed turtles, buffalo horns, coral collections… They had been stored up on the second floor after being tumbled around during the tsunami. The women cleaned them and set them upon the shelves downstairs.
As the team was leaving, Mrs. S. was crying with thankfulness. She said that she then called her daughter, and they both cried together.
During the night, Mrs. S. got up at 3 in the morning and went downstairs. She realized a crazy thing during the night, and went down to confirm… the team, without knowing it, had set up the turtle and misc. collections in the exact order that Mrs. S. and her husband had had it set up for years, until the tsunami ripped everything apart. She again melted in tears, and told this story the next day to the team when they returned to finish the floors. She said, “It’s a miracle!”
Our family will be going up to Tohoku for four days this weekend, and we hope to visit her. Please pray for Mrs. S., that God will continue to reveal Himself and His amazing care to her. She still says that she wishes she had died in the tsunami. She needs the hope of Jesus.
(Photo below: Chad helping to put in the new flooring):