Category Archives: Wakayama
On Oct. 16th, I made my 2nd visit to Wakayama one month after our 1st visit on Sept. 19th.
I was the only person who signed up for that date, so I almost gave up going. I heard, though, that Dave’s wife Ruth (missionaries in Wakayama) would go to deliver some relief goods to the houses where we had worked last time. I’ve been thinking and praying for them during this past month, and I really wanted to go and see them. So I decided to go to Wakayama by train by myself. Arriving at Wakayama, I found out that our team members were four women : Ruth, two of her friends, and me.
Last time we had to take many winding, narrow mountain roads,(many roads were blocked because of the disaster) but this time we could use wider and safer roads. Praise the Lord! Still, there were lots of sandbags to protect from landslides and even a guard kept watch by the road, watching the mountainside.
One and a half hour drive from Kiitanabe Station took us to the School in Shikiya, which was the base for volunteers. Many things such as wet tatami and broken wood which we saw on the ground the last time were almost gone.
We started carrying, washing and drying the dirty school chairs. When we turned the chairs upside down, muddy ,dirty water came out of the pipes. Some of the chairs were damaged badly by the flooding water, so we needed to put them aside.
Then Ruth and I left for the village along the river, where we went to help last time.
We visited each house to pass out relief goods from Samaritan’s Purse. (We really appreciate the help from America!)
I met three families who we had met and served last time, and gave them photos which we took last time. They looked happy to see the photos! Last time they looked really tired and depressed , but they looked better this time. But they still need a lot of help and it will take a long time to return to a normal life. They lost almost all their belongings and their houses are in need of repair. Their vegetable fields are covered with mud and they can’t grow any vegetables this season.
We found more houses that need help along the river. These people, without complaining, keep doing their best, despite their homes being so damaged by the flood. They keep doing today, and tomorrow…..They need someone to help. Someone to listen to them. Even if we can’t go, we can pray for them!! May God help them and show His Light to them….
I have one more prayer request. Dave and Ruth keep going to help people to the disaster area every weekend. Please pray for them and their children!
I spent every free moment I had reading stories, viewing pictures, and hearing testimonies from the individuals affected and those serving in Tohoku. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to serve in Wakayama that I could truly catch a glimpse of the loss so many have experienced. I wasn’t able to serve in Tohoku until five months after the tsunami and I was surprised by the progress that had already taken place. It was hard for me to even imagine water of that depth swept through the town.
While in Wakayama, my teammates were sharing that the damage to the home of the eighty-year old couple we were assisting was quite similar to the homes flooded by the tsunami. As the only foreigner and with my lack of ability to understand Japanese, I was given a significant amount of time to observe and listen in a unique way. I just kept trying to imagine my grandparents in this situation. I was studying the faces of the elderly couple and their two daughters as I listened to their tone of voice, noticed the exhaustion in their body language, and was encouraged by their desire to keep moving forward. Speaking of moving forward, I cannot begin to describe how honored I was that day to be working along side a new friend from Tohoku. To know that her, her family, and community have suffered so greatly up north, and to see her step up to serve those suffering now due to the typhoon was just almost too much to emotionally process. Her actions spoke volumes and brought this family to tears.
The grandpa really captured my heart. He would prop himself up against the house somewhere along the path of the volunteers as we carried his water logged, moldy memories right past him to the debris pile. We would stop in front of him every twenty loads or so to let him pick through random boxes of potentially salvageable building materials. My heart broke when he would try to keep things and his family would just snicker and tell him he had to let it go. We know that material possessions are not what define us, but they sure do evoke a lot of memories. I am sure we walked past him with things he forgot he even had, the memories flooded his mind, but only for a split second as it was tossed among the other ruined items.
I am simply grateful for the opportunity I had to spend the day with them. We were able to assist with some difficult tasks that I am sure would be overwhelming for an elderly couple to attempt to find a way to accomplish. I know the Lord will continue to use this one-day of sharing His love to reveal more to me throughout the future, but for now this is what I know. We are stronger than we realize and cannot be defeated by even the unfathomable with the power of the Holy Spirit residing within us.
Wakayama Volunteer – Sept. 25th
Once again, I found myself surrounded by garbage piled higher than my head. It needed to be sorted- metal, glass, dangerous items, burnables. You couldn’t just dig in, even if that was what you felt like doing- and honestly, looking at some of the things in that pile, it was the last thing you felt like doing. There were nails and tacks and needles to watch out for. The lady of the house had been a sewing aficionado, and a majority of her sewing tools were mixed into the bunch. I wasn’t excited about the idea of being a pin cushion. The mud laden and soggy tatami mats made it difficult to sort out the small garbage that was pinned under them.
I was finding a number of odd white soaked papery items that seemed far too heavy for their size. If I pulled on one end, they often shredded a bit as the material was quite weak when wet. It wasnt until I found an entire bag full of these mysterious white items that I realized they were adult diapers. The elderly couple’s house had been completely flooded by the swollen river after the typhoon. Now the entire contents of their house had been dumped into their front yard, clearing the house of everything- furniture, clothes, memories, and of course, adult diapers. Considering how everything was covered in mud, it was difficult to know if the diapers I had been tugging on before were muddy or used. I guess in the end it doesn’t really matter. It’s not like I was going to ask the couple to come clean up that mess. That was what I had signed up for.
