Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tono Base Camp Day 2 (re-posted!)

Sorry my blog didn't fully post yesterday... thankfully since it was acting weird I had copied it before I finished and I got it back just now :) So, here's the full report!

Well, we survived our 9 hour overnight bus ride up to Tono and met everyone at the base yesterday. It's a bit of a unique situation we're involved in up here because they're still figuring out leadership and roles, etc. so it's been interesting. We have some volunteer teams coming on Monday and some more later next week... when everyone's here, we'll have 32 people in this house... one shower, one bathroom! Should be fun! ;)

Yesterday was everyone's day off and we had a 2 1/2 hour staff meeting getting stuff straightened out. Then we had the afternoon off and I ended up sleeping all afternoon! (Guess I needed it because I still slept through the night after all that sleep- we've been pretty deprived of sleep lately between all the late nights getting ready to leave, the uncomfortable 10 hour plane ride, a 9 hour bus ride... etc) Then we had supper and devotions and went to bed)

Today we had our first day of volunteering in the effected area. This base is still working on finding partnerships with local churches (there aren't very many so it's been difficult) so we ended up going out with a local volunteer sending center. We got sent to an area where we basically shoveled dirt/mud/rocks/debris into bags to be taken away.

I must admit that it was incredibly hard to drive through all the affected areas. It's one thing to see it in pictures and videos, but it's absolutely heart wrenching to see it in real life. This actually happened. I feel like I can't even put my thoughts and feelings into words, but I'll try... for my own sake and for those of you who are reading this.

We drove by a lot of areas that the tsumani damaged. It's hard to fathom just how powerful it was. It's mind blowing. There's places where all that's left is foundations. There's piles and piles and piles of debris. Some sorted, some still left in the same place it landed in March. I can't imagine what this area looked like in March. Even now, 3 1/2 months after it happened, it's just... ugly. I've never experienced anything like this.

I was thinking about this experience compared to my first time being in Africa, seeing extreme poverty. I don't know if the two are even comparable, but this one has been way more emotional. It's so hard to think about how these places used to be cities. Just like the one we're living in right now. On March 10th, everything was just fine. March 11th changed everything. People are suddenly left homeless... with literally nothing but the clothes on their back. Everything... possibly even everyone... in their lives just gone. Just like that. gone.

As we were digging and shoveling today, we came across a lot of belongings. No idea where they've come from, damaged beyond repair. It broke my heart to see toys.. a messed up doll in particular... just laying there covered in dirt. Some little girl is left wondering where her favorite doll went.

One of the most overwhelming things is just how much work there is to do. Where do you even begin?! I felt like today we weren't really being very useful doing what we were doing, but I guess we just have to trust that every little bit helps.

I can't even use pictures to help me explain all of this because as a courtesy to survivors, we weren't allowed to take pictures, but I'm sure everyone has seen the pictures in the news already.

I am going to head off to bed now, continuing to process my thoughts and get some rest. Thanks for reading...

keep on praying. Japan needs hope!


Christine said...

Sounds heart wrenching. There by the grace of God go all of us. I just posted a poem in honor of the two of you called Loves Path, on a poetry blog that I follow, the picture prompt was by an artist who called his photo Japanese dream, and I thought of you both. Hope you have time to read it.
Love Christine

Hillary said...

Thank you Christine... that was beautiful. It means a lot to us both. I have plans running around in my head to do something to creatively display it somewhere in our home!
You're a gifted writer... thanks for sharing your gift with us!