Back in Iwate

6 comments Written on April 14th, 2011     
Filed under: earthquake
This week’s trip to Iwate actually started on Monday night when fellow ECC missionary Tim Johnson and I loaded a borrowed one ton truck with a load of 23 bicycles and as much other stuff as we could fit. It was pouring rain that night but we managed to back the truck all the way into the warehouse and avoided getting completely drenched.

At 7:30 Tuesday morning we picked up Kyoung-Ho Park, a Korean missionary and NPTS grad who just arrived in Japan a week or two ago with his wife and three kids to work with one of our Japanese Covenant churches in Tokyo. Then we drove to co-worker Jay Haworth’s house where we picked up Jay and Yobu Maruyama and Jay. Yobu is a recent sem grad who has just joined our Japanese Covenant ministerium and is working with Jay at the Kuki church. We also picked up Pastor Otomo, one of our fellow Covenant pastors and after a quick stop at a home center for some tools we were on the road headed north.

Tuesday was sunny and windy. The somewhat underpowered and overloaded one ton truck was sort of like “The Little Engine That Could”, and indeed it did! We arrived in Ofunato around 5:30PM where we delivered 23 bikes to an evac center and gave a brief demonstration on how to assemble them. Then we headed up the Sanriku Coast and pulled in to Miyako around 8:30PM. We were greeted by a group of fifteen or more, comprised of two teams; one from Hokkaido and the other from the Domei denomination.

Sleeping space was at a premium, with one of our pastors eventually resorting to sleeping in the futon closet! I was in a room with three others and the only problem was one guy who seemed to be practicing animal sounds all night long… Fortunately I have the ultimate tool for such situations. My Sony Walkman mp3 player has sound cancelling technology built into the earphones (eat your heart out iPod owners!!!) so I listened to quiet jazz and more importantly filtered out all extraneous sounds for the entire night and slept like a baby!

The next morning we began with a time of worship with a group of over twenty volunteers who had spent the night at the base camp and then we got ready to head out.

Big Crowd for Breakfast

Kyoung-Ho and I joined up with the team from Hokkaido and headed south to the town of Otsuchi where we distributed food and supplies at a nursing home, a kindergarten and a local store front that was heavily damaged by the tsunami but is functioning as a distribution point for supplies.

Nursing Home Dropoff

Kindergarten drop off

Storefront drop off

Meanwhile Jay and Tim spent the morning installing a salvaged window in the main room of the base camp and in the afternoon they made shelving for food and supplies to bring some semblance of order to this place. Finally there is a decent and safe cooking area set up.

These guys can build anything!

A well organized supply and cooking area!

The rest of our team spent most of the day in the local neighborhood helping clean up homes that were damaged by the tsunami water and mud.

Sorry for the bad photo of the cleanup team. Taken on someone's iPhone…

By evening everyone was hungry and dirty so we cooked dinner and headed for a local bath house. There is nothing quite like a hot back after a long and hard day’s work.

Night time conversations seemed to just keep going and going. Tim and I finally threw in the towel around 12:30 or 1AM but a few of the others kept at it till 5AM!!

This morning was another full house at base camp. The Hokkaido team left yesterday but there were several new volunteers who came in for the day. After devotions and breakfast we loaded up the truck and most of us headed to Taro, a small town to the north where probably something like 80% of the homes were completely destroyed. The town hall pointed us to specific areas where supplies were needed the most. These are neighborhoods where most of the people haven’t lost their homes so they are living in their homes but are subsequently excluded from all government aid which is being sent to the evac centers. Our method was to simply park the truck, then go door to door and let people know we were there. Everywhere we went the people gladly came out to get what ever supplies and food they could. It is still hard or impossible for many of them to get supplies. There is not one single functioning store left in the town of Taro and if you are one of the thousands whose car was washed away it’s pretty hard to get anywhere from this rural location.

Loading the truck with supplies

Neighborhood distribution

Neighborhood Distribution

Neighborhood distribution

Yobu and Kyoung-ho taking a break

Jay and Tim stayed at base camp and removed the heavily damaged wall that was still dangling from the ceiling. Then they went to work on making a new front door as the original sliding glass door was completely destroyed by the rush of water that washed through the first floor of this building. Until now the front entrance was simply wide open ever since the tsunami (just over a month!)

Jay and Tim building a door frame

Almost done!

Finally it was time to clock out so we headed into town for a hot meal at a local restaurant and then headed for the bath again. Wow, did that ever feel good! And under strict orders from our senior staff member we made a convenience store stop on the way home for some ice cream!

This is our last night here and tomorrow morning we’ll be cleaning up and getting ready for the long trip home. We plan on driving down the Sanriku coast as far as time will allow and then heading inland to the expressway and back to Tokyo.

Photos from this trip are here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

6 comments “Back in Iwate”

For those of us who lived in Tohoku but can’t make it there physically to help, thanks for being our feet and hands.

Report This Comment

Great photos! Thanks for all that you are doing.

Report This Comment

Thank you for all that you have done and are doing. May God bless you all abundantly in the harvest field of souls in Japan.

Report This Comment

I can only imagine how much Tim and Jay are enjoying the construction work! And these really are great photos.

Report This Comment

Thank you for a cheerful, joyful look at what you are doing there. I’m glad I’m not the only person who can’t get good pictures with an I Phone. The pictures helped us to share in your labor in prayer. So glad you had your walkman with you. I carry earplugs! Hang in there. All we can do is do the next thing. When I think of hanging on to Jesus I think of Colossians 1:15-17…..”He is before all things , and in Him all things hold together.”

Report This Comment

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog