Cars crushed like aluminum cans, metal poles twisted like licorice, fishing vessels sitting on dry land, houses with walls torn away. It looked as if a sea monster had taken swipes at everything in its path. And it was a monster, in the form of a tsunami that devastated Japan's northern coast March 11.
Months after a tsunami and earthquake wiped out communities, much of the landscape remains the same. Although roads have been cleared and utilities put back in order, cleaning up and disposing of the debris remains a challenge.
Immediately after the disaster, the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church led the country's four Lutheran denominations in forming Japan Lutheran Emergency Relief (JLER). Together they collected or purchased food and household supplies, hired trucks and began distributing these materials to communities. Funds from the ELCA and other overseas partners helped get this started.
Japan's Lutherans are now beginning long-term efforts. This includes identifying communities and partners with whom to work, establishing parameters for psychosocial care, and understanding the scope by which they will reach into neighborhoods.
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© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers