On Saturday the 16th, here at the relief center, with the blessing of the Lord and under a beautiful clear blue sky, we held the 41st “Meal Distribution Festival”. Around 9:30 in the morning the center staff, members from the Izumi church, guests and a number of local volunteers gathered at the center to pray and prepare for the days event (I was really amazed and thankful to see that when I arrived at 9:30 most of the tables had already been set up. Apparently the local volunteers came early and started around 8:30). We had a team of nearly 35 people made up of the center staff, Izumi church members and the local volunteers.
After an opening prayer, we split into four preparation groups: the meal team, the take home care package team, the stage/PA team and the meeting area team. By about 11am we had finished our preparations and then set about passing out the number meal tickets around 11:30. By that time there was already a number of people inside and outside the center eagerly waiting to see the event start.
The special stage performer for this event was pastor Hitoshi Okubo of the Yonezawa Fukuin Christ church who uses the stage name, “Yamagata Jin” and his wife Naoko was also able to come. He had a quick rehearsal and sound check and then started the performance. He played many classic Japanese songs, enka, hymns etc. and then once the food was ready to go pastor Ito acted as emcee and opened the event with a greeting and prayer.
We began by handing out “meal packs” that included disposable chopsticks, wet wipes, a manju, a mikan, a tract made by Mr. Hoshino and an invitation to our special upcoming worship service on the 24th. The meal consisted of hotdogs and the relief center’s famous “niku udon”.
As everyone left to go home we passed out packages of tissues, and bread donated by the Yokohama Costco via the Kanazawa Assemblies of God church. We also gave out special gifts just for the children.
We actually had about 350 people come and enjoy the meal, receive the relief items and return home amidst the blessing of the Lord.
We had some regular attendees, others who have not been around for a while, others who came for their first time and there were also a number of families that came for this even. One of the ladies from the Izumi church that has been helping with the meal distributions from the very beginning pointed out a mom that was walking along with her young child and said thoughtfully, “That lady come to some of our first meal distributions and she had a little baby with her at the time. Look how big that baby has grown to be!” That fact that 2 years and 8 months has passed since that earthquake was clearly felt.
One of the people who attended had not been seen for a while. They had been seeking the Lord and had a issue with their hand that made it stiff and difficult to move and in August the visiting pastor who was a part of the “Malaysian Festival” prayed for healing. The person came completely healed and sharing a testimony of thanks and praise to the Lord! (there are pictures in the relief center)
The day after that event at the follow up meeting held at the Izumi church, a center staff member who was passing out the meal tickets shared with me something that one lady happened to say to her. She said that the lady gratefully stated, “It’s great that the weather is good today. But still, you all are so kind to hold these meal distributions whether it’s rainy, windy or cold. I really appreciate that.”
Happy reunions, thanks and praise, numerous reports of healings, testimonies of thanks from the locals...I praise God that He has blessed and led this recent event!
Periodically during “Yamagata Jin’s” two hour stage performance there were breaks where pastor Ito shared encouraging passages from the Word and the worship team from the Izumi church offered gospel songs of praise. It was a truly grace filled time.
What’s more, some of the local disaster victims said that they wanted to give an offering for the recent typhoon victims in the Philippines so we scrambled and prepared a “Philippines Relief Donation Box”. I was so blessed by the overwhelming response and giving of the people here.
The 41st “Meal Distribution Festival”, which started at 11:45, was ended right on schedule at 2:30 with a closing prayer of thanks and praise.
I ask that you would continue to pray for our future relief work.
Thank you all for your help and support.
To view more pictures of this event, click this link and scroll to the bottom of the blog entry.