Thank You Ceremonies
So we went to the last of the thank you ceremonies (we think). This past week we went to Omotehama, Tobu and Ogatsu (for those of you who are keeping track!). On Thursday we went to Omotehama about an hour away. The ceremony was outside of a building where the fishermen's coop have their offices:
The bottom floor of the building was completely wiped out by the tsunami (totally gone) but somehow they are using the second floor as office space! The Church has the vision that they want to help the fishermen (the main livelihood on the coast cities) to get back to making a living. So here they were able to donate many things, among them: storage sheds, a buoy light, trucks, forklifts, rope, air conditioning units, and computers. It is always amazing to see how much they need these things. Then it was on to Tobu only 10 minutes away. These are some of the things donated at Tobu:
It is wakame (remember the seaweed stalk?) equipment. There were wakame washers, dryers, and presses. Wakame seems to follow us wherever we go! Anyway, the interesting story here was that the royalty in Tokyo will only order wakame from Tobu because it is supposedly the best wakame in Japan--who knew?! The Church also donated three large warehouse buildings to this area and the fishermen were very grateful. They just recently got their power restored (after a year!) and so they are very anxious to get back to work. Apparently the wakame equipment is quite expensive and their old equipment was wiped out by the tsunami.
On Friday it was on to Ogatsu. I was not prepared for this. Ogatsu is a bay that is triangle in shape. The base of the triangle would be where the bay begins, next to the ocean. Then as you go in further the bay goes to almost nothing (the top of the triangle). I think most of the homes and people were closer to the top point. Anyway, when the tsunami hit, it began at the widest point but as the bay narrowed, the water force became stronger and higher due to the narrowing on the bay. When it finally got to the end it was with such power and the water was up to 60 feet high. EVERYTHING was destroyed We saw about five building shells that were still standing (the large concrete ones). The rest was just four-inch footings and foundations of buildings which were gone. These are some of the only buildings we saw:
PLUS that is not just a blurry picture (above) but it was raining. A lot. And since there were no buildings we held the thank you ceremony outside under umbrellas. The fishermen:
And the Church leaders being thanked:
It just seemed kind of fitting in a place with nothing. We also heard that Japan has not yet decided what to do with Ogatsu, whether to help them or not because there is nothing to begin with. But apparently the Church is still keeping an eye on the fishing industry hoping at least that the industry survives. The lady above in the blue dress was the representative of the fishermen who conducted the ceremony. This was the side of her car which says it all:
On Saturday we went with some members of the branch to do some service. We ended up in Omotehama! And Calvin ended up cutting the rope that the Church had donated to use in harvesting wakame!:
We actually met up with a Young Single Adult group from Tokyo who had come on a bus (around 65 of them). Other activities included making soup for those in the temporary housing units:
And, of course, the ever-popular: BINGO!
It was an eventful and fun day--and perfect weather. I guess I need to add this comment: Some things are the same no matter where you are. Just before we left to go home I was thinking, "Now in America, we wouldn't just go home; we would stop for ice cream. But too bad, we are in Japan." As we pulled out of the parking lot, Sister Usui, our driver said, "Let's go get some ice cream!" So we went to the nearest combini (convenience store) right around the corner and treated ourselves to ice cream! Yum!
Saturday night the Relief Society sisters met at the Church to sew curtain room dividers for those in the temporary housing units. It is a project that the stake asked us to do. Sewing seems to follow me around I must admit. For those of you who don't know, I worked in a drapery workroom and have done a ton of sewing in my lifetime. So far we have done three drapery-curtain projects at Church and also a bunch of other things I have been working on since the sisters want some projects to work on. Here we are at the Church:
Things happen for a reason story: About two years ago I made a bunch of small make-up type bags with zippers for pretty much everyone I knew. I put little toiletries in them and other things and gave them away as Christmas gifts. Calvin happened to bring his to Japan so I decided to make one up using his as a pattern. I was thinking they would make good presents for the people in the temporary housing units. Plus our Church has three large boxes of fabric that are perfect for this project. Plus a ton of zippers! WELL, this week our mission president's wife just HAPPENED to email me and ask if I would HAPPEN to have a use for some toiletry items she had saved from hotels when they traveled! It was a humbling experience to know that these were just what I needed to fill my bags. When we went to pick them up at the mission home this week there were three LARGE bags of combs, washcloths, toothbrushes, razors, etc.! Who would have guessed that two years ago I was being prepared for this mission!
The wakame season is about over or so we are told. But yesterday some of the young single adults were asked to help with the wakame so they did and they brought some back and gave it to us. Here is Calvin with the perks of the day: wakame and a new hat from the fishing coop!
And me at home washing the extremely slimey wakame. I have been looking up recipes for wakame salad on the internet!
And Finally . . .
For those of you who complain that there are never any pictures of me on the blog: