Good Report from Japan Construction Team #4

by Deacon Steve Lengkeek, OPC Short-Term Missions Disaster Response team leader (April 2012)

 

After a week and a day of working here at the Nozomi Center in Yamamota, Japan, Short-Term Disaster Relief Team #4 is beginning to see the end of the tunnel in several ways. Tonight, after a team dinner in Sendai, we bid farewell to Luke and Ruth Brown. They are now to embark on a 10 day holiday touring much of Japan, prior to returning home. They have worked very hard spending several weeks with 3 different teams enduring many different abodes, living styles, and personalities. We bid them well on their journey.

The team was able to have some down time on Saturday, by visiting the Sendai Castle, visiting downtown shops, and enjoying a meal with OPC Missionaries Cal and Edie Cummings at a local restaurant. On Sunday, the team worshipped at the Sendai church where we were treated like royalty. It was very special since it was Easter Sunday. Tradition has it that on Easter Sunday they have a very large pot luck dinner. Emmanuel OPC has had some good pot luck dinners in the past, but they pale in light of the ‘spread’ prepared and served to the attendees. We were very fortunate to be able to be there that particular Sunday – sorry Teams 1, 2, 3 but you really missed a treat. After eating, we went with other members to a Buddhist cemetery where the Sendai Church has its ‘church family’ plot. We have the impression that all Japanese are cremated; some of the ashes are put at the cemetery, while others remain with the family. Seven churches/chapels participated with about 100 people in attendance. We felt very much akin to our hosts as together we celebrated our Saviors resurrection. After the service we journeyed to Pastor Murray Uomoto’s home – the’ only / lonely’ OPC missionary outpost in Japan. We had a wonderful time singing hymns, mostly of the Cross and Christ’s resurrection. Pastor Murray had a devotional and then we had a wonderful meal. We returned back to the Nozomi Center eager to begin another work week.

Much has been accomplished with Team #4 in our stay here at Yamamota. The team feels very good about the work of the past two days. The steps to the second floor have been completed. Today, we began to install flooring on the first floor and anticipate completing the bulk of that effort tomorrow. The tile in the five bathrooms (no this is not a mega – mansion) and the kitchen is completed with the exception of some grouting. All the trim on 16 doors and 15 windows has been installed. Baseboard molding will be installed once the flooring is completed. Work has been underway building an 8’ x 20’ foot shed next to the center to house the left over supplies and tools. All the drywall patching is complete and now most of the painting has been completed. We still have a ‘mess’ in the large conference room because of the need to continue use saws for trim and floor work. This will be cleaned up tomorrow provided the winds and the rain are not over bearing. We never seem to experience a day without the wind.

Good news is that our oven has been switched over 100% to propane (from a natural gas). This was accomplished with the input of the local gas company employees and folks back in the states. Thanks to everyone – the ladies will be thrilled with this opportunity to cook. We look forward to the supplies from the states this Thursday, hoping that perhaps we will be able to wash our clothes. At different times, we are able to experience firsthand the excitement from men and women from the various churches in Sendai who will come to either deliver lunch or supplies as they see both the progress and the promise of future opportunities in providing hope to this community. Today, we received 2 large trash containers for the kitchen and 5 small containers for the bathrooms. Along with these items, were toilet paper holders and a rail for use in the bathroom by persons with disabilities. It is so good to see them participating with us in this effort.

We have had to make many trips to various stores so are getting more acquainted with the area. On one trip we needed to purchase some 1 x 8’s for trim. The boards were slightly longer than what would fit in the van so we did what the normal US DIY (United States Do It Yourself) person would do and have the wood protrude slightly out the passenger window. It rested securely on the mirror. Well on the way home we had to use our free ‘get out of jail card’ as the Japanese are very, very safety conscious on their public highways, some of which are quite narrow. The police pulled us over. First reaction was that this is not going to be pretty. Fortunately we had our International Drivers permit with us and we got to deal with a young policeman. After responding ‘Nooo’ to his question ‘Japanese Good?’ he reverted to his Ipod translator. Even then it was tough and he let us go by showing us ‘next time’ on his Ipod. His parting words were ‘lotsa ruck’ . We find it a challenge to communicate as well as to find and buy the proper items.

The Lord truly does continue to hold us in his hand. We rejoice in that we all remain healthy and anxious to complete the tasks that we believe the Lord has set before us. This is a tremendous opportunity for witnessing to this area. In the neighborhood, we have found two words that the residents know in the English language. The first is Tsunami, and the second is Christian. They know that the Christians have come and are rebuilding a building that will be a center of Hope. They point to the building. With the work of the Holy Spirit, this Nozomi Center will be a haven for folks who have lost so much. We continue to covet your prayers, especially for part of the team over the next two days as they finish up work requiring significant skills and then make their way back home to their loved ones.