This story began with Part 1. If you missed it, you can catch up here. One day a few months later, I was scrolling casually through my Facebook feed like we do, and I saw a post from Renee. She was asking for contacts in Japan. She wanted to make some friends there outside of the military base where they were located. I thought for a moment and realized I knew a wonderful family in Japan. Thinking that they may live nowhere near each other, I went ahead and mentioned it to Michiko anyway. Here is part of my message to her from March 6th, 2012, a little over two years ago…
Hello Dear Friends!
I love seeing the pictures and updates about your life in Japan. Our wedding photographer and her husband just found out that they are moving to Japan in August. Her name is Renee, and they have two small kids. I’m not sure where in Japan they will be living (her husband is in the airforce), but they are a sweet Christian family, and they really want to meet people who live in Japan. Would it be okay if I gave Renee your contact information so she could email you or facebook message you? Bryan and I continue to pray for your ministry there. Miss y’all!
Michiko replied warmly, as I knew she would, and I contacted Renee that same day…
I saw that you guys are moving to Japan. How exciting! It’s funny because I saw your status update about that and clicked on it and read that you want to meet people who live there. Then, right under that, my friend Michiko had just posted an album entitled “Japan 2012”. I knew I needed to put you in touch with her family. She is Japanese and is married to an American guy, Jonathan, and they have three small kids. They have been in Abilene for a few years and really recently moved back to Japan to work with the earthquake victims and a church there. I’m not sure if y’all will be close to where they are, but they are great people to know either way. I sent Michiko a message to ask if I could give you their contact info, and here was her reply:
And about your favorite photographer Renee, please tell her our contact information. When I wanted to ask someone to take our pictures in Abilene, actually she was in our list to choose from because your wedding and engage pictures are so great!!
So, it’s Jonathan and Michiko Straker, if you want to look them up.
That’s all I did. It was easy. And then something amazing happened. Renee and Michiko did, in fact, live far from each other, but they were able to talk online. Those discussions developed into what is now known as “Project Hohoemi“. I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover that when two women with huge hearts get know each other, God does great things. Renee gathered some photographer friends, and Michiko reached out to folks in her community who were impacted by the earthquake. They arranged photo sessions with these precious people to help bring restoration and create new memories. I highly recommend clicking on the link and checking out these incredible photographs (including some great shots of Michiko’s beautiful family)! The expressions of joy on their faces are just priceless. I LOVE it. When I found out about Project Hohoemi, I got all tingly. It started with my simple decision to connect two friends. Several months later, I’m still amazed. So, I will try to take advantage of opportunities to do this more often, and I hope this story inspires you to do the same. You never know what might come from being a connector. 🙂