Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

First Trip to Fukushima


From June 27th to 30th, I volunteered at Global Mission Chapel in Taira, Iwaki City in Fukushima prefecture (40km from the center of the nuclear crisis). God sent me to paint pictures for people who came to the church needing supplies, needing to talk, and for evacuees at shelters. Here are some pictures from the trip. (The paintings He gave me for people there are on this page.) At the very bottom is something I wrote just after I returned home to Osaka.



Jesus and me on the early-morning bus to Iwaki, Monday June 27th. This was done quick and sketch-like because it was on the bus, but it would be the last picture I painted where I had the luxury to take my time!



Outside the church - Global Mission Chapel (GMC) in Taira, Iwaki city, Fukushima prefecture, about 40 km from the center of the nuclear plant crisis. The group of volunteers/staff wearing work clothes are getting ready to go do "gareki" -- sifting through debris and rubble at peoples' homes (etc.)



Volunteers and staff worshiping God at the beginning of a day of work.



Volunteers and staff eating lunch... we had a lot of good Korean food because a lot of Koreans were there at the time! =)



This was a quick sketch I did the first night for the church after dinner, of the area where all the staff and volunteers eat and talk. It was just a quick sketch, but they seemed to think it was good and put it up on the schedule board!



We were about to start the morning meeting when two trucks of supplies arrived... no problem! The guys formed a line and unloaded... =)



Boxes of supplies in the church.



A view from the roof of the church of the nearby area. I can't fully process yet the feelings I got when looking at the area in the Spirit... it's like I feel His grief or the grief that He feels because He feels what the people of Fukushima feel... their suffering of having to leave their lives or worry because of the nuclear disaster... leaving beautiful homes and areas and hills because of the invisible radioactive poison in the air...



On the roof of the church there is this small room where you can pray... it's great.



Walking through town (Taira, Iwaki) you could see damage from the earthquake here and there... it'll take a long time to fix all this stuff.



A kid's picture at the church encouraging everyone.



Me and the Korean team...



Me and the Korean team...



One of the girls on the Korean team (who herself likes doing design!) asked me if I could make a picture for them, so I prayed and God gave me a word for them and a picture afterwards. They were very appreciative and grateful, and it totally went with their heart and desire. =)



The sign outside the church saying that daily living supplies (or relief goods) are here. Iwaki city apparently has stopped giving out relief supplies, but when people come to them and get turned away, the city tells them to come here to the church!



Inside the church's supply center where, after receiving a list of what people came to ask for, they gather together various requested items to let the people come pick through and take. It takes time, so the people wait inside...



They wait in here at the "cafe", which is part of the main room of the first floor where the church is. This part of the building used to be "pachinko" many years ago, but now it's a church! But that's why the ceiling in this one area is made of mirrors. The church was waiting for a bank loan to come through to renovate the floor, but the earthquake happened while they were waiting. It turned out perfect because the room has been a great place to store supplies and more. And kids love that part of the ceiling that is mirrors, hehe.





A friend took this picture of me sorting out pictures to give away... At home I had printed out about 85 or so art postcards to give away, and they were all gone by Thursday morning.



A young couple who lost their home to the tsunami... it came when they were one month shy of their first anniversary. But they and their baby daughter are safe... just needing a new home and place to begin again. (You can see the picture God gave me for on this page.)



Visiting a shelter on 6/29. The church volunteers and staff prepared food for the people living at the shelter (which used to be some kind of school, I think... the building was very old and showed damage from the earthquake on the front of it). After serving them, we sat down and ate with them, talking and sharing and listening.



Some letters and drawings from children encouraging people at the shelter. Below it were some things from the church, too. The people at the shelter were thankful that churches existed and looked forward to whenever we came. (>_<)



Me, a Filipina volunteer who traveled from Kanagawa, and a man who is living at the shelter with his wife. He wanted me to eat with him, so I did, and afterwards while talking I painted a picture for him. He wanted to have his photo taken with us. =) [I wouldn't feel comfortable putting this on the internet except that it turned out blurry, thankfully.] =)



Visiting another shelter on 6/30, which at least from the outside seemed to be nicer than the one from the day before. The church volunteers and staff prepared a barbecue for the people...



...the WHOLE time the barbecue was going on, I was busy praying and painting pictures for each kid that was there! I missed eating with the people, and nearly missed eating altogether (which didn't bother me), but some awesome students volunteering from Yamato Calvary Chapel international school got me some food just before everything was being packed up.

A fellow volunteer, Rachel Burney, blogged about the shelter visit here:
http://becauselifewins.blogspot.com/2011/06/precious.html

She is still there, and I highly recommend reading her blog to get an idea of what's going on there and how God brings life and love in the middle of tragedy.

*****

Letter from July 1st, after returning to Osaka...

Hi everyone,

It's Friday afternoon, and I just arrived back here in Osaka this morning. First of all, thank you all SO MUCH for your prayers and support! Thank you, because I could not have gone without you. I painted about 45 pictures, more than a third of them for children at shelters. I wish I could describe everything from the last four days to you, but it's a little difficult for me right now...

It'll take a little time to get some pictures off of my cellphone camera, but once I have those up it'll be easier to talk. Right now I'm still just overwhelmed with God's heart and it's hard to know where to start.

It's not that I saw so much destruction... I saw almost none at all (I didn't get to go to those areas). It's not that I was broken by the stories, either... I heard mostly stories of survival (and my Japanese isn't that great). What happened was that God's love was pouring through me for those precious people soooooo much, I haven't been able to recover. His love stayed with me and is still pouring through me. I'm still crying when I think about them and the workers and volunteers. If I could go back tomorrow I would in a heartbeat.

He told me schedule to go back in August. It was hard leaving my family even for four days, and my daughter suddenly looks older when I return... but now here I am with my heart breaking to go back and help more.

Can I tell you what's in my heart? I want to go back as soon as possible. There are some volunteers there who like drawing and would love to learn to do what I was doing to help the people there. I want to go help them and others focus and build up the "kokoro care" (caring for hearts) part of what they're doing. I would go back tomorrow if I could, and my wife says that she would totally let me...

Our only difficulties are just our daily survival needs here in Osaka. Rent for the apartment, someone reliable to watch Joanna on the days when Yoko is at work. So I'm praying for ways to open up for that to happen. If not, then I'll try for August. It's just that God's love is pouring in me so hard and not letting up! So if He wants this to happen sooner, He'll make a way.

Please pray for me, my family, for the church out there (they've been going non-stop since 3/11), and for the volunteers who I believe are being set aside to help peoples' hearts heal through their love and drawings.

Thank you all so much again for your prayers and support.

In Christ and in love,
Ramone