This is part of a report from Ken and Etsuko Hysten, missionaries in Shizuoka.
Report from Ken and Etsuko Hysten – April 14, 2011
It has officially been over a month since Japan faced its worst disaster in modern history. Since the Earthquake and Tsunami calamities of March 11, the people of Japan continue to persevere. It has not been easy. Earthquakes and tremors continue to inflict the land; especially, in the north. In the last three days alone, four earthquakes, all of which registered a magnitude of 7.2 rocked the land. Needless to say, the evidence of mental and physical fatigue is reflected continually on the faces of many. Although the times continue to be stressful, the Japanese people continue to show their resilience. This fact was very evident during my recent visit to Rikuzentakata (陸前高田) in Iwate Prefecture.
On Sunday evening (April 10th) I traveled with two brothers, minister Tomoyuki Shinozaki and missionary Eric Robinson, from the Numazu congregation, to Iwate-prefecture to bring supplies and aid to those in Rikuzentakata. The city had an estimated population of 23,687. It is now expected that over half of the city’s residents died in the March 11th Earthquake/Tsunami. The ten hour journey north in no way prepared us for the sight that we came to endure. I still find the devastation too difficult to adequately translate into any language. It was very difficult to contain the emotion that was brimming over in hearts. The city looked as if a bomb had been dropped on it. Three-storied buildings were upside down; mangled cars and boats were scattered everywhere; and houses had been uprooted and splintered. All that remain of a once prominent beautiful ocean side city was twisted metal, fractured wood and decay. As I walked through the wreckage and surveyed what used to be a city full of life, I felt rather helpless at the severity and enormity of the ruins and mass tomb that was evident before us.
Half of the contorted cars that were found in the rubble still contain their license plates. These cars have yet to be inspected for corpses. It was very sobering! Under the heaps of metal and wood that had yet to be cleared, were the remains of many who had died. For those who survived, we did our best to comfort them with messages from the Bible, encouragement and supplies. To say that recovery is going to be an expensive undertaking on several levels is very much an understatement. We visited shelters, volunteer centers and with countless individuals. Many of the supplies we brought included: canned goods, gasoline, kerosene, toilet paper, candy for the young at heart and other supplies. God willing, we hope to return in the early part of May or sooner, when we gain an updated assessment of requirements and are better equipped to provide what is needed. Please continue to pray for us and for those with whom we are trying to reach and/or heal for God’s glory