Note: This post is from pastor Yutaka Takarada who is currently in Japan ministering alongside Texas Baptist Men volunteers in the wake of the recent tragedy. Takarada pastors the Japanese Baptist Church of North Texas. To support the ongoing ministry efforts of Texas Baptists, click here.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
The fifth day in Japan was over with a good night.
A new day has arrived. Even though the sun was up in the east and a morning light beamed into our place, no one wanted to get out of their sleeping bags, because it was so cold. Once we turned off a stove to save fuel, the temperature dropped rapidly here. But it was such a pleasant morning that we all thanked God for the shelter that we could lay our heads down for a night.
After having a continuously blessed fellowship with the pastor, we started the new day in the disaster area.
A member of one of the churches in Sendai is the fire chief who has dealt with clean-up after the great destruction by the tsunami. We could get his help to enter the restricted area where many areas are untouched; only people who have their houses in the area could go in. He escorted us into the area, and we witnessed the true scene of the devastation from Tsunami. It was beyond our human understanding. A mini pick-up truck was located on a hallway inside a school. Hundreds of pine trees planted as a windbreaker at the edge of the coast were literally snatched away, and houses were gone with only foundation left behind. Fields were covered by saltwater mixed with oil and gasoline. The five-story school building that was designed to be a shelter when the city is stuck by a disaster was hit, and the tsunami reached its third floor so people evacuated in that building had to escape further up to the top to save their lives. We saw debris was on the second floor, which meant that the water reached the third floor easily.
We had a chance to meet with a home owner, and he told us his story what happened when the tsunami hit. He was driving, and the water reached up to the door knob of the car. He pushed the pedal to the floor, hoping to get away from the water as quickly as possible. He barely escaped. His wife and all children were safe, but he said there were a few friends that he still cannot reach today. They have experienced many tsunamis before, so they knew the fury of a tsunami. But he said that this time it was so unprecedented that they couldn’t imagine the size of the damage that they had. He had a business for over 40 years and there were four trailers parked in his property, but he could only find three of them and the other one seemed to be taken away somewhere by tsunami. Around his house was a pile of debris, and only the second floor was visible from the street. In his case, the insurance company does not pay for it all because the frame was untouched, but the insurance money that he will get not enough even pay to remove all the debris around the house. The estimate for cleaning up the debris is over a $120,000. With tears in his eyes, he said his only choice now is to give up everything he has build up here and start a life again from the scratch in a different city. But he still has hope that someday he can live in this house again. I prayed in my heart that when the time is right the Lord will use TBM to help him restart his life here again.
After visiting the disaster area, we moved to the Ishinomaki Senshu University, where volunteers gathered from all over Japan to serve the communities. We went there to attend their planning meeting in that night. There were over 80 independent groups gathered and exchanged information to cooperate each other. There were several new groups were added this very night and they were introduced.
After the meeting was over, we returned to our hotel in Saitama. We arrived at our hotel after 1:30a.m. Since we had to leave early in the next morning for Fukushima, the city damaged by earthquake and the nuclear power plant, we didn’t have much time left to sleep. So, we didn’t even have time for checking and sending any e-mail until tonight. No matter how busy we are, we are thankful that we are in good sprit and we are one in Christ encouraging each other and supporting each other. We are all in good health.
The sixth day for our team in Japan has finish as such.
Every moment is precious for us since we only have a week, there is still so much for us to do here in Japan but now a very little time left for us. Please pray for our days in Japan.