Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Bananas, Slippers, & Hope

We had a wonderful weekend here in Tohoku. On Saturday, my fellow colleague, JP along with two Filipino friends of the project, Ging and Charity, went to a youth center like facility. We were invited to give a presentation on the Philippines for the children. The kids spend most of their Saturday at this center. They play games and learn about the world around them. The center frequently invites foreigners to come talk to the kids about their countries. This is so the kids grasp an understanding of the world outside of Japan and how we are all connected in some way.
JP and Ging told the kids fun facts about the Philippines. Such as, the Philippines is comprised of over 1000 islands and most of the bananas that we eat in Japan come from the Philippines. Ging showed the kids two traditional types of dances, the Tboli and the Tinikling. The kids also got to participate in the Tinikling dance with Charity. Basically you have to keep in time while dancing between two moving bamboo poles. Charity then taught the kids an outside game of tag that involves throwing your shoes at a can. Since it was too cold to play outside we played it inside replacing the can with a plastic bottle and the shoes with slippers. The kids had a blast! I think that these kids will now be annoying their mothers with this game at home. We had a great time and might go back sometime soon to help with other Saturday activities. 

 On Thursday evenings two friends of mine from the office and I go to choir rehearsal at Sendai Christ Church. Due to scheduling and my inability to get to the church early enough to robe up (it is a 40 minute walk from my apt and I try not to take the subway), this past Sunday was the first time I actually sang during the service. I am so used to standing out in a crowd in Japan that I forget how much I stick out among a crowd of Japanese. So on Sunday when parishioners I know came up to me with wide-eyes asking if I was singing today, I was a little thrown off.

The next day we met at 7:20am to go to Koriyama. The church there had recently finished rebuilding the hall that had been damaged by the earthquake. On Monday they had a blessing ceremony for the new hall. People were recognized for their contributions and speeches were given. One of the women, that was a huge part of designing the building and fundraising, passed away in December. The completion of the building was something she was looking forward to. They placed a picture of her in the hall so that she would be a continued presence during the party. In honor of her life and work in the church, we sang Mrs. Michiko Hashimoto’s favorite hymn as a closing to the celebration. The choir sang three songs as well. All of which had some, if not all, verses in English. It was fun practicing these songs with the choir. As we were driving back in the 6 inches of snow that accumulated that day I realized that the rebuilding of this church hall is a sign of hope. It is a sign that people are recovering and able to look to the future. We weren't just celebrating a building we were celebrating life and all that is to come.

Thank you for tuning in,

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