Friday, March 30, 2012

Just the Norm

Another regular day here in Japan. Which pretty much means nothing since there really is no such thing as a “regular” day here.

Woke up at 5:20am, getting ready for the day and listening to the walls creak and the dishes rattle from another little earthquake. Breakfast was the typical – oatmeal, eggs, bacon, pancakes, toast, etc. Noel did devotions this morning and then we all prayed for him and hugged him goodbye. He's gonna be missed. Got to the bottom of the hill to go and discovered that the only person missing was Justin – which was utterly shocking since he is always wanting to be the first van to roll out. Waited. Not only was he not there he was LATE! We rolled out at 7:35am after Justin came flying down the hill. I gave him a hard time about it – He said that he'd been having a unforeseen powwow – I asked if that's where he learned all his 'indian tricks'. (whenever I'm having an issue with something he'll come up and say that he knows an old indian trick to fix whatever the problem.)

After playing school bus for a few other teams, we finally got to our job site- read some verses and prayed – then got to work. I did drywall all day. I can now do it all myself - Measuring, cutting, rasping, beveling, and screwing it in place. Yepyep. I'm still covered in sheetrock dust – my black hoodie is pretty much white. I also learned a few new 'indian tricks' for drywalling today. At lunch we all agreed that the bentos were that worst bentos ever – they tasted kind of old. That was a first. Shoji-san typically buys us lunch but we said that we'd bring it today. Bad idea. Tomorrow Shoji-san is buying lunch. Michael came to the realization that he smelled really bad and informed us all. We worked until quarter after 4, prayed, ran around picking everybody else back up, and headed back to camp. The staff and long-term volunteers are having a meeting right now. Dinner was some strange salad, rice, beans, and 'hamburger' patties. Good stuff.
And yeah.....
That's as normal as the days get around here. So I thought I'd tell you all all about it.
From here I'm probably going to head back to my cabin and go to bed as soon as possible. Unless we all decide to go back over to the guys cabin and try and finnish Wall-E, which we started last night.
Probably not. Sleep sounds better.

Night everybody!

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Night of Surprises


I don't know that there is a single word that can describe today.
This morning before rolling out we were informed that we needed to be at the Gamo city hall by 5:30pm so that we could help clean something up. Okay no big deal.
So after a full day's work we pulled up to the city hall and the parking lot was full. We walked in and found the building full of people, decorated with colorful paper chains, with tables full of trays of beautiful food and music playing. The people of Wakabyashi, the town we have been working in, were throwing a surprise party in our honor. And it was a night like no other.
Many people who's homes we had rebuilt got up and shared, telling of the hope that we had brought back. They got up and sang for us, they gave us gifts, and at the end of the night they all lined up with their arms raised and made a tunnel out the door for us to walk through.
It was so incredibility precious. The people whom we had come to serve, that we had come to bless – turned it right around and served and blessed us. I don't know that I have ever been in a room so permeated with the love of God.
And I really wish I could do a better job describing it all, but it was just one of those things that you had to experience.
The love of God is greater far the tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled , and pardoned from his sin

The love God how rich and pure how measureless and strong!
It shall for ever more endure the saints' and angels' song!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

More Then Just a Cabbage


Today was pretty special.
We started off the day going to Shoji-san's house and worked until 11am, then hopped back into the van and drove a few blocks to the Otomo-san's for the dedication of their home. And I gotta say it's a whole lot more meaningful when you yourself worked on the house that is being dedicated.
But one of the most touching moments was when Justing was talking, saying how wonderful it was to have worked on their home, and he picked up a cabbage (there was a pile in the middle of the room that we had had to work around the whole time), got down on his knees and began to explain how we are like a cabbage – Kind of gross looking on the outside, maybe a little moldy – but when you peel off the outside layers the inside is perfectly good, and that's what God's love can do for us.
It was the most perfect example, and was such a good reminder to me – I started crying.
The other really awesome part was when we gave them a Japanese Bible. Mr. Otomo-san said that he was really happy to get a real Bible, not the kind that the Jehovah's Witnesses have.
It was just a super incredible experience altogether.

After the dedication we went back to Shoji-san's and work till five. I spend most of my day doing insulation installation. And I think I'm catching the bug that's going around. I'm losing my voice and have a nasty cough..... so not cool.

