It has been great to be settling into our new home – so many little things that are funner, easier, more beautiful, warmer, more spacious… One of the huge things for me has been seeing that our front door is already welcoming in many – yeah! We had two friends stay over last weekend with us; a 35-or-so people birthday celebration here for our friend Lora before we had officially moved in; a thank you dinner for the carpenters who worked hard to completely our home; a movie night with some friends from the area, a staff lunch; coffee time with friends today; and several playmates for our kids and their friends. We are looking forward to having the Nozomi staff over for lunch next week and then hopefully an open house next weekend. Also, my sister Beth is coming to visit for ten days – woohoo!
Today we had over the family of an old friend of mine. He and I had gone to the same church in Tokyo twenty two years ago, and then had lost touch. The following year, he had moved back to his hometown of Ishinomaki to help his parents’ business. He got married, and they have a son now a year younger than Owen. We had a wonderful time getting caught up! They live about fifteen minutes away. Here is a photo from twenty-two years ago — eek- hilarious!
As we listened to their stories of the tsunami, we were again so aware of the layers of pain and challenges that still remain. Their son is still very conscious when they drive through the tsunami zone; he worries when his mom is at work and separated from him. Their family keeps camping and food supplies in their car; she carries emergency supplies in her purse; they are ready in the case of future earthquakes or tsunami. The night before the big tsunami, he had shown his son a video of the Indonesian tsunami so that he might be prepared just in case… (it had been predicted that sometime in a thirty year span there would be a big earthquake and tsunami. It was overdue in this area, so some were on the watch for it). It hit the next day.
One of the things that struck me as we were processing the last two years with them was a comment that she made about their first time to leave Ishinomaki after the disaster. They were driving down to visit her sister in the Tokyo area. And as they began to leave behind the devastated areas, they noticed color coming back into the scenery. They didn’t realize how Ishinomaki had become just many shades of gray… there was no green left; no flowering trees or signs of spring. As they left Miyagi prefecture they noticed more and more colors filling up the scenery and they began to feel more alive.
Sometimes I will be driving through a neighborhood and just look for a single tree that may have survived. Homes are being rebuilt – that is great — but there are still whole huge areas without any trees – with very little green. One of Eric’s hopes in this next season of recovery is to help residents plant more trees – bring more color back to this city! This morning he planted the first tree on our property- a cherry tree. It may need to be moved and replanted when our land is graded, but it still made me happy to see some pink blossoms beginning to shoot out and show off shades of hope.