The LORD of hosts is with us;the God of Jacob is our fortress.

The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
-Psalm 46:7
Soap making at Cranwell International Center

            About a month ago I received an e-mail from the Navs at VT that 12 Japanese students from Sendai would be coming to Blacksburg with a Japanese Nav missionary for a week and they needed volunteers to host them. I ran down the hallway and checked with Leah and Laura to see if they would mind, and they didn`t. I then texted Kerri to ask her, and her reply just cracked me up. She said Japanese what? From where? haha, I knew that meant yes. So I replied to the e-mail with a resounding YES! Little did we know that while they were in California, three days before they would arrive here, Japan would be hit by a horrific tsunami and earthquake. My heart was in turmoil at the thought of them arriving and how I would even attempt to comfort them. I just remember that as upset as I was about the disaster in Japan and wanting desperately to understand why God would allow this to happen, I prayed God would use this time, use it for His glory and somehow give me the grace to get through it, trusting in him. And man, did he.
              The girls arrived in the AM, toured Tech`s campus, and then we picked them up to come back to Tee Street. I slept in the living room in a sweet sheet tent we made (I wish I had a picture) and the girls stayed in my room on the pullout couch. I enjoyed making delicious breakfast and sometimes lunch for these sweet girls, and my roomies who soon started calling me mom for cooking for them before school. We attended different events, made soap, hiked the cascades, played glow in the dark ultimate frisbee, drank lots of tea, took way too many photos, and much more. We spent three or four hours one night looking at their pictures from home and just talking about their families and friends. The language barrier presented issues, but I tried to pick up some Japanese words, my favorite was Ohayou (pronounced like ohio) which means Good morning :)
               It was incredible to see the spiritual impact the events in Japan had on these students, all of whom are non-Christians. One day a Japanese woman from a local church cooked everyone lunch, the students were ecstatic to have real Japanese food! and she shared her heart for Japan and for the students, and everyone was so attentive and their hearts were softened. The Holy Spirit was so alive in the room. Shortly before they left there was a big cook-out, I couldn`t go because of work, but a man from church shared with me that the girls bawled as they prayed over them and their families and their country. My heart just ached for them, and I knew they had seen Jesus that night. 
             The night before I had to take the girls to the airport, we gave our girls embroidered tote bags with their names, and cross necklaces. Many thanks to my sweet Leah who literally spent hours sewing the letters of their names onto the bag because I spelled them wrong the first time. Kana and Sayudi were so excited, so lit up. But my heart melted when Kana put her hand on my arm and asked, "Will you come to Japan? Will you come and help us with so much work?" My eyes welled with tears and I tried to choke them away...
               I wanted to say yes. I wanted to scream yes. I know my Jesus would have said YES, I am there! And I will stay until the work is done! It was so hard to say, "I really hope so, I really want to." Kana assured me she would e-mail me information about coming to volunteer once she returned to Japan. I smiled and agreed it was a great idea. 
               These girls, these students touched my life in an incredible way. I know now a small glimpse of why God allowed them to be here, so far from home, when the disaster struck. I know now a small glimpse of the beauty He is creating out of so much pain, so much suffering. These students were touched by the light of Jesus, the beauty of the Gospel. They saw His love through our hands, feet, words, and songs. The girls told me they loved my CD in my car, the Passion 2011 worship band, so I burned them each CDs of Christian music to take home, I know those words of truth will bless their lives. 
              Probably the most beautiful result of their trip was that each student was able to bring back another suitcase filled with food to help serve all those suffering in Japan from the food and water shortages. Within two days of hearing of the need churches and campus ministries from Blacksburg stepped up and provided 12 suitcases and hundreds of dollars worth of food, as well as about $500 extra dollars which will go to the relief fund at the Nav church in Sendai, who are working sleeplessly to provide and care for those homeless and hungry because of the tsunami and earthquake. 
               God is with Japan. God is with those people. He is their fortress, He is our fortress. Their refuge and strength. Let us be still, Lord, and know that you are God. Be exalted among the nations, in all the earth. You are with us. You are our fortress. Thank you for this time of serving these precious students, thank you for what you have taught me and the grace you have given me to trust in you through these doubts. I love you Jesus, I praise you. 

Our last hangout time at the airport before they left              

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
  Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
  though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. 

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
  God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
  The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
  The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. 

Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
  He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
  “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
  The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
{Psalm 46}

Last photo with Kana
Last photo with Sayudi

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