Garage sale at Shichigo temporary housings!

On February 9th (Sat.), we had a garage sale at the meeting hall. Therein, we set three different booths – mini garage sale, tea time area, and hand massage booth.
One of the reasons for this event is to invite more people in the temporary housings, because the same members gather at the meeting hall usually. We hoped that new faces would come to the hall and meet with others whom they do not usually have a chance to interact with.
On this day, about twenty five people came, and the place was full of energy.
More than that, the place seemed to be revitalized. Many of the residents got flu and were hospitalized. Also, due to the continued cold and snowy weather, the residents seemed to stay inside their rooms these days.
As soon as the event was started, the residents’ passion for shopping was ignited. The items were being sold one after another. There was an exhilarating atmosphere where people enjoyed shopping, looking at here and there to find the items to buy.
You could hear conversations like “Don’t you think this is a good price?” or “It’s got a good price!” and they would push others to purchase items. It was as if they were the sales persons, not us.
As of the items, they were the relief supplies which were sent to Emmaus, and we priced those items ranging from ten yen to one hundred fifty yen. It is not an emergency nowadays. We thought that it would be better for the residents to choose what they really need at their own will, rather than delivering the items, where they would receive the items passively.
After shopping, the residents enjoyed hand massage and tea time. They could indulge themselves in a relaxing environment.
Hand massage was quite popular. A lady said “It was awesome to get hand massage by a handsome young man!!” It seemed like she had an amazingly relaxing time…
We would like to continue to have events like this so that the meeting hall would be full of laughter and people can make good memories.
Chisato Yoshida
a Sendai staff

Throwing beans – Setsubun

February is the month to throw beans, Setsubun.
By throwing beans at ghosts, or Mame-maki, you welcome luck into your house, an traditional event in Japanese culture. So, we had this mame-maki at Sasakko on February 2nd.
This time, three boys came to join Sasakko club.
As of staffs, there are three staffs from children’s center in Honjokagawa, Tokyo, three college students from student center in Emmaus, and a female student from Maijigakuin-Higashimurayama high school.
To begin with, we had the children make their own masks of ghosts.
They are very creative children.
They freely drew whatever they pleased rather than the assignment.
Yes, they are very creative.
“There would be no masks we can use for this event!!”
Some staffs desperately started to make the masks at their best.
The masks were truly well made, very realistic and full of punch.
Perhaps children were frightened by the pieces…well maybe.
As soon as the masks were completed, children cut them into pieces to the level of complicated puzzles by scissors.
UCCJ Tohoku Disaster Relief Center
Now the children caught the fire in their heart.
Their switch was turned on.
The male staffs from children’s center became their target.
But they are professional after all.
They possessed the capability to receive the overwhelming energy the children had.
UCCJ Tohoku Disaster Relief Center
Well, the preparation, stormy and full of drama, was done.
We started making boxes for beans from papers.
Female staffs exhibit their wonderful talent then.
They wrapped the children’s powerful energy with their gracefulness and kindness.
They taught the children how to make the boxes and other origami skills.
UCCJ Tohoku Disaster Relief Center
And now Mame-maki time (throwing beans).
Another staff who came by to see the event, Tatsuo, took the role of ghost, which no one dared to take.
Since most energetic children from Sasakko club came today, the even was harsh, but truly cheerful as if we were playing dodge ball (usually it supposed to be not like dodge ball though).
UCCJ Tohoku Disaster Relief Center
After then, we enjoyed the tasty beans. (We used peanuts in shell, so the edible bean parts were clean enough to eat.)
UCCJ Tohoku Disaster Relief Center
Almost 2 years of times has passed from the day of the disaster.
The words the president of an elementary school spoke lingered in my ears.
“The disaster is not over yet.”
By these words, he meant that the children become adults with the scars from the disaster carried in their hearts.
We want these children to have many opportunities to laugh.
We want them to spend more enjoyable times.
More than the memories from that day,
We pray that they will make joyful memories.
The children and staffs who came to join with us,
I truly give my thanks to you all.
Kenichi Tanaka, a Sendai staff

