From July 15th to 28th, I returned to volunteer in Fukushima for the second time. As with my first trip in June, God sent me to paint pictures for people who came to the church needing supplies, needing to talk, and for evacuees at shelters. Most of the pictures were painted at the church's supply center "Cafe", where people wait while their supplies are being gathered together. They fill out forms of what they need, and we serve them drinks and talk to them. During this time we may pray for them, and this is usually when God gives me a picture to paint for someone.
(Left) This was my second time volunteering at Global Mission Chapel in Taira, Iwaki City in Fukushima prefecture (40km from the center of the nuclear crisis).
(Right) For someone who had lost their home, but I can't remember from which disaster. The verse is John 14:2.
(Left) A picture for a mother whose child happened to be crying while she was at the relief center. The verse is parts of Zephaniah 3:17.
(Right) A picture done for a mother. The verse is Psalm 91:15, and the message is that she can call out to Him and He will answer.
(Left) I was painting this as the relief center's cafe was coming to a close for lunch break, but I didn't know who it was for. As I was nearing finishing it, a Korean volunteer came over and asked me for it. It was for her! =) The verse is Psalm 40:5.
(Right) I painted this for an elderly couple... the verse is John 10:28.
This was for a family I ate with several times at an evacuation shelter. The father of the family put this on his blog here. (The Japanese says, "God is with you all!")
I ate with them three or four times on this trip. God gave me this picture to paint and give to them on the first time. The second time I ate with them again and wondered what I would paint and for whom. But I just ate with the family again and painted nothing. I was melted because God said that I was giving them *myself* that night.
On the last visit to that shelter on this trip, I sat down to eat with them again when someone asked why I was eating with them again. The father said about me, "He's family!" (>_<)
(Left) One of the frequent visitors of the cafe for supplies brought her mother who is getting older and has trouble hearing. Very sweet lady, and both mother and daughter were very grateful. They didn't always come for supplies, but often came just to see us and talk. I painted this for the elderly mother... the verse is Isaiah 46:4.
(Right) For a little girl at the cafe... "God likes you VERY much!"
(Left) This was for a mother and her child, just to let her know God loves her. =)
(Right) Outside the church in the parking lot there were two inflatable pools. Rachel Burney started a nice splashing war with the kids... she wrote about it here: http://becauselifewins.blogspot.com/2011/07/summer-day.html
(Left) For a very cute 5 year-old.
(Right) This was painted for a middle-aged man who stayed in the area because he found work locally (part-time jobs)... but his family moved south down to Yokohama if I remember right. He obviously misses them. This is the picture God gave me for him, to let him know he's not alone. (The words are from Matthew 28, "I am with you always.") As I did this picture, I realized that he is one of many men in this situation, separated from their families.
(Left) About 50 or so bicycles for children and adults arrived by truck, stacked together like this. We unloaded them one by one.
(Right) On some of them there were notes from the children who gave them to the children who would receive them. This one says, "Have fun with my bicycle the same way I had fun with it. Oliver (6 years old)."
(Left) This little girl came up to me and boldly asked for a picture!
(Right) This was for a husband and wife, who came to the cafe several times. The wife was very pregnant! Rachel Burney mentioned the the "Dad-to-be" on her blog, because one time he sent his wife home so that he could stay and help us out preparing a barbecue at an evacuation shelter. The verse is Psalm 71:6.
(Left) This is John 14:27... He gave me this picture to let a lady know His peace.
(Right) I painted this picture at least twice for two different people. The verse is Psalm 40:1-2. This time I had begun painting the picture before I knew who it was for. A lady came into the cafe and God told me to give it to her. =)
(Left) This was for an elderly lady who came to the cafe regularly... she is a sweet old lady who has blood cancer. She kept worrying that her skin was discolored because of her condition. You can see the worry aching in her quietly, but she is very sweet and receptive to love. She needs it now. I don't know if that describes her well at all. It's just my impression, I guess. But she's just one of the people we are there for, and we love her. The verse on this picture is John 16:33. (Note: I believe that after I took the picture, I noticed I'd forgotten the heart-scars on His hands and put them in later... at least I hope I did!) =)
(Right) Visiting the same shelter I visited in June, I met one of the same evacuees and his wife. He's funny... loves laughing and taking pictures. And I daresay he was a little too "friendly" in this picture with two of the Korean volunteers! I discovered on the following visit that he and his wife had to evacuate to the shelter because of the *April* 11th earthquake ... it was a very strong quake exactly one month after the big one. His home had survived the big one, but the one a month later made walls crack or collapse. I got to meet his dog on the following visit, too. He keeps him in their car in the parking lot. The dog's tail is cut with a poof at the end like a lion's, haha. They'll be moving into a new home in August, I believe.
(Left) In June I painted a picture for a 4 year-old boy at this shelter, and when I returned in July I was told that his older brother had been looking at that picture longingly! So I painted this for the older brother! =) He was pretty shy, though, but we found out he likes swimming. =) I think we told him that He's always #1 to God.
