Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Impressions of Iwate - Day 6

We are now back in Sapporo. Travel and catching an overnight ferry meant no time for the Day 6 blog yesterday. It was another action-packed day. The morning saw us loading up the vehicles again. The destination - the town of Yamada which we had driven through the day before and which had been badly affected by the tsunami. We headed for a large temporary housing area with some 150 houses. Some set up the mat and laid out all the things we had brought - vegetables, clothing, blankets, foodstuffs, things for children and babies. Others of us went round the doors telling people we had come. Everyone's eyes opened wide, they smiled, said thank you and headed for the area where we had set up stall. No sooner was everything laid out than it was all gone! No one here has access to shops (there are none left nearby) and many have no car. We helped some of the older folks carry things back to their tiny houses - little ways to serve and to chat. After a quick turn around at the base, we were off again to a smaller temporary housing area, this time small enough that we could deliver some items to each household. Again, the welcome was warm. Some even insisted on giving something in return - a can of juice or an ice cream bar. People with so little giving out of what they had. We drove back to our base again, tidied the place up for the next teams who arrived last night (not OMF teams) and headed north, passing through some other devastated places on our way to Hachinohe where the ferry was waiting. Yesterday, four months to the day of the tsunami, was the first day ferries could operate from that port since then due to the damage incurred that day. It was a busy ferry! Now we are back to daily life in Sapporo. But now is also the time to reflect. What have we learned? What can we do now? How does OMF move forward in these coming weeks and months? Other teams will go. A couple (and their young son) are in Miyako over the coming few weeks. A more permanent presence will be established from September. The needs are vast. The potential is great. Funds have been donated in abundance. Supplies are continually needed and those needs will change as the months go on. The challenge - to provide the resources, both human and material, so that the work of reaching out in word and deed, the work of listening, of being alongside, of encouraging, of being the hands, feet and ears of Jesus can continue in these hugely needy areas. The OMF July team's visit is over. But the work of rebuilding broken communities and broken lives goes on and will go on for many weeks, months and years to come.

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