Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Where the Rubber Hits the Road

Besides the feeling to call the airlines this morning, there was one other impression that entered my mind.  It was the fact that besides physical preparation, I'm going to need to do some very serious emotional preparing for this trip.

In speaking with the gentleman in Tokyo the other day, he asked where I had served.  I was in Aomori, Yamagata and Sendai.  Here is a map to help you visualize these locations:


I also shared that I spent quite a bit of time in my last number of weeks teaching in Natori.  It's not on this map, but it's on the coast near Sendai.  We would ride our bikes out or catch a train a few times a week.  We spent some of our time with these two young ladies:


When I mentioned Natori, he said, "Oh.  Natori was nearly completely destroyed by the tsunami."  How does one wrap her brain around something like that?

I know I haven't a clue what lies ahead, but I have a willing heart, mind and body, so we'll see how this goes.

The other eye-opener was a list of supplies I am directed to bring.  I thought you might find this interesting.  It is the following:

  • Food (grab and go)
  • Change of clothes
  • Work clothes (wading boots are invaluable)
  • Towel
  • Sleepwear
  • Thick rubber gloves
  • Masks
  • Tall rubber boots (safety boots are desirable)
  • Raingear
  • Helmet (if possible)
The Sendai area is very warm, no...HOT and humid (wait, let me get this right for you HUMID) this time of year.  I am expecting a smell I've never experienced before.  They say we must wear masks because some people have contracted pneumonia by not having them.  Masks, I have.  Check that one off the list.  We can also check off change of clothes, towel and sleepwear.  I can get food to take, and I don't know if I have the right idea of what they mean by work clothes, so if you have any experience with this, please share.  I'm just assuming junky jeans and a junky shirt.

So, I have a week to build up my supplies.  Any good ideas on where one could find such things at a minimal cost?  I really would love any input you might have.

And so we reach the next step in preparation....

8 comments:

vaxhacker said...

We have rubber boots (what size?) and a helmet (2, actually). We have a breathing mask apparatus (looks like a gas mask) if you want something that heavy-duty.

How thick do the gloves need to be?

vaxhacker said...

Oh, and we have waterproof rubber bags (we got for our eldest for the kayak high adventure trip) if you need something like that to pack things in.

djredundant said...

Is there any way I can talk you out of making this trip? I know you've lived there, and I know that your heart bleeds for the tragic circumstances that these people are going through, but you might end up causing more grief and inconvenience than actually helping.

Unless your Japanese is perfect (and I mean working-in-a-Japanese-office-with-no-English perfect), and unless you can provide some serious muscle/resources/opportunities, then you're going to cause people to work around your middling linguistics, lack of resources, and overall gaijin-ness.

I've had friends make day trips up from Tokyo to try and help, but all they ended up doing was shoveling mud out of houses and putting foodstuffs in plastic bags. There's enough labor for that, and that labor is self-sustaining.

Please ask yourself a tough question: are you going for them, or for yourself? Wouldn't your airfare money be better utilized by simply donating to the Japan Red Cross? They have the resources in place, the people, the logistics, and the management skills.

If you're going out of some emotional sense to reconnect to Japan, I might suggest you're better off going to another part of Japan, and spending lots of cash.

Respectfully,
Dave Jenkins

Julie said...

Oh Dave, you're gonna love the newest post.

Jef said...

Julie,

Don't listen to Dave.

I think that you'll be able to help exactly the amount that is needed. I know that the Lord will bless your language skills to the point where you'll be understood, you'll understand and when you need it the Spirit will be there to guide.

I disagree that there is no need, except for the little things, I disagree that you won't be able to contribute muscle. And I disagree that simply heading to another part of Japan and spending money would be beneficial to the Japanese people you know and love.

Respectfully, I think Dave doesn't know what it means to serve for 1.5-2 years of your life in a region of the world you had no experience with before. Respectfully, I think that Dave has no clue what type of language skills you had/still have. Respectfully, I think Dave is full of #7's diapers.

Jef

P.S. I would check your local thrift stores for work clothes. Better to have thick work pants that you can wear every day that you're working than just jeans. Carharts or Dickies make some excellent work pants that should hold up to the wear and tear of what you'll be doing.

I would think that leather gloves would be good, but because they are asking you to bring rubber gloves you should go to a industrial supply store and get some heavy duty gloves that won't rip while you're working. Make sure you get some that fit, so they don't cause problems as you wear them. Take mole skin so you'll combat blisters before they become a problem. I would hit DaiEi or some other big supermarket before you reach the work area, rather than taking food with you from America.
In reading your list, it reads like the "day-trip" list. I think that you'll need to modify it to your tasks. When they say helmet, from the pictures I've seen of relief work, they are talking hard hat, not bicycle helmet, and with a chin strap if available. Once again industrial supply store.

Long sleeve shirts, and I already addressed the pants issue.

I love the fact that you're doing this, and I wish I was at a point in my life that I could go with you. I wouldn't sell a cookbook but maybe a fine art photography book would do well. Unfortunately, I'm not so I'll have to live vicariously through you and #1 if she goes.

God Speed.

Grace said...

Julie, i read what Dave wrote and what he wrote with his head may make sense to many but you have to follow your heart and the things that have come to you since this oppurtunity first arose.

When my oldest daughter decided to go on a mission she said to me "Mom, in my head it doesn't make sense, but in my heart it is what I need to do"

Go Julie, and give it all your heart! It will all work out and you and #1 will be an instrument in the hands of the Lord.

hugs:)

Julie Hess said...

Hi Julie,

I've been following what you're doing on facebook and I want to wish you so many blessings in your work. Reading your blog and seeing how much you hear God's voice in your life - and give into it - is truly inspiring. I think your idea to take your daughter is amazing and it is so clear how much she will and (I'm sure) has learned from your desire to give of yourself.

I wanted to respond to this post, because I just returned from Earthquake relief work in Chile (the 2010 Earthquake). I was honestly incredibly skeptical before making this trip and we did experience some resistance to help, especially American help. However, when God calls us to a task, he never lets us fail. By the end of the trip the community actually HELPED us build- they were incredibly receptive and grateful. Even though I didn't know Spanish, kids were eager to get to know me and I was able to teach them some English. We formed an amazing bond, even with the language barrier. This trip was lifechanging for me and it truly seemed the same for them.

I just wanted to give you a random note of encouragement. It is so clear God has made your purose in this clear to you. And you should be so proud for listening to that voice in your head- so many people ignore it. Just go and show love and I'm sure it will mean the world to everyone you meet.

Praying for you!

Another Julie Hess

vaxhacker said...

Oh, no, the Julie Hesses are multiplying!

And I understand, I think, what Dave's getting at. "welfare service tourism" can be a problem, but I have a lot more confidence in you personally, in your sense of "calling" for why you're moved to go, and your abilities with both the language and willingness to do hard work, that I don't think you're going to be that kind of "drive-by tourist helper" who gets in the way. I think you're doing something worthwhile. My only caution, as you already know, is to emotionally steel yourself for what you're going to walk into over there. And please watch for your personal safety in a chaotic area far away from your homeland.

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