GT day 9—hoikuen visit/grass-cutting

Normal morning, but ran out of bread and yogurt.

I had QT with Paul, talked about the importance of reading the Bible cover-to-cover.

We visited a preschool! Ohmygosh those kids are so adorable!

We sang/danced “praise” and “head boulders knees and toes” with them. After that, we played duck duck goose and “the flower game”

To finish off, we performed “God bless you” and gave the kids and teacher crosses made by people in Hawaii.

The kids responded with their own program–singing 3 songs and giving us sunflower origami necklaces! So. Cute.

We got lunch at the local—and only—supermarket. We ate it at a park. There were zip-lines and they were fun!

We met up with Mike who had already begun cutting weeds at the Okaichis’ property—their house was right by the ocean and was wiped out.

With 2 metal-blade weed-whackers and 11 people working, the general work was done in 1 hour. We continued pulling weeds at their roots and taking together the weeds for a couple more hours.

3 of the girls went to temporary housing while we stayed behind and worked more. They were tracting for Thursday’s (day 11) craft activities at temporary housing. According to Misha, some were reluctant to use the word “living” in temporary housing—maybe it sounds too permanent.

Our daly bath was free today. The sento we went to was run by an NPO. It had an outdoor bath, which yesterday’s bath sento didn’t have. I say it’s one of the best sentos we went to because it was free and had an outdoor bath. The only thing that could make not better is a cold water bath We also ate dinner there. The food was cheap. We also it to watch TV and get updates about typhoon #4. Tomorrow’s gonna be bad. The ladies selling the food wanted us to come back. 8 people’s worth of food plus 4 things of soft cream—they sure loved our business.

Debriefed in the car and got donuts on the way home because we went way under on the budget.

Worship at the end of the day, then we watched a movie.


GT day 8—day off/practice activities for preschool

Morning/early afternoon

We woke up to a strong earthquake at 5:30–no danger of a tsunami. The shaking in my dazed state was actually quite nice.
I went back to sleep and got up again at 9:45.
I made eggs for myself, all the girls, and Paul. Used 9 eggs in total.
I had QT with the other Chris. We both found some deep things; I mean, what isn’t deep in the Bible?
He read the last part of Philippians and the beginning of Corinthians. I read Matthew 10.
What I got out of my reading was that I need to let the Holy Spirit work in me when I don’t know what to do and hat I need to take psychology next year to learn to manipulate people—it says it right there in Matthew 10:16 XD
We practiced for tomorrow’s preschool (hoikuen) visit with games and songs.


At 2 PM we went to eat lunch. Swapped budget with supper again. It had all-you-can-eat rice, curry, and soup, so I guess it was worth it.


After that we headed for the beach. I was able to use Paul’s DSLR to take a lot of photos—man I love manual focus!
All of us skipped rocks at one point because the beach was made up of flat rocks. Hannah’s first throw went way off and hit me in the head while I was leaning down to get another rock. I’m fine. I actually regret not falling to the ground and making her more concerned—she’s apologizing so much even now, when I’m about to go to bed.
The water was really clear and beautiful.
Some rails to prevent people from falling into the ocean were missing. Instead, there were bolted-on stakes of wood with rope through them instead. The rails were wiped out by the tsunami.


We took a bath at an overpriced sento. It had way less baths than we’d had before and if we felt like it we could have actually talked to people of the opposite sex across walls—even though they were twice as tall as any of us. Paul did describe our team as being “GT heaven” and I’ve heard stories where there are sentos where you could literally pull yourself over he dousing wall—not too comforting of a thought, especially for girls. Anyway, all of us were out early—even the girls, who are usually late by 10 minutes at any sento—I guess because of the limited selections of baths and that we couldn’t go outside even though it was beautiful.


Supper was kombini food. Selection at kombinis aren’t too limited and the flavor isn’t bad either.
Katie strummed on the guitar that we brought and we just listened. It was so relaxing and a good way to finish off the day.


Debrief of today (did we even need one?) and briefing for tomorrow was good. Katie played guitar (until now it was Paul) for our time of worship. We partnered up for prayer and prayed various things.


