Why Japanese?

The Largest Unreached People Group (Joshua Project, 2005)

Only 0.04% Christians!

Annual Suicide Rate: >30,000

100-300 new religion registered each year (Operation World, 2000)

The battle is fierce, Time is SHORT! Please RESPONSE, Please PRAY!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Short Report from Team 10 to Ishinomaki (sponsored by KBF)

On Friday, July 15, we put up a team of ten (Kashiwa Lodge members + friends) to join a volunteer effort up to Ishinomaki with KBF, forming a team of 25 people in total.

The drive took about seven to eight hours with a several stops at the highway rest. I was put in a van with Celine and Bruce and Takahiro so that I have more freedom to stop for washroom in the highway. It was a very nice thought of Eric. 

We didn't sleep but kept each other up by chatting a lot in the vehicle, and that seriously took effect on the second day while we began working. :-)

Before we started working, we drove by the destructed area, and spent sometime there. A huge sign 『がんばろう!石巻』had been set up at the site, and flowers, cans of beers and drinks were placed to remember the dead, and I found a wooden cross was placed there too. I was really glad that Takahiro was able to come along, and while he mentioned to me that what went through his mind at that moment, was the daily life of the people and families that were supposedly there, I was almost sure that this trip would leave an impact in his life and a beneficial one. I hope that he would share this experience to others.

I splited up with the group in Ishinomaki, where they were sent to work at a field above the river, and I spent my time in the volunteer center, trying to find out more about ways to cooperate with the city officials in long term outreach of kokoro no care (mental health care). Even as we considered the Ishinomaki volunteer center as the best organized city effort, I was surprised to find that the volunteers were mostly non locals. The volunteer center explained to me some work that had been done by the local communities and the volunteer organization from Tokyo named Recovery for Japan. I see some certain trace of follow up and work of mental health care. Some of the work that I am planning do repeat with some of the self-initiated events of the locals too. We agreed with each other that in a long term, we do need to pull effort with other volunteer organizations in considering the impact of what we could make out of the limited resource, and the impact of unnecessary retraumatization to the victims in every effort that we do. The unreleased information keeps the kokoro no care for the disaster victims much more difficult. My concern would be if our care would truly reach the disaster victims that were being assigned to the temporary houses. (noted that the people who gets the priority to move into temporary houses are from these areas.  where houses and families were supposed to be located at the mess you see in this picture.)

Again, the information of how many temporary housing were built, the general information of residents, the specific needs are not in link with the volunteer center. It was released in the news around June that there would be about 18 blocks of temporary houses for the disaster victims that could hold about 100 people in Ishinomaki. However, by driving around, and talking with the locals, it seems that there are far more than that. The person in charge advised that I may try to find these information with the city official website, but I am still far from locating the necessary information. Because of the limitation of the information, I hold back my proposal, and was not able to discuss more until I am connected to others who are doing more practical works in the field. 

The taxi driver that drove me from the volunteer center to a nearby shopping mall expressed to me his concern of the elderly people who stay in the temporary houses may not have access to the facilities for daily living especially for those without cars. It was true that if I have to pay 2,180 yen from the volunteer center to the nearby shopping mall, and along the way, with the many temp. housing that I have seen along the way may have serious difficulties pertaining to this issue.  

Jusco, now named AEON, was located at another side of the location in the picture above. According to the locals, it had turned into an evacuee center in the time of tsunami. The taxi driver playfully told me that the place is so huge, and that I would probably lost my way in it. The kind driver spoke in a tohoku dialect, which I could only understand 60% of it when it comes to unfamiliar topics. 

The place was indeed big, and with words around like, "ガンバッペ石巻!" I walked around the shops, to get a feel of the customer flow, and the utilization of the facilities in the mall. The sales girl told me that they certainly have a huge customer flow, especially during the weekend. Then I realized that people from Kesennuma 気仙沼 came over to this shopping mall because this is the nearest mall that they could get after the destruction of the Kesennuma city. The mall gets a lot of residents from surrounding too as the young and old were trying to escape from the heat. 

I was then tired and exhausted, and decided to take a rest at one of the sofa located at the corridors and walk ways, opposite a nail polish store. I dozed off quickly until an old woman sat beside me. I guess I behaved very local, like a school girl, waiting for my parents to come and pick me up in the store. We smiled to each other. Although the mall is with air-conditioning, we were still feeling exhausted from the heat outside the building at the place where we sat. Then, the old woman began to talk to me, complaining about the weather, feeling pity for my exhaustion. And she asked me what I was doing, and I told her I was waiting for my team to come and pick me up after their volunteer work at the other side of the river. After she found that I was from Tokyo, she looked at me unbelievingly and said, "oh... it is really terrible that you have to travel up here for this work at this weather! " Then she made an remark, "it is worse in Tokyo, right? the heat must be more terrible there."  

