Relief Work after the Great East Japan Earthquake

It has been eight months since the great earthquake and tsunami that occurred along the length of eastern Japan on March 11. Restoration following the unprecedented destruction in the various areas, and especially with the additional accident at Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, has been extremely difficult. People are in pain and despair and are struggling to see the light of future prospects ahead in the midst of their grief.

God has sent his Son Jesus Christ as the Savior to be the light of true hope shining in the darkness, precisely in the places where we are suffering in sadness in that world of darkness. He has shown us the way to live together and share love. At this time, in response to this Christmas message, let us see how we as Christians will ask again what we can do and how we can relate to the people who are now in the midst of this troubled situation. Many persons, in various ways, have done what they could. From their reports, I want to share the following two specific ones. (Tr. RT)

—Nishio Misao, member

Suginami Church, Nishi Tokyo District

 

I Was a Volunteer

   by Miyahara Yu, teacher of

 Musashino Soai Kindergarten, Nishi Tokyo District

I experienced the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake [1995] when I was a third-year elementary school pupil, and that became the impetus for me to be a volunteer.

Since the day of the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, even if no earthquake was happening, I always carried that fear in my heart: “An earthquake may occur.” However, I remember that due to the occurrence of that earthquake, relief came from not only inside the country but also from overseas. Many temporary housing units were provided in the parks, and emergency food services were provided at such places as schools and other institutions. As much as an elementary school pupil could, I felt that both my mind and body were being saved.

Febraury 2011. At a worship service at the kindergarten where I now work, I spoke to the children about this actual experience and about the many things God gives us that are not just a matter of course but are things we should be grateful for and take care of. Exactly one month after the day I gave that talk, the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred. “I want to help in some way.” With only that thought, I decided to take part in the volunteer effort.

The House where I was in Charge.  The entire inside of that house was filled with mud, and none of the furniture could be used. Dishes, writing materials, pictures, clothing, hangers, books, pieces of wood—various things were drawn out of the mud. The fact that the house itself survived was a miracle. Throughout the area are the remains of houses that were destroyed, and through the work of the Self-Defense Forces, at last a road appeared. I worked to separate the unusable broken furniture that had been removed from the mud and put them in the designated disposal areas.

An Elderly Man’s Words.  This Arahama is the place where it was first reported that 300 bodies had been washed up ashore. A husband here tells about being so caught up in saving his own life that his wife and child were swallowed by the tsunami right before his own eyes, and he was unable to save them. Even if survivors went to the place where the bodies were being cremated, it was impossible to distinguish one from another. No one could tell who had died. Even tears would not come. “If I were to try to clean up this house by myself, I think it would have taken me half a year. You have saved the day. Thank you.”

His said that after the earthquake, an elderly woman would not even go outside and made no effort to get into the ofuro (Japanese bath). One day, as a result of a volunteer calling to her, she began to go outside a little and got even to the point where she said to him, with a smiling face, “Maybe we could try to plant some tomato seedlings.”

Throughout the town there was mud, sand, and rubble. But in an area where no grass was growing, dandelions silently bloomed. I noticed as I looked around that they were blooming here and there. From a town where people and vegetation had given up hope, they were looking forward and were trying to move ahead. A person cannot move ahead very easily alone, but people relating to one another, with support, can look ahead and go on living.

It was a five-day period of being touched by the warmth of the volunteers all over Japan as well as by the warmth of the people in the area. I am praying that as soon as possible the hearts of the victims may be healed and that they may be able to live a peaceful life. (Tr. RT)

From Nishi Tokyo Kyoku Dayori

(Nishi Tokyo District News)

Urayasu Church School Children Find Ways to Help

A desire to help someone leads to action

by Ohno Toshiko, church school teacher

Urayasu Church, Chiba Subdistrict, Tokyo

I believe that the desire to be helpful is an important gift that God has given to each of us to equip us for living together. The disasters of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the tsunami and the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant have caused even children to consider what they can do to help. For the Church School children of Urayasu Church, the answer was for them to pray for those affected, to continue remembering them, and to give of their time and efforts to help. After further consideration, they came up with the idea of making bookmarks and picture post cards. They would then sell them and send the profit as aid to the disaster areas.