  1. Strength for tomorrow, where we’ll be working with little kids and cutting grass on two lots of land
  2. For us to feel the Spirit’s presence so that we’ll always be reminded that we’re doing what we do for God

GT day 7—”Church day”/another barbecue

Car ride and arrival to Ippo-Ippo

Our car ride on the way to Ippo-Ippo was relatively quiet.

One girl, Kasumi, came at about 10:30 to come and help set up—we had to ask her to come  back around 1.

We immediately set up the tent, then went inside to begin our “church service.”


We hosted a fellowship for the missionaries in Yamada—worship, Bible study, and prayer.

Paul talking about Hebrews 12:1-2 at Ippo-Ippo Yamada
Paul talking about Hebrews 12:1-2 at Ippo-Ippo Yamada

Mike McGinty said that the barbecue later in the day was “a faith venture.”

Mike McGinty
Mike McGinty briefing us about today’s work

Another barbecue

We had a barbecue only two days after a previous one. Of course, food for ministry I’ll accept any time!

2 male students, 2 female students, 2 parents and their 4-year-old daughter Ayana, and Kasumi came to the barbecue/rally.

Us eating at a barbecue... what else?
2 male students and Kasumi.

Ayana instantly took a liking to Misha and the other Chris!

Misha and Ayana
Ayana’s a little shy with the camera!

We also did a skit using two tennis rackets and read from Psalm 139:13-14 about it—only God knows our true purpose because we’re made by Him. He’ll show us the way to be most efficient, the way we were made by Him to be.

Scratching your back doesn’t work so well with a tennis racket!

The skit got people curious about Christianity and asked if it was a religion—at least in my individual talks, I stated that no, Christianity isn’t a religion, but rather a relationship. That God made you and wants to have an active relationship with you.

A few manga Bible story series were lent out, others vowed to come back, and Ayana cried as she walked home.

The Ippo-Ippo in Yamada, where our work is this week.

Chillax by the ocean

I was quite exhausted by the entire interchange with people at the barbecue—even though I’m slightly more extroverted than introverted, I was also working to translate a lot of communication.

Yes, that says “LOVE!” Paul, at the far right, is an exclamation mark.

Being by the ocean was refreshing—I felt like there were many amazing things. The ocean was beautiful, crazy that there were these huge man-made objects by and on the ocean, and how the tsunami wiped out things that theoretically should have been safe. Not so in practice.

I took a lot of photos, one way for me to relax, and just lay on my back on top of a concrete wall, staring at the sky. I talked to my parents like that and wished my dad a happy Father’s Day.

My place of relaxation and meditation…


  1. Growth of the seeds planted today
  2. Rest even though our “relax” day with nothing scheduled is tomorrow
  3. Lack of conflict because when we’re tired we tend to lash out more at each other
  4. Continued love for the people of Tohoku

GT day 6—travel to Iwate/tracting in Yamada

Our last day with the Barkmans, we left around 7:45 AM to head to Iwate’s OMF bases.
We played Telephone Pictionary and 20 Questions in the car and stopped at a temporary restaurant in Kamaishi and ate pork cutlet or spaghetti—other items were too expensive. In fact, the meals were so expensive that we had to swap our lunch budget with our dinner budget. Now, we have 650 yen for dinner. If it’s at a kombini, it should be enough.
The nature on the car ride was beautiful. I have lots of pictures—I’ll update this with photos once I get a chance.
We got to Yamada-machi’s Ippo-Ippo (meaning step-by-step), a place to hang out for the people of the town, run by OMF, at 1:30 PM.
We had about 5 and a half hours in the car.
After a brief orientation, we took a look around the town while tracting to students that could come to our barbecue tomorrow.
Again, many photos were taken.
The devastation in the town was amazing. Everything was wiped out. The only things that have changed since the tsunami are the clearing of the rubble.
Yamada-machi is in the no-rebuild zone mandated by the Japanese government, so no non-temporary buildings are going to be built. It’s funny that so many things are without the title “temporary,” yet nothing material is permanent.
We had dinner at a place called Marumatsu—it was cheap and good. We actually ended up within the budget because the food was so cheap. Averaged out, we didn’t spend more than 650 yen per person.
I went kinda crazy after the food and was doing sit-ups, push-ups, and dead-lifts on Daniel and Chris. Oh, and crazy dancing, singing, and just being weird/myself.
We practiced songs for tomorrow’s church service, which we’ll have before the barbecue with the neighborhood’s youth.
Lights out is at 11—it’s already past that. Katie is going crazy with laughter relating to the lack of privacy in this place. A girl didn’t close the curtain to the girls’ area and Katie somehow found that funny. No, none of us guys saw.
Now all of the girl are laughing. It’s good that they’re enjoying themselves. This team has a phenomenal amount of laughter—it’s awesome!!!