(Right) Another boy was playing and wanted a picture, too. He was the older brother of a girl whose picture I painted there in June. He loves karate, judo, wrestling, fighting, etc. He's crazy! He and another evacuee (or two) were play-sumo wrestling with each other. One of the volunteers took him on, too. (And lost, hehe!)
(Left) That older brother and his sister collaborated on this artwork decorating the cardboard dividers between the home/sleeping spaces. The "sandwich" on the right says, "bread, cheese, hamburger, bread". Heheh, funny kids. =)
(Right) The younger sister told me that she drew this part, I think. The character on the left is "Anpan-man"... a popular and easy-to-draw superhero whose head is made of bread with sweet beans. Haha. Back at the church cafe, we started having the kids draw and we put up their pictures. Lots of Anpan-mans!
(Left) Philippians 4:7 for a lady who came to the cafe.
(Right) Some volunteers just before going out to clean up homes and debris.
(Left) An elderly lady asked me for a picture... she said, "I want a painting of Jesus!" This is what He gave me for her. The Japanese says that Jesus Christ put your name on His hands.
(Right) The Japanese here is Isaiah 53:4-5, and this was painted after much prayer for an elderly lady who is a regular at the cafe. She needs a lot of prayer.
(Left) This was painted for a young mother or her friend who said I had painted a picture for her child, but not for her herself! So I prayed and painted this (the verse is Hebrews 13:5). However she and her friend sitting next to her left before I could give it to her... they said they'd come back later, but I wasn't sure if they did or not. It's waiting in the desk at the cafe for their return. =)
(Right) At the cafe I was working on painting this for a member of the church staff (the Japanese is Zephaniah 3:17) when one of the elderly men visiting the cafe asked for the same picture. Since I was already going to give this one to someone, I painted a second version for him. =)
(Left) This was for the older sister of a regular visitor... the younger sister I had met last month with her young husband. They'd lost their home to the tsunami and I'd painted a picture with John 14:2 for them. I saw them several times during these two weeks, and then she brought in her older sister. I spent awhile talking to the two sisters, talking about kids, the sisters' personality differences (that was really funny) and the quirks of their husbands (that was even funnier!)... and then the younger sister asked me if I was going to paint a picture. So I did this picture for the older sister. When she was little she used to like dolls, but the younger sister was more active & sportsy. The picture God gave me was of Him adoring her, and the words from Song of Songs 4:9, "You have stolen My heart." I was a bit embarassed to give such a direct thing to her, haha! But I trusted God. And of course I explained it a little, and added "(God)" after the word "My" in the text. =)
(Right) One of the men affected by the disaster originally came for help from the life support center, but upon return visits would come to the cafe and *bring* stuff instead! He is a chef and made us some nice sashimi (raw fish) several times. Very, very nice. =)
(Left) There are many buildings with signs of damage from the earthquake(s) here and there. This older type was probably made before the war or around that time. The concrete cracked easier. This one had a yellow sign on its door saying, "Limited Entry". Generally it was hard to photograph pictures of the earthquake damage (especially with just a cellphone camera!)... there's a lot of little stuff. Foundations of buildings, differeing elevations in sidewalks, stairs crooked and broken, little rubble around the edges of building corners, some siding coming off, etc. It's hard to fathom how incredibly long it's going to take to clean up and fix all of this damage. And this was not even the worst-hit area. A building across from the church was of this same type and had some big cracks in its concrete walls. But there were still people living in it...
(Right) "You have stolen My heart." (Song of Songs 4:9) ...a mother wanted a picture for her 13-year-old daughter. =)
(Left) This was for an elderly lady at a shelter I visited on a Saturday afternoon/evening... she's a great-grandmother.
(Right) As I was finishing the painting for the elderly lady (above) and it was time to go, a grandfather brought over his four-year-old grandson to watch and asked for a painting for him. Since I had to go and knew I wouldn't be coming back to that shelter (at least not on this trip), I wrote down his name and told him I'd bring it next time. So I painted the picture at the church and sent it through a volunteer to deliver the next time they went there. (The Japanese says, "God likes you VERY much!")
(Left) A letter from an elementary school kid in Hawaii, sent to encourage Japanese children. =)
(Right) Sunday was a day off, and after church I reserved the time to paint a big picture for GMC's life support center cafe... it's the biggest thing I've worked on in a looooong time. And so it took a loooong time! I started around 2-ish and finished around 11-something. But I took a break for dinner around 9-something (luckily there was still dinner leftover!)...
I hadn't thought about how tiring it would be to work so long on a painting that was laying on the floor. (And I'll add that my back, neck, butt and muscles everywhere ached for the whole next day! Haha!) Here I am taking a break mid-way through. I had forgotten that the ceiling of the church had mirrors on it in this area (it used to be a pachinko parlor). So I was surprised to get a better look at the painting and thought, hey, cool! Just for the heck of it I took this picture (on the left) with my cellphone.
The large painting I made for the cafe... it's a version of a painting I made several years ago called "Jujika Kara", with words from the song "Chichi no Namida" by Makoto Iwabuchi. I put the chorus on this painting, which reads,
"There is a fountain flowing out from the cross,
it's the tears of the Father
There is a fountain flowing out from the cross,
it's the love of Jesus."
