Eric will be leaving tomorrow late afternoon to take the bullet train up to Ishinomaki, returning on Tuesday evening. We appreciate your prayers! These will be important days where we will hopefully be able to make a decision on housing. Pray that God closes the wrong doors and opens up the right one. Our children’s schooling is important in all of this – we pray for wisdom and discernment in the decision of where we move.
I wasn’t able to post our newsletter from last month on our blog, so I wanted to put one more story about a young guy who Eric has befriended. Last fall a Japanese friend, while praying, felt that God told her that Eric would be the father for the fatherless up in Ishinomaki. I love how God is already doing this! The part below was written by Eric, and I include an update at the end.
Like many kids his age in Ishinomaki, Y. lost much in last year’s tsunami. I first met him and his family when our team helped to move them out of the evacuation center and into their government-provided, Red Cross-furnished temporary housing twenty minutes away. We tried earnestly to engage him on that day, but he remained aloof. We did manage to gather from him that his dad had walked out on the family the year before. As we assembled in a circle to pray for his family and to say goodbye to their tsunami-ravaged home, Y. turned his back on the group and walked away, despite his mom’s protests.
God impressed Y. on my heart and I continued to pray for him upon returning to Sanda. The next time I was up there, we were helping to clean the elementary school that served as home for Y.’s family and some 700 others over the previous 7 months. His mom happened to be there, and phoned Y. to come meet us. He showed up a few minutes later with his baseball and glove.
After exchanging greetings, I offered to play catch with him. Skeptical of my intentions, he declined and walked away, again in spite of his mom’s urgings. I had hoped to make a connection but realistically — could I have expected anything different?
Here was a fatherless junior high schooler still struggling to stay afloat in the aftermath of that dread wave. His most prized possessions: trading cards, comic books, and video games, discarded with the rest of the rubble. His friends were either deceased or dispersed. His beloved school baseball team was now defunct and he was relegated to live in the isolated refugee community miles away from anything familiar. PRAY!
On my next trip I went to visit Y. but learned that he was away at a school where others like him were being bussed to. I left my cell number with his mom, not expecting a call. What a joyful surprise it was the very next day when Y. called me, asking for a ride into town to be with friends. In the car we actually had meaningful conversation.
The next day he called again on behalf of his mom and sister who needed a ride into the city. God made chauffeuring a priority that day and Y. came along for the drive. When I dropped mom and sis off, Y. announced that he wanted to spend the day with me. God is amazing! I put him to work busting down walls and cleaning an auto repair shop with the rest of our team. At the end of that long cold day I stopped and used relief funds to buy his family a heater and other supplies for their thin-walled prefab dwelling. In presenting his mom with the goods, I told her about Y.’s hard work hard helping others that day. Somewhat in disbelief, she gratefully accepted.
I’ve had other interactions with Y. since then. I’ve seen his heart of compassion for others. On my most recent visit he urged me to go with him and visit an old woman living alone in the same complex. They were from the same evacuation center and he was worried for her in the cold and loneliness of winter. He has experienced God’s love and is caring for others now. Please pray for Y. and others like him whose stories of transformation continue on.
(Blog update: When Eric was up last week, he saw Y. a few times. My Dad had heard Y’s story, and asked Eric to give him a twenty-dollar bill. Eric gave him the equivalent in yen, and told him the story, and it is meant to be for him to spend on himself. When Eric dropped him off at home, Y. went to his mom and handed him the two-thousand yen. We loved this boy’s care for his mom! He just called Eric last night, asking when we will be moving up there. He’s counting down the days!)