Emmaus Ishinomaki Report

Emmaus Ishonomaki reports from Dec. Emmaus blog
Reports by the staff and workers were translated, condensed, and reported by Bob Fujimura
A work report by Ryosuke Fujimoto, a Momoyama Gakuin College student
I arrived in Sendai on Dec. 1, and on Monday, Dec. 3rd, joined the work at Ishinomaki. Seeing the disaster area by my own eyes were quite different from watching the image on TV. It may be a common understanding, but actually seeing the place at the front of my eyes was a great shock and felt deep sorrow. I was perturbed by the difference in image I had from mass media and what I have actually seen.
During the short period of work, I felt the warms and strength of the local Ishinomaki people. I felt their strength and the will to move forward; it is not the time just to be perturbed. We worked at a house by the shore and talked with a fisherman. He said he is glad just to be alive, and happy that his family was saved. In this age of instant gratification of everything one wants, I felt we have become insensitive; I should be happy just to be alive and thankful to be surrounded by my family and friends. I should not need anything else.
On today, December 7th, we were to leave for Sendai, but had earthquake ofmagnitude 5. When it happened, we were together talking and joking, and evacuated smoothly. If I was alone, I may have panicked. People in the town became one and helped each other; I was relived of tension. Now, I am exhausted. I felt that local people are coping like this every day.
It was a short stay, but the staff of Emmaus Ishinomaki had welcomed us with warmth, and I am grateful that they treated us so well. Thanks very much. I am thankful to all the people of Emmaus and Ishinomaki, and for Momoyama Gakuin College for providing me with this chance. Lets fight on, Northeast Japan!!
12/ 11/ 2012
Work report by Akira Yoda, one of the volunteers.
Volunteers went to work at Toba area of Ishinomaki, one year and nine months after 3.11. They picked weeds and small debris at the house of a survivor who is living in a temporary housing. The house appeared to have been given up for clean up until today. There are many abandoned houses around Toba Gradeschool (apparently abandoned). There was so much to do that impossible to finish cleaning. Neighbors walking by praise the workers for doing a good job, thanking them for their effort.
Workers felt revived every time a person walking by talked to them. At 2:46PM, the time of the earthquake of 3.11, the volunteers made a circle and gave the silent prayer.
The next day one of the neighbors invited them for tea and sweets. The host was about 87-year-old grandmother living alone but appeared in good health. The volunteers sat at the sunny side of the house, enjoyed the refreshments, and listened to her experience on 3.11 and recent experiences and thoughts. The volunteers just listened wordless. They could not accurately vision what it is like living in the midst of the ruins by herself. They hoped that their presence would at least give comfort to her. The experience told by her was not reported in media, and it was a valuable experience for the workers. This meeting was once in the lifetime encounter but the volunteers felt that they are needed to come back again. They departed saying ‘see you and have the tea together again’.
A dairy by Iino, a staff member
This day was one year and nine months since 3.11. They frequently had earthquake of the magnitude 4-5 since that day, but yesterday when they had magnitude of 5, they were told to evacuate from the house for the first time. This was the first time Ms Iino had experienced the evacuation but nothing happened. For the staff, it was an actual simulation of the evacuation procedure and a valuable experience. It was sudden and they evacuated without wallets, food, and other necessities. It was a good lesson for us to be prepared all the time for emergency.
A work report by a staff member
Today we replaced papers of sliding screen doors. The host is old and being taken cares by a housekeeper, who could not do this type of work.
During the earthquake a couple of days ago, she could not get out of the house. She is living with a bedridden parent, and they stayed together on the second floor. She smiled that if the house collapsed, they would have just given up.
It took about 40 min. by a car from the Center to get there. At the time of the earthquake, a couple of days ago, the main roads were full of traffic and could not have gone to save them.
In time of emergency, what could Emmaus Support Center have done? Would the staff members risk own lives to save others or just try to save his/her own life?
The memory of the disaster of 3.11 is gradually fading away, and we need to reassess our commitment to the survivors of the earthquake/tsunami.
Work Report by Hitomi Takei, a staff member
This morning, we helped remove household goods from a house that is condemned. The ground underneath it had sunk, and the house was visibly tilted. The owner of the house is currently living in an apartment and going to rebuild a new house at a different location. The house would be dismantled in February, and the household goods have to be removed by the mid January. The host appeared not to know how to remove them. We assisted in moving shelves to the apartment, and packed dishes into boxes. We are doing the work carefully noting the content of each box.
A work report by Niwa, a staff member:
Today, we took out dirt from under the floor. We have not cleaned under the floor of a house for more than six months. It was a big house, but the space underneath the floor was higher than any houses we worked. We did not bend our back much and the work progressed smoothly. A professional would disinfect the place.
A note by Bob Fujimura: I have reported that the facility like Emmaus should become permanent to assist elderly people. These reports by the staff and the volunteers support the proposal that this kind of facility is needed all over Japan.

