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As I type this, my team is leaving Japan and heading home to Brazil after 50 days. Thank you for your continued prayers and support!
This Sunday marks the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 for the US as well as the 6 month anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami.
Over the several days we spent in Iwake working at the GMC we toured several sites of where the tsunami wiped out several neighborhoods and countless homes. It’s a morbidly incredible site.
As we walked through, I passed through several stages of emotion.
I started off feeling excited at the fact that I was there.
I was awed by the power of the tsunami and force of destruction.
I was grieved to think that people’s livelihoods and homes were destroyed in the blink of an eye.
I was heartbroken to think that people lost loved ones.
At one point I was almost disgusted at myself for touring a place that is home to such loss and sorrow. I remember at one point not being able to take pictures and almost wanted to hide my camera and not look like I was on a safari as a car passed by.
As we left, I reflected on the gravity of what we’d witnessed on how much we struggle to maintain lifestyles, meet expectations, and pursue happiness in our very activities and possessions. For a lot of people on March 11, 2011 everything that had worked for vanished in less than an hour. People went from going about their day to suddenly fighting for their life to later on rebuilding what had been lost.
The lasting thought and feeling I had was something that stayed in my mind for a longtime.
Life here is so temporary.
Today, we helped a lady that is a member of the local church here.
She was the owner of a beachfront hotel that suffered severe water damage due to the tsumani.
We spent most of the day washing dishes and refrigerating equipment.
Please keep us in your prayers.
*Photos by Wesley Schlarb
Here are some images from the first day of work at the Global Missions Center at Iwaki Fukushima.
They say that pictures are worth a thousand words but I can’t seem to capture the sweat, the filthy, the mold and the ruin that the team experienced today.
Nor can pictures capture the gratitude of Mr. Sato.
Our team got a taste of what the next six weeks are going to be like and whatever romantic notion that any of us had left after about an hour of work.
However, we all enjoyed ourselves in our own way and are looking forward to spending more time reaching out the people.
It’s going to be a long trip and I can hardly wait.
After a whirlwind furlough in June/July, our hero suddenly finds himself in Japan.
In May, I was asked to participate in Igreja da Paz’s first ever international missions trip to the Fukushima disaster zone in Japan.
When Becky Hrubik said she was putting together a team, I resisted the urge to raise my hand and say “pick me, pick me” and took several days to contemplate the pros and cons and also pray for the Lords leading.
I weighed the cons and then decided that I didn’t really care about them and took that as a sign that this was something I wanted to do and I mentioned to Becky Hrubik that I was willingly to go.
Doors were opened and several weeks later, I received an official invitation to join the Japan trip.
Fast forwarding to this week.
We were greeting in Japan by a Typhoon that threatened to dump large amounts of rain over the area.
The Brazilians on our team decided that the typhoon must have been Brazilian because not only was it late, it ended up not showing up at all.
Tomorrow, we head into Fukushima to begin working to restore homes and businesses that have been destroyed by the tsunami and earthquake.
I’m anxious to work and get to know the people as well as experience the culture.
However, I have the feeling that it is I that will walk away from this journey being impacted.
I’ve worked with the several volunteer projects, nursing clinicals and health clinics but everything has solely focused on people’s social needs and I feel that I’ve been neglecting the very essence of our work which is to show love and be testimonies of Christ’s example and sacrifice.
In reality, the physical labor we do won’t mean much on a global scale, we’re not saving lives, and the worst of the disaster has come and gone. I’ve even left my cape and mask back home.
Spiritually though, I’d like to think we’re bringing them something eternal that will bring a new perspective on life and maybe we’ll all walk away a little changed as well.
Today’s Awkward Moment-
I was an hour late for class b/c my body was sore from excessive bike commuting and I had collapsed on the bedroom floor. So I decided to go to my internship instead but stopped into class just to let the teacher know. When I got there I was asked to present a quick oral briefing on Eating Disorders, Personality Disorder, Sexual Disorders and Pos-Partum Depression that was supposed to have been last week but was delayed till today. I was in my biking clothes, dripping with sweat and holding 20 reais that was supposed to be used to buy bread for my office. ‘
Thinking that the presentation was last week…I had not prepared or studied anything.
Clutching my money I gave a 5 minute summary pulled from the memory of any Reader Digest article, Dr. Phil interview or Mental Health textbook I had ever seen. I was met with applause and I ran out and went on my way to buy bread……
All in a day’s work.
One day when I feel up to it, I’ll write about the time I threw a table across the auditorium during a packed presentation that was attended by my school’s deans of nursing and psychology, students from 5 different nursing schools and a TV crew.
As I dragged my feet out on the concrete of the sidewalk in front of the municipal Hospital of Sanatrém I reflected on the last 24 hour shift inside the Surgical Clinic, caring for pos-operatory patients…then I couldn’t think anymore so I just gave up on reflecting. Thankfully there was a moto-taxi waiting in front of the hospital, I mounted his motorcycle like a princess would mount the trusty steed of her knight in shining armor and asked him to take me home.
It’s all about the simple things in life…
and I’m no princess.
I crashed as soon as I got home and woke up 3 hours later at 11:30.
I dressed and bathed and ran over to Silvia’s parents house to eat japanese food.
My body screamed for rest and sleep but instead I found myself in the middle of the Tapajos River paddling a kayak with the members of my youth cell group.
The LAST thing that my broken body needed….
I remember Paul Hrubik once told me that we need to make sacrifices sometimes for the sake of leadership and that is so true.
Group kayaking is a great activity and not only teaches teamwork but brought our group closer together through the experience and the memories.
We had blast but of course.
Tired and broken but wonderfully content and satisfied.