It is day two and we are definitely feeling the effects of traveling. This morning we woke up and decided to wander outside to explore the area we were staying. As soon as you walk outside, the destruction of Ishinomaki is right in front of you.
To the left, rests a boat that was thrown from the ocean (which is many blocks down) during the tsunami.
We turn to the right and walk down the road, passing plots of land where homes once stood. The homes that do still stand clearly have a great deal of destruction. We see a woman hanging clothes outside on the line to dry, and a tiny man ride by on a bike. Both seem out of place among the devastation.
A good ways down the road to the right is a school. It sits on the shoreline, so it was immediately hit by the tsunami. The gravity of the destruction truly hits me when I see the big clock on the front of the school. The clock is forever stopped with the big hand almost to the four and little hand on the nine. 3:45. The time the tsunami hit the school. And also only fifteen minutes after school ended. It had been an all girls school, and when the powerful waves hit, I’m sure there were still girls walking in the streets. Jim, our missionary, tells us the waves were five stories high.
We enter a house that is missing two and a half of its surrounding walls. Random belongings lie in a couple boxes. In one of the rooms, there is a broken chandelier that hangs awkwardly from the ceiling. This used to be a beautiful home.
When we come back from our walk, we have breakfast and then worship and a culture lesson from the Japanese people who are with us. Three are college students in Tokyo: Yoshi, Kaoti, and Yuta. They all tell us multiple times to “Please talk to me”. They all want to practice their English. They tell us that for the most part, Japanese people are shy. So don’t be too overly anything when you first meet them, because they may get intimidated. They tell us to speak slowly to the people, and it will show them that we are putting in an effort for them to understand what we are saying. Kaoti tells us to wait in line patiently, no cutting and to not point at people. A man Koigi joins our group with his two young sons- Hoata and Kata. Kata is eight-years-old, and Hoata is probably six or seven. They are so adorable, I want to put them in my pocket. But I’m not sure how they would feel about that if Noah translated that to them.
We travel more into the town of Ishinomaki and go to a beautiful mountain that overlooks the whole city.
From there, we can see the shoreline and all the destruction. Thousands of homes were destroyed. Far above sea level however, the area is still breathtaking. There is a tree full of small pieces of paper tied to the branches. I ask Koigi what it is for, and he says that when the Japanese receive a fortune, some believe that tying it to the tree will make their fortune come true.
We all spend a good amount of time exploring the area and learning about Ishinomaki, the Japanese culture and the tsunami. Koigi tells us that he had just gotten his two sons from school when the waves hit. Three of their friends were killed.
When we return, we have dinner at the facility that Jim’s wife prepares. That night, Noah-who is Jim’s son- sits down with all of us and explains his heart for Japan and his story.
Quick Tips about Japan
- Only 0.5% of Japan know Jesus
- Japan is one of the largest unreached people groups (according to the Joshua Project, only the Islamic Shaiks of Bangladesh are a larger unreached people group)
- It is normal for churches here to only have 3 people and for just 1 person to be saved every 5 years.
- For a period of 250 years, Japan was closed to people coming in and people leaving. This kept Christianity out and from manifesting.
For being such an advanced and influential nation, Japan is the least advanced spiritually. The Japanese are a very relationship-based people. So the key to evangelizing to them is through their trust and relationship building. This week, we are going to be divided into groups to do different ministries. Each will have the element of interaction with the people which I am most excited about!