  1. Kids to come to the barbecue tomorrow.
  2. Rest. The hard physical work is over—now we had hard mental and the spiritual work is about to get harder.
  3. The work of the McGintys, the OMF missionaries who have put Ippo-Ippo together and are currently managing a majority of the operation.
  4. Continued wisdom in doing what we do. We’re so-called “experiments” at Ippo-Ippo. It’s been only a week since it opened. If we fail, we severely impact the McGintys’ ministry negatively. If we succeed, it’ll prosper their ministry. So, I guess we also need
  5. Guidance from the Holy Spirit in general, but especially in interpersonal relations.

GT day 5—Samaritan’s Purse day 2/balancing act

Breakfast and travel

We had apple pancakes for breakfast, and they were amazing.

We did a lot in the car. Talking about skits, planning day 7’s church service, practicing songs…

It’s good that the Red Bull in Paul’s drink cup hasn’t been opened yet—it’s been there from day 3.

I really wish that there were a metal-backed, red-letter, compact NLT Bible available—I haven’t found any yet. All that are available are non-red-letter.


We continued yesterday’s work today. There was still a lot of hedoro (fart-dirt, dirt with petroleum mixed in. Because it keeps moisture, it isn’t good to have any under a house) under Takahashi-san’s house.

Today was really a “balancing act.” We were on trusses pretty much all day, doing different work like shoveling the hedoro into bags, plowing the dirt and then raking it to make the dirt even.

20 cm down, an ocean of dirt that I dare not fall into (actually it doesn’t really matter)
Kayla, left, and Daniel, right, raking clean dirt after they removed hedoro.

People from a separate team (whom we were working with) even found a huge bucket, about 70 cm tall, embedded into the ground—that means that probably there is hedoro that deep in the ground.

The Takahashis’ house. Contrast between the restoration of the Takahashis’ house and the take-down of the neighbor’s house to the right is interesting. BBQ prep in bottom right of photo.


Paul was on the grill as grillmaster. We had carrots, onions, corn, asparagus, Japanese blend hamburgers, and American hotdogs.
We all pitched in the process, like cutting the corn cobs (they have those in Japan!!!), cutting bread and putting hamburgers in, et cetera.
The food was good, and many people, including three teenage girls, came.

Paul, the grill-master!

Interaction with the community

We sang 4 Japanese songs—Still, Kaerareta Song, Minna Sanbi, and God Bless You.

Us singing at the barbecue

All of the songs were relevant to everyone’s situation—Still, to call for spiritual peace, Kaerareta Song to say how Christ changed us, Minna Sanbi for the animists in the audience to say that all nature praises God, and God Bless You to speak a blessing over the people.

Especially for God Bless You, I couldn’t help but look into the eyes of everyone listening and personally speak a blessing over them.

The love that I felt for the people, especially Mr. Takahashi, was overwhelming.

Mr. Takahashi, the husband of Mrs. Takahashi, came for the barbecue. He is amazingly artistic with photography and kirie, the Japanese art of cutting paper to create an image.

We talked about God, and he said that he believes in the Japanese nature gods. He described them as “kind.” My heart kinda broke at that. I held back my retort, something along the lines of “if the Japanese nature gods are kind and you have an anti-tsunami god, why did that god allow this to happen to your neighbors, home, friends, family!?”

His story was crazy. He was at his company when the earthquake hit. When the tsunami came, he took photos of it–with the water 2 meters away from him. Quite a few cars had people trapped in them.

