Less than a week after Eric returned from his last trip up to Ishinomaki, he left this morning to go back up. One of our desires since we started doing relief work after the tsunami was to get our community more involved. The first trip up we had many friends bring supplies for the guys to take up; this time we loved how our communities chipped in and filled up our entranceway over the past few days, but more importantly, that Eric is traveling with three special friends from our community. George and Aiko are newer believers from our community group and really felt God wants them both to be part of relief work this week. Her mom has come to stay with their two teenage children while they are gone– probably the first time she has left them. Yasko, our neighbor who is like part of our family, is also on the road with them. We love it that she wants to participate as well.
In addition to our four, two teachers from Christian schools in Kansai also came out to Sanda in order to go up with our two vans today, so six left from our home at about 7:30 this morning. (Yasko’s mom is also in the picture).
Peter went up yesterday, and today the group up there did some initial clean up on one of the parks. Eric said that finally the government is coming and taking away some of the cars plopped by the tsunami all over the place. That is helping, but there is still so much debris and junk everywhere. (The government has estimated that there is 28 years worth of trash created by the tsunami and earthquake on March 11). Here are before and after photos that he posted:
Tomorrow the plan is to continue clean up with the big BBQ planned for Monday. It is supposed to rain tomorrow, so praying that they will be safe and able to get a lot done anyway. The large apartment buildings in the background are some of the area that they are reaching out to.
Stories have been shared from the week up there when Eric was not there. The teams continue to spread out into the community and find people who need their assistance. They have shared updates of specific families they have touched in various neighborhoods. Because of the extent of the tsunami damage, the government is unable to help people clean up their homes from tsunami damage. Many staying in evacuation centers are spending their days trying to work on their own homes, but there are many who are physically unable to do what needs to be done. There are often huge challenges; one of the volunteers two days agree got sick twice just from the terrible smells in one home. The day that Eric was driving back last week, a few went to help in a home and discovered a bunch of dead squid under the floor boards – they were brought in with the tsunami and got stuck. Ugh. But these are the kinds of things that the teams are able to help do…
HOMEFRONT – Day 1 Theme: Camping!
As Eric and the team drove off this morning, Annie burst into tears. It has been hard this past week for our family to imagine him being gone again. So I have had some good help and been coming up with some fun themes that we can use to do activities while he is gone until Wednesday. This is Golden Week, which is a string of holidays near each other, so a time that many Japanese use to travel. They have school on Monday, but besides that they are off.
Today after Owen’s soccer practice, we came home for a few minutes and their first surprise and clue was a Skype call from Annie’s U.S. Kindergarten teacher, Tanicqua. She now lives in Texas, and we’ve been wanting to touch base, so this was a great opportunity. Besides catching up, Tanicqua read the kids, “Curious George Goes Camping.”
The kids quickly figured it out – we were going to do a camping day. In the midst, though, we had one more relief-related delivery… the team up north needed a generator that the guys in Sanda had bought (and that didn’t fit into the vans). There was a team leaving this afternoon who could fit it in, so me and the kids took some exciting winding roads and delivered it in time.
For dinner, we had hamburgers picnic-style! Olivia had us set a place for Eric….
I set up the tent while they were at the park before dinner – they were thrilled! The older three are all nesting snuggly in sleeping bags (But, at 11 pm, Annie continues to pop her head out every few minutes…)
We made some modified s’mores (they weren’t very good), did a flashlight search game for glow-in-the dark (in theory) bugs and stones, and read some other camping stories. I’m tired, but it’s been a good day… I so love the family that God has given me. Even when one of them gets into my mascara while I run to the restroom, and the other three sitting next to him somehow don’t notice at all.