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May 2011 Japan Tsunami Relief Mission trip & Follow up visit in Oct 2012

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Theme from Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

May 4, 2011 Greetings in Christ,
As the news reported the earthquake and tsunami damage that hit Japan on March 11, 2011, we observed the devastation and destruction in the towns and ports along the northeastern coast. It was the most powerful known earthquake to have hit Japan, and one of the five most powerful earthquakes in the world overall since modern record-keeping began in 1900. The earthquake triggered extremely destructive tsunami waves of up to 38 metres (125 ft) that struck Japan, in some cases traveling up to 10 km (6 mi) inland.

The earthquake moved Honshu 2.4 m (8 ft) east and shifted the Earth on its axis by 10 cm (4 in).

As we prayed about how we could be a part to help the Japanese people, God opened the door for StoneGate Bible Fellowship to connect with Japan Christian volunteers and the Shiogama Bible Baptist Church in the tsunami area.
A three-member team was sent on April 29th to help in the earthquake relief efforts and plan for future team. We served by delivering food, cooking for a small fishing village, cleaninng photos at the Shichigahama evacuation center, and cleaning mud from inside homes. We returned home on May 14th. StoneGate Bible Fellowship sent two additional teams to Northern Japan. The additional teams were also hosted by the Shiogama Bible Baptist Church.

On 27 October 2012, I was able to return to see the towns of Sendai, Ishinomaki, and Shiogama. In the town of Ishinomaki, I was able to visit the Kashima Miko overlook site and Ishinomaki Okawa Elementary School area. There was still no power or water to the Ishinomaki neighborhoods we visited back in April 2011. The debris is all in large piles but there is no visible sign of rebuilding. No Japan Railroad (JR) lines yet either. The tracks and train station were damaged by the tsunami.
In Shiogama, the Pastor Otomo, staff, and volunteers continue to support the tsunami affected people and local temporary housing centers. The Shiogama Bible Bapstist church, Hope Miyagi staff and volunteers continue to faithfully serve the local community.

Slides in this album 

View from the Kashima Miko Overlook, Ishinomaki, Miyagi-ken, Japan

Left photos were from April 2011 and the right photos are from 28 October 2012.

View from the Kashima Miko Overlook, Ishinomaki, Miyagi-ken, Japan
Contributed by: mhomma

Ishinomaki Okawa Elementary School

Ishinomaki Okawa Elementary School (大川小学校?) was one of the schools worst affected by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. When ...

Ishinomaki Okawa Elementary School
Contributed by: mhomma

Ishinomaki (石巻市 Ishinomaki-shi) in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan

The debris has been cleaned up and moved to large sorting piles.  All the vehicles are stacked together.   Still no power or water to several neighborhoods.

Ishinomaki city in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan
Contributed by: mhomma

Ishinomaki, Miyagi-ken Japan

18 months after the tsunami

Ishinomaki, Miyagi-ken Japan
Contributed by: mhomma

Kitakami-gawa River Ishinomaki, Miyagi-ken Japan

The earthquake shifted the city southeast and downward, lowering it by as much as 1.2 metres (3.9 ft) in some areas and causing it to flood twice daily at high tide. A once sandy beach in the Kadonowaki area has completely disappeared and tides now reach ...

Kitakami-gawa River Ishinomaki, Miyagi-ken Japan
Contributed by: mhomma

Lone house still standing. Ishinomaki shoreline.

Approximately 29,000 city residents lost their homes.  This house is still standing and has put up solar panels.   It looks like they are living on the second floor.

Lone house still standing. Ishinomaki shoreline.
Contributed by: mhomma

Volunteer housing at Shiogama Bible Baptist Church

New Volunteer housing at the Shiogama Bible Baptist Church.   We helped break down the old earthquake damage building.

Volunteer housing at Shiogama Bible Baptist Church
Contributed by: mhomma

Tsunami Volunteer housing

 Shiogama Bible Baptist Church

Tsunami Volunteer housing
Contributed by: mhomma

Pastor Steve, Doug, Maki Goto and family

Maki and Mitsuyo Goto with children Mel, Miri and Maya

Arrived safely and somewhat rested in Tokyo. We are staying in a comfy dorm room tonight and had a great dinner with Maki Goto's family. We are right next to Waseda Univ.

