Our host with Grace Mission Tohoku was Rimpei Kozawa, a former executive with his family’s construction firm, but who came to Ishinomaki immediately after the disaster. Rimpei became a follower of Jesus when his wife began to hold bible studies in his apartment. At first he avoided coming home on those nights, but then reluctantly decided to investigate what his wife was finding so life-changing. The bible study leader shared the good news of forgiveness with him and his life has not been the same. Rimpei spent some of his teenage years in Michigan, and speaks excellent English.
On Wednesday, Rimpei took us to see the town of Minami-Sanriku, which was one of the most devastated towns by the tsunami. The areas where the town existed has now been cleared of rubble with the exception of a toppled office building that is being left for further study. I think everyone on our team was affected by seeing the extent of this devastation up close.
Rimpei’s heart for the fishing community in Ishinomaki was very evident. He took us to see the fish market and a seafood processing factory, where he was recognized and greeted as a friend by several of the fishermen. On Thursday, Rimpei took us to a fishing village where he has been asked to provide storage facilities for their nets and floats, which are otherwise damaged by exposure to the sun.