Other then that life is AWESOME!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Devine Appointments


Today was another wonderful day of watching the Lord work here in Japan.
It was one of those days that you think you know how it will go – and then it just doesn't.

We started off the day by dropping off Noel at the Sendai station when he was meeting some friends and going on a day long Onsen trip. Upon arriving at the home we are now working on I was introduced to Yuko, a japanese carpenter and our interpreter for the day. Spent most of the day cutting blue board and screwing on floorboards. During the middle of the day we had a plumber come in to fix up some pipes, and it was pretty cool 'cause he brought his 17 year old daughter, Misuzu, with him, so we got to have a break with them and talk a little, and it sounds like we'll be seeing them again for dinner or something later this week. It was pretty cool. Then it hit our last break and Mr. Shoji-san told us that he wanted us to leave early today because it was a “holy day” (grave visiting day) and so everyone else had taken the day off, so he really wanted us to at least get off early.
Of course, working with Justin, this is simply unacceptable. Lol.
We did leave Shoji-san's house at 4pm (an hour early), but we went back to the Otomo-san's house so that Justin and Michael could fix a little hole. So while they did that the rest of us just kinda sat around outside the house. And then this young Japanese guy walked up. He knew some english, and I think he was pretty excited to get to use it on us (since Yuko had left no one spoke Japanese). But it was really cool, He said he was on spring break touring the disaster area, and after the hole in the house was all fixed up we got to prey with this guy and give him a lift to the bus stop. It was so cool.
It's just amazing the way the Lord brings people into your life.

I'm really learning how important it is to pray with people. You know?!
Sometimes that's the only thing we can do for people. Sometimes that is the only way they will see Christ in you. Because sometimes they don't get to see your works, and sometimes the opportunity to share the gospel story never comes – but everyone can be prayed for or prayed with, and you never know how it will affect them. It's a seed planting thing. But that's a whole 'nother lesson all together....

So exhausted.......

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Day The Lord Has Made


Today was AWESOME! Just sayin'.....
We got more new people on Sunday and a bunch of people had the day off today, so all of the crews that were working were big! Our typical group of four grew to nine people today.
But yeah. We finished the Otomo-sans home and have begun work on Shoji-san's house. And I gotta say – Nine people make a dent! Almost the whole floor has been 'blue boarded' (aka-foam insulation), and we have already started screwing down some of the flooring. We got so much done!
But above that, working today with everybody I was so happy I almost cried. I love the people here so much! I feel like I've been adopted into this huge awesome family, and all the guys I'm working with are like my big brothers, and they're all looking out for me. It's so amazing.
Wow, I feel like a total sap right now.....

I also decided that I love working! I really do. I love getting up really early, and I love working hard with my hands. I also love taking breaks (which are observed like that sabbath here...)
Hmmm....yeah. It was a good day. Tomorrow we'll probably have a smaller group but it's gonna be another awesome day of working for the Lord! I”ll be screwing in flooring probably all day – it's gonna be awesome (I've fallen in love with power drills).
And.... Justin is going to make Michael and I take next Monday off, 'cause “You guys work so hard – it's awesome. You deserve a day off. I know you weren't planning on it but that's what we're gonna do.” Yeah. Justin is great. He's a super encouraging team leader and a workaholic, who can't believe that I've never done construction/carpentry before now. I guess when you're working as unto the Lord He blesses the work of your hands.
Anyways. There is so much else I could say – but I haven't the time to type it all.
It's getting late (I won't even be able to post this until tomorrow), and I am in need of some good sleep.

Thanks all for your prayers!
(PS: please pray that I don't get sick – we have a couple people coming down with something- and I really don't wanna catch it. Also pray that the sick people would feel better soon! :P)
You're all awesome! ^_-

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Growing Shadows


Yesterday was a rather hard day.
We added another guy to our little construction crew but I can't say it made the work go any faster.
He helped for a little but when he didn't know what he should be doing instead of asking he wandered around outside taking pictures. He also informed us at lunch that he never tries new foods, so he only ate like three bites of his bento (Michael and I ate the rest of it for him). Justin was really good about it all – but that's kinda Justin for you. It really bothered me more than it should have – I think it was because in his mind this was “just another missions trip” so he was very casual about the whole thing - where as this is where my heart is, I love these people and their culture, and I love the work we are doing here and I want to do it because I want them to be able to live in their home as soon as possible.

