Our colleague Peter drove up yesterday to Sendai until Tuesday; tonight we prayed off our other two partners Kent and Erik B. who are leaving in the morning to drive up for six days with a van full of supplies; Eric is hoping to leave on Tuesday morning and help drive supplies and then assist in relief efforts next week.
There are still many stories of huge needs. Evacuation centers are the easiest places for the government and others to reach; bu there are stories though of near-starvation for those who have returned to their homes but without transportation and other bare necessities. Here is one of the stories from a Japanese newspaper about the real hunger needs of many.
A missionary colleague, Gary F., just returned from a number of days in Ishinomaki. He shared this story on his blog:
Yesterday morning we almost had a riot over food. Well, if I’m honest, I guess we DID have a riot over food; it’s just hard to admit that. It happened so suddenly. It was pretty scary for a few moments, and it was overwhelming. Without warning, the line broke and these normally well-tempered and polite Japanese folk lost all restraint and started diving for what was left of the food. Some had gone before others who were still waiting in line (they were at the front of the line and had been let in first). In the opinion of some who were still in line, the people let in before them were taking too much for themselves. We had brought cleaning supplies, undergarments, water, cooking and hygiene kits — even a couple wheelbarrows — but not enough to eat, apparently. Just after we unloaded, I heard one person comment from near the head of the line, “there’s hardly any food.” Hindsight being 20-20, I guess that’s what started it all.
The first morning things had been somewhat orderly and we finished with a “feeding frenzy” at the end with what was left but, overall, it went well and without any incident. Yesterday, disorder and confusion abounded. People were not fist-fighting or harming each other but there was a lot of pushing and grabbing and everyone was out for themselves. It was like a rogue wave, first, there was an orderly line and then, out of nowhere, a flood of bodies broke ranks and descended upon the food. With the initiative of the first group, the rest of the line quickly followed suit. Someone looked over and said to me, “it looks like it’s a ‘wash'” which caused me to start yelling to ask everyone to move back. No one heeded my voice but, why would they? What would I do if I were in their position? Probably the same thing. For the first time in my life I saw real starvation impulses; I saw desperation and self-preservation at work; I saw human need in all its raw and naked reality. If what I saw the first day was “hunger” then what I saw yesterday was “famine.” I will never forget those few seconds or minutes or however long it was. Things were totally out of control.
In my own panic, I threatened them with words. I said, “if you don’t get back in line then we won’t come back!” Not only did it not seem to register but people seemed to become even more intense in their actions. I saw others running away with hands full, looking over their shoulders to see if anyone was coming after them. I saw those of us who were supposed to be supervising all of this just standing by helpless. I saw sheer chaos although I would say it was “Japanese chaos” with a modicum of dignity and restraint, even though they were going at it pretty hard. That part, that self-respectfulness which normally won’t let a Japanese hurt another person (no matter how they feel), definitely made it easier even though it was still hard.
Eric said this is hard to imagine from when he was there; the lines had been so orderly; the people dignified. This is a new stage, it seems. Everyone is weary; not getting enough food must be so tiring. There is still REAL NEED IN TOHOKU! Please keep praying; keep giving.
Here is a post from Chad and Jennifer Huddleston, who are organizing the B-1 Hope for Tohoku group that Eric is hoping to go with next week.
They visited a nursing home that has been turned into a shelter and gave them some more supplies. They met a couple of young ladies there who had lost everything, so they spent some time getting some clothing together for them. They also made it back to the home of a family they met a couple of weeks ago. The mother was at home with their two small children when the tsunami hit. Somehow as the water rushed into their home, she was able to grab onto a tire that came floating boy, got her children on top of it and held onto them for over 12 hours!! Later they were rescued and eventually reunited with the father who had been working at the time. Today, this family took them to an open field nearby where they were able to set up and distribute supplies. It warmed my heart to hear that people remember our team members by name and are so excited to see them again! Thank you for helping us make an impact in people’s lives with your giving and your prayers!
We just heard from a group in Hawaii who have sent a large donation to help us with relief – we are so touched! Thank you to each of you who have given in different ways. I really believe that God blesses those who are generous.