Feedback on visit to disaster area in North-Eastern Japan from Tu. 29 March to Th. 31 March 2011 Tobie de Wet and Stephan van der Watt (delegates of Mission Japan) were accompanied by Rev. Kei Kataoka (delegated by the RCJ* Shikoku Presbytery as well as Tokushima en Tokushima West congregations). Rev. Taka Ashida (delegate of RCJ Synodal Commission for International Relations) acted as our escort. *RCJ = Reformed Church in Japan
The main purpose of our visit was to: 1) Visit as many RCJ congregations in the region as possible and to assure them personally of our love, prayers and support; 2) Assess first-hand the actual situation and the needs of the people in the disaster area; 3) Determine what the local congregations were doing to help deal with the immediate needs of the afflicted communities; 4) Hear what the long term plans of the Church at grass-roots level are to help deal with the situation; 5) Provide feedback as soon as possible and to discern in which way Mission Japan and the broader Church in South Africa could support churches within the disaster area to help relieve the need of surrounding communities.
Praying for guidance on the road ahead with Japanese pastor-friends
Aiba couple – part of a 6th generation Christians who initially helped establish churches in Tohoku Region
The local nursery school utilized as part of the mission station (all are safe, including Rev. Hayashi, local pastor)
One neighbourhood after the other lies destitute, devoid of children’s voices
Mr Inomata speaking heatedly about everything he lost owing to the tsunami...
Mr Inomata’s bakery partner, Mr Abe (his home in the background was also hit hard)
Supper with our colleagues from around Tokyo (who also visited the disaster areas)
Earthquake damage at RCJ Sendai congregation. Rev. Yoshida (RCJ Moderator) is the pastor here
Rev. Kataoka sorting basic provisions at RCJ Sendai distribution point
Fuel is still very scarce and most people have to stand in long queues to get some
The distorted tsunami warning signboard of the missionary holiday resort at Takayama
Somebody’s shoe was left behind amongst the debris on Takayama beach
The car of one of the missionaries (Rod Thomas) was swept away at the entrance to the resort
Rev. Shiratsu from RCJ Ishinomaki embraced by our group leader (Rev. Taka)
A group of RCJ volunteers had come to help with cleaning up operations (at Ishinomaki)
Rev. Taka (and Tobie) with his children (Kana and Tooru) who also helped as volunteers
Most of the neighbouring Ishinomaki coastline turned into a heap of rubble
At Onagawa the tsunami wave was higher than 20m, more than 2000 people dead or missing.
Like so many others looking for what is left of an ‘earlier' life amongst the rubble...
A dejected worker contemplating the devastated Onagawa (more than 10 000 people had lived there)
A specialist team of rescue workers from India, looking for bodily remains
Mr Kimura points to his car on the 3rd floor of a building – he had a very narrow escape ahead of the flood waters.
This entrance to the hospital in Onagawa is more than 25 m above sea level!