Things in the Tokyo area seemed almost back ...

2011 SGBF Japan Missions
Contributed by: mhomma

First evening accomodations

I woke up to a small earthquake but had a great night's sleep.  The only other time I woke up during the night was to an elderly lady taking her evening walk and singing in Japanese.  She had an amazing voice.

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Sendai to Ishinomaki

We drove up to Ishinomaki, on the coast north of Sendai, and received a first hand look at the tsunami damage. Just devastating. We also drove up to several small fishing villages north of Ishinomaki. There is nothing left of these villages except for a few foundations and debris. We ...

2011 SGBF Japan Missions
Contributed by: mhomma

Our 1st week's home

We left Maki's house around 10:00pm and drove until about 2:00am. We pulled into a parking area (rest area) and stayed overnight at the Kunimi Hwy parking area. The frozen fish had to be removed from the bus so that we, six of us, could sleep inside. The delivery of ...

2011 SGBF Japan Missions
Contributed by: mhomma

Frozen seafood donation

Frozen seafood (both shellfish and fish) were welcome by those who are living off of military MREs...

We had delivered most of the frozen seafood so there was much less to remove from the bus.  We cooked out camping style and had a nice warm curry rice dinner with some ...

2011 SGBF Japan Missions
Contributed by: mhomma

Frozen seafood delivery

I really realized how important the Goto brothers' calling to help is.  The delivery of food to some of the forgotten coastal fishing villages with no water and/or power really made a difference to those people.  We witness such awesome compassion by many volunteers.

2011 SGBF Japan Missions
Contributed by: mhomma

Cooking seafood

Tomorrow, we will travel back to the small fishing village of Kugunari and to cook frozen fish and serve coffee at a delayed Matsuri festival.

We've met so many grateful tsunami victims that were amazed that members from a Christian church in America came all the way to ...

2011 SGBF Japan Missions
Contributed by: mhomma

Cooking for Tsunami survivors

The Goto brothers came very well prepared.   They had brought enough supplies for the six of us as well as Hibachi's to cook on, propane stoves to make coffee and tea, and serving supplies.   We also packed all our trash out with us too.

2011 SGBF Japan Missions
Contributed by: mhomma

Ichinomaki

The coastline here was lowered by almost 3 feet so there are several parts of the 1st 3 blocks from the ocean now underwater. There are ships (and boats) blocks inland.

2011 SGBF Japan Missions
Contributed by: mhomma

Ichinomaki coast

The sounds of helicopters still flying search patterns over the water and coastline fill the air. Not many towns people walking around. Mostly Japan Defense Forces and police driving around directing traffic.   The destruction was overwhelming.   Where do you start the clean up effort at?

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Contributed by: mhomma

Tsunami aftermath

The devastation was unbelievable. There were whole neighborhoods just leveled, debris everywhere and cars strewn like match box toys in a sand box.  If the home was still standing, there was significant damage.  There were houses with whole walls blown out and houses tilting to one side.  One of the ...

2011 SGBF Japan Missions
Contributed by: mhomma

Ichinomaki Overlook

Looking down at the destroyed Ichinomaki coastline.

2011 SGBF Japan Missions
Contributed by: mhomma

Ship washed ashore

On 11 March 2011 this town was hit by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami resulting in at least 1,024 deaths. During the tsunami, a 45 metre ship, the Chōkai Maru , was hurled over a pier and left aground in the town. At ...

2011 SGBF Japan Missions
Contributed by: mhomma

Mitch Homma and Pastor Steve Ito

Suiting up for a house clean up in Higashi Matsushima.   Our team along with about 60 other volunteers cleaned up a few blocks on this day.   We pulled up the floors and cleaned out the tsunami mud underneath the house and cleaned up all the debris in the yard.   The ...

2011 SGBF Japan Missions
Contributed by: mhomma

First week's Mission team

Mitch Homma (USA), Kenjiro Goto (Japan), Nobuyoshi Goto (Japan), Maki Goto (Japan), Doug Ito (USA), Pastor Steve Ito (USA).  

