Volunteering at Shichigahama is building related manual labor. That’s something I haven’t done in a long time, though I’ve definitely gotten some good workouts helping the ol’ dad with stuff like that. (Don’t tell him I actually enjoy it…)
The project is termed “mud-out” and it means what it sounds like. Get the mud out of the house. But it’s not as simple as finding some scattered mud and carrying it out. Once things inside the house are taken out, there’s room to tear down the drywall and insulation. Inside the walls, under the floors, and, in some cases, on top of the ceilings there is a layer of dried mud. The thickest I saw was about 2-3 inches. At first I didn’t even realize what it was…I just thought it was wall junk that was supposed to be there. But it was the watered and dried up dirt left by the tsunami. Someone I talked to said that they were in a home where the mud was around 6 inches thick…in the ceiling. To get the mud out from under the floor, I think they make holes in the floor, which can be fixed later, making it a little tricky to walk around. Then they grab the shovels and fill bags and bags and bags of mud.
Our day consisted of us tearing down drywall and pulling out insulation. It was muscle work, but so much fun. I learned the most efficient way to get drywall down without a huge crumbly mess, and I got to do it by swinging a crowbar like a baseball bat as hard as I wanted. I couldn’t help but think of some frustrations I’ve had as I took it out on that helpless drywall. It was a release for me, and I earned every bruise and sore muscle I had the next few days.
Once the drywall was down, it was either carried out (if you were skilled enough to get it down in big chunks…and I must say the two ladies I worked with kicked the men’s butts in this area) or put into bags and taken out. The pile of debri was surprising. Our team of maybe 20 people were able to do so much work!
We also cut out the insulation and started pulling out nails and screws that were sticking out of the wood frame that we were whittling the bottom floor down to.
Toward the beginning of the day we were told that this particular house was extra special. And it was.
This house was going to be a church one day. In Japan, that’s quite a surprise.
Pre-tsunami, this home was being used as a house church, too. The owners, whom I hadn’t seen and was genuinely concerned if they had made it through last March or not, were Christians. Praise God! And they were going to see the place turned back into what it was before. What a blessing it is to say that the home I worked on in Japan is a church!
Eventually, the owners did come. Thank you, Jesus. And they were so grateful for the help, and served us even as we were serving. They made sure we were fed and they helped us with our work, too. At one point we were told we were moving to another house to work because the wind was so terrible (drywall and foundation in the eyeballs…ow). And I really just needed to hug the wife. I don’t think I can explain it, but I needed her to know that I cared and just working hard didn’t feel like enough. And I don’t speak Japanese. But I think hugs are understood in both Japanese and English. I hope that it said what I couldn’t.
The home is still not finished, and I don’t even know when it will be. But when it is, the building will be used as a church building and Samaritan’s Purse may even use it sometimes. But eventually, people will move back into the Shichigahama area, and there will be plenty of people around ready to be invited to this little house church and so so ready to hear about Jesus.
At the beginning of the day, the sun was out. It seemed like it was going to be one of the first warm days. But the Japanese weather did its thing as usual, and the temperature cooled down, snowing two different times. And the wind was insane; There were very few structures to block it. In the end the sun came out again as it was getting closer to sunset. The whole team felt exhausted and full in our hearts and joyful and bonded even if we couldn’t all communicate. We had given ourselves to something significant together and that definitely meant something to us. I love our “Team picture.” And, oh my goodness, I loved that day.
Only one more part left.