"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth" (John 3.16-18 NIV) Ben is with another Christian relief organization and he sends us Maria for the day. Maria is currently an exchange student in Tokyo, is also a graduate student in international law, and learned her excellent English from school and university in Estonia. Fifi from southern California is also with us for two days; She's been staying with her grandparents in Osaka for the last two years until her grandmother recently passed away. She says the relatives were very interested in the Christian message they heard at the funeral, most of them had never heard anything like it before.
Southwest-bound on the road toward Sendai, Chad pulls into a truck stop/soup cafe and we meet Mike and Koichi from Ibaraki in a room of blue work uniforms and coveralls. In the last year working with Chad as well as Healing Hands and CRASH, they have made 30-40 relief trips into Miyagi Prefecture.
We continue on to the national scenic areas of Okumatsushima and Miyato Jima. The Satohama/Joomon archeological and nature park had become a de facto administrative center in the weeks after the tsunami and we meet Chikako-san of the museum staff in one of the rooms where the kids on field trips make crafts and try their hand at fire-starting.
We take a break at a beach surrounded by sandstone bluffs. Across the highway were tourist shops, restaurants, and houses, now all gone. One side of the road beauty and the other side destroyed lives and livelihoods.
As we approach the "greentown" kasetsu, a light drizzle is falling and Beth sits this one out in the car because of her cold. We meet utsumi-fusai (Mr. and Mrs. Utsumi) in the bright and shiny community center building and we soon find out why everything looks new--the previous one burned down in March, including computers and all the books and decorations that people had donated. The place consists of 3 areas, 900 units, currently has 750 residents, including 90 children.
The units, while efficient, have flaws. The metal frames are exposed on both outside and in, so on the inside in the winter you can reach up and touch frost and in the summer it's too hot to touch at all. Even with the air-conditioners running in the summer some elderly people have suffered from heat-stroke. Utsumi-san remarks that at least he's busy; a lot of the other men just sit on chairs all day, although when planning for an event or visits from VIPs and volunteers, his phone bill goes way up.
Driving away Chad translates some of his last comments. Saturday is undookai (school sports festival day) in Sendai for his grandkids, but he's too busy shepherding the various activities and needs in the temporary community to be able to go see them. He told the group: "I just want to be a grandparent again." Chad says "I can sense he's tired of all the responsibilities and is approaching burnout."