Dan Iverson, my missionary team leader, went to Fukushima with several others on Monday in a rented truck to deliver water, gas, blankets, clothing, and various supplies to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami. These supplies were gathered from our team, the Oyumino Church, families from the Christian school, and even non-Christian neighbors. A second trip was made on Tuesday with two trucks. Dan's report on his trip is below:
Dear Family and friends,
Three of us went north into the devastated areas Sunday midnight with a packed 2-ton rental truck with 1,000 liters of water, gasoline, blankets, food, warm clothes, etc, that our church members and lots of non-Christian friends donated. People were most desperate for water. We distributed supplies to a small church we had contacted, to an elementary school housing displaced people, and drove around the town (Ueda town, Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture) giving water to people. People were so grateful.
[Before we drove north] Many were saying we should not go in, for various reasons. As we prayed, discussed, gathered supplies, and loaded them into the late hours of the night Sunday, we felt led to go. People are fleeing south as we go north. Some people really fear what may happen with a nuclear meltdown or another Tsunami (as some pretty big tremors keep coming, the radio keeps on saying that if you are on the coast, where we were, to always be aware of roads inland to flee to higher ground, which we did). And the radio is often saying the government does not want volunteers in there getting in the way of the professionals and possibly becoming victims themselves who need to be evacuated.
We were so glad we went. We saw almost no official relief supplies coming in where we were. We saw no self-defence force troops bringing relief until we were heading home south as 15 self defense force supply trucks passed us coming north. The exhausted city hall official lady in her late twenties in charge at the elementary school with 100 displaced people living there was so thankful we did not listen to those warnings not to come (which I understand the need for), and was so grateful, and [she will be] a good future contact for several spheres. She was surprised that we were from a church, and wanted us to thank everyone who sent things. She wanted us to bring more, and to bring people to help her with so many people, especially the many older people who were there because they did not have the strength or means to flee.
People were so desperate for water that when we ran out, they wanted the not-so-clean spill-over can water. It was very sad to run-out with people still coming with plastic bags and trash cans and anything they could bring to get water.
I could not help but think:
May the Japanese people come to thirst like this spiritually, and be this desperate seeking Living Water (Isa. 55:1-2; John 4).
May they flee to higher ground . . . to The High Rock (Ps. 61:2).
May a tsunami of grace, wave after wave, flood Japan (Ezek. 47; John 1:16)
[We] just had a fairly large tremor and not one person around me even made a comment about it. They have become so common place. May God so shake Japan spiritually, and may the Japanese people be humbled to desperately seek the Living Water God offers in Christ.
Please pray also as we begin working today on a long-term plan. Our thousand liters Monday and 2,000 liters today praying with and talking with a few was like a drop in the Pacific -- so little for such great great need. And, of course, we are praying and dreaming and talking about how God might use this disaster, and us, for a new WAVE of effective evangelism and church planting in the affected area, and throughout all of Japan?
Thanks for praying for places to go serve. We now have two Japanese churches in the affected area to possibly partner with long-term in their area to help them in their witness as we help people in their communities. The city hall lady above, Ms. Yamamoto, has access to lots of information and officials. And she likes us.
Please give and pass the word on how to give to the relief effort. I have already spent $2,000-$3,000* of my money renting trucks, buying gas cans, truck fuel, water tanks, needed supplies, etc, and it is a drop in the bucket to what we will spend, and what will be needed to do what needs to be done in the weeks and months ahead. (*I have not had a minute to see exactly how much I have spent, nor do we even know yet officially where all the money will come from. But we do know we need to act now and worry about all that later.)