(Note- I started this entry multiple times but because of really slow internet access especially in the evenings it never got finished- I would get too frustrated and quit. Catching up a bit now – and wanted to share this special joyous event with you).
In mid-December we had our first annual Nozomi Christmas party. Very thankful for special gifts to NP from John and Mona, and Larry, which went towards blessing these special women!
We made reservations at a beautiful french restaurant in Ishinomaki. All but one woman had never been there before (one had gone on a date there twenty years before!). Most of them rarely eat out at all….when we sat at the table they said they were so nervous because they didn’t know how to use all the silverware!
It was really fun to get dressed up… Nozomi Project gave each woman a necklace – they could choose the pendant and the style that they liked – and it was fun to see what everyone picked out. I found out at lunch that one staff didn’t own a skirt or a nice top and so used her recent salary to go out and buy one! She -and everyone – looked bbeautiful.
They thought we were just having lunch – ha ha ha. We laughed so hard playing several games that had all of us doing some crazy stuff.
While we had prepared special gift cards for each of the women, we didn’t know that they had prepared special gifts for us: flowers, and a Nozomi necklace of our choice that they all chipped in and bought for us! They had worked hard to keep this as a surprise for us. Here we are with our flowers – our most current photo with all of our staff.
Of course, you can’t be doing this kind of business of making jewelry out of broken pottery, and eating in a restaurant with beautiful dishes – and not have every single person in that room at some point either think or say aloud — “Wouldn’t it be great if one of these plates happened to break?” Here Chi. is caught redhanded! (pretending to drop it, not doing it for real).
As we gave each woman their gift card, we shared a memory or thought about how we first met them – the special things that they bring to our group. At the end, we stood in a circle, held hands, and sang “Silent Night,” the best-known Christmas carol in this country. And then I asked Matsuri Y. to close our time in prayer. It was such a beautiful, heartfelt prayer to her Lord! I was touched to our depths.
As we left in different groups – some to pick up kids, some to return to work for an hour or two before closing — I was so filled up. We needed that time together! There have continued to be some internal strife and challenges among several of the staff. But God is at work doing an amazing thing. I can’t believe I didn’t know these women eight months ago. Now each of their lives are intertwined with mine in beautiful ways. God is doing His redeeming work.
If you haven’t had a chance to watch this yet, here is a short video I put together recently that without words shows the development of God making beautiful things in our midst.