The old woman told me that her sister and brother in-law who were staying at the site (refer to the picture above) were still missing, and she herself went to AEON for refuge during the 10 days course. She illustrated to me how it was in the mall when it was turned into evacuee center, all the walking lanes were filled with people, and what they were given for food during the ten days. Her husband ran up to the hill. She has two adult boys who are not staying with her, but everyone is safe in her family. Now a relative of her, a form 2 girl was the only survivor in her family in the tsunami. All the while when she tells her story, she remained calm and good humor. During our conversation, another woman sat down beside us, and listened to our conversation. Then she asked the old woman if she was from Ishinomaki. And she introduced herself that she was from Kesennuma. They then described the terrible event, tracing to the evacuation warning of tsunami. This woman from Kesennuma stays at the hill side. When the alarm sounds and the evacuation warning was announced, she mentioned that the announcement was "It looks like the tsunami is coming" rather than "The tsunami is coming", which had probably caused many people to ignore the warning, and when the tsunami came, it was too late to escape. She illustrated how the water rushed to the foot of her house, and the people were screaming for help, and she was afraid to help anyone for the fear of being pulled into the fierce water. I began to imagine even if the people have run, they would not probably had stopped at the hillside, or need to take a break at the foot of the hill. I guess there could be a proportion of healthy elderly people may run faster that me, but I suppose there are more elderly people who are just like the person sitting in front of me, suffering body and muscle aches with their long hours of laboring in rice field or sea. The woman's grandson was trapped in the school, and they were saved by the helicopter after three days. 

After about an hour talking to each other, we bid each other goodbye, and I went to food court to have my lunch, and began to put down my thoughts from all these observations. 
I began to realize that most of the local people who mingle at the mall are probably not so much concern with volunteer work nor people who are assigned to temporary houses. Most are probably affected by the tragedy, but not the one that I am targeting at. No posters or related leaflets of volunteer informations or events that were created for the disaster victims, and it would be difficult to classify nor measure the loss of the victims. This observation tells us that there is a huge challenge in how to reach out and disseminate information to people in need.

The team came to pick me up after their sweat labors in the hot sun. :-) Then we got them McDonalds for dinner in bus... (Thanks, Eric and Tsunoda-san!)

It was even best, that due to an unforeseen traffic jam, we were far behind schedule in reaching Tokyo, and based on the large number of volunteers we have this round, Tsunoda-san sent eight of us back to Kashiwanoha campus. Although this was an unusual measure at an unusual situation, I was really glad that everyone had been patient and gracious enough to get us home. 

At the end of this, I would like to express my deepest gratitude the student team: Celine, Zoli, Erik, Rob, Nic, Gareth, Tuba, Baron and Suzuki. Thank you so much, and I hope that you had a wonderful time in your labor and friendship building with one another! Most of all, thank you for being patient and generous with me, for the frequent washroom stops that I made and my "sneaking out" from the hot sun labor. ^^ Looking forward to have more fun with you guys!!!

more about my health

An unusual ten days had past since my visit to the Tokyo University Hospital emergency ward on July 8 afternoon for a surprise attack of pain. The doctors prescribed Acetaminophen IV trying to reduce the course of the pain, and CT scan with contrast to look for infection or inflammation that was not discovered by the radiography imaging. The acetaminophen took a while to suppress the pain, together with the contrast injection, caused me to be more nausea, and vomiting.

The doctors and nurses surrounded me kept throwing me tons of questions, and one thing that they were really concerned was if I have any family members in Tokyo, and if there is any friend that will be with me for the whole course. That prompted me to think if I really need an operation, or warded. I began to imagine the inconvenience and difficulties without someone being by my side.

Maki, my best friend who accompanied me to the emergency was left alone outside the cold and dark corridor while all these were happening inside the little emergency ward. Poor and kind Maki was having so many datelines, and she herself was suffering bladder infection too. As they moved me to CT scan, I realized that I might need to be warded, and I wanted to tell Maki to go back to the lab. Maki rushed to my side as she saw them pushed me out from the emergency room, thinking if they were sending me for operation. She then heard me murmuring to the doctors (doctors from different specialties came at different time, repeating the same questions, some doubts if I was able to understand and answer them in Japanese,  I was trying my best effort to answer the questions although I was numbed by the pain) with my eyes closed, and she felt relieved and laughed, no one talks as much as Roseline, she thought... then while I was pushed inside the CT scan room, I started to vomit. Maki heard it from afar, and she went back to the place and saw no one, and she knew it must be Roseline that was vomiting. This part of the story became one of our favorite, or Maki's favorite when she illustrates my situations to our colleagues. I love it too, it becomes a good laugh in our miseries.

