Mother Nature is alive and well in Japan. Last night around midnight she rumbled a lullaby in a slow rhythmic fashion and then shook us awake at about 6 a.m., gently urging us to get up.
Wow, what a day yesterday was! We returned to our project in Ishinomaki after an hour and a half’s ride from Sendai, passing several military convoys on the way. In the residential areas the self-defense forces have set up water points with public baths and have scattered portable toilets throughout the neighborhoods where people remain.
There were three more units in the apartment complex that needed to be mucked out. Other than Phil impaling himself on a nail (not an easy feat considering he hit the flat end, not the pointed end), the task was finished and we enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing a project completed.
While we were there we had the good fortune to meet one of the former residents who stopped to see the progress being made. Like thousands of others, his life had been severely impacted by the loss of his wife, his home, and his self-sufficiency. As he spoke to us and recounted his tale, it became obvious that he had already started the healing process, and although his life would never be the same, he had started the long uphill climb to recovery.
For lunch we went to a park on a hill overlooking the port area. Throughout the park were a variety of floral banquets and of other forms of respect for the dead and missing. I cannot begin to put into words the utter devastation. About a dozen large excavators were clearing the debris into dump trucks, and scores of Army personnel of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force were posted in the area performing various chores. Blue tarps were scattered here and there, marking the locations of bodies uncovered in the rubble but not yet removed.
Following lunch we drove through the area, then stopped and walked a bit. Homes that were piles of rubble displayed family life that had been reduced to a few scattered toys, broken furniture, and perhaps an album of baby photos. Even in all this destruction God’s light shown through in a dandelion blossom poking through the mud, its blossom a brilliant yellow in the sunlight.
We all took many photos of the results of nature’s wrath, but they will never duplicate the act of being there and having all our senses assaulted:
I can only hope that our own meager efforts will in some way do some good. To paraphrase Rev. Jane Schlager’s words: “While we may not be able to solve the crisis facing us, we are well positioned to offer hope where there is fear and the promise of God’s presence to those who feel lost.”
Working together with Japanese teammates we hope to show that while the survivors carry a large burden working towards recovery, they are not alone.