This year has been a constant peeling away of the many layers of prejudice and selfishness and ignorance that have blinded my eyes to the needs of others. I still have a long way to go, but I feel like finally, finally, I am starting to see Jesus more clearly. I worship a Savior who came to this earth and got his hands and feet dirty. I worship a Savior who ate, drank, slept, and yes, even used the bathroom! (shocking!) Jesus had needed someone to take care of his diapers, once, too. If only I could see others’ needs as the needs of Jesus. How could I hesitate to do anything for Jesus, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for me?
So, this is my prayer-
Open my eyes. Let me see Jesus. Let me see Jesus in each and every one of my neighbors. Let my actions toward my neighbors be a natural outpouring of my love for God.
Open my eyes. Let me see Jesus. Let me see Jesus in the faces of each of my students.
Open my eyes. Let me see Jesus. Let me see Jesus in the faces of each of my coworkers.
Jesus live through me so that others will see you, too. Amen.
Volunteer trip to Tanabe shi Wakayama
It was shocking. The conditions of the damaged region were very similar to Tohoku. I had not heard that much through the media about the damage from the typhoon so I did not expect to see much, but the flooding of the river was terrible. The water has risen all the way to the second floor of the house that I helped clean out. The river is quite wide, the house was located 150 meters away from the river and additionally, the house is raised about 10 meters from the ground… even so, the water made it to the second floor. The family awoke at 4am to the sound of water coming into their home. They had been sleeping on the second floor. The shoes had all been swept away, so they climbed a nearby mountain barefoot and watched til the waters subsided. They spent one night in a little cabin or shack on the mountain. All the houses and furnishings there were covered in mud. Everything was muddy and floating in the water in the house. We took the belongings out of the house and cleaned off the mud, but the items really didn’t get that clean. I was not expecting to see such a bad situation, where people were grieving that they basically lost all their belongings in just one night. I hope these people will soon find healing for their grief. Not many young people live in that region so there is a need for volunteers there. Due to my need to return home at night, I could not stay late to help in Wakayama and I feel badly that I could not stay longer. I do hope to return. A pastor and missionary are the the main volunteers there. Please pray that through the pastor, God’s gracious love will be poured out upon the people and that that region will be changed.
Last weekend, as I watched the news unfolding about the devastation from the typhoon, I couldn’t help but remember the emotions that came with the events of 3.11.
There were still some people missing, and the circumstances were unclear, but I remembered how people supported the victims in Tohoku and I felt that this time I should go show support and give toward the needs in Wakayama. I felt that this was going to be a totally different experience than my trips to Ishinomaki.
16 years ago, after the Hanshin earthquake, many people went to Kobe to help just as the people in Tohoku are being helped. I wanted to go to Wakayama to do whatever I could find to do.
I went to Miyamoto in Tanabe city, Wakayama. Many roads were inaccessible due to landslides. It took me 4 hours to drive from Osaka to Wakayama because of the detours I had to take – some of those mountain roads were extremely dangerous, barely wide enough for one car.
The sights which awaited me were very similar to what I had experienced in Ishinomaki after the tsunami and earthquake. I was overcome with sadness.
The people in Miyamoto were so thankful for the supplies we took to them and for the cleaning we were able to do. We were able to remove mud and debris from someone’s home.
When I told the people that I was from Ishinomaki, they were so surprised and were so grateful.
“My grandfather’s house was swept away in the tsunami and all that is left is a foundation. But, lots of volunteers are coming our way and helping us. So let’s work through this together!” Saying this, we all shook hands, hugged and said our good-byes.
It has been 6 months since 3/11 and for the US, it has been 10 years since 9/11…
On this day (9/11) we had requested that Chad stop and pray for us at 2:46. Remembering 3/11 and 9/11, we were spending the day helping victims of the typhoon, we believe that God had this planned!
After praying together, the family thanked us through tears and somehow, though we faced hardships trying to get to Wakayama, our trip to Miyamoto seemed very worthwhile.
Due to many road closures, there was no way we, from outside could have made it without the help of the locals. Thank you Dave!
In April, Dave, traveling alone, drove his car to Ishinomaki piled full with vegetables. I was touched and overjoyed! He was also there at a time of commemoration.
Those Wakayama vegetables filled the empty stomachs of the people in Ishinomaki. Many people were touched by Dave’s acts of kindness.
But this time, it was Dave’s friends in Wakayama who met hardship. My heart was so sad for them, I wanted to see Dave again and I wanted to feel their pain with them offer them the kind of support that Dave showed us.
We are united in heart.
I would like to share something Mr. H said through tears that day we spent in Wakayama.
“We’ve had the Hanshin Earthquake and this time the disaster in Tohoku and I never considered volunteering my services to help in those times. But in my time of need, volunteer workers came to my aid and helped me so much. Next time I see a need like this, I really want to repay the favor and help someone.”
I understood exactly, almost painfully much, what he was saying. Having been a volunteer in Ishinomaki since March, I have heard this same comment made over and over again.
On 3/11, I lost many precious memories, places and people.
However, these 6 months I have spent with Be-One, I have gained so many precious memories, gone to new places and met so many new friends.
The wonderful times spent, the new friends I have made in the past 6 months have enriched my life, in a way that is deeper than the pain I had.
I am thankful for each new friend.
Thank you Chad!
Thank you, Be-One!
Please pray for the group leaving tomorrow morning for Wakayama. We will have teams going up on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They will be cleaning up houses and businesses that have been hit by the typhoon. Please keep them in your prayers!