About our Staff

As a way for you to get to know our staff, we gave them a number of questions that they could use as springboard to share about themselves. These are some of our amazing staff and the questions and answers that they have chosen.    (If you’d like to read their stories of surviving the tsunami as they wrote them a year ago, check it out here).



What’s something funny you’ve learned about Americans since starting to work at Nozomi?
Before working here, I used to feel nervous when I saw foreigners or Americans. But I found out they’re really relaxed and friendly. When we went to snow camp [in March], we were singing the song “Dance Dance Dance” and they were all into it and shouting words. Their tempo when talking is really lively too.

What’s your favorite thing about Ishinomaki?
I really like the smell of the ocean that wafts from the beach at times. At first I didn’t like it, but recently, I think “this is Ishinomaki, and the ocean’s here”.

How have you personally changed since working here?
At Nozomi, there are lots of mothers that have children at the same primary school, so I feel encouraged. There are lots to talk about and we’re all similar in age so I feel relaxed. Since coming here, I’ve come to talk more as well.


♦︎Yumi E.

What’s something funny you’ve learned about North Americans since starting to work at Nozomi?
At first I felt a bit intimidated, but I soon realized everyone was a lot of fun. The jokes are amazing! (especially Sue’s). Everyone is really nice and caring. Usually, it’s only your family that cares that much for you.

How have you personally changed since working here?
Before the tsunami, my youngest child was still small so I was thinking I’ll have her go to preschool when she’s 4, but I had to start working since we had to rebuild our house. I can’t care for my kids as much as before. But as the youngest has gone to preschool, she’s grown up as well, and the older kids have become more adaptable as they have gone to different campuses for their school, though it’s been hard at times. If I hadn’t worked, I may have been an overprotective mother.

♦︎Kazuko E.

How has your worldview changed since March 2011?
Everything changed with the tsunami. We lost everything. I come here while my child is at school, and I can focus on something and not think about other things.

What’s something you want the world to know about Ishinomaki?
Compared to right after the tsunami, it is getting cleaner but it will still take time for things to get back to how it was. People’s hearts will take time to recover as well. After the tsunami, many people came to volunteer. After 3 years, I look around and realize that the people that are still here are Christians. They work for those that are suffering, and even bring their families to this disaster zone. I am so thankful to Jesus Christ for having created these people and for sending them here.

How have you personally changed since working here?
Jewelry making is something I’ve never done so I have had to learn it quickly without any background. I wanted to focus on something with all of me. After a while, I realized that I was able to make jewelry.


♦︎Hiromi T.

What do you love most about your job?
I make necklaces and earrings. When I see the customers wearing what I’ve made and see their happy faces, I am so thankful I get to work at Nozomi.

What’s something you want the world to know about Ishinomaki?
There are so many people that lost their homes. There are still a lot of empty lots and recovery is slow. There are gaps between when I feel like I can go on and times when I can’t. But when I see so many people from all over the world come here and help us in many ways, I am full of thankfulness. When our city is back to how it was few years down the road, I want to continue to remember what happened.
Even in other countries, there may be natural disasters. It’s important to be prepared. I went to the evacuation site without even water, and I still remember how my children asked for water. Especially for families with elderly people or children, it’s so important to have things prepared.


♦︎Emi K.  (grinder artisan)

What do you love most about your job?
When I’m grinding, I get to transform something that is rugged into jewelry. I’m happy when I see ours customers enjoy our jewelry.

What’s the next step for you?
My children and my family are the biggest motivation for me. I want to work as long as I can and stay healthy. I want to be able to enjoy life.


♦︎T.H.  (necklace artisan)

What’s something funny you’ve learned about North Americans since starting to work at Nozomi?
The pranks are fun. Like hiding slippers (Sue!). Some of the pranks are so crazy and fun, Japanese would never think of them!

How has your family supported your work at Nozomi?
My family has gradually come to understand my work and support me more and more. My nephews offer to look after my children while I work, and my children are old enough to stay at home as well, so I can work more hours. My family and friends are helping me overcome the difficulty of being a working single mother.

What have you learned about God since March 2011?
I didn’t know anything about God before coming here. When I first came, I didn’t know what it was about and had a negative image of religion, so I really resisted. But as I gradually got to know more and especially through interacting with Sue or Lora, I was able to accept more of who God is or how He loves me.
The tsunami happened and many people came to help, and that’s when I met Christians. I was able to become more honest and thankful. Before, I thought I had to do everything on my own, but now, I know God is there and that I am given this life. As I believe in God, I have come to be able to trust others. I feel a lot lighter about things that I used to be burdened about.


♦︎Chiemi H. (grinder artisan)

What do you love most about your job?
I love that I can give new life to these shards of pottery that were damaged in the tsunami. Sometimes we get special orders for specific shapes. When we are able to shape the shards and see the customers happy, I feel fulfilled.

How does your family support you in your work at Nozomi?
My children have seen me at work. They understand what I do, and they even pick up shards when they’re outside. They enjoy that, and they’re happy to see me enjoy my work. They look forward to how the shards they have picked up will be shaped into jewelry. When I show them pictures of the finished product, they are so excited. When I had to go on my first business trip, my family supported me in every way possible.

What’s your dream for the future?
My dream is that my children grow up and are able to walk forward with pride in whatever work they do.