This article was originally posted on the Food for the Hungry Emergency Relief Blog.
Emergency Response Director Peter Howard and FH Canada’s International Program Director Miyuki Numata arrived earlier this week in Japan to work alongside our local partners in their response to the earthquake and tsunami. They were able to reach affected communities in Sendai by US military plane on Wednesday and are assisting Japan International Food for the Hungry and church partners with their ongoing relief efforts. FH’s response is heavily focused on strengthening the local church to respond to the physical needs of affected communities and provide spiritual hope. Peter writes:
USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance helped arrange a flight through the US Marines on a C-17 Australian military plane to Sendai…it was encouraging to see the three militaries working together in this way on such urgent and life-saving measures. We arrived at the modern and massive Sendai airport – now full of mud, trees and debris. A ghost town except for the US and Japanese military and emergency workers. Walking the halls of a massive empty airport felt eerie and strange.
Thankfully Miyuki is here – without her I would be lost. Through dropped cell calls and canceled rides she eventually helped arrange our way from the desolate coastal area inland and to the JIFH base which had electricity and heat….45 minutes away. It is snowing and a cold wind is blowing. We joined a group of responders (JIFH and others) along with local pastors doing their daily debriefing. One of the pastors told of working at the feeding center and how one person exclaimed to him “Arigato KiristuSan” – roughly translated “thank you Mr. Christ” or in essence thank you for being Christ to us! It is just one example of how Christ’s body is making an impact here in Japan. It certainly has been unifying as churches and ministries are working together.
The school we are in is going to reopen (thankfully) but it means JIFH and about 50 responders all have to move. Tomorrow Miyuki and I will join Chairman Ryo Iwahashi to go to the field to help with distributions and meet some of the local pastors who are helping out in their respective communities. Distributions are going on now through distribution centers and via churches and volunteers. Items of distribution include toilet paper, kerosene, noodles, rice, bread, gloves, blankets and more.
JIFH Chairman Ryo told us today of their experiences in recent days. They distributed 2000 cans of bread via local church networks and through a distribution center. This was donated by a Christian businessman here in Japan and added to the supplies being distributed by JIFH. This took place in Sendai (Rokugo community) both at a junior high used as a shelter and distribution site, as well as through churches. One pastor described going door to door in their community meeting those affected and distributing bread, etc. One older woman was a grateful recipient whose heart is breaking as she has two daughters who are unaccounted for. I wonder how many times her story is repeated throughout this region? Lord have mercy on her and so many here in Japan.
To Support Food for the Hungry in our response, visit: fh.org/japanesequake
To see more photos go to: https://picasaweb.google.com/FHRelief/2011_03JapanQuakeAndTsunamiRelief#
To read this article on the FH Emergency Response Blog and to subscribe to post updates, visit:http://fhrelief.wordpress.com/