Mr. Takahashi speaking about the tsunami and his friends in temporary housing. The book on the table is the book he put together with the photos.

He put together a book with pictures he took of the tsunami. He took thousands of photos, and selected a few to put in that book. He photoshopped out the people trapped in their cars.

The Takahashis have friends in temporary housing—the have enough food and clothes. What they don’t have, Mr. Takahashi said, is hope.

We need more people to go to Tohoku and spread the hope that is Christ, for how will they hear when there are none to tell them?


  1. More Christians/missionaries in Tohoku because there aren’t enough people to spread the Good News.
  2. Safety in travel because we’re traveling a lot.
  3. Wisdom in general.

GT day 4—Samaritan’s Purse day 1/grandson and sentos

Today, we worked with Samaritan’s Purse to bring relief to those in Tohoku. Yes, it’s been over a year, and there still is help needed.

We split up to two teams: the mud-out team and the bleaching team.

I was in the mud-out team—I’ve never done so before. I had only done bleaching and drywall removal.

Our team worked at two places in the same neighborhood—the Takahashis’ and the Oonos’.

Both families were extremely nice. We had tons of snacks—despite the fact that we were pretty much snacking the whole time during our car ride to Tohoku.

Mrs. Takahashi even “adopted” me as her grandson! She said that she loved my sense of humor and that I made 70s songs references. She is now my grandmother in Tohoku.

The Oonos were very grateful also

Both families had beautiful gardens despite the fact that the tsunami brought in vegetation-killing dirt.

The contrast between everything is amazing—there were new houses, completely destroyed houses, and empty lots. Daniel said that it was very surreal. The thought never occurred to me because I had become so used to it.

I feel like we made good connections—both families were amazed at the youth of the team, as the previous team averaged an age of 60, while we averaged lower 20s.

After finishing a day’s work, we headed to the sento, or a Japanese public bath.

I had a great time of meditation there. I’ll write more in another post, but a lot to do with keeping my eyes on God.

All in all, we had a great day. I’m writing this on my iPod laying on a couch, while three others on my team speak almost nothing to each other. It’s all good because in sure we’re all tired.

Pray for:

  1. Rest. We’ll be needing it a lot in the next few days.
  2. Bonding. We’ll have plenty of opportunity to do so the next few days between work and long drives, so pray for that.
  3. Courage. We need more courage to speak more about Christ to the home owners in Tohoku.
  4. Wisdom to use finances wisely. Our team is by far the most expensive because of transportation, including gas and tolls.

GT day 2—training day 2

1:50 PM

“Quiet time” of devotions was good. Psalm 79 can be applicable from a perspective that Christians are Israel and the enemies are the world.

Discussed with Kenneth, who read Proverbs 23—about disciplining yourself for God.

One of our “sessions” involved praying for other teams by passing a sheet with team members’ names on it. If we felt strongly hat God wanted to tell a certain member something or the whole team something, we wrote that or a Bible verse down on the paper.

Our paper, when we got it, my name pointed to “key role.” I don’t really know what that means yet, but if it was done in prayer and the Spirit, it must be true.

I want to have some time with Jusco before I leave for Tohoku.

10:15 PM
Fun end-of-the-day futon/pillow fight with cabin-mates Daniel, Eems, Sean, and Tyler.

God talked to me a lot today.

Maybe it’s living up to the “key role” thing. It would be an interesting study in Psychology, I guess, as well as spiritual work.

Amazing talk by Tyler C. about spreading the Gospel. Gotta try and get it uploaded. That’s for another time though.

Misha is/was sick. We prayed as a team that she would feel better, and she came down to join our group time (she wasn’t there when we prayed for her).

I can just tell that there’s so much that God wants to do. I can also tell that there are going to be a lot of trials.


  1. Healing
  2. Unity
  3. Wisdom
  4. Divine encounters
  5. God to be glorified, not us.

GT day 1—training day 1

Woke up at 5:30, got on train around 7:05. Arrived at Tokyo fine with friends that I met up with at Ikebukuro. Got on the train for Kazusa-Ichinomiya at 8:44 as a team—61 people!

