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The Japanese Tsunami Destruction at First Hand

Sarah and Tom Wadsworth graduated from the Tourism Management course at Leeds Metropolitan University in 2006. They spent time travelling abroad and then settled in Japan - see their entries on the Alumni Page of this web site.

Tom obtained a job with a Japanese company in marketing while Sarah became a teacher of English. When the earthquakes and tsunami devastated parts of north east Japan earlier this year they helped channel help to the area through their church in Japan.

Sarah has sent this account of a visit to Sendai in the damaged area. As she points out it is only possible to really appreciate the situation by going to see for yourself - TV images, newspaper reports and even classroom lectures cannot prepare you for the experience.


Image: Tsunami 01

Image: Tsunami 02

On Sunday 10th March 2011 my husband Tom and I went with our Japanese church to visit another church called Seaside Bible Chapel in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture. Our church had been invited to lead the service on that Sunday morning. This church had been washed away by the tsunami that had hit just one month previously. Nothing, not even the media images on the news, could have prepared us for what we saw when we arrived in Sendai.

Driving into the city there were huge cracks in the road caused by the earthquake, some had been repaired but others hadn’t. As we headed out of the city towards the coast we were let into a secured area by military guards because this was where the church had been situated. As we drove down the road I was stunned and speechless. The devastation that was before us was indescribable. All that was left were foundations of houses, people’s washed up belongings and dust. The landscape was flat.

We met the members of the Sendai church who showed us where the church had once stood and we had a service next to a cross they had erected in its place. Our pastor delivered a message of hope, peace and restoration, something these people were lacking. We couldn’t make a huge difference for those few hours that we were there but we hoped by just standing with these people and showing how much we cared had some sort of positive impact on them. We were able to give the pastor of the Sendai church the donations that had been sent via our church in England. We explained that people around the world were thinking of them and supporting them through this tragic time.

Our church hope to make more trips in the future and we are still collecting donations from the U.K. Please keep Japan in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Sarah Wadsworth

Image: Tsunami 03

I asked Sarah how her languages students were reacting to the tragedy. She replied:

"The younger ones don't really understand but when an aftershock happens they look very scared and sit under the table! My adult students think it's just awful and feel quite helpless. Many of the children from Fukushima have joined a school in the area where we live and the government are paying for the families to live in a hotel. Families from the affected areas have been sent all over Japan until something more permanent has been put in place, so most are living in hotels or temporary accommodation. At the moment the blackouts have stopped because the temperature is neither hot nor cold so people don't need to use heating or air conditioning, but the government is worried when the weather becomes hotter that they will have to start the black outs again to try and conserve energy.

I will keep you updated on the situation and when we plan to go on our next visit to Sendai".

Image: Tsunami 04

Image: Tsunami 05

Image: Tsunami 06

Image: Tsunami 07

Image: Tsunami 08

Image: Tsunami 09

Image: Tsunami 10

To donate to Sarah and Tom's Church Appeal and to see further reports, click here


[Many thanks to Sarah and Tom for sending their photos and account of the tragedy - 12 April 2011]



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