Voices from Taiwanese volunteers, PCT

This summer, from July through September, about 90 volunteers from Taiwan came through Presbyterian Churches in Taiwan. Each team consisted of about 20 people and stayed 2 weeks, working both in Sendai and Ishinomaki. Total of 4 teams came. In the team, there were many people from various ages – college students, carpenters, pastors, business persons – and they did powerful works here.
Many months and days have already passed, and even in Japan, especially in a place like my hometown far from Tohoku, people rarely talk about the disaster and TV does not broadcast the news about disaster area and people living there. Probably because of this, people may be misled that the recovery works have been finished. There is even an atmosphere in which people may tell you with surprise, “You are going to volunteer now?” In such a situation, Taiwanese volunteers came all the way to Tohoku across the ocean.
Under the scorching sunbeam, they earnestly did their volunteer work while getting dark sunburn and their sweat falling like cascade.
The sight of their hard works encouraged me and touched my heart deeply.
When I went to the airport to see them off, I could not say but the words of thanks.
There are ones who said “I will come here again.” with immaculate smiles, one who regrets the farewell with the encounters made here with tear-filled eyes – everyone possesses kind hearts…what a wonderful people. I believe they are praying for the people in Tohoku in a far land of Taiwan.
Some of them emailed us with their thoughts as below.
Dear Japanese Friends:
First of all, we thank God for letting us work together and giving us the opportunity to participate in the reconstruction of the 3.11 Earthquake, with our little strength though.
It’s been two months since we left Sendai, but those people we met in Shichigo and Ishinomaki have been also kept in our minds and prayers. We still concern about the re-vitality of the farms and harbors, we miss the families of those houses where we worked for, and we cherish the memories of those days when we worked together with Emmaus’ staff and volunteers from different places of Japan.
It is such a profound experience. We come as volunteers to give; however, we are finally the ones that truly gain.
Therefore, we hereby offer some words to convey our feelings and wishes. Some are reports, some are diaries, and still others are lyrical essays. We thank again for all and all from God.
‘It is not what to do, but how much love!’
Walis Uyang 瓦歷斯‧武樣
I remember that day before setting off, our pastor told us, “You will go to a place where God wants you to go, see what He wants you to see, and be seen.” This lesson accompanied me during my two-week trip in Japan.
We went to Oginohamamura in Ishinomaki with the task of cleaning up a trail of Hayamahime Jinjya Shrine. Although I was working for a shrine (where a specific deity was worshiped), I worked willingly and happily. For I deeply knew that it was for God’s sake that I came, and it was God’s people that I dedicated to. As long as I worked with a true heart, God would definitely make good results of it, and the gospel seeds would also been spread, then sprout someday.
It is really my pleasure to have this opportunity to come to Japan and serve the residents with other co-workers sent by God. I can even remember the pastor in Emmaus told us while we were leaving, “It is not what to do, but how much love.” I am so touched that I find an answer in it, which also corresponds to the lesson that our pastor had told us while setting off, “You will go to a place where God wants you to go, see what He wants you to see.” I came with love at mind, and back to Taiwan with much more love.
Thank God, the cooperation with all of you my dear Japanese friends is the most unforgettable memory for me.
Yes, indeed, “It is not what to do, but how much love!”
‘Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy!’
Jingle Chang 張芳菁
I did a lot of farming work during the time as a volunteer in Japan. While I was kneeling on the ground, sweating into the earth, pulling up weeds, turning up the fertilizing soil and picking up rubbish, this was the very first time I got such close to the earth.
At the beginning, it’s harsh to get used to the exposure of the hot sun, I sweated and squatted for hours with legs sore, numb and painful. Especially looking around to the rest of a large farmland, I got inevitably losing patience and felt confused, “So… this is why I come to Japan for? To pull up weeds and pick up rubbish?” However, just at the moment while I was confused, I turned around, and then I saw the tidied land had just been ready for planting and growing new lives. Suddenly, a biblical verse popped up, ‘Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy!’
There were endless rubbish and debris, speechless tiredness and damage after the tsunami. Nevertheless, there were still people persistently plowing on this “rubbish farm” with their time and sweat; until someday, it becomes a valuable “golden farm.” At that moment, I only regarded my work to be very cheerful. Then my tiredness had gone promptly as my sweat dropped away, while the burning sunbeams had somehow turned into gleams joyfulness.
HE is always with us
