Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rest: semicolon.

Starting from tomorrow, I will take a 10 days break from the earthquake tsunami area.  Going to Osaka, kyoto and tokyo to visit friends and have some quiet time with myself and God.
After 3 weeks of relief work, it is time to rest, redeem some lost thoughts and reflect.

Just found out one of our dance teachers has lost her son in the tsunami.  It was a shock to us all, who were so oblivious of the deep sorrow that our beloved mama has been enduring all these time.  At a loss of words and thoughts, I don't know what to think or what should I think.  I will let this thought settle abit before I share more.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Marks of Life

I have been washing dishes, dishes and dishes in the past couple of days.  And some cats' paws as well (there are 3 super cute kittens inside the house and running around with dirty paws on the wet wooden floor we just wiped clean. Bad kitty, Bad!)  Those dishes are recovered from a tsunami damaged house to a second house that the owner has.

At the end of the day, my finger tips chapped badly.  And it wasn't part of my gear to include hand cream (for some odd reasons I have such a hard time finding normal cream in japan O_O).  Even after I put on cream twice, my hands still feels like sandpaper.  All of a sudden I realized, this is one of the marks that my hospital job has carved on me.  We washed our hands so often in hospital with anti-bacterial soaps and alcohol foam, after all these years my hands ceased to produce any oil such as normal skin would.  As far away from my job as I am now, there are things in life that will make a mark in you, and follow you no matter where you go, reminding you life once lived.
Such as chappy hands, such as death.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Top Chef dinner and breakfast@Ofunato

Today is our rest day and I just had a breakfast prepared by a former Top Chef (a tv food show) Frank Terzoli. And dinner last nite too!! benefit of volunteering haha XD
really appreciate that he came all the way from tokyo to Ofunato to cook for us.

Yummy yum dinner!

Chef in action

yummy appetizer

Red Carpet Screening: Yum in Yukata!

Sakamoto Teacher who teaches us Japanese traditional dance.

Before our performance on Senior's Day for 240+ people.

For more pictures:

Japanese Traditional Dance

Photo backup: Mr Asano

The damaged building

Mr Asano

For more Photos at Mr Asano's, click here

Mr Asano's

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An Old Man's Tears

Today's work is salvaging Mr Asano's old storage house before it gets torn down due to the damages from the earthquake. It was a dirty and mouldy job! That storage house contains family artifect and all kinds of living utility that Mr Asano has inherited. He hasn't moved it for years and many things he only saw it for the first time! O_O Browsing through dust and sweat, it was like going through a japanese family history. Mr Asano at times told us story about certain things, like the gigantic barrel used to make miso. There was STILL miso in there. Yes, you've read it right. After 60+ years. The miso looks like brown jelly, or the turtle jelly if you are chinese. Goosebumps are growing as I thought of it. There is also old fashion sewing machine, beautiful kimono belts, Mr Asano's high school uniform, japanese traditional wooden chest and cupboard filled with personal artifects, china dishes and cups, japanese trad small eating table, grandpa's 乓amboo reclining chair...... it's more than I can fill the page. Even included a samurai armor set, with Mr Asano's grandpa's name on the box. When I was handed the armor, I wonder where has it gone to war for.

During break time, Mr Asano told me about his 25+ years friend, Takashi, who was a carpenter. Takashi was the one who built the house that we were clearing out today. He also helped Mr Asano to fix his house, store, and storage house in previous earthquakes. Just that this time, Takashi won't be here to help anymore. He escaped the tsunami when it hit, but went back for his dog even though his wife pleaded with him not to. This time, the wave took him. Mr Asano's eyes were misted with tears as he stared into space, and wiped his eyes when the silence fell. He quietly said that if Takashi is still alive, perhaps he can fix this house.
You must be sad and lonely, I said.
He nodded and said, yes, sad and lonely. And wiped more tears away.
My heart breaks as I listened to his story. There must be many stories like Mr Asano's in the area. How I wish I can listen to all of them, and wish they know that there are people who care to come.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Day1: Their Photo Albums

I was planning to start the volunteering with some majorly hardcore physical labor, but signed up for photo team accidentally. at the end of the day, I am actually glad that I have taken this job, and decide to clean more photos for one week. Our main job is to clean photos that relief workers or volunteers have picked up when they are cleaning up the debris. Because the photos were soaked in sea water and often have mud on them, we gently remove them from the album, or whatever left of it, and wash with in water to prevent bacteria growth in future.

As our bus passed by the area close to the ocean, there are mountains of debris. Although I know in my head that these are Fremains of houses, buildings, I just couldn't register and sink in the idea that this construction site-like place was once a community, once a place full of life and people living here. I think it will take some time before it can sink in.

The photos were so fragile, but contain so much memories and lives once lived. Baby naked after bath, high school graduation trip, wedding... one of all photo sets that caught me the most was a picture of a middle school class reunion, grandmas and grandpas stood neatly in rolls with their beloved teachers, just the same as if they had once taken the class photo in their old days in middle school. They were laughing and cheering in the photos, their teacher giving them a speech on the stage... as I washed the mud off the photo surface, I can't help but to think if the owner of this photo is alive to ever see this precious memory again.

I have to say, it is not job for everyone. Emotional aspect for one, and some people are simply more the action-type. I am not really the delicate type that handles fragile things very well usually, but this I just have to do. Playback theater honors stories of life through playing them out on the stage. This photo cleaning honors stories of life through gently gliding the fragile damaged photo through the water, brushing residual mud that stained the surface and restoring the memory as much as we can. One girl and a guy came back, taking 2 full boxes of cleaned photo album back to where they live and let ppl check through them to see if their photo are there. Wynne asked us to remember their faces, because they have come from time to time to ask if we have found their pictures. The girl's house was entirely gone, so has her previous life. I pray that she will find hers one day.

For more photos of Day1, click
Ofunato tsunami relief work


***Post From yesterday***
Arrived safely after some treacherous ways, I finally arrived at Ofunato, Iwate!!!!
In the room full of beddings on the floor, this will be my little sleeping spot for the coming month(s).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Heading out!

Just a short entry to tell you that I will be on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to the earthquake relief area, in just about 4 hours. I didn't have much time around computer these couple of days, so I will update you what happened... it has been interesting ;)

I should go back to sleep for a little more.... need the strength to carry the deadly weight again thru the long long station walk!!!!!!!

keep me in prayers ;)