One of the things that I have loved about working with Be One is the sense of trusting God with who He brings to work with us. We never know from week to week what skills, faith, gifts God will bring to us. When our housing capacity reaches its upper limit, we need to say no to volunteers, but besides that anyone who feels led to come and serve is welcome to. In the past two weeks some of the volunteers we’ve had: 7 Singapore missionaries (including a 2 year old), 2 Koreans, 1 Swiss, and 2 British volunteers (in addition to many North American/Japanese); a high school youth group of 18 from one of the military bases in the Tokyo area (during a 6.3 earthquake yesterday at 5:30 am they were ordered out into the field by their leaders to wait awhile and they all obeyed!) ; a middle-aged Japanese couple who heard about our work from some mutual friends and came up to serve for a few days; a nonChristian who had just finished hiking all the Buddhist temples in southern Japan; a Japanese friend trying to make sense of life and God; a team of “alumni” who came for part of the summer last year and have returned for more; and an 82 year old woman who needed a wheelchair to get through the airport (but was amazingly active on the ground!). Somehow God uses all of these fun and funny mixes of people to keep pushing us out into the community… finding more jobs for volunteers; more people who need help in putting their life back together. They challenge us to work together, to be creative, to be genuine in our faith.
I realized recently why Be One has had so many volunteers… because Chad H. has been praying every day for nine years the same prayer: Luke 10:2b – “ask the Lord of the harvest, then, to send out workers into his harvest field.” God has been answering his prayer and sending them! Over a thousand – maybe even 1500 – have come to Ishinomaki to work with Be One. Lots and lots of workers. If you really pray that prayer – look what God will do!
The second photo above is our friend Y, with two volunteers from Tokyo. She and her three children have already become dear to our Be One group, and to many of the volunteers who have been here! She has been coming to various gatherings, and most of the days of the week she comes to our home in the afternoon to help out and hang out. I was incredibly touched last week by one of the volunteers who shared with Y. some of her own previous struggles, and then gave her a bracelet that she had not taken off her wrist in more than fifteen years. She told Y. that every time she will go to play with the bracelet and not find it that she will stop to pray for her; and that whenever Y. feels the bracelet on her arm she will remember that she is not alone; that many are praying. Overall she is doing well, but the stress of raising three little ones alone has been challenging. She has been going to the doctor to get prescription sleeping pills to help her at night.
For those of you reading this around the time of me writing it (June 19/20), a typhoon is barreling straight up the main island of honshu and it looks on course to hit the Tohoku region tomorrow morning. This is bad news for Ishinomaki, as the ground is still swelled from last year’s tsunami, and any extra rain means flooding. Parts of the city have received calls for evacuation already. We called our friend Yu. and asked if her family wants to spend the night with us. They are going to wait it out at home- she said they have moved their car, are not in danger for their lives and hoping for the best. Our volunteers have just finished cleaning under her family home, putting in insulation in the floors, and sanding them down to make them smooth. Eric and several others also planted a new maple tree where a former one had died from the salt water. Hoping their home, and tree, weather the storm well; and the many others on lower ground. (As I’ve written in previous posts, we are up on a bluff that overlooks the sea, so flooding is not a concern for our own family, but it is for many others). We may unfortunately have a lot of new jobs for volunteers….
We will keep praying for God to send workers to His fields, and embracing them as they come. I am convinced of His powerful and personal love for the people of Ishinomaki. Can’t wait for more to tell them so.