"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Sunday, March 27, 2011

HEROES: East Japan Relief Trip # 2: 7 churches, 2 trucks to ISHINOMAKI

Sent: Sunday, March 27, 2011 10:26 AM
Subject: Fwd: East Japan Crisis Relief Report - 3/26

I am writing this report from Shiogama, Miyagi, Japan, a city hit hard by the March 11 magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that have shaken Japan and affected the world. We are a team of 14 from the Tokyo area.
     We left on our second relief trip (3/24-26), with 3 trucks loaded with 6 tons of food, clothes, cold medicine, house-cleaning equipment, baby goods and emergency supplies. We also had an 8-passenger van and a 5-passenger SUV to complete our caravan.

Left: Pastor Shirahata (with cap) brought many goods to our church. Right: We loaded up 3 trucks with relief goods. Because we were registered as emergency vehicles, all 5 vehicles were able to use the expressway up to Sendai free of charge instead of paying the normal 7200 yen ($90) toll. As on our first trip a week ago, we stayed at Shiogama Bible Baptist Church, pastored by Yukikazu and Yukimasa Otomo. After our morning orientation on Friday, 3/25, we divided into 2 teams, one to do house cleaning and the other to distribute goods.
Left: Pastor Yukimasa Otomo.             Right: Planning how to distribute the relief goods.
I went with the team to deliver goods. The city we chose to go to is called Ishinomaki, Miyagi, reputedly one of the hardest hit by the tsunami. The spectacle that awaited us was overwhelming – crushed houses, cars on roofs, debris scattered everywhere. 
     We pulled into an open space next to a building and began distributing goods to the 200 or so who gathered. They had not received any outside aid like the people in shelters because they were living in their own homes and were left on their own. Because the tsunami had left layers of mud in their houses, they quickly depleted the limited number of shovels, brushes, rubber boots and other cleaning tools that we had brought. Many also wanted gas cookers, thermos bottles, and of course fresh fruits and vegetables, which many had not eaten since the earthquake.
Left: Smashed houses and cars everywhere.                            Right: How did this car end up this way...undamaged?
     After the crowd disappeared, because we still had lots of goods, we moved to another location, the parking lot of a large supermarket. When word got around that free food and goods were being given away, 1000 people appeared out of nowhere and quickly got in line. We limited the number of articles each could take to 10 items. Of course, baby diapers, toilet paper, underwear, and all the food items were popular and went quickly. People came in worn-out clothes. They looked haggard. We saw a young woman with only house slippers on her feet! This is unheard of in a country where
people never wear slippers outside. We were able to give her a pair of shoes. People were so thankful; many asking who we were and where we had come from. Many said they had not received any relief supplies and that this was their first. We continued giving away what we had until it got dark, we had almost nothing left, and the line finally dissipated.
     At the end, as our team gathered in a circle to pray for the people we had served that day, we felt a great thankfulness to God that we could offer a little encouragement to a people fighting hunger and hopelessness in the midst of such great devastation. And we also vowed that we would return to show these people that they are not forgotten.
Left:1st distribution site at Ishinomaki city.                                      Right: 2nd site where 1000 gathered.
     Thank you all for the great response of support and love that is being poured out to Japan from all over the world. We have gotten emails from Singapore, Africa, India, Brazil and Hawaii of teams coming to help. Many cannot come, but are praying for Japan. Thank you so much. Our God does answer prayer! Also, many are sending donations to buy needed supplies for the disaster victims. A heart-felt “Thank youâ€� to you. We are using 100% of the donations for relief goods and transportation costs only. And we are doing our utmost to find the unreached people with the direst needs to offer them hope. Some of the other teams we have contact with are going all over East Japan, to hospitals, orphanages and shelters and delivering much needed supplies. We are all working together – Christian organizations, churches, individuals, NPOs, NGOs, volunteers, self-defense forces and government offices – all bound together with the singular goal of helping the stricken in this crisis.

 Left: Their smiles and thanks make it all worthwhile.       Right: Many shops were totally destroyed.
    I salute the members of our second trip team. They worked hard and displayed great spirit under trying living conditions.
     The team members were:
Pastor Toru Majima and Atsushi Kawashima, Takuma Hirako, and Matthias Buerki (Swiss) of New Hope Yokohama Church in Yokohama, Kanagawa
Kazuyoshi Iizuka, pastor of New Life Family Church in Iruma, Saitama
Tsugio Takahashi, member of New Hope Narimasu Church in Tokyo
Pastor Yong Kyu Lee and Yong Keon Kang of Central Gloria (Korean) Church in Tokyo
Pastor Shizunori Sumiya and Jun Suematsu of New Hope Chiba Church in Yachio, Chiba
Ryo Sakamoto, an English school teacher from Nagoya, Aichi
Shiomi Sasanuma, Director of Happy Birthday Foundation, and a member of New Hope Tokyo Church
And me, Elmer Inafuku, pastor of Shinjuku Shalom Church in Tokyo

Left: 14 members made up our 2nd trip team. Right: Thanks to those who lent their trucks & vans.
     The 3 trucks were provided by New Life Family Church, Central Gloria Church and Jun Suematsu.
We also rode up in two vans, provided by Central Gloria Church and Tsugio Takahashi.
We are so grateful for their generosity and willingness to help. What a great caravan we were!

Please continue praying for:
1)  The Fukushima Power Plant to be brought under control and radiation damage kept to a minimum.
2)  All unreached and needy survivors be located and helped.
3)  Many grieving hearts be healed from the pain of losing loved ones, businesses and all possessions.
4)   The entire East Japan region be able to rebuild their cities and farms.
5)   Many precious souls be able to find spiritual strength in God that will help them overcome in the midst of this tragedy.
6)  Better prevention of damage from earthquakes and tsunamis be instituted in Japan and the world.
7)  The right solution for the issue of whether nuclear power plants should be used or not be given to all governments.
 Left: It looked like a bomb had dropped here.      Right: The tsunami showed no respect for the dead as it swept this trailer into a graveyard.
     For those who would like to partner with us in sending relief aid to East Japan, you may send contributions to:
Bank:        Mizuho Bank 
Branch:    Shinjuku Shintoshin Branch
Swift ID:     MHBKJPJT
Acct. name:     Shinjuku Shalom Church Elmer Inafuku (no dots or hyphens)
Branch no.:     209
Account no.:    3717160

Our bank address is as follows:
Mizuho Bank Shinjuku Shintoshin Branch
1-25-1 Nishi Shinjuku
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
163-0676 Japan
Tel. 03-3345-1221

My church, Shinjuku Shalom Church's address is listed below.

My cell tel. no. is: 080-6787-0007

Praying for East Japan!
Elmer Inafuku

Shinjuku Shalom Church
7-9-7 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo 160-0023, Japan
Tel 81-3-3371-7558 (Church)

May God's Shalom be with you!

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