At the end of the day, we tried to help a family locate their life-savings amongest all the debris.   Many families in Japan still do not use banks.

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Basement cleanup

Draining thick black sludge from a basement with dustpans and buckets, the only tools available.   I knew I should have brought my kayak pump, but didn't have room with all the rest of the safety gear.

The homeowners were so grateful.   Such an honor to have the opportunity to serve.

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Break time

The homeowners served us hot coffee on our break.  All the people we met were so gracious.

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Lunch

Breakfast was usually Cheerios or a peanut butter sandwich.   Lunch and dinner was cold canned fish with cold vaccum packed rice, peanut butter sandwiches, or a few pasta dinners.

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House mud clean up

Being under a house during an aftershock is very humbling.  May 2011 Higashi Matsushima, Miyagi-ken Japan

Higashi Matsushima, Miyagi-ken Japan
Contributed by: mhomma

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Shichigahama Relief Center

The Shichigahama Soccer Stadium was converted in to a relief center.   The food / concession area was converted to the photo and document clean up area.  Volunteers delivered photos and documents here when found in the debris fields.   The tsunami survivors said that searching for the family photos and documents ...

Shichigahama Soccer Stadium Tsunami Relief Center
Contributed by: mhomma

Cleaning photos at Shichigahama Soccer Stadium Relief Center

We had 16 people show up from the Shiogama church as volunteers today. The team was split up in to three groups. One group helped set up the rescue clothing from donations, our team was assigned to clean photos, and the third team drew the back breaking assignment of repairing ...

Shichigahama Soccer Stadium Photo Cleaning
Contributed by: mhomma

Drying cleaned photos

Several tsunami survivors told us how important this task was.   For many, it was trying to recover part of their family past and memories.

Shichigahama Soccer Stadium Photo Cleaning
Contributed by: mhomma

Mitch in East Matsushima, Miyagi-ken

Sometime you just had to take a break and let God fill your heart with strength.

Higashi Matsushima, Miyagi-ken
Contributed by: mhomma

Working with other volunteer groups

Richard Nakamura, SEND missionary, with StoneGate Bible Fellowship members in Higashi Mastsushima.   We cleaned up a house this morning.

L to R:  Richard Nakamura, Doug Ito, Pastor Steve Ito, Mitch Homma

L to R: Richard Nakamura, Doug Ito, Pastor Steve Ito, Mitch Homma
Contributed by: mhomma

Shiogama coastline

After leaving the work sight, we toured the Shiogama coastline (see photo section). I thought that it was worse than what we had seen before. Previously, there were a few damaged buildings left and some people toughing it out. There was nothing left in the sections that the tsunami touched. ...

Shiogama coastline in Miyagi-ken, Japan
Contributed by: mhomma

Comfy sleeping

Slept on the floor of the church multipurpose room. I slept well and was comfy, but I was the only one who brought a ground pad.   Sleeping wasn't a problem after a day in the field.

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Shiogama Bible Baptist Church

Relief supplies at the church.   The Church hosted us for the rest of our Mission trip.  We slept downstairs in the multi-purpose room.

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KGK college volunteers

Japan Intervarsity college students volunteers a week of their time to help.   Amazing people.

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Shiogama Bible Baptist Church volunteer center

Working with Food for the Hungry volunteers.   Volunteer team from the USA, Japan, and Korea.  May 2011, Shiogama Bible Baptist Church, Miyagi-ken, Japan.  The earthquake damaged the existing building.

Shiogama Bible Baptist Church volunteer center
Contributed by: mhomma

StoneGate members with Japan volunteers

Volunteers from all over Japan came to serve.  May 2011, Shiogama, Miyagi-ken, Japan

Japan Tsunami Relief volunteers
Contributed by: mhomma

Mitch with his Sendai relatives

I was able to visit with my Sendai relatives on the very last afternoon, before heading back to Tokyo.   I was so happy to see them and know that they were OK.   We were treated to one of the most incredible lunches ever.

Wada Sendai relatives
Contributed by: mhomma

Album Type

online exhibition

mhomma — Last modified Feb 25 2013 5:33 p.m.


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