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Local Japan Relief Volunteers Returning Home

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, March 9, 2012

Yuri Kimura is leading the six-person mission team. Last month, before leaving for Japan, Kimura told me she didn't anticipate seeing many remnants of the disaster.

"I think there's been a lot of physical recovery of the roadways and things are cleared. That's one of the things that we'll be able to go see with our own eyes."

But reached on the phone this week in the city of Sendai, Kimura said the reality is much bleaker.  

"There's a part of me that just thought things would have progressed a little bit more. It really continues to be almost like a warzone."

Kimura and the other volunteers have spent part of their time in Japan picking up debris and taking it to a waste disposal site.

"The dump consists of just mountains…I'm thinking maybe four or five stories high…of bedding, piles of bicycles, piles of refrigerators. You drive through town and you see cars stacked in piles of three or four high."

Kimura and the rest of the team are all members of the Sacramento Japanese United Methodist Church. Earlier this year, disaster relief officials in Japan accepted their offer of help.

The team has been blogging pictures of their trip.

One of the disaster victims Kimura met still lives in temporary housing after her home was washed away by the tsunami.

"She's spending everyday folding origami - the folding paper - and making what she calls 'recovery balloons' that say 'hope.' She told me that she felt very hopeless at the beginning and she realized that she had her life - she lost everything but she had her life."  

This Sunday, Kimura and the rest of the team will share more stories of their mission during an event at the Japanese United Methodist Church on Franklin Boulevard. The event is open to the public.

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