While many talked on the 1 hour 30 minute train ride, I slept around halfway through.

I was assigned to the Tohoku team with Katie and Paul as leaders, Misha, Daniel, another Chris, Kayla, and Hanna as GT members.

We did a lot of training today but I don’t know if a lot of it will be applicable because what we’ll be doing in Tohoku is going to be so different from what the “traditional” GT is.


  1. Unity and growth as a team
  2. Wisdom to do things
  3. Lots of rest
  4. Open hearts of the people in Tohoku

Gospel Team

This year, I’m going on a mission trip with fellow high-schoolers to various places in Japan to spread God’s love and word to Japanese high-schoolers.

Here’s a video about it if you want to see it:

Basically, it’s a two-week mission trip that involves tracting, leading worship, writing skits, and reflecting on God at four locations in Japan—Kanto, Kansai, Tokai, and Tohoku (the place most affected by the 3/11/11 quake).

I’ll be waking up at 5:30 AM our time to get ready and meet up with our group at 8:30 AM.

Please pray for:

  1. Open hearts for students to accept Jesus
  2. That the students would see Him, not us
  3. His love will overflow so that we can’t help but pour it out
  4. Protection and strengthening during periods of spiritual warfare
  5. General wellbeing of health, protection from physical harm
  6. Lots of rest
  7. Wisdom to know what to say and do
  8. Leaders so that they can lead well and not get stressed
  9. Bonding/uniting so there isn’t conflict between student-missionaries and leaders

Keep us in your prayers, and pray for the salvation of Japan!

I’m desensitized.

I’m sick and disgusted with myself.

Today on my way home from a summer ministry trip planning meeting (wow that’s a long title), the trains stopped. It was a 人身事故, or, directly translated, a “human body accident.”

In Japan, this is used whenever a train collides with a person, more often than not a suicide. In fact, whenever I hear 人身事故 at a train station or on the news, I automatically assume that someone attempted or committed suicide.

Tonight was such a night. Walking back from the meeting, I see that a train is stopped right before the railroad crossing. Trains don’t usually do that for more than a couple minutes—it looked like it had been there for ages. I knew something wasn’t right. I had come to a conclusion—it was a 人身事故, or in my mind, a suicide. Soon, an ambulance and firetruck came to the station, sirens full blast. I am ashamed to admit that I was thrilled that my conclusion was correct—I had predicted something from deduction!—I was actually jumping up and down.

“Awesome! It’s a suicide! Now since we know that the trains won’t be running for about an hour, let’s go kill some time!” is basically what I said to the people that were with me. We wound up going to the station to see what was up, because one of our friends was already at the station to head home.

Now, keep in mind that were were a group of 20-30 people. Here we are, a majority of us foreigners, huddled together waiting at the train station so the trains could resume.

What was going through my mind and others’ as well, was “Great. This person just HAD to commit suicide and now I’m getting home late.” Not once did I think about the person or their family. But, being a group of Christians, we began praying by an adult leader’s suggestion.

Of course, we had all assumed that it was a suicide. Later we heard that the person just fell in. Two girls in our group saw the body—the tarps that were used to shield our eyes had draped down and they saw it. Needless to say, they were traumatized… I heard an EKG while the paramedics were carrying the victim away, so I knew that at least at that point the person was alive.

What is it with us, especially myself, that we’re so used to a suicide that we don’t even blink about it? This has to be said of the entire Japanese community. Instead of sympathizing with the family members and friends of lost ones, we shun the victim’s method of exit from this world. This is completely and utterly wrong, and I’m a part of the problem.

The whole thing that changed my perspective and made me realize how sick I am was the Christian community of those 20-30 people. People were breaking down crying. People were on their knees praying for the darkness in Japan to disappear, specifically the darkness in the form of suicide.

I need to change my mindset about suicide and right now I’m so disgusted with myself that I don’t know if I can sleep. And I have Spanish and Advanced Algebra finals tomorrow.

If I can get back to it, I will, but for now I’ll leave you with this: every 15 minutes, someone in Japan commits suicide.