A Report From the Tsunami Devastated Region of Japan

Reidun Harjo is my cousin. She and her husband Kjell and their children were missionaries to Japan for well over 20 years, and Reidun still has contact with people over there. Kjell was killed in a car accident several years ago, but we still see Reidun almost yearly.

We first met the Harjos in the 1990s when they spent time with us on their way back to Japan. Kjell preached in our church there and we quickly grew fond of them.

Here’s Reidun’s report


Dear everyone ,
I left Seattle for Japan September 30 with Hawaiian Airline .
My flight from Seattle was delayed over two hours due to a scratch on the airplane . This had to be inspected by the experts .
We were scheduled to leave at 8:45 am.
Now we had to wait a couple of hours for people to wake up in Honolulu ,because they had to ask the experts over there for advice , finally people in Seattle checked out the plane.
All this made me miss my plane from Honolulu to Japan.
I was beginning to look forward to an overnight stay there
To my amazement Hawaiian Airline held the airplane to Japan for me for over an hour, . I came trotting into that airplane like some VIP.
I have to use wheel chair service at the airports .
Hawaiian Airline is the friendliest and best service I have ever encountered .
I arrived Safely in Sendai  , a city north of Tokyo on time
Here I am staying with my friend Teddy Sawka , she and her husband Ron have been our friends out here since 1976.
We all came out as young missionary families , we met at the Japanese language school .
Here in Northern Japan the biggest shock and greatest sorrow is to see all the remnants left from the Tsunami 3 years ago .
Miles and miles of coast line now empty fields with empty foundations where once houses stood and all the trees gone too.
Over 200 000 are still homeless ,
My friend Teddy has a wonderful ministry going amongst the ladies called :Yarn alive”
She is teaching them not to look at their own losses because that makes them loose all hope .
She is teaching them to focus on the needs of others and to help them
They knit baby blankets for the new born at hospitals  , blankets for the elderly , They have sent a huge load of blankets to the refugees in  Syria and Jordan .
Knitting for others gives them purpose for living ,and much joy .Yarn is being donated from all over Japan now
She is in the process of raising funds for a_ warehouse with classrooms to hold all the yarn,
This weekend I went up North to Miyako city, Iwate  Prefecture , where we helped plant a church 37 years ago .
We came up there to plant a church from scratch , no other missionaries there , not knowing a_ soul there .
We were so lovingly welcomed home by the pastor and his wife .I had not been up there for 19 years now , a heart warming reunion ,I felt right at home again .
Teddy and I had to park the car a b!block away from the church.
As I came out on the sidewalk to walk up to church I see two ladies waving outside  the church .
The one lady began running down the street arms outstretched until she reached me  She fell about my.neck and wept loudly , for joy of seeing me again and with sorrow over the loss of pastor Harjo .
The other lady. Came running close after  , we stood there all three of us weeping loudly and hugging.
It was a heavenly reunion , what a day that will be when we all will meet again in heaven.with all our loved ones there .
These two ladies are our two first church members .
The now pastor wife at the church follows a close third.
I got to share in the Sunday morning service in Japanese for the first time in 15 years since I have been back to Japan.
With the Japanese Bible in hand I found the words and expressions of my heart to share with them.
This visit back to my home church in Japan was simply heaven!y, dear and precious .
During the tsunami 500 people in Miyako perished .
The small neighboring town of Taro was simply drowned and is no more .
2000 people were left homeless, some have received new homes by now  , still1500 remain homeless in temporary housing .
Pastor Iwatsuka of our church visits the people daily , he is doing an amazing job among them
It is a huge and demanding and ongoing. Ministry .
I have many more stories to tell,but my fingers get tired from writing
The experiences and impressions after only one week out here is overwhelming
I am home .
Love you all.


One response to “A Report From the Tsunami Devastated Region of Japan

  1. Reblogged this on A Yearning for Publius and commented:

    Another report from Reidun … same place, the tsunami devastated region of Northern Japan

    Subject: sunset in Takayama, Shichigahama, Japan
    Date: Wed, 8 Oct 2014 02:06:17 -0700
    Beautiful sunset now at 6 pm . is so beautiful, 1 am in Seattle, You are heading in to our Wednesday , we are just closing it out.
    A beautiful day.
    I went with Teddy and her daughter -in -law , Tina, to a knitting class at the temporary housing .
    In spite of it all they are cheerful , chatty and funny/
    They are an inspiration to us all.
    I have taken pictures of the empty fields where the houses once stood before the tsunami.
    Looking at Tina’s pictures right after the tsunami , the destruction is terrible , just like we saw on TV.
    I am feeling overwhelmed by what I see, even though things are cleaned up now, yet empty.
    Franklin Graham is the president of Samaritan purse.
    Sp is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world since 1970.
    Sp sent sent an initial response team to Japan with a 747 with 93 tons of relief supplies to Sendai, Miyagi preficture,
    They set up operating centers here in Shitigahama , Kesennuma, and Ishinomaki.
    They needed housing for the relief workers.
    The summer homes here on top of the hill became that housing , as there were no hotels , nor housing to be found at that time.
    Teddy became the land lord here at Takayama in charge of housing the workers, Tina became a contact person and camp manager and also their official photographer , she was then first one to take pictures of Sendai’s totally destroyed airport.
    A 747 filled with 93 tons of relief items from the US, from SP who partnered with the U S airforce , unloaded the 747 at Yokota Airforce base on March 19, 2011.
    Meanwhile through much hard work and the help of the US , the airport in Sendai had opened again, , US c17 military aircrafts ferried the relief items to Sendai.
    The Sp volunteers that came helped mud out houses, and helped in all that horrible cleanup that had to be done, and later on helped with new constructions,
    Pete and Tina Sawka put togehter the final Samaritan Purse report for japan, 2011-2012, with pictures and design , a farewell banquet was held in 2012.
    I am gleaning my information from this report and also from daily conversations with Teddy and Tina Sawaka.
    Sp left a nice van for Teddy to use in her now ministry to the temporary housing people, her ministry is call ” Yarn alive japan,
    People from all over Japan is donating yarn , three boxes daily arrive by UPS,
    Her sister’s house next door is filled to the ceiling with yarn , from room to room,
    Teddy is now in the process of building a warehouse with class rooms, Just last night the city OK. her permit.
    She has an architect and carpenter , the wood is even cut for the building, now she simply needs the funding to put it all together, 300 000$ is needed.
    Teddy is drowning in yarn, her ministry is a community project.
    the ladies are knitting things for needy people,
    A shipment has already gone out once to the refugees in Syria and Jordan,
    A new shipment is going out now in the end of this month, via England .
    The people who themselves have lost it all , now want to bless others who likewise have lost everything ,
    By focusing on other needy people, they no longer look at their own pain and loss,
    Helping others give them great joy .
    It was a tremendous joy for me to meet these joyful ladies today ,
    to comfort others with the comfort we ourselves are comforted with .
    On the wall in the room today was a Japanese picture, I Japanese writing. : together we live, tomo ni ikiru .
    I am sorry I am not able to attach any pictures to this letter. I somehow do not have the right wire from my I pad to connect to my laptop .

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