After several pleasant days with our family in Japan, including reading to our grandchildren, attending a sports day for one of them and a bicycling trip to the park, we drove up in Larry Spalink's car to pick up the first 2 volunteers to arrive, and took them to a youth hostel, which was constructed in the old Samurai style with huge dark stained beams in the ceiling and beautifully landscaped gardens. After a traditional fish breakfast, the other guests gathered around us to talk with us and seemed to appreciate our coming to show our love for the Japanese people by volunteer work.
It took some doing to find our way around, because road signs tend to leave something to be desired, starting out with a route number, but not telling you which way to go when you come to a fork, but this led to a lot of laughs and bonding within the group. When we drove through the tsunami devastated area, it was heart rending, with whole communities of empty water-soaked houses, homes that are broken in half, boats in the middle of fields, overturned cars, and piles of debris.
On Tuesday, we began our volunteer work, organized by a local Reformed church, with volunteers from all over Japan, Korea and America, divided into work teams in various sites. It started with the church helping a member who lived in the area, and then seeing that there were countless other people needing help. We were sent to a house to weed and clean up the yard and tear out the wall boarding, which was ruined up to the first floor ceiling by water, and board up the broken out windows. Lorraine and I did weeding all day. As I find it hard to bend over, I spent the day sitting on my rump, which made it an easy day for me. Lorraine could bend over to do her work, so she didn't end up with a brown seat of the pants. Our son had severely warned us not to work too hard, so our fellow volunteers took special care not to arouse his wrath.
It is a joy to be helping in a small way these people we have loved so long.
Written by Arnold Slavson, Team Member for Japan Team 2