I have a feeling this could be one of the most interesting Easter Sundays I will experience in my life. We are expecting around 150-200 people to come to the Easter celebration tomorrow morning, many who have never heard the story of Easter (or of Jesus). All the Christians working in this area will gather for a joint service – just with the foreign missionaries alone, that’s got to be at least 75 people! Today at the takidashi event (serving a hot meal) we invited lots of folks to tomorrow’s event and expect that many will come out of sheer curiosity, and at the very least, to enjoy community, a hot meal, live music, and ice cream sundaes for dessert.

We are here until Friday and we continue to have full, blessed days here in this amazing city. We are astonished at how easily we can talk to the people here! We have been overwhelmed by the warmth and openness of the people of Ishinomaki.Today we had a long talk with a sweet woman whose home is being restored by Samaritan’s Purse. She is deeply moved by their extreme, unmerited kindness to her, and had a lot of questions about why they are so eager to help her. “Why in the world would they do that? What gives them the motivation to help others in need? Where does it come from?” Matthias started by explaining to her the story of the Good Samaritan which helped her to understand a little more of what Samaritan’s Purse is trying to do. Lorna, a missionary from the US, explained to her that all of us are motivated by the transforming love of God, not simply because we’re “really nice people.” All of these things were a bit hard for her to grasp but she was so grateful and moved that we have come from afar to help her and her countrymen.

Well, we came to Ishinomaki to network and find housing. Networking has been splendid and very fruitful. While we are not at all sure about housing, we will probably have to be content to leave Ishinomaki without having a place to live lined up. We will simply have to find something upon our arrival on August 1st. New things are opening up week by week and we are hopeful we’ll be able to find something in Ishinomaki once we move here.

Here a few photos from the past few days:

Reunited with old friends at a Coco’s restaurant in Sendai, Edie Cummings, Glenda Thomas, and a new friend, Ruth

“Gospel Enka” at this morning’s takidashi event  – enka is a type of traditional Japanese music, usually favored by older folks

A few funny ice cream flavors I hadn’t seen in the US – pumpkin pudding ice cream?!

We took a trip to one of the Samaritan’s Purse bases in Tome – this is what you see when you drive up to the base.

Taka, the head cook

With Tobias, a young German man working with SP who wants to come back to Japan for at least one year

Now I’m off to bed, eagerly awaiting Easter 2012! More updates and photos to come…