When they released from the emergency ward, it was almost seven in the evening. It was so dramatic as after 4 hours of struggling with such severe pain, and I was released from the ward, as if the pain was a put of of a show in order for a thorough investigation. Then the doctor explained to me with the CT, that my pain was due to nothing else but the compression of two large myoma (fibroids) in my womb. That seems to explain many things: seemingly bladder infection that was not getting better with antibiotics, heaviness and pelvic pain, pressure in lower abdomen, heavy menstruation etc. She prescribed Acetaminophen to suppress the pain for the weekend, and advised me to ring the hospital if I have sudden and uncontrollable pain again, then return to the clinic for further check up on Monday.

Fearing that I might get into trouble again by traveling in the cramped train, Maki insisted if there could be someone to accompany me back to Kashiwa from Hongo, which takes almost an hour and a half ride.  Thank God we found Liu Feng, another friend who commute in between both campus, was still in Hongo at that time. He accompanied me back to Kashiwa, and though I thought it was not very much necessary in the beginning, had turned out to be an incredible help for me to get back to the place where I stay. Then only after that I realized that Liu Feng actually had an appointment in Tokyo in the evening, which after he sent me back, he went back to Tokyo again. I am in great gratitude towards my friends for their great love and that they had really sacrificed their time to help me.

Another terrible two days had gone, and I began to find the rhythm of the pain and possible trigger factors to it. On monday, the doctor prescribed me a MRI scan, and changed the Acetaminophen to Ibuprofen. To prevent any possible serious pain, I began to pop Ibuprofen like sweets, 3 times a day, as long as I uncomfortable with the compression. On Wednesday, I did a urography with dye to detect obstruction and the size and shape of the bladder. The IV drip this time did not cause nausea, but the wound caused by the fat needle that hooked on the vein of my antecubital fossa took more than 4 days to recover this time. After the scan, the doctor made an effort to see me, and explained to me about the results of the MRI and urography imaging. It was confirmed that the large myoma had taken the whole space and the uterus expanded so much that had causing the compression to the stomach and pelvic bones, where another myoma had grown side way, and pressed on the ureter that caused this swelling of the kidney. However to our surprise, the size of the myoma were far bigger than she thought, and now she was worried if I could have the microscopic surgery in due course.

Hormone therapy is prescribed and will take place on July 27. Surgery is scheduled in November, and we will see how much the fibroids would shrink until then. :-)

Some friends had expressed their concerns about my situation, and I guess that the prayer had been more fervent since. I would wish to express my thankfulness to everyone who is concern. Some had said, do not worry about the fibroids, well... aside of being astonished by the event, and the traumatized feelings of imagining surgery with more readings, in fact I am happy and relieved to find out the causes of all these ill feelings that I have been bearing for a while. Especially when I find out that the extra weight that I am carrying is reducible :-) and I would probably be in a better shape after the removal of the fibroids ^^. My concerns are more about the pain and inconvenience that caused by the fibroids and the following treatment course, that affects my mobility. I have to take leave from school to reduce the physical stress of traveling. So far, God had always proved his generosity in giving me extra grace and strength when there is a mission going on. The trip to the volunteer work in Ishinomaki was successful on Saturday, and when the team decided to send us back to the Kashiwa Lodge on Saturday midnight definitely helped my situation too.

The reason that I disclose all these information was not to seek pity from you, nor to humiliate myself.  As I always trust that being a missionary should be transparent enough in everything that I do if possible, and as this blog had always remained a site of experience learning for future missionaries, as well as a part of my spiritual journey. It will be great if you would like to pray for me, and knowing what exactly I am facing, so that you enjoy being a partner in this spiritual battle of a global mission. Shalom.

