Good News from Nozomi (Hope) Center in Yamamoto, Japan!

by Deacon Steve Lengkeek, OPC Short-Term Missions Disaster Response team leader (April 2012)

Construction inside the Nozomi Center

Tonight at Cal and Edie’s dinner table we counted up the teams and concluded that there were 35 men and women who have worked on the Nozomi Relief Center over the past two months. This did not count Cal and Edie, the great and generous hosts, not David Nakhla, the great organizer. We know there are always others behind the scenes that contribute and add to the success of this project. Most important we have the confidence and belief that this is God’s plan for us in our journey and His plan for the Japanese people in and around Yamamoto. We strongly feel the Holy Spirit has worked in all of us a good thing by being here and we will continue to pray that the Spirit will work in the lives of these people who have suffered so much. We also remember the people of Japan who sense no need for a personal Savior but would rather press on in the search for earthly achievements and accomplishments only to see it all dash to pieces in a second in a moment of despair.

On Friday, Team 4 again went through separation pains again as we saw the departure of the heart and soul of the team. Nothing against Luke and Ruth, but this time the team lost the ‘heavy’ hitters. These were the guys that were skilled in so many aspects of construction. They had the on the job experiences that brought a wealth of talent and ideas which allowed them to accomplish much in their two week vacation here in Northern Japan. We miss Mark, Dave, Peter and Visale. It is difficult to describe the feelings you develop for each other over 2 weeks when each of us have put ourselves outside our comfort zones. It was hard to say good bye to them at the airport, after all they got us up at 5:00 to make sure we got them there in time. It is a 25 minute drive to the airport and the terminal didn’t open until 6:30. I think they were quite anxious to bring back home wonderful memories as they were reunited with their loved ones. We had to take two vans as they had so many tools as well as souvenirs to take to loved ones. If anyone is every near Hickory, NC, they may want to check out two new ‘hot’ Japanese toilet sets which are probably already installed. Cal Cummings, Murray Uomoto, Elder Kazuo Sasaki and his wife joined us to bid farewell to the four some. Cal led us in reading scripture, prayer, and two hymns. Without Dave here, I only make 1 pot of coffee instead of 5. I miss opening up the door under the stairwell and waking up Mark each morning. And I miss our Romanian bunkmates who unlike the others make very little nocturnal noise. I could never really figure that one out. We have the problem that our Japanese friends continue to bring us more (and now wine); far more that we could eat in a week much less than in one, and the ‘snackers’ aren’t around to indulge.

Up until Thursday night, the team worked long days and accomplished much. Finish work whether it be electrical, plumbing or carpentry is time consuming and demanding. They were consistent in meeting high standards of performance and fudged on nothing. The center was beginning to be presentable and useable. Their crowning accomplishments would include installing the flooring on the first floor, installing all the doors, installing 16 new lights, most of the trim, finishing the stairs including railing, building a 8’ x 20’ shed, installing counter tops, sinks, toilets, gas range, washer, dryer, retrieving and installing a refrigerator, and a whole lot of tile. Challenges were always present as we continued to be linguistically challenged. Plumbing seemed to be the biggest issue where again we experienced blockage into the sewer system. This time the solution was found by using the mighty black USofA plunger.

So we started with a team of 8, dropped to 6 and now we are down to 2. Just two little novices trying to finish the tasks generously to us to occupy our time over the next 3 days. But the Lord (and David) has provided two people who are quite driven to try to complete the goal. We keep looking for a care package from Washington State containing some plumbing fittings and other items to complete the plumbing. We had about 8 hours of trim to finish and equally that amount of grout work to complete. We now need to address the painting of doors and trim. Our own Cal Cummings has brushed his way forward leading us on as we meet the challenge of painting a lot of trim and doors. He had decided to paint the trim a chocolate color. It adds greatly to the authenticity of this building as Japanese. It has a red tint to it suggesting the appeal for the red art work from Sendai. So we will paint the trim downstairs chocolate, and then the trim upstairs, the kitchen and the doors white. Some women from the local churches have been here on different occasions cleaning windows, floors, etc. They are such a happy group; only regret our linguistically challenged position. The place is beginning to really look nice. It is such a contrast to how team #3 left the building last September 9th.

Tomorrow, Lord willing we will worship in an Orthodox Presbyterian Church – the only/lonely OPC mission work in Japan. We look forward to worshipping the Lord there with Pastor Murray Uomoto. We will drive up there with Cal and Edie. Perhaps, if we find ourselves back at the Nozomi Center with some time to ‘kick back’, we can post some pictures. We appreciate the prayers of all. Your FB ‘like this’ and comments are appreciated as well. Technology is wonderful. No updates on our four legged friend. This morning, I found him in a bag on the countertop trying to beat us to a new box of cereal. Physical harm was attempted but the creature escaped. Tomorrow though could be his last as we have purchased to boxes with sticky feet – sad, sad, sad.

May God richly bless you this Sabbath day!


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