Ishinomaki city was among the most seriously affected by the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami which hit on 2:46pm 11 March 2011.  Located 300 miles North of Tokyo, it takes around 4 hours by train (2 transfers) to get there.

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I first heard of Grace Mission Tohoku (GMT) through Crash Japan, a Japan-wide Christian disaster relief organization (thanks to John for connecting me with Crash Japan in the first place!).  GMT’s relief, rebuilding and caring efforts in the Ishinomaki community has been both impactful and well received.  I’m so glad God brought me there for a week, meeting and partnering with all the GMT staff — Rimpei sensei, Virginia, Satoshi, Atsushi, Kathleen, Richard & Mickie…!  It was eye opening to see their dedication and faith through these tough times.  Even though we are now miles away, I know God is doing wonderful things with them there!

My journey to GMT last year began in Tokyo on the Shinkansen (bullet train):

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I remember passing through the Fukushima station – while it’s the same prefecture the nuclear reactor is located, it was far enough from the danger zone.  Even so, it’ was so easy to be lost in Japan’s natural beauty…the view was simply peaceful.  It’s hard to imagine a nuclear disaster just less than 60 miles away.

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My neighbor reading manga (comic book) to pass the time on the train ride:

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On arrival to GMT, the main project of the week was to tear down walls in a house that was damaged by the tsunami:

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As it turned out, I was fortunate to have overlapped with other volunteers…this team was from the States! yay! 🙂

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Some of our work was toxic…safety is a must!

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The tsunami blew away part of the house:

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Here is the clock in one of the abandoned houses. All the clocks in other abandoned houses have the same time.  Think about that.  That’s when the tsunami hit.

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The house no longer there.  The mailbox is the only thing left:

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A wide view looking out into the Ishonomaki Bay.  The tsunami hit here and swept away all the houses behind me.

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The trash has mostly been collected, but there are still acres of trash still needing to be processed.  This is a view from the road:

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…continued in part 2!