Am bunking in the guest house next to the Huddleston's with a Helping Hands team of college students from Memphis. The guys: Rusty, Trace, Taylor, Cody, and Wes. The girls--Laura, Rachel and Holly--are staying at Beth's apartment. I'm up and dressed at 7:30 before anyone else (the sun rises at 4 am) and outside Chad and Jennifer are already up and meeting a neighbor out walking her dog. I think I'll hike up the hill, I say, and they say, take the road that turns right at the veterinary hospital.
Within minutes, still on the paved road, yet I was "lost" in the play of light filtering through the trees.
Met a group of older hikers out collecting seasonal sprouts for cooking. Coming around a bend on the downhill tral opened to a vista of the harbor and the bridge across the river that bisects Ishinomaki At this distance you could see that what should have been a bustling port was largely bare of the factories, warehouses, and infrastructure that made it thrive. Also striking was the huge 3-stories high, six blocks wide mound of collected debris waiting for processing. Another one was visible by the breakwater, and likely others yet out of sight.
By the time I got back to the house it had been 2 hours and the guys had folded up my futon mat and sleeping bag for me.
Potluck lunch at noon in the Huddleston's house with at least a dozen kids,
All these stories bring it home to me that there is more to do--that all the pain and all the stories have not yet come out--that there are still years of healing and trying to find answers remaining.
Then we break up into groups of three to share and pray about what it means for God to be calling us to be His heart and hands. Eric says most people he talks to still don't "get it"--why we're here. The best they can come up with--they ask "are you doing this to keep something bad from happening to you?" which opens the door to try to explain God's love for us and that same freely-given love and unconditional grace that we have to share. And hope--Eric reads Isaiah 52.7--"How beautiful on the mountain of God are the feet of those who bring the good news of peace." And the hope of reunion and of seeing the faces someday of friends we've lost. Someone (maybe it was Jonathan again) talks about taking his kids to karate class and watching the dedication and focus and code of honor in karate and he thought that maybe Christian discipleship just might be something Japanese people could grasp. Cameron mused that if and when someone becomes a new Christian, it's only the beginning for me as well--because now they're watching me and I have to model what it means to live and walk as Jesus walked.
Later, outside, watching the kids play, Jonathan characterized three levels of pain he's seen--the daily struggles of living with loss of job and house, the personal losses of loved ones, and the buried pain that can't be spoken and has yet to be faced.
The Memphis team invited me to the karaoke place to celebrate Holly's birthday with them.