6th December, 2012 ‘Christmas Party in Ishinomaki District and a Relief Work in Mangokuura Area’

Number of Volunteers: 26
Urawa Church (2), Tokyo Musashino Church (1), Higashi Omiya Church (1), Furukawa Church (3), Sendai Church (19)

1.    Christmas party (Mangokuura temporary housing )
Singing Christmas carols, message from the Bible, bingo game, lunch, distribution of relief supplies
2.    Distribution of 300 Christmas gift packages to 300 households in the area
Content of the package: Christmas card, 2 heat patches, toilet paper, snacks, and hats, gloves, socks, or scarves

We are truly excited to report about the relief work event we organized for this very special season of Christmas. First of all, we would like to thank all of you who sent us supplies for distribution (they came in from all over the world), and also those who traveled all the way to help us with the work. In addition to the basic Christmas gifts described above, we also assembled few different kinds, such as a package of sticky rice for Japanese New Year’s celebration, as well as a package for children.

This year, we divided the whole team into half. One team led a Christmas party at temporary housing, while the other took the gift packages to individual households in temporary housing and homes in the surrounding area, knocking on their door one by one. We would normally try to spend as much time as possible talking and listening to people, but today we had to focus on distributing the packages. It took longer than we expected to distribute all of them, but other teams, including the one putting up a Christmas party, were going over time as well, so all teams ended up finishing around the same time. Praise the Lord for His perfect timing!

I visited the same area about a month ago, so when I started going around the area with packages, people remembered us and were really excited to see us again. Ms. S is in her seventies, living at temporary housing by herself. She had a surgery for her cataract only 2 days prior to our visit, and she shared with us how excited she was when she was able to put a thread through a needle that day! It was such a blessing to be able to share an exciting moment with her.

My love and understanding for these people grew as we visited them repeatedly. I am no expert in communication, but I am humbled by the power of God that allows me to take part in this ministry despite my incapability.

(Takahashi Hiroko)

    I noticed that the expressions on faces of those who came out to chat with us today were calm and relaxed. People approached us with smile when they learnt that we were from church, which we owe to those who had faithfully and continuously visited them with love over the past years. A lot of people were gone when we visited their home, but I hope it was due to their new employment or improved mood to spend time outside, not because of the gambling centers that have been becoming increasingly popular in the area.

    It made me happy to see people’s faces brighten up when we told them we had gifts to give. However, my biggest prayer is that they will experience even more joy when they read the Christmas card with bible verses and a gospel booklet we included inside.

    When I took some baby clothes to a mother there, we were informed that there is a great need for baby clothes in the area. I promised her that I will return with more in future. When I asked for donations of baby clothes to my friends back home, they thanked me for collecting and carrying the goods to people for them, since they can’t visit them themselves. I was really encouraged to realize how blessed I was to be the person to take the gifts full of love to people.

    It’s been over a year and a half since the earthquake hit this area, but people are still making the sacrifice to send us so many supplies to distribute! I would like to thank all of those who have been partnering with us in this ministry through donations and prayer. As much as I am relieved to see people doing well in the area we visited, I am aware of temporary housings that have not received much or any visit yet, and it breaks my heart to imagine how lonely they might be. Please keep those people in your prayer.

(Sachi Aizawa)

    We started planning for this Christmas event in early September, discussing over and over again about details and praying as we prepared. It was very encouraging to see so many churches respond to support us. We had 26 people joining from various churches today, including the Gilberts, a missionary working here in Miyagi. It was our fourth time visiting this temporary housing unit, so people were very welcoming. About 40 people who came out for the party enjoyed the beautiful voice of our guest musician, Mika Takana, and they were also attentive to the gospel message that Rev. Kurihara shared. We had a wonderful time together. Almost all the winter clothes and hand crafted gifts we took there were gone at the end. I was also glad to see how much they enjoyed the bingo game, especially the prizes they won! As people started leaving, I heard so many of them talk about how much fun they had. Praise God for the opportunity He gave us to spend fun time together!

    Some of us went back to the same area next day to deliver an electric blanket to an old lady, Ms. S. It was truly moving to see Christians respond to God’s grace and love by giving and caring others, and to imagine how much joy that must have brought to people. To God be the glory.

(Mairko Fukazawa)

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