We had a wonderful time in Tohoku. It was only four days, but it felt like we were able to meet many old friends in Sendai and old and new ones in Ishinomaki.
One of the things we definitely wanted to do was to visit Mrs. S. (see entry below). The first day our family drove over she wasn’t home. So we took just Ian the next afternoon (the older kids were playing in the park with some of the neighbor children), and we had a wonderful, sweet visit with her. She loved on Ian so so much! Here are some photos that will make sense if you read the entry below (the turtles; and the quilt that the Hawaii team gave her):
Eric later said that he thinks she just lives for these visits.
We continue to learn more of her story as our friendship grows. It has been neat how many different teams have been able to bless her over this summer. One of the sad stories that she told us was that when she was out searching for her daughter (she found her a week after the tsunami – she had died near her father and sister’s grave markers), she came across many bodies that had not been collected yet. There were three children she saw – they were clinging to each other. She imagines that the older of the three was trying to lead the younger two home when the tsunami came. The story broke my heart, and continues to haunt her as well.
Her husband (who died several years ago) had planted a special donguri (oak) tree in the yard for their grandchildren to enjoy. The tsunami had killed it, down to the last root. When a previous team was there working, they had chopped down the dead trees and dug out the roots. Eric checked to make sure it was really dead, and it was. When the daughter saw that the roots were dead, she laid down her head and cried. It had obviously meant a great deal to her.
Eric found a similar tree on the internet this past week and had it sent to the Be One house. Today, Chad (and perhaps others) took it to her home and planted it. Chad sent a photo worth a thousand words. I have looked at it at least ten times in the last few hours and just smiled. And smiled again. This is her way of communicating cross-culturally: “It’s great! OK! Awesome! Thanks!” It is so worth whatever the cost may be if we can bring the light and the love of Jesus to these people. And now, a new tree of hope grows in Ishinomaki.