I missed a day so I’ll begin with yesterday. We had another busy day of working on the same house. The owners were gone in the morning but returned after lunch so we were able to connect with them again. But first we enjoyed a quick lunch on the beach where we met up with the other team members from Newsong who were working on another home nearby.
It turns out they are both the same age as me so we had a natural connection. He reflected on the fact that before the tsunami he was feeling like all the pieces were coming together nicely in his life. He had been able to build up his business to the point where it was stable and going well, he had built a large home that would last for several generations, all the kids were grown and on their own. He had worked very hard for years to get to that point and new it was looking like the years to come would be easy and relaxed. And then March 11 happened and in a blink everything that he thought was stable and safe was swept up in furious torrent and washed away. And all he could do was stand at the top of the hill behind his house and watch it. I don’t know how I would handle an experience like that, but I have to say that this guys is an inspiration. He immediately went to work on behalf of his family and community, and hasn’t slowed down yet!
After finishing up a little early we made a slight detour on the way home to visit at beautiful park along the coast. The beach and ocean view were fabulous, but in stark contrast to the scene of a totally destroyed high school just a few hundred meters from the park. As we drove right in front of the school I noticed that the windows were blown out all the way up to the fourth floor. And it was only a four story building. I couldn’t help but wonder if the students made it to the roof in time…
Once we got back to base camp, Miles, Kendra and I jumped in the car. I had to return to Tokyo to teach a class at the seminary and the kids decided they wanted to go home with daddy. We met my replacement, Jay Haworth, at Ichinoseki where I handed him the car keys and the three of us got on the bullet train for the ride home while Jay drove back to base camp. We didn’t get home until just after midnight. Then I was up early again this morning to get ready for my class and was out the door by seven. The class went from nine ’til noon and then I headed back north after running a couple errands. It was another beautiful day and between snoozes I snapped a few photos from the train window.
I got off the bullet train at Ichinoseki and caught a local train for the 90 minute over the mountains and out to the coast. There is a stark contrast between those two train rides. The bullet train travels at close to 200 miles per hour, rides a smooth as a luxury car, and features reclining bucket seats with a snack bar in one car and all sorts of amenities. The local train out to the coast is only two cars long, runs on diesel powered engines and a single track and most of the stops it makes are at unmanned stations so the conductor has to jump out and collect everyone’s tickets. But the truth is that while the bullet train is very nice and comfortable, the local train ride over the mountains in the late afternoon sun was one of the most pleasant rides I’ve ever experienced!
Once I got back to base camp we packed up our things and made the quick drive to Ofunato. Tomorrow we are putting on a big BBQ lunch at a special event called the Summer Festival. It is for residents of the temporary housing units and will have many attractions. But our team is in charge of the lunch. We relish the opportunity to serve people with something as simple as a plate of food, but choose to believe that something considerably more significant can be communicated though such an act.