Thursday, 30 May 2013

Guests, Children, & Prayers

Last Friday, the Let Us Walk Together welcomed a group of representatives from the Diocese of Leicester, UK.  We kicked out their weekend with the Let Us Walk Together Project by having dinner with the Standing committee  and the staff. With the project coming to an end, Friday was the Standing Committee’s monthly meeting. I think everyone was a little thankful those long meetings were over. 

The next day we headed to Sendai Christ Church to celebrate a Thanksgiving Mass for the Let Us Walk Together Project. Last week everyone in the office was asked to write a prayer for the various activities we have been a part of. During the service several of us read our prayers aloud and then placed them on an old map of Tohoku region. It was beautiful. One of the priests from England added her own prayer as well. After the service, everyone was able to take some time to talk to one another. There were many former volunteers and staffers of the project who came to the service. It was so nice to catch up with them a little bit as well.  Since I spent a lot of time with the group from Leicester I felt the need to point out who everyone was. I felt the need to tell them about each person’s personality, what they have done in the project, what they have meant to the project and to me. It’s interesting how fast people can mean so much to you even when your conversations are at the most basic level. 

We then headed to Shinchi Base. We had lunch at a local noodle restaurant. Since the tsunami came through Shinchi, business in the town has gone down. So every time people visit Shinchi, the Base always suggests eating at this little shop. This is one of the ways that the project supports the town. They gave us some special food as a sign of thanks and gave the people from Leicester traditional Japanese fans as souvenirs.

From there we went to the base where there were people from the community waiting for us. Through the help of the interpreter from England, some of the residents of the community told us about the history of the area and their experiences from the disaster. We also watched a few videos of the tsunami coming into Shinchi. Then we loaded into the vans and took a tour of the area. We went to the coastline where we saw the ruins of many of the people’s houses who we just met and saw where someone ran to safety. We then saw the ruins of St. John’s church where many sought shelter during the tsunami. The last stop of the tour was at a kindergarten. 

On the day of the disaster that kindergarten lost 13 of its members. Three were teachers and nine were children. One of the busses that took the kids to safety was lifted by the water from the tsunami. Everyone inside was able to escape the bus by climbing into a window on a second story house. That was how high the water was, they were able to seek rescue in the second story of a house. That night two of those kids died from hypothermia. The kindergarten building is not in use anymore but they have a memorial in honor of those who lost their lives that day. They have rebuilt a kindergarten further in town where the kids are able to play. They now have 103 students in the classes. 

On Sunday we had two church services. The first being with Sendai Christ Church's congregation. Afterwards there was some time for everyone to talk with one another. The women gave some of their stories and talked about how the project has helped them. When it came to an end the resounding stories that were passed were how they now have a community among themselves. The project helped bring them all together in one way or another but now they have each other for support.
second mass was for the Filipinos that we work with

We then sent the Diocese of Leicester to the station. I miss them already. It was great getting to speak English the entire weekend and to explain what the project has been doing. Having guests visit the project always makes me realize how little I know. They always ask the questions I have never thought of. It was great getting to know them and hear their stories. I also learned how to "properly" drink tea, how to ask for a "nice cup of tea and a good cup of coffee," and various other things that will make me look like a native when I visit them. Overall it was a great weekend. There is so much more that I want to share but I have made this blog too long as it is.

Thank you for tuning in!

prayers at the ruins of St. Johns

Hearing stories of life in the temporary housing

Signing a book at the memorial for the kindergarten

Talking with the principal of the kindergarten

handing out crosses made by parish members of
Diocese of Leicester

Mass with the wonderful Filipinas

Glenda received an award  from Japanese class

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