Eric and several other staff/volunteers were out on Saturday helping an older lady, who lives about a half hour away, move from her run-down home into a temporary housing unit so that her current home can be re-done. This is his third visit to help there, and on Saturday one of our local older friends, Mr. Aogi, was off work and offered to go help as well. We always love when he comes along!
In the truck on the way up, Mr. Aogi shared with our friend Jonathan that he has never been happier in his life. He said, “I wish I had met Be One people before the tsunami – – I could have started being happy earlier in my life!” It is amazing to hear this coming from someone who had endured so much trauma during and after the tsunami.
Some of you remember us sharing about him — during the days after the tsunami he and his son went out and gathered up all of the dead bodies, laid them in a row, and gently cleaned off each face. Chad first met him when he was going around the nearby roads with a magnet stick, trying to pick up all the unwanted nails so that the volunteer trucks would be able to get through without too many delays. Each day he would gather a bucket or more of nails and dangerous pieces littering the area.
Mr. Aoki also had the remarkable chance to meet Jesus! He had a vision one night that Jesus was standing before him. He motioned Mr. Aoki to come to him, and held out his open arms for him and the volunteers. He knew from this vision that Jesus really is who He says he is. We have been so encouraged by the stories of people having visions of Jesus since the tsunami.
Back to Saturday. During the lunch break, the team was sitting around and Eric and Mr. Aoki were sharing some of these stories. Eric was sharing of Mr. Aoki and his son’s incredible service of collecting the bodies and cleaning off their faces. He looked over and saw Mrs. Kato, one of the resident’s relatives and a friend of ours, with tears running down her cheeks. She was astonished. “Mr. Aoki- you cleaned my niece’s face!” The team confirmed that her deceased niece had indeed died at the very apartment complex where Mr. Aoki lives. Exactly. She continued, “We found her a few days later. We were dreading discovering her, and wondered if we would even know her. But as soon as we came across her body, we knew right away it was her. We said someone must have lovingly cleaned her face. She looked so beautiful lying there – like she was just asleep. Thank you so much for caring for her.”
It was one of those strange, God-made encounters where He brought people from across Ishinomaki to share and put together their painful experiences and find some places of healing and peace. We continue to realize that deep healing is still much needed, but can come through honest interactions, prayer, and loving relationships — God doing His best work.
Mrs. Kato called me the next day and wants to get together this next weekend. So thankful for the beautiful web of relationships that God is weaving in our midst.