Matthias and I finished up our volunteer work with World Mission yesterday. I am in total awe of God to have allowed us to be here at such an unparalleled time as this in Japanese history.  I can honestly say these have been some of the most meaningful weeks of my entire life.

Yesterday was our last time to volunteer at a child friendly space in Tome-shi from 1:30-5pm. The kids have been calling us “Ma-chan” and “Dani-chan” because our names are not easy to pronounce. It’s been so fun to hear them calling us by our nicknames! It was really hard to say goodbye for the last time, though. Matthias talked at length with one of the young mothers, and she confessed that since her husband lost his job in the fishing industry, he’s been doing nothing more than playing video games. Another mother told me that she is really struggling with her son who has so much pent-up frustration and stress since the tsunami. Oh, how my heart breaks all these young moms and who’ve been through so much!

Last night, after we finished our volunteer work and said tearful goodbyes to the World Vision staff, we stopped by an evacuation shelter in Tome-shi where several of the children we’ve been working with are living. In case you didn’t know, school gyms across Japan are doubling as evacuation shelters; in other words, thousands of people who survived the tsunami are living in school gyms. We haven’t been able to go inside there very often (in fact no one really goes in there except residents or staff members), but we were able to spend almost an hour talking and playing with these kids who are living with dozens of other families in a school gym. It was so nice to be so welcomed with smiles all around. I think because the adults saw that the kids like us so much, it made it easier for us to be able to go inside. It was humbling to see that the kids’ play area is a dingy, dark, and dilapidated little room off of the side of the school gym that probably used to be nothing more than a storage unit. One girl insisted on drawing a picture of the two of us, and I determined to frame it because it’s so darn adorable. The littlest one danced for us and another 12-year old girl asked us lots of questions about our lives, about Germany, and she was shocked to discover that we are married. The kids find it fascinating that we are married, although I am not sure why.

After that, the kids insisted on “seeing us off” to the car and after I gave them all some German gummy candy, we drove away. I immediately burst into tears at the thought of not seeing those precious kids for a while. I am going to miss them terribly. I kept thinking, is there anything more precious than the smile and innocence of a child who has survived one of the worst natural disasters in recent history? So many children were killed in this tsunami and I am so thankful God has spared the lives of those beautiful children.

It is really late here and I need to get to bed, but I’ll post more photos tomorrow, especially one or two of the funny letters we helped to translate from kids in the UK and Germany to kids in Japan.

We’re currently in Tokyo and will be here until next Tuesday and after that we’ll be in Nagoya for a few days. We’re headed to Germany on June 15th and then NJ on June 28th! It’s going to be a very busy couple of weeks…hope I can hang in there.