The other rather disappointing thing was that we didn't end up finishing the house like we had hoped.
It's so close! But there were a few odd pieces of drywall that just weren't fitting right and took forever, so we still have a few left. But the home owners were really excited because we were working on the little shelf/closet in the main room. It was soon discovered that this was the shelf that the family Buddhist alter went on, and that today was the first day of some week long celebration in which the family ancestor spirits came and resided in the little box (alter). We worked twenty minutes past normal trying to finish this thing for them because they weren't going to leave until it was set up. So when all of the sheet rock in to little corner was finished we actually had to put the black box in place and clean it off for them. They then immediately put in offerings of fruit and flowers for the spirits.
It was so sad. And even earlier in the day when we had asked why they did this, if they actually believed in it really – The reply was that it's just what they do- they don't really know if it's true or not but they've been doing it for generations and they wouldn't want the spirits to do anything bad to them if they didn't do it. They are in such great darkness it breaks my heart.

Please be praying for the people of Japan as this week begins and most of the population takes part in this ritual. Pray that their eyes would be opened and that they would see the light of Christ. Please also pray for us as this will cause some spiritual warfare as the “spirits” are invited in to the homes. Pray for the safety and the spiritual strength of all of the volunteers.
And thank you, thank you so much for your prayers – they can be felt and they are needed.

Side stuff-
There was another earthquake last night – I actually felt it this time.
So it was a fairly good sized one. My whole bed was shaking – it was kinda cool.  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Tiemann Enterprises Abroad!

Been super busy the last couple of days.
Last night all the volunteers and staff were invited to Grape City for a dinner. Two of our cooks here on base are related to the Bromann family (the hosts). It was HUGE! There was tons of food and some really cool people. Apparently the Bromann's started a kindergarden english school on the top of the little hill that they own to fund their mission work. So, after getting some food I was invited to sit by a woman who introduced herself as Kerry, saying she was married into the family. We talked an she asked all about how and why I can to Japan and stuff, and she started talking about the school and what it takes to be a teacher there and such – it was all very interesting. I think she was trying to persuade me to be an english teacher there.... I think it worked.

Got home late last night after the dinner and started another full day of work at 5:30.
We are almost done with the house that Me, Justin, Michael, and Noel are working on – we're planning on finishing tomorrow! So exciting!
So pretty much today I was sweeping and wiping woodwork. It kinda felt like working for Mr. Tiemann again... I was even wearing my Tiemann sweatshirt! It was kind of funny.
But it made me start thinking about all the things we do in life that we don't realize we'll need or use later on. Who would have thought that I would be in Japan cleaning new construction? Not me.
Who knew I'd need to know how to do it well, and gave me a job doing it before coming here?
Hmm... God maybe. It makes me wonder what other things have been “training tools”.
It's so incredible to see the way that God has everything under control and planned out.

Some other totally random things:
-I learned that you NEVER walk or stand on the thresholds (skiis) of the doors between rooms – apparently it's VERY rude. (bet you can guess how I learned that one... ;P)
-Raw fish raw.
- Me and Michael were singing opera this morning.
- 14 more people coming tonight and tomorrow

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Our Hope is in the Lord

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Today was our day off, but for some unknown reason I thought it would be cool to wake up at 4:30am.
Most of the morning was spent in the main “all-purpose” cabin fellowship with some of the other volunteers. Today went nothing like anyone had planned...
We were planning on attending a memorial service put on by the Billy Graham ministry but received an email detailing the event and realized that no one on base really had the required attire.
So later, at 10:00am, most of us new volunteers loaded up into 2 of the vans and headed to a church service – but never really made it. We got to the city the church was in 2 hours later and drove around for three hours looking at what was left of the city (and trying to find the church). The destruction was incredible, as were the tragic stories we heard of the people that had once lived there. At one point we stopped at an elementary school that was swarming with Japanese people dressed in black, and were informed that 80 of the young students had been swept away.
Through out the entire day the question that has been haunting my mind is this – Where do those who have lost everything, and do not know Christ, find hope for the future? Do they?
Our hope as Christians is in the Lord, but for where do the Japanese find their hope? Most of them have never even heard the name of Jesus – as someone on base said “Using the name of the Lord is nonexistent here, because they don't know it.”
I don't know...
It's been a very interesting day. I've been encouraged so much by the brothers and sisters in Christ here on the base, seen such tragedy, heard such sad stories, and yet I do not lose heart – yet not I in my own strength – I can literally feel the Lord breathing hope and life into me here, I just pay that it will overflow and spill on to all those around me.

