It’s the ninth day our ethnomusicology team has been here in the land they call Japan and already we’ve had many positive experiences and have seen God work in our lives and the lives of others. One of the main aspects of the culture here that has really stuck out to all of us is just how polite, well-mannered and hard-working the Japanese people are. It’s truly something. Even those working at a petrol station bow as they pass you your change (with both hands) and wish you a nice day. I don’t think I’ve ever had a similar experience back in the western world. The Japanese are truly beautiful people.
The food is fantastic. Sushi, rice, noodles, funny gloopy red bean pulp, green tea cereal, it’s all a treat! . . . Tea has been another huge hit with the team, and copious amounts of green tea are being consumed on a daily bases.
Our first performance in Iwate was in a supermarket! The missionaries here asked the local supermarket–a very big supermarket that sold everything: clothes, household goods and food–if the music team could do a performance within the shop. Being the beautifully hospitable people that the Japanese are, they welcomed us with open arms and arranged the whole thing. On the approach to the supermarket, none of us quite knew what was in store. We were pleasantly shocked to find posters of us on notice boards, an announcement on the Tannoy [public address] system and a fully setup stage waiting for us to arrive! And what a time we had. Nerves really got to us all at this point. But God was with us, and we gave a very strong performance. There were many passersby who came and sat for the whole performance, and the evident reaction from people walking through the store was extremely encouraging as we gained increasing confidence throughout the set.
After lunch we headed to our first performance within one of the temporary housing units. It was such an enriching experience for both the residents and everyone on the team. With a small room in which to play and an audience of around 10 Tsunami victims, we performed our hour long set for the people. Once the music started, all tension and sense of social barriers seemed to come crumbling down, a new atmosphere intervened and a humble curiosity in each other’s existence seeped into the room. After the performance there was an hour of coffee, tea and conversation. As a team we all split up with translators, sat beside different people and began conversations. We all had so much fun with them! Some talked of trivial matters, others just reveled in our company with laughter, and others opened up to us with some of the grueling horrors of the disaster. Whatever the conversation, God was with everyone of us and we can only pray that the Holy Spirit was planting seeds deep into their hearts.
This morning we headed to another temporary housing unit and had a similar experience, praying and focusing on what God can do through us and not what we can do within ourselves. As a group we feel that God is stretching us all in so many directions, strengthening our faith and really using this time to solidify His truths in our hearts. Through some physical, emotional and spiritual battles that we have individually faced on the trip, He has revealed to us deep flaws in our characters and has presented us with the ultimate challenge of living a life fully dedicated to him in every single way. Through evening group Bible studies, using a booklet which WEC provided, we have been dealing with serious issues together as a team, bringing all of our worries, doubts and fears out in the open and presenting them humbly to the Lord.
Being a part of this short-term team has been incredible and I have no doubt that seeds planted during this time will bear eternal fruit in years to come.
-James Cuddy, Resonance Japan team