Some of the stories of survival that we’ve been hearing out of Japan have been quite remarkable: a mother floating on a tire for 12 hours with her children; a grandmother and granddaughter running up a hill in flight from the approaching roar; and a family whose only food for days was whatever floated by their home.

The first several weeks saw many of our co-workers setting up base camps for future volunteer activities, gathering information and identifying the needs of the moment, and providing relief wherever they could.

As the weeks wear on, they’ve been having the opportunity to identify areas which are perhaps being largely missed by other relief efforts, and try to ensure that no one is forgotten in the midst of the overwhelming devastation. For instance, for people not living in evacuation centres the government provides only rice balls, a piece of bread, and water every day. Asian Access and several other organizations have partnered with a Christian relief agency, called CRASH, which has helped to provide fruits and vegetables, instant meals, canned meat and fish, hygiene supplies, flashlights, batteries, rain boots, and more to the various people in need, including those not currently living in evacuation centres.

Given the Japanese sensitivity to cleanliness, we can’t imagine what torture it must be for some to be able to clean themselves with only wet wipes for more than a month.

Many of our co-workers have been visiting the affected area regularly, and simply volunteering to do whatever odd jobs people need at the moment. In some cases, this takes the form of simple tasks, like donning rain boots and helping people salvage some of their belongings from the mud and debris left by the tsunami.

We know that relief efforts will be needed for a long time to come, but we can see new buds of fruit developing: relationships being built at a faster rate than was culturally possible in previous days; and we know that God’s hand is at work in ways that we still can’t even dream of at the moment. Thank goodness that His thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).

(Picture source)