Praise the Lord!
Thank you all for your consistent and loving prayers and support for the relief work of the Higashi Matsushima Amazing Grace Support Center. Here at the center on Saturday the 4th of May, starting at 2pm we held the "GW☆Glory Mates Choir Concert ＆ 37th Meal Distribution".
This was an open air concert held in the parking lot in front of the support center. All along the coastal region there were strong wind advisories but even still we were blessed with clear, beautiful weather and so many locals turned out.
The "Glory Mates Choir" is a choir made up of graduates from the preschool that is run by Kadena Assembly of God (senior pastor Nobunori Ikehara) in Okinawa. Thirty two people including the pastor's wife, pastor Atsuko Ikehara, the newly installed assistant pastor, pastor Kamiyama, the choir leader Mr. Yamada as well as many parents and students came for three days and two nights of relief work at the Amazing Grace Support Center.
The team went from Okinawa to Tokyo on the third of May, stayed the night at the JAG headquarters lodge and then came up to Sendai by bullet train on the fourth. From Sendai station they took a chartered bus along the Sendai eastern then the Sanriku highway and arrived safely at the center one hour before the start of the concert.
Immediately upon arrival the team began their preparations and without even a rehearsal run they began the concert on schedule.
The choir received thunderous applause as they took to the stage dressed in traditional kimono and they began by singing a number of beautiful and fun Okinawan songs followed by a baritone solo from the choir director Mr. Yamada.
Then, after his solo, the choir returned to the stage dressed in their choir T-shirts and sang and danced many delightful children's songs such as "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Ponyo" to everyone's unending applause.
At the end of the that first portion of the concert the director of the nearby Ishinomaki preschool and the director's grandchild gave Mrs. Ikehara, who they have been close with for sometime, a gift of flowers and everyone gave a great round of applause. Both the director and their grandchild are disaster victims who lost many loved ones in the tsunami. I truly believe that they found emotional comfort and healing through this concert.
During the intermission we began the meal distribution time. On the menu was yakisoba, hotdogs, sausages, shaved ice, popcorn and cotton candy for the children. In addition we passed out bags of bread that are always being sent to us by pastor Funatsu of the Kanazawa church who receives them as donations from the Yokohama Costco.
After finishing the main portion of passing out the food the second part of the concert began as people ate their yakisoba and shaved ice and the choir, choir director Mr. Yamada and some ladies from the Kadena church shared classical songs.
Lastly the choir sang the “Hallelujah Chorus” in English to everyone's overwhelming appluase and calls for an encore. After the wonderful encore song Mrs. Ikehara closed the concert with a prayer asking for the compassionate healing of the Lord to be over the disaster victims.
In all there were 16 songs, each was moving, leading to both smiles and tears. Then some of the local children who had been getting to know the choir members were brought up on stage and sang and danced together for an enjoyable experience. It was truly a concert and meal distribution blessed by God.
Ministering for this event were the center staff, members of the Izumi church, Mr. Shiroma from the Soka church as well as a number of locals cooperating with us. Thank you to all of you.
The entire choir spent that night at the support center and two of the center staff members also spent the night at the center to be of help to the group.
The following day, Sunday the fifth, they minnistered at the center's first ever Sunday worship held on Sunday morning as opposed to Sunday afternoon. The report of that ministry will be in an upcoming blog post.
All the glory belongs to God.
Thank you all for your prayers and support.
To view more pictures of this event, click this link and scroll to the bottom of the blog entry.