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October 6, 2011

Six Months after the Disaster

Note: Five American students recently made the 10-plus hour trip to Japan, in response to an invitation from Japanese homeschoolers to join them on another relief trip to individuals struggling to recover from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Twenty-six members of the Chea Japan homeschool association, plus the five American homeschoolers, traveled throughout affected regions from August 23 to September 4.

President of Chea Japan Hiro Inaba shares about the recent trip:

American homeschoolers, known as Team USA, meet with Vice-Minister Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi.
American homeschoolers, known as Team USA, meet with Vice-Minister Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi.

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I took Team USA (the five American homeschoolers) to the Capitol Hill of Japan on August 25, at the beginning of their visit to Japan. God had opened the door for us to meet Senior Vice-Minister of the Cabinet Office of Earthquake Disaster & Recovery Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi. Vice-Minister Yamaguchi is one of several government officials who have associated with Chea Japan for a long time. Interestingly, just a few days after our meeting, he became the vice-minister for foreign affairs for the new prime minister’s cabinet. He is the one arranging the September United Nations Assembly meeting between Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and U.S. President Barack Obama, as well as the meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Koichiro Genba.

Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi is a very busy man, working especially with earthquake disaster and nuclear power plant issues. However, he accepted our proposal to encourage the team. Vice-Minister Yamaguchi appreciated the U.S. team’s support for victims of the tsunami disaster. He discussed three points with us. First of all, he highlighted the importance of studying foreign languages, as this expands our opportunities to serve the people in the world. When Japan and China had a conflict because of a border island last fall, Yamaguchi was asked to be the official agent to go to China. He exchanged a few words in Chinese with Daniel Folta, who is learning Mandarin in preparation for becoming a missionary. Carrie Cuddington answered that she is learning to speak French and Spanish. Emily Inaba told him that she can understand Japanese fluently. Abby Frederiksen and Nicole Suganuma told him that they liked to speak Spanish.

Secondly, he said, “I am Christian. Prayer to Jesus is also very important. I have prayed every day. I am not able to do anything well without prayers to Him.”

Student Daniel Folta wrote about the minister’s third point in a report about the trip. During Team USA’s time with Chea Japan’s English Camp, they took a hiking trip to Mount Fuji [3,776 meters—over two miles high]. “On the last day of the English camp, we all hiked Mount Fuji. While we hiked I remembered what the vice-minister had said to us. He shared what he learned from one of his teachers: Mount Fuji’s base is very vast, and one must have a wide base in order to go high. The base is opportunities, and the height is our goals in life. He wisely told us that the more opportunities we make, the higher we go to success. Although a soft rain never ceased during our climbing, we victoriously reached the 7th Station [nearly 3,000 meters above sea level]!”

After the meeting, the chief secretary of Yamaguchi gave us a tour of the Diet, the Japanese parliament, and we prayed for the relief trip and for the victims.

The five U.S. homeschoolers that joined our trip worked very hard, and we were delighted to get to know them. Thank you for your prayers for the Japanese and for those who have donated to the Home School Foundation’s International Fund to help the relief efforts!

 Other Resources

For background, please see “Bringing Hope and Joy to Japan.”