(Left) This was for a young mother with her children. =)
(Right) This was for a lady, I think... a mother. The Japanese is Isaiah 64:4.
(Left) In the cafe people started to notice the big picture that I'd painted, and one elderly couple came in and the wife asked me for a small painting of it! Maybe she thought I had it on postcards, I don't know. But I did this smaller version of it for her. The Japanese is the last half of the chorus: "There is a fountain flowing out of the cross, it's the love of Jesus."
(Right) For a young mother with twin one year-old girls. The Japanese is 1st John 4:19.
(Left) This was for a young mother, I think. The Japanese is from Matthew 11:28, Jesus saying, "I will give you rest."
(Right) I wasn't sure who this was for when I made it. It's a version of a painting I made called "On Your Shoulders"... and the Japanese writing is the first sentence or two of Deuteronomy 33:12. I knew it was for a boy, but didn't see any left in the cafe (there had been LOTS of kids earlier!) ... but felt something with some family there. After praying and sharing it with a fellow volunteer, I was told that the family had an older brother (high school age maybe) who was waiting out in the car in the parking lot. So she took the picture and gave it to him. He was a bit surprised, she said. =)
(Left) This was at the first shelter I visited last month and which I returned to several times on this trip. The family put up the paintings I'd made for the two boys (one on this trip, one on the last trip).
(Right) This was for the little boys' grandmother. She was shy and sweet. The Japanese is Song of Songs 4:9, "You have stolen My (God) heart."
(Left) I started painting this in the cafe but I didn't know who it was for. The verse is Psalm 18:28, "You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light." There was a group of older ladies there at the time and God told me to give it to a certain one of them. Since it was so different from the other paintings I'd made, I showed it to a fellow volunteer first. When I mentioned that I felt impressed to give it to a certain older lady (in the group that came in), I was told that the lady had family in the hospital, had her friend die in a shelter, and was talking about there being no reason for her to live. After I gave it to her, she spent a long time looking at it. I'm still praying for her.
(Right) This was for a mother and her daughter who came to the cafe. The Japanese is Psalm 145:9 & 20.
(Left) We had a barbecue at an evacuation shelter and afterwards we did some fireworks. This is a Japanese-style sparkler I was holding. There was just an incredible amount of smoke from these fireworks!
(Right) At the shelter I talked for the first time with the father of two children I had painted pictures for... he was a nice guy who seemed very tired. I was wondering if it was because he was working hard in the daytime, but I was wrong. He told me that he had lost his job. I knew he was fatigued with *worry*. So I've been praying for him, for all of them. As I left that night, the son asked me to come back and paint another picture for them. I wrote a note on the back of the painting saying I was sorry I had to go back to Osaka, but here was another picture for all of them. I told them I would be praying for them. The verse is Zephaniah 3:17. I gave it to a volunteer to deliver to them next week.
On my last day at the cafe, as usual of late there were a lot of kids that came in! I'm glad that we purchased that small table and that people gave us pads and paper for them to play with. The origami seemed to be the most popular, followed by using the badminton rackets to bat a ballon around. You could really get worn out quick playing with the kids!
(Left) This was for an elderly lady who came in for the first time. The verse is Isaiah 49:16.
(Right) This was for a younger lady who came in with members of her family. The verse is parts of Psalm 84:3-4. She spent a long time looking thoughtfully at this, and I think her mother or sister commented something about it matching her or her situation.
(Left) This was for a brother who was there with his mother and sister. (Right) This was for his sister. After finishing the picture for her brother, I thought I'd better ask her if she wanted one. She did. =) The Japanese on both pictures says, "God likes you VERY much!"
(Left) This was for a little girl who was shy at first but brightened up when we asked her if she wanted to come fold some origami paper. The Japanese says, "God likes you VERY much!"
(Right) This was for an elderly lady... I had just one piece of paper and plastic sleeve left, and wondered if I'd use them or not. A volunteer told me that this elderly lady needed a picture. So I painted this for her. But because it was raining, she had to go home and close her windows. So she'll get it the next time she comes back. The Japanese is 1st John 4:19.
(Left) My daughter at home playing with the bunny that a family at a shelter gave to me... the daughter in the family made it, I think, out of a towel. =) I had to do something back at the church so I couldn't visit that shelter on the night that I left. But the team returned just before I left and gave me this bunny that the family had made for me. I can't explain how this melts me.
(Right) My daughter enjoying a drawing pad that was given to me by one of the people getting help from the church. She had given me two pads and a set of colored pencils! My children have already used up most of the pages, I think... haha.
The "Dad-to-be" I mentioned earlier (which Rachel Burney mentioned on her blog) emailed this picture to me of the painting that I'd given him and his wife, which they'd put up in their home! He heard that I'll be coming back to Iwaki and is looking forward to seeing me again! (I wonder if their baby has been born?)
God, I just can't describe what this does to your heart. And to know they're looking forward to seeing me again...