Opening Ceremony of the Nozomi Hope Center
YAMAMOTO, JAPAN - "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." Ps 127:1
Thanks so much for those of you who were able to email us your words of thanksgiving and encouragement to be used at the opening ceremony at Nozomi Center yesterday. We really appreciated it and were able to read a few of the messages. We want to put together a notebook of these letters with a translation for all who stay at the center to read. We also want to put an album of pictures starting with last summer's teams cleaning out the building so people can know what the building looked like before it was renovated.
Yesterday was a time of rejoicing with 84 church and community people in attendance. Many churches were represented from as far away as Nagoya, Yokohama and Tokyo. It was a wonderful ceremony starting with a worship service and singing praises to the Lord and all praying together that this center would indeed be as David Nakhla said "a launching pad for ministers, church members, and teams from all over Japan and beyond to come and to spread the love of Christ, both in tangible expressions and in the proclamation of the Word."
After the uplifting worship service we were all treated to a half hour concert sung by 4 young people from Nagoya. Then we had a huge feast provided by the ladies from the Sendai churches. Two of the survivors of the tsunami attended. She told everyone how she and her husband were caught in the tsunami and how it swept their house away. She and her husband were in the water overnight and weren't rescued until the next day. She said 18 people from her neighborhood died. When she was a child she said she had gone to Sunday school and as she thought about how she and her husband survived she thought Jesus had saved them!
There were so many people involved in the successful completion of this project, we cannot begin to name everyone but we would like to start with a few. First of all we praise God for using John Voss to redesign the building, figure out what materials were needed and do the ordering and coordinating the reconstruction from the US! John put in COUNTLESS hours and gave sacrificially of his time and talents to help.
Thanks to David Nakhla for soliciting the volunteers, organizing the teams and encouraging them from afar. He even came out to Japan both in the summer and winter to check on the progress of the teams. You and God did an amazing job of sending just the right workers here to help!
How can we begin to thank all you team members, summer and winter teams, for your being willing to come to Japan and help our dear Japanese brothers and sisters? We can't thank you enough for your labors of love, your hard, sweaty work, positive attitudes, servant hearts, and non-complaining spirits even when the weather was too hot and humid for the summer teams, and too cold and wet for the winter teams!
You three wonderful summer teams remember how you spent many backbreaking hours cleaning out the sludge and mold from the building? You even had to take out those heavy dentist chairs and some of you found fake teeth and plastic molds while you were cleaning! I'm sure you couldn't imagine how something so badly damaged could be restored. You've seen the pictures of the finished product and can see how God can take ashes and turn it into something beautiful. It is a picture of the gospel, isn't it, how God alone can take something broken and ugly and turn it into something useful and beautiful for HIS honor and glory.
Another huge thank you to the 4 construction teams who worked so diligently, efficiently, skillfully in renovating the building. The volunteers were truly amazing and resilient. I cannot begin to say enough about their willingness to help, their ability to work hard, long hours, their conscientiouness to do first rate work, and especially the joy that they had while they worked on both the Sendai church and Nozomi center. They didn't even complain having to work in not so favorable conditions like unheated, cold buildings and sleeping on mattresses in which some of them lost the air!
A big thanks to our dear friend elder Sasaki who endeared himself to all the teams. He couldn't speak a word of English but certainly communicated love, compassion and kindness to all the teams. Team #1 wanted to pack him up and take him back with them to the US!
The ladies from Sendai church, and Mr. and Mrs. Ohno and Mrs. Watanabe from Canaan church very faithfully provided wonderful, delicious, plentiful lunches for the teams Monday through Saturday. I don't think the team members went back hungry or having lost weight! Teams #3 and #4 remember pastor Hayashi who brought you those steaks and other goodies?
We also want to thank all of you church friends in the US for your faithful, earnest prayers and sacrificial giving for this project from beginning to end. We give thanks to the Lord for all the people who have played a role in this project. Would you pray with us that it will indeed live up to its name of being a center for hope. Pray that the Lord will bless all who help here and that HIS name will be glorified through the ministry of word and deed at the Nozomi Center. Please pray the Lord will bless the teams coming out this summer. Pray the center will be a light and testimony of God's grace in the community of Yamamoto.
With thanksgiving to God for all of you,
Cal and Edie Cummings