Two views inside an evacuation shelter – can you believe this is in one of the richest nations on the planet? Temporary housing is being built as we speak, but for the time being, many are living in shelters like this across northern Japan.

I am so glad we had those three and a half weeks working with kids in Tome-shi and Utatsu, but I miss the kids terribly, just terribly. Leaving them behind almost killed me. My heart is deeply burdened for the folks up there who have survived the deadly tsunami. Many have lost loved ones, thousands are unemployed, displaced, and homeless, and on top of that, many are suffering from deep depression, mental disorders, and Post-Traumatic stress. To put things in perspective, here is a video of tsunami hitting Minami-sanriku. It is one of the most graphic, terrifying videos I’ve seen so far. Near the end, you can actually see people fleeing for their lives. Can you imagine living through this?

My former host mom shared that her mother fled her home (near Ishinomaki) to a nearby mountain. As she was running, she heard a child screaming, “Help me! help me!” but was unable to save that child. She still cannot sleep because she hears that little child calling for help as she closes her eyes. As she stood on top of the mountain, she saw her own house and car being swept away, swirling around in a circle like a toy boat in a whirlpool. Can you imagine seeing your own house vanish before your eyes?

This whole disaster has prompted me to think really hard about my faith. I cannot say my faith in God is “shaken” or that I doubt His existence or anything like that. However, when I saw the disaster area and realized how many tens of thousands of people died there, the reality of evil and suffering has really hit me harder than anything in my life thus far. I’m asking honest questions about God, faith, evil and suffering. Where does evil come from? God allows evil and suffering to continue…but why? How does the evil and suffering in the world align with the idea of a loving, merciful God? Why would a loving God allow suffering from natural disasters or diseases? In the face of evil and suffering, how are we supposed to respond? To be honest, the person who has helped me most is Tim Keller, a pastor in New York City. I am glad for his honest, down-to-earth, and way of communicating the Bible to post-modern people. I am going to be listening to a lot of his talks on suffering and evil in the coming months, that’s for sure.

Here’s a short video with Tim Keller that I like entitled, “What Do I Say to a Suffering Friend?”:

Anyway, as I promised, here are a few more photos:

One of our small jobs was translating letters from children around the world. This was a typical one (from the UK):

Some were cute (sorry about the “soonarmy”):

Others were a bit too dramatic:

“…the memories of the horrors will take many years to be forgotten from people’s minds…it is horrifying…”

“Isn’t that just horrifying?” (translated 怖かったね。)Needless to say, we never showed this one to the kids.

“Hello kids from Japan!” was a common start to letters.

I have got to get to bed, but I’ll write more tomorrow. Here’s one of my favorite photos of all: