Story by David Sandlin
Jon and Satomi McCurley graciously allowed us to stay in their house--located in walking distance of the Asian Rural Institute (ARI). Jon worked with me beforehand to coordinate our team's activities. At ARI, we were able to befriend individuals from several different countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Our team loved being entrenched into the community at ARI, one that is full of both Christian and non-Christian individuals who are learning about sustainable agriculture. We were able to be a part of the daily routine for a few days while we were there, it went something like this:
-Early Morning warmups
-Property Cleanup (weeding, cleaning, etc)
Our team also had the opportunity to host a BBQ event for the community at ARI, at which we formatted the evening events like a gathering on our campuses.
We were given the opportunity to work with youth at a local church. A UNF alumni that was on our team for the trip led a gospel worship seminar that was advertised in local newspapers and brought in many people outside of ARI onto the campus--many people in Japan love gospel music, as singing in groups of people is something that rarely happens there.
Gabriele, a member of our team, reflecting on our experience says: “While we were in Tokyo, we had trouble finding a store. We stopped a couple of people on the busy street to ask if they knew where it was. They didn't, but pulled out their iPhones and for ten minutes searched to help us find it. That was a symbol of the trip we took to Japan. We were not just invited and welcomed; we were embraced with the utmost hospitality. And although the country had marvelous mountains, cities, parks and farms, it was the communities that I miss. Japan's beauty radiated through the people we met there.”
Overall, our team had an amazing experience in which we were moved and used by the Holy Spirit.
I can't say enough great things about ARI or the McCurleys and I’ll be happy to assist other Florida teams that head that way. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org