By cutting paper, using tweezers to set and glue the paper, opening a hole and putting the ribbon through, and then putting it in an envelope, the children were able to make bookmarks. To make the picture post cards, the children made a design for the pictures they had drawn. They then made prints and put them in envelopes as sets. Every child in the Church School was involved in the project, and they are now hoping that many people will purchase these items so they can send the proceeds as aid to the disaster areas. (Tr. JS)

From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend)

 

東日本大震災救援の働き

今年の3月11日 に東日本一帯をおそった大地震と大津波は、各地に未曾有の被害をもたらし、さらに福島第一原子力発電所の事故も加わって、8ヶ月経った今も復興は困難をきわめている。人びとは絶望と苦悩、悲 嘆の闇の中で、前途に光を見つけようと苦闘している。

神は、まさにこの暗黒の世に、悲しみ苦しんでいる人びとのもとに、御子イエス・キリストを、闇を照らす真の希望の 光、救い主として送ってくださった。そして私たちが互いに愛し合って、共に生きていく道を示してくださったのである。このクリスマス のメッセージに応えて、私たちはキリスト者として、今も困難な状況の中にいる人びとにどうかかわって生きたらよいか、私たちができる ことは何かを改めて問うてみたい。大震災直後から、悲しみ苦しんでいる人びとと共に歩みたいと願って、自分たちに出来ることをいろい ろな形で行ってきた多くの人たちがいる。その中から、次の二つの実践報告を分かち合いたいと思う。西尾操(杉並教会員・KNL編集委 員)

 

ボランティアに参加して

 宮原 由有(みやはらゆう)

 ボランティアに参加しようとしたきっかけ:

私は、小学三年生の時に、阪神淡路大震災を経験しました。本当に、恐かったです。

あの日以来、地震が起きていなくても「地震が起きるかもしれない」 という恐怖は常に心の中にありました。しかし、その地震発生により、国内だけでなく海外からもたくさんの人たちが救援にきてくれたこ とを覚えています。公園にはいくつもの仮設住宅が備えられ、学校や施設という場では炊き出しがなされ、心身共に助けられたことを小学 生ながらに感じていました。

2011年2月。今勤めている幼稚園の礼拝で、この実体験を子どもたちに話し、 神様が下さっているたくさんの物は当たり前ではなく、感謝して大切にしなければならないということを伝えました。

そして、ちょうどその話をした日から一ヶ月後に、東日本大震災が起 きたのです。「何か力になりたい!」その想いだけで、ボランティアに参加することを決めました。

私が担当したお宅:

家の中が泥だらけで全ての家具が使用できない状態でした。泥の中 からは、食器、文具、写真、洋服、ハンガー、本、木材・・・さまざまな物が混ざって出てきました。家が残っているだけでも奇跡的であ り、辺り一面になぎ倒された家屋の残骸がいっぱいで、自衛隊などの働きにより、やっと道路が見えてきたという状況でした。家の中から 出した泥と、倒れて使用できなくなっている家具を、分別して決められた場所に置く作業をしました。

おじいさんの言葉:

ここ荒浜は一番初めにニュースで三〇〇人の遺体が打ち上げられた と報道されたところですよ。近所では、自分の命を守ることに精一杯で目の前で津波にのまれていった妻子を助けられなかったと話す夫も います。火葬場に行っても誰か見分けがつかない。誰が死んだかもわからない。もう涙も出ません。この家を一人で片付けたら半年以上か かると思っていたけれど、助かりましたよ。ありがとう・・・。

地震が起きてから、外にも出ず、お風呂にも入ろうとしないおばあ さんがいたそうです。ある日、ボランティアの人から声を掛けられたことがきっかけで、少しずつ外に出るようになり、おじいさんに「ト マトの苗でも植えてみようかしら」と笑顔で言えるまでになったそうです。また、町は辺り一面泥と砂とがれきで、草も生えていない状態 となってしまいましたが、その中からひっそりとたんぽぽが咲いていました。見渡すとあちらこちらに咲いていることに気づきました。人 も植物も絶望的になった町から、前を向いて進もうとしていました。人はひとりではなかなか前に進めませんが、こうして人と人が関わ り、支え合うことで前を向いて生きていけるのです。北は北海道、南は沖縄からやってきたボランティアの人たちの温かさに触れ、また、 現地の人たちの温かさに触れた五日間でした。一日も早く、被災された方々の心が癒され、安心した暮らしができますようお祈りしていま す。(相愛教会)(西東京教区だより)

 

 

「誰かの役に立ちたい」との思いが行動 に

子どもたちが支援のために絵葉書としお り作り

千葉・浦安教会の教会学校

  「誰かの役に立ちたい」という思い は、人と人が共に生きるために大事なこととして、神さまが私たち一人ひとりにくださった大切な宝物だと思います。

東日本大震災・津波・原発事故と続く つらい出来事は、子どもたちにも「私たちも何かをしよう」という気持ちを引き起こしました。そこで浦安教会の教会学校でできることは 何かな、 と考えました。出てきた答えは、祈ること・覚えていること・自分たちの時間や労力を提供すること……。そしてその中から、しおりと絵葉書を作 り、販売をして、その収益を寄付しようというアイディアが生まれました。

紙をカットし、ピンセットで切り抜き を貼りつけ、パウチして穴をあけ、リボンを通し、袋に入れるとしおりの完成です。絵葉書のほうは、子どもたちが描いた絵をデザイン し、印刷を し、袋に入れてセットにしました。教会学校総出で作りました。多くの方々に購入していただきたいと思います。(信徒の友)

(大野寿子 おおの としこ/浦安教会 教会学校スタッフ)