**Okay, so I just kind of reread all of this and I apologize that it's all rather slapped together sounding, but you really have no idea how hard it is to try and put into words everything that I am experiencing.
Well- they say that a picture is worth a thousand words – so here are the pictures of the trip so far:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

When in Japan... Do as the Japanese!!!!


We left Tokyo, after having a Japanese breakfast buffet, a lot of the food was familiar and a lot was not.
Got on a bus to the airport where we got on a train to Tokyo Station, which is huge and seriously if there hadn't been a guide we would have been lost within seconds. At Tokyo station we got to shop and buy our own lunches – I bought a tea, and a green tea muffin with beans on the inside. o_o
After that we got on the bullet train and rode 2 hours out to Sendai, where we met some other volunteers from Germany who were heading back home. Drove by van from the Sendai station to Shichigahama Base Camp, where we got a quick run down of the way things are done here – (for example: Japanese construction,etc. Is done VERY differently then in the US.) Had dinner and crashed for the night.


Life at Shichigahama -
The day started at 5:30am. With breakfast at 6 and devotions thereafter. The main language here at Shichigahama is Japaglish – basically whatever can be said in Japanese is, and so the typical conversation is part english part Japanese. It has been really cool though to here some of the Japanese volunteers praying in the morning.
After devotions and prayer time the vans roll out to the work sites. Today I worked with Michael, Jason, and Nolan in a house belonging to a couple in their late 70's. I spent the majority of the day using a power drill – on the ceiling, on the walls, on the floor, wherever a screw was needed I put it there. Another good part of the day was spend sitting with the home owners who made sure that we took a break for morning tea, eating our Bento's (aka-lunch), having some homemade soup, etc.
I also got to hear a bit of their story- They have lived in this house for a very long time (in Japan houses are treasures and are passed done the generations.), and the wife has never left Sendai. They don't own a car but bike everywhere they need to go. And on the night of the Tsunami, as the waters came rushing into the house, they run upstairs and onto their roof where they were rescued by helicopter - The wife said that this was the most terrifying event of her life (worst then the tsunami.) They personally witnessed hundreds of people, and whole families get swept away.

Tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of the Tsunami and there will be memorial services held all over the county of Japan – unfortunately these services will also include praying to/ worshiping the dead. So please pray for the people of Japan that they would see the darkness and spiritual strongholds in their own lives, and please please pray for the salvation of the people we are working with – they are such dear people!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ready Begin!

Well, now it's official, I am in Japan!

The flight was almost 13 hours, went north to Canada then west across Siberia/Russia and then back south landing in Tokyo. We were met at the airport by a member of Samaritan's Purse and made it through immigration and customs in no time – as soon as we figured out which way we were suppose to go. Took a bus to Hotel Nikko Narita (it's a really nice hotel), checked in, then had a group dinner at 7:30 with all 23 of us volunteers.

It is currently 5:45am, and we have another meeting at 8 to get some instructions on leaving and getting out train tickets. And then all 23 of us (plus 2 staff members) get to try and get all the way though Tokyo station (on a Friday) without losing anyone! Whoohoo!
We will be boarding bullet trains which will take us north to Sendai where we will be split in to two base camps. One of the groups will be going to Tome camp and the other (my group) will be going to the place that when you say it it sounds like you are stuttering and I can't even remember how you say it now... it's like Shichiga- something or other....

Well, I guess that's all for now. Thanks so much everyone for your prayers!

And on a totally random note I decided they really should come up with some sort of survival plan for if your plane happens to crash in Northern Russia.....
'Cause I think you would pretty much die of the cold and there is no one even up there who would find you....
yeah random I know, thats all.