Bert – Day 2

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After a rough night of sleep, we got up and washed. I remember the Port-a –Potty incident, it was cramped and difficult to maneuver in the small room. It just amazes me how the locals can use it without making a mess! I, unfortunately, was banging against the walls trying to maneuver in position.

We later took a walk around the site and found the local community garden. It was kept up neatly. I noticed potatoes plants growing in the garden. The locals subsides their food from this garden.

I have a new appreciation for farm-to-table foods

After the walk, we returned to a wonderful breakfast. We were treated with local foods such as scallops and eggs. The local people like to eat raw eggs on their rice. I could only watch and wonder what it would taste like.

After breakfast, our next task was constructing picnic tables. Mr. Yamada had sent up 2 X 4’s prior to our arrival and the camp had power tools available from prior trips. Troy was the master measurer and I was the master cutter (I remembered to measure twice and cut once!). The residents also participated in the construction so we showed the residents how to use the drill and jig saw. We made three tables that day. Milton was the master painter and he painted the table pink and brown similar to Baskin Robbin’s brand color.

The waves went right over this house!

After completing the tables, we took a ride down the hill and checked out Mr. Kumagai’s house. He and his wife are junior high school teachers from the same area. He gave us a tour of his property and shared his father’s experience of leaving their house with his grandson in hand to higher grounds. His father heard the tsunami warning and picked up his grandson. He left the house in a hurry without his shoes! The waves (locals reported at 75 feet high!) went over their two story home and devastated the surrounding area. The house, which was already perched 20 to 30 feet from sea level, was gutted and not livable. In front of their house was a fish pond with koi. After the waters subsided, the fish were located on their neighbor’s property, alive! Their neighbors live on a hill above their house. How miraculous was that!

The relief trip saddened me in the beginning, but my spirits were high after meeting and listening to the victims’ stories. The Japanese people are very resilient. They bounce back like red rubber balls. Nothing seems to keep them down. They lost everything but they were willing to share their scarce resources with us. The residents appreciated the time we spent with them and want people to hear their stories. It was a very humbling experience for me. The picnic tables were a nice gesture. Overall, I would say time is the most valuable commodity to them due to their uncertainties in the future.

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