Kuma Tseng 曾偉宗
September 3rd
At dusk, my Taiwanese partners learned a new song from Japanese friends. They sang it this morning while doing exercise with elders living in the temporary prefabricated houses. I’ve never heard of this song before, nor did I know the lyrics. But its melody seemed to convey such deep emotions that would evoke one with memories.
“Hope we can sing it out for our Japanese volunteers on the very last day when we leave.” My partners sincerely continued practicing singing this song.
September 4th
Today, as usual, back to Emmaus center exhaustedly, rested at the 3rd floor and waited for the daily work report. Suddenly I thought of that song, and then I sat onto the chair, opened the piano cover, and played by heart. The melody drifted from windows, poured down the stairs until the entire center was greatly resonated with tunes, as if a sheer bliss from God that we all shortly enjoyed together. My partner was singing with the melody I played, gradually accompanied by Japanese friends’ voices. We sang some Japanese folklore such as Furusato (hometown), Akatonnbo (red dragonfly) and Momotaro (Peach Tato). Music shortened the distance between us and warmed each other’s hearts. Every now and then we feel tired out, why not rest for a while, and keep up our good work again!
With our hearts tied together, we will have more power to return hand-in-hand to our Furusato.
How have my father and mother been?
How are my friends getting along?
Whenever it is rainy or windy,
My hometown still comes to my mind.
God’s love always surpasses
Yutz Chang 張祐慈
September 1st, I spent all day picking up rubbish and debris at Arahama coast. The sun was ruthless, the sapphire sky was so clear without any cloudy embellishment, and the Pacific Ocean was so calm that it seemed nothing had ever happened here. Everything was too strangely perfect. It’s really hard to imagine this beautiful Pacific Ocean was exactly the messenger of death one year ago.
At that moment, I felt an unprecedented connection with this land. But it was nothing more but sorrowful pain. I stood at the location where the catastrophe took place, excavating with my hands the ruins and cruelness the catastrophe had left. And we knelt on the ground and picked up endless glasses, broken tiles, plastics stuff, household utensils and wooden materials…etc. Then I came to comprehend how long and difficult this path of reconstruction would be.
However, God’s love is always much more than we have grievously endured.
Since I was just a volunteer, no matter how hard I tried, I could hardly experience even little of the grief that this land had gone through. Nevertheless, when so many volunteers from different countries worked hand-in-hand, I saw as if God stretching out His hand to put together all the broken pieces back into the beautiful look that this land ought to be.
I deeply believe that God’s grace and mercy always surpasses our grief.
It is us that are truly healed
Taku Hsu 許芳瑋
As an interpreter between Taiwanese and Japanese volunteers, my tongue was instinctively switched on, and furthermore I have experienced God’s love and touches through the days of hot and hard working.
It was a 15-day trip to work as a volunteer. At the very beginning when I got this information, I was convinced that I must do, and undoubtedly I would go. It was the thought that I had firmly possessed from then on. Unlike my previous visits to Japan, this trip had somehow initiated my enthusiasm out of the long silence of heart. My life of team-work had gone for years, but this time, I had to work simultaneously for two large teams with different languages; moreover, the people whom I served were the ones had just gone through a tremendous catastrophe and had not recovered yet. However, through the interaction and learning in our daily work, it was ourselves that were truly healed.
Every day, God expands our senses to the most extreme, teaching us to walk steadily and firmly on this way of reconstruction. This place we tread on is not only a devastated place but also a way to the implementation of true love towards our neighbors.
I have seen the goodness given from God to His people. There has been no one to serve and be served. As a matter of fact, we all serve each other and we also embrace each other.
A Bond
Novia Chen 陳芝吟
It has been three months since I came back to Taiwan, a V-shaped sunburn mark on my back is still visible to my eyes. The mark always reminds me of the trip, which is not only as a volunteer to help those victims but also a lesson of learning to love. Although I have no idea why God permitted such a catastrophe, I can still feel the fragrance of love giving off from the shattering difficulties. Furthermore, we seem to give at first yet we ultimately gain. By each encouragement of smiles and cheer-ups, I am so grateful for all that I have learned how to love and to devote myself.
With our eyes closed, the farms in Shichigo and the fishermen of Ishinomaki are like bonds tied with our minds. We pray for the farmland to regenerate flourishingly and the harbors to revive prosperously in the near future; most importantly, the bond of our friendship, our Japanese friends: WISH YOU PEACE!
Thank you again, our dear Taiwanese friends.
Kenichi Tanaka

