March 17, 2011
Martin Ghent and I set out from Misawa at 7;15 a.m. in a borrowed diesel van.
All the way down there were lines of cars at gas stations; one had a sign saying they would take the first 500 cars- that is a line over a kilometer long. By noon they were closed. People were lining up for kerosene as well.
We had lunch at Morioka Bible Baptist Church. We had some supplies from Misawa and got some more in consultation with a young woman who attends the Bible Baptist church and was in contact with her father (phone mail?) who lives in Miyako, where we were going. We took pastor Kondoh of the BB church with us, as he had connections there and wanted to go to introduce us and see the situation. The 90 km road in was wide open, and passage was allowed for anyone. It is a winding mountain road. Light snow made the road treacherous.
We left Morioka at 12;20 and arrived 2;10 at Miyako, a city of 60,000 people. It has 2 churches: a Kyodan church that has a church and kindergarten. The church was damaged but the kindergarten is in the hills and was untouched. There is also Miyako Community Church, and independent church of 12 members planted by Norwegian missionaries.
The pastor was at the emergency center talking with people who had taken refuge there; he had been doing so for several days. We talked with his wife, but she was unsure what to do and couldn`t contact her husband, so we set out to see the situation.
The church was completely untouched; they had water and electricity by the second day. But withiin a stone throw down the road, the head of the flooding started; no water or electricity there. Rubble had been piled high on both sides of the road; locals were adding the ruined contents of their houses to the piles, and scrubbing mud from the first floors. As we proceeded, the buildings got worse: several had collapsed and then we got to the place where they had been swept away.
We were stopped from proceeding to the end of the seaside road because the SDF was still working beyond that point. Up on a bridge above the town, we could see a valley where the higher houses were cut off by the huge drift of rubble below them.
The pastor`s wife said other parts of town were hard hit, but we didn`t see that. The village of Taro, where we were stopped the night before, is just to the north of this point.
We were told there were three types of victims. Some people stay at their wrecked houses burning rubble for heat, and waiting to see if family members will show up or call out. Some go to emergency centers because their houses are gone. Some go because they are afraid to stay in their house even if it is all right. Aftershocks continue daily. There were about 200 people in the center we visited, and we were told they had no immediate need of the supplies we had. We went to the town`s emergency supply distribution center (the water dept.) and for the first time we found someone who actually wanted what we had brought. They were very glad to get it (water, canned coffee, oddments of food and medicines, paper hygienic products, apples and juice, blankets and futon).
They would have been happy to have had batteries, gasoline and kerosene. I do not think there are people who cannot get basic shelter, water and at least some food, if they choose to go and get it. Very few of the buildings in the affected area will be easy to fix and people were saying it will take 10 years to rebuild.
None of the church members died or suffered loss.
Gasoline and kerosene are unavailable and will not be until sometime next week.
1. It is hard to believe that there is now only one church ministering to 60,000 people and even they are near closing. (the United Chruch technically exists and has an active preschool- but will they rebuild and how much longer will they carry on with around 10 on a Sunday) Seems we need to encourage MCC.
2. The church has becoming more inward and with this challenge has sensed God's calling to go forth. But they don't know how or what or ...... We need to be an encouraging, praying presence.
3. There are 5 or 6 harbors in the city containing a total of thousands of suffering people. The church is unable to think about what to do, but we could use the church as a sleeping/resting base and work out from there, not as a church program but individually offering help, a listening ear and as needed materials. We can direct people if so led to the church for followup.
4. My guess is that as we A) encourage the church, and B)go out into the city, there will be many opportunities that open for ministry.
5. Next year or after, we could partner with that church to do outreach meetings and tracting.
Give thanks for safety- almost smashed up the Driscolls van on the way back coming down an icy road- the person in front wiped out and we stopped beside them sideways with 4 feet to spare!!
We hope to start as early as next week or the week after. Pray for contact with the pastor- that we can push but not too much(we only want what Jesus wants anyway).