by SATO Masashi, coordinator
We have been working at theKyodanTohokuDisasterReliefCenter, Emmaus, sinceMarch 15, 2011, and our work has involved more than disaster relief. Prayer and being in touch with the residents and their situations is of great importance. We call “getting in touch with the residents” our “slow work.” We must take much time to listen carefully to the stories of the survivors of the disaster. For example, if a resident needs to talk, we take a break from our physical work to have conversation over tea. Although visible progress is important, unseen progress is of even more importance. The way Emmaus has succeeded in establishing a trusting relationship with the residents is by encouraging our volunteers to listen to the stories coming directly from the hearts of the survivors. We are in Tohoku to bring hope to the survivors, but in fact, we have received more hope from them than we can provide. More than anything, experiencing a meaningful “encounter” is an immeasurable gift received by working with Emmaus.
This is also true for the many foreign volunteers who have come. Even though they come from foreign countries, their work expectations are no different. Just like Japanese volunteers, they go to the disaster zones, work, meet the survivors, and then return home. Many of the volunteers have tears in their eyes when they say their final goodbye before returning home. We feel very mystified by this. “Why do people come from foreign countries especially to work inSendaiand Ishinomaki?” It’s not only us. Survivors, themselves, are overwhelmed with surprise and thankfulness, wondering why foreigners come to help them. Even though language makes communication difficult, or maybe because language makes communication difficult, an important message is relayed to the survivors. That is, “what is invisible to the naked eye” equals “prayer, love, and hope.” This is what I have learned from the many foreign volunteers who have come to Tohoku.
Work of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT)
This summer, the PCT sent 97 volunteers to Tohoku for two months. The 97 were split into four groups, each of which came for a two-week period, beginning July 12. We were surprised by the large number of volunteers and by their enthusiasm. We were never short of help, whether in the large fields and rice paddies or in the cleaning up of debris and rubble, so we made great progress. The Taiwanese volunteers who were from farming families were very helpful in the fields. As Japanese farmers are aging, there are very few young people on Japanese farms. These Taiwanese volunteers’ work was unsurpassed by anything we could do. The fourth group consisted of ten carpenters who were very good at repairing homes. They were able to accomplish work that we are not typically able to do, so the residents were very thankful for their contribution. Of course, there was some difficulty in accepting 97 volunteers. Lack of communication due to language caused a number of problems. However, there is no question that we were greatly blessed by their presence and cooperation.
The difficulties facing those in the disaster zones will actually increase in the future. There are 16,523 people living in temporary shelters in Ishinomaki and 22,027 inSendaiwho will have to wait a long time before being able to return to their own homes. Farmland that was damaged by the tsunami will not be viable soon, and “restoration of life” will require much time and patient presence with the survivors. We Christians have been sent out by the love of God, who seeks our prayers and involvement in the lives of the disaster survivors. I sincerely ask you to continue to remember this in your prayers. (Tr. WJ)
日本基督教団東北教区被災者支援センター 教団派遣専従者 佐藤真史
◯はじめに 日本 基督教団東北教区被災者支援センター・エマオでは、震災直後の2
◯海外からのボランティア 海外 から来て下さった、多くのボランティアにとっても同様です。
◯台湾基督長老教会（PCT, Presbyterian Church of Taiwan）の働き この夏、台湾基督長老教会（PCT）が、97名もの ボランティアを2ヶ月にかけて送って下さいました。具体的には、
◯おわりに 被災 地の現実はむしろこれから厳しさを増していきます。