Two weeks ago at a staff meeting, our coworker Jonathan shared two images that he has been thinking about. The first is that we are standing at the edge of the Jordan. He specifically suggested that this is an appropriate image for me as the Nozomi jewelry project begins and we enter strange and unfamiliar waters. I love it that the people were told to follow the symbol of the presence of God — the Ark of the Covenant -and that this would keep them steady and strong, and guide their way through their unchartered paths. And that God told the people to consecrate themselves. These have been good images for me to cling to in recent days.
And then, Jonathan also suggested that in many ways in our lives up here, we are standing at the Gate of Hades. I have thought a lot about this dramatic analogy. We are pretty much surrounded by death on a daily basis. I have become very aware of late of the heaviness that lies around us — you can’t ignore it or shake it off. I went out two weeks ago with two friends from here – it was a rare opportunity where they didn’t have their children- and we spent several hours over a leisurely dinner together. I took a picture of us and I wanted to put on Facebook – “Woohoo! Girls night out!” But i couldn’t do it — I realized how it just felt different. We weren’t completely serious the whole time, but there was a lot of our conversation that wouldn’t have happened in other places that I have lived. There certainly was not a “Woohoo!” type of atmosphere. My friends have had such huge losses to their lives — it will be awhile before they are really able to have a Woohoo! Girls night out.
A wonderful thing that God has been doing is bringing really hurting women to the Nozomi project. How thankful we are to be a place of safety; a place for healing. Each time we meet I leave emotionally exhausted but with a heart full of thankfulness that He allows us to link lives with women who really need this right now. I feel like I have walked very near to the gate of Hades quite a bit in recent days. I have been walking the very scary and unnerving path with one friend who has been questioning whether she should continue living or not. To call her and check in and not get an answer is one of the scariest things that can happen. We are walking with her; assuring her she is not alone.
Last week two new women came to Nozomi who both had incredibly traumatic experiences in the tsunami. One of them, N., still is suffering from PTSD, flashbacks during the night, and depression. I loved watching her work away with great zeal at grinding the broken pottery! The other new woman, N2, was recognized by the women when she walked in as being “famous” – she was interviewed on numerous news and talk shows because of the horrendous experiences she had following the tsunami. When she was finally rescued after surviving in the tsunami water for nine hours, her body temperature was only 1 degree celsius. They thought she was dead. She almost had her leg amputated; she showed me the scars and I watched her walk with a slow limp.
It has been a joy this week to have Lisa and Rebecca from southern California working with us 24/7 for nine days in teaching the women how to make finished products. The results are so beautiful – I have been moved to tears. I can’t wait until we are able to unveil the final products! Today we had eight ladies gather to learn and to create. Another of the women made an exquisite necklace with pearls and a beautiful broken pottery pendant- she totally has an eye for the design. But then during lunch, while we were sitting around and talking about our families, she got up suddenly and left. I went out a few minutes later and found her sitting in her car. She said she had a panic attack; it happens often. She was unable to drive home; I drove her home in her car and then her husband drove me bak to the Be One house. Her losses are still too great for her to handle. She has been to hell and back and needs people standing on the edge who can provide love, prayers, healing, hope.
So as we continue forward in this beautiful, haunting city where God has called us, we ask you to continue to pray for us. Really really. I’m realizing in new ways the significance of the prayers of the saints for our work here. There are several people who have told me they they pray specifically for my friend Y. daily or on certain days. I am buoyed by knowing that there are many standing with us on the edge.
And at the same time, I am reminded daily of the hope that is springing forth. This afternoon one of the women suddenly got up from her necklace-weaving and came over to me with tears in her eyes. She threw her arms around me and just said, “thank you” through her tears. I wasn’t sure what had happened. She explained that for ten years her life has been so hard; she never imagined that she could be happy again. Bu God has brought new joy through what she is doing here – she never thought that could be possible.
Now that is worth a big WooHoo.