Last weekend I had an amazing opportunity to travel to Ishinomaki, an area struck hard by the 2011 Tsunami, with four other amazing photographers. Our mission was to use our abilities to bless both those who survived the tsunami as well as those who are are now living in the area as missionaries. The five of us collaborated with some fabulous people in the area and what started out as a small vision become Project Hohoemi (https://www NULL.facebook NULL.com/projecthohoemi) (Project Smile).
We arrived in Ishinomaki on Thursday and were immediately put to work. We spent three days meeting wonderful people, hearing some of their stories, and photographing them in various locations. Even in the midst of heavy rain, an earthquake, and a tsunami warning (more on that topic in a future blog post) everyone on this trip remained positive and upbeat. And how could we not! We were received with such kindness and thankfulness that I almost cried at every photo shoot. I was there to serve and give back, but I received far more than I could ever give. I can’t wait to share all the stories with you about this adventure. So come back soon for more updates, photos, and stories.
Below you will find some images from my first day. Through my amazing translator I learned that the couple below are business owners. It is people like them who will rebuild this community because they decide to stay in the area. I also learned that this sweet man use to be a high school teacher. A high school once stood where we were shooting. After the tsunami it had to be demolished because it was so damaged. It just makes you think…He also teaches the art of sword fighting. His smile captured my heart and I believe that I if I had the chance I could sit with him for hours and talk. I hope to return one day so he can teach me how to handle a sword.
Below: Michiko is the master mind behind Project Hohoemi. She made this thing happen! Here she is acting as my translator, which I am very thankful for. I really wish could speak Japanese! But we made it work.
Below: An aunt and her niece. I did not get to learn much about their story, but their smiles still speak to me.
Below: Michiko’s daughter getting a sword lesson
A group shot because these families are friends!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read about this project. I will be posting more over the next two weeks. I can’t wait to share more with yall!