Aside from praying for the healing and reduce of the impacts of side effect, there are several things that I am working on and need His grace upon me:

1. the transfer of lodge, from Chiba prefecture back to Tokyo. (hopefully within walkable distance to school/hospital)
2. the completion of the social phobia paper.
3. the completion of application of ethical approval for new projects on hikikomori.
4. my work with the young people (somehow I have been delaying in replying emails, looking into things as I used to be... I am much slower these days, and not being very concentrate of things)
5. the possible and best fulfillment in discussion and working with young people in Akita.
6. the possible fulfillment of studies in Suicide prevention center in Beijing in September prior or post conference.
7. the possible reconnect with the students/young people that I had been working with in Hong Kong after the Beijing trip.
8. I need to start writing my hikikomori paper again as soon as possible.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Prayer Request of 2nd part of 2011

Since Mar 11, we have entered the fifth month after disaster. 
After working with various people while serving the disaster areas, 
I began to step back in May, slowly adjusting my pace,
thinking and readjusting my thoughts, my position, and most importantly, 
the will of the Lord in this entire work.

Current Work and Expansion
It was almost the same time, 
few things happened in Tokyo:
1. I am finding hard to catching up with my studies and thesis after a long "vacation" away from school;
2. My work in Tokyo expanded, where I have now a new group of hikikomori or young people to work with;
3. My health getting worse, with the seemingly frequent pain that associate with frequent urine. 

On another hand, the work in the disaster areas had made new contacts, and new people to follow up with.
In the effort of one of our partner in Heart4Japan, Ps. Sakae Makita had established an NPO for East Japan Disaster Recovery, http://ejdrf.weebly.com/
I am expected to contribute my biblical disaster mental health experience in this group.

I am expecting and excited to expand my hikikomori service to Akita, where I put my main effort in community approach suicide prevention, and to link both Akita youths and Tokyo youths together, by sharing their knowledge and experience together.

Source of Support
A church in Brunei that I had never met approached me about three months ago, about adopting me into their missions board, although nothing had been said nor decided, the work of the Lord no doubt encouraged me deeply. Knowing that the difficulties in getting church support, I took up a 2 months part time job to help out a professor in Chiba University on his English assignment. This work takes another 1.5 hour for one way commute. 

There are several courses that I need to take from now, conferences to attend, I pray for strength and His light to guide me in this work. 

Would you pray for me with what the following?

July 16   Volunteer to Disaster Area: Ishinomaki 石巻
July 22   Fieldwork to Special School in Tokyo - Showa Gakuenhttp://www.showa-gakuen.net/index.htm 
July 31   Fireworks with young people from Seisa (Hikikomori Freespace)
Aug 6-7   Social Disparity and Health International Conference in Tokyo - Presenter
Aug 21-29  Fieldwork to Akita, working with young people on hikikomori
Sep 6-7  Fieldwork in Tokyo: Special school and Hospital
Sep 9-28  Missions Trip to China/International Suicide Prevention Conference in Beijing
Oct 1   Study Group (Schizo) - Presenter
Oct 19-21  Public Health Conference in Akita - Presenter
Nov 3    Department Seminar - Presenter
Nov 9-11  Child and Adult Mental Health Conference in Tokushima
(highlighted in yellow are the events that I need to prepare as a presenter)

I am planning for the new season of hIkikomori study group from October, but I am yet to apply for ethical approval as well as grant. Grant is not so often available, yet my young people would need the funds to help them to travel to Tokyo for the study group.

My health Condition
I had a dramatic weekend last week. :-)
I was admitted to the emergency ward in Tokyo University Hospital last Friday due to a severe pain. After a few good hours, I was told that instead of appendicitis, the CT scan confirmed that I have two big uterus fibroids (10cm and 5cm) that pressed on my right ureter, causing thickening of the wall, which suspect to contributed to the frequent pain and urine that i had suffered a while. I am given pain killer to control the pain. As the compression also caused stomach discomfort, reflux and nausea, I do have some difficult times.... ><

Because of the expansion of work in Tokyo, and the condition of my health, moving to Tokyo seems to be the best option at this moment. I am looking forward to move. 

Surgery would be scheduled in October or November. 
Hormone therapy would be needed prior to the operation to shrink the fibroids. 

First Session: July 27
Second Session: Aug 31

I went for MRI on Monday, it was terrible....... >< the sound was so loud!!! They put this earphone on my head, and surprisingly.... I thought I heard worship songs..... probably because I was warned before I went through the procedure, I was well prepared with prayers. The Lord seemed to be citing Psalm 91 to my ears... it was a lot of comfort. 

I am going for the nephro test tomorrow :-)

Oh yeah, I am also attending a youth mental health seminar in the evening tomorrow! :-) Let's pray for all the best!

Please pray for HIs provision of strength, comfort and finance on all the work that need to be done! May the peace of the Lord to be upon me, and you who are at the same frontal line of this intense battle.