thank you for this one year and two months

I know it is kind of late, but again, thank you for taking care of me for the past one year and two months.
Encountering with so many people, learning various things, pondering upon many thoughts – I have experienced a lot here. When I decided to extend my time off from school take, I was distressed to make the decision. But now, I am not. Rather, I am proud that I made that decision. It is not because I did volunteer work, but it is because I was actually able to do things I really wanted to do, have experiences which I would have never been able to experience at college, and make these experiences into my assets in my life.
So many people have befriended with me, joked with me, walked with me with the same ambition (to help recovery work for the victims), and supported me. Without them, I cannot be where I am now.
I sincerely thank you.
Although I have left Emmaus, I would never forget about Emmaus, people in Sasayashiki and Ishiba. I would do whatever I can do at my best from here afar.
I know this is sorta belated greeting and not the best one…
But I really, really thank you for this far.
Kenta Kasahara
An alumnus of Sendai Staff

Lunch box work

4 volunteer joined with us this time for the lunch bow work. With the skillful volunteers, who are also house-makers, we were able to cook delicious lunch boxes. We prepared for the lunch boxes for the morning, and we visited two houses in the afternoon with the lunch boxes (the team split into 2 groups).
The menu includes Chinjao Rosu (shredded green pepper with shredded steak), kuai, rice, three kinds of rice balls (white rice, mixed with dried fish, mixed with cooked radish leaves), and pumpkin salad.
The individuals we visited were very happy about the lunch box and enjoyed the chat with us, and above all, we had a great time.
With the decrease of volunteers, there are houses that we cannot do volunteer works these days. And from those people, I hear voices that they miss the time with volunteers.
It is not a physical work. I do think that it would be great if we can accompany with those who live alone, elderlies, and the one we can rarely volunteer for more frequently.
As this lunch box is routinized, I hope that we can organize the schedule for the people mentioned above, letting them know when we will visit for the next time, which as a result turn into some sort of anticipation.
The next work will be held on…
11/28, 12/5, 12/12, 12/19
The schedule is
9:00 start cooking
11:15 departing Emmaus by car
12:00 having lunch together and chat
14:00~15:00 going back to Emmaus
Above is the likely schedule, but we are flexible if your schedule does not fit into the one above. Please do not hesitate to talk about your schedule.
We will greatly appreciate your application!
The ladies from Kasukabe church, I sincerely thank you for your help!
Chisato Yoshida
a Sendai Staff
Translated by Kenichi Tanaka

Volunteer with Shokei institute

On 16th of November, 39 students and 4 teachers came to volunteer with us from Shokei high school, which is located in the city of Sendai, and we did our volunteer work at Arahama and Sasayashiki. At Arahama, we received 2 work requests, and we cleaned the housing sites, where the houses were flushed away by the tsunami, by cutting the grass and removing debris. On the other hand, at Sasayashiki, we clean the farm land by picking up grass, where no hands were placed upon after the big debris were removed, in order that the land owner can start the farming work again.
The ones who made these work requests are now living in temporary houses. Each of them holds his or her own feeling toward his or her land. For example, regarding the work at Arahama, I used the word “housing site.” These two houses were located on the ocean coast and the damages were tremendous. The area has been marked as disaster hazard area, which means that no one can return in this area to live. In light of this situation, it may be appropriate to use a word such as “trace” or “vestige.” However, for these two individuals, the area is still their hometown, and the site is their dear home unforgettable.
While we were doing our work, the owner of the land showed up for a short time of period and showed us smiles once in a while. At that smile, I felt that the smile was given toward not only the fact that the his or her barren land was being cleaned by high school students, but also toward the hearts of high school students who gathered at his or her precious land. Considering this, our job is not just about doing the volunteer work and arranging the works for volunteers. But also, it is to connect the feeling of the victims and the feeling of those who gathered at the area.
In conclusion, dear all of you from Shokei institute who came to work with us, I would like to give my sincere thanks. Although it was only one day that we worked together, I would appreciate if you can remember the site and area you worked this time and keep your heart toward them. If you have time, we would sincerely like to have you here in the near future.
Tatsuo Tanioka
a Sendai Staff
Translated by Kenichi Tanaka