by Nicole, Japan outreach participant (photo by Flickr CC likeablerodent)
On Sunday, our outreach team arrived in Iwaki to stay and help out for a week. Iwaki is a city in Fukushima Prefecture, one of the regions where the tsunami caused significant damage.
On Monday we drove to the shore to see one of the devastated villages. It was a magnificent place: the flat, sandy beach stretched out wide in both directions, bounded by the sea that reached out to touch the horizon. To one side, a rocky cliff was topped by a lighthouse. Behind this beautiful beach, however, lay the destroyed village. Some of the buildings stood standing, though they were somewhat damaged. But in between the standing houses was empty space, with nothing left but the houses' foundations. Most of the rubble had been cleaned up, and placed in a large pile.
It was stunning to think that this empty place had once been the hometown of numerous families and individuals. However, there were still signs of life. Several of the houses, especially the ones farther back from the waterfront, were occupied, and people still eked out a living in this desolate place. The cement wall bordering the beach was painted with hundreds of brightly colored flowers and other images, as though people were trying to bring joy and color back to the lonely town.
Except for the abandoned houses and the trash heap, there was no evidence of the storm that had caused so much devastation a year ago. Looking out across the ocean, it was hard to believe that such a beautiful, peaceful-looking place had been the site of such damaging waves. It is truly hard to fathom that we actually stood in the very place where the tsunami had wielded its fatal power.
I'm so thankful that our God is a God of rebirth and restoration!