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Tsunami damage in Ofunato Video #3

1 May, 2011 (20:33) | Uncategorized | By: Dan

Photos, or even video, cannot really convey what it is like to be in the areas hit by the giant tsunami. Rikuzentakata is frightening because of the near complete devastation – there are only a few buildings left in the lower part of the city, 70% or 80% of the city is simply gone. The tsunami hit Rikuzentakata with such force that it simply slapped most buildings into scrap wood. Ofunato is overwhelming in a different way. Instead of being knocked flat, the city was flooded and everything that floated was washed into the buildings and streets. In Ofunato, the task of cleaning up and rebuilding is overwhelming. Let’s pray for these people and for the thousands of volunteers helping to cleanup the mess.
Click on the photo to see the video of driving through Ofunato City.

Driving through Ofunato City

Driving through Ofunato City

Post-tsunami Cleanup at Ofunato Church Video #2

30 April, 2011 (20:32) | Uncategorized | By: Dan

Here is a video showing some scenes from the cleanup at Ofunato Baptist Church in Iwate Prefecture, Tohoku region, Japan. Volunteers from OMF and CRASH are helping to restore this church as a place of worship. Like many churches in Japan, the congregation is tiny. This church has only four regular members plus a couple of seekers. Pastor Chiba holds worship services at the church in Kesennuma on Sunday mornings and then drives up the coast to Ofunato to hold afternoon services here. Please join me in praying for this church, the pastor, and the community in Ofunato.
Click on the photo to start the video.

Ofunato Baptist Church

Ofunato Baptist Church

Japan Tsunami Volunteer Service Video #1

30 April, 2011 (00:05) | News | By: Dan

May the joy of the Lord sustain us in times of trouble! I finally got the videos that I recorded during our three weeks of volunteer service with CRASH ( posted on Youtube. Please take a look and keep on praying for Japan! God be with you!
Click on the photo to start the video.

Damage from the Tsunami in Japan

Damage from the Tsunami in Japan

Happy Easter! He is Risen!

24 April, 2011 (23:18) | Uncategorized | By: Dan

We serve a risen Lord! Jesus is alive! Click on his photo to hear Keith Green’s message about Jesus.

Keith Green

Keith Green

Shaken but not stirred

8 April, 2011 (23:23) | Uncategorized | By: Karen

Last night at about 11:30, the seven of us staying at the CRASH Tono Base house were awakened (well, at least I was asleep – actually, one of the guys was in the shower!) by the strong aftershock that you are probably reading about in the news.  We get several small aftershocks every day, but this one got those of us who were upstairs scrambling downstairs, and then the lights went out.  Power was out in over 6 million homes across 6 prefectures (three of them in their entirety), and we figured it would out for a few days, so we conserved battery power in our computers and cell phones, and shivered with no heat.

Making onigiri

One section of the rice-ball making - the pickles and fanning the balls to cool off the rice

The only city-organized volunteer activity was the daily preparation of “onigiri” (rice balls, in this case with a pickled plum in the center) as part of the food plan for evacuation centers and a “soup kitchen” in a hard-hit town on the coast, so we all helped out.   Fortunately there was enough light through the windows, and the rice cookers ran on propane.  Starting with raw rice and ending with wrapped onigiri in boxes, the group of about 20 people made 1800 of them in 3 1/2 hours!

I don’t know about the rest of the region, but at least here in Tono, Iwate, power was restored at 6 p.m., and we lifted up a prayer of thanksgiving for the speedy recovery.

Church in Tono

3 April, 2011 (22:16) | Uncategorized | By: Dan

Today several of us attended services at the small church here in Tono City. About 15 people came, including a refugee couple with a baby whose home had been destroyed in the tsunami. They are currently staying in the home of a retired pastor while they wait to see what the future holds for them. Many people are still in shock from the disaster, even people whose homes are far from the coast. Survivor guilt is going to be a major issue for years to come. People want to know why their friends or family died and they were left alive just because they happened to be a few miles (or sometimes only a 100 feet) away from the wave. People wonder whether there was something they could have done to save a relative or friend. Pray that all of us working in this situation would have wisdom from the Lord to help us as we listen, listen, and sometimes speak to the survivors. The pastor’s message at the church was well done and it was an encouragement and gave some hope to people, but it is only a beginning.

CRASH Tono Base

31 March, 2011 (09:51) | Uncategorized | By: Dan

Tonight I am writing from CRASH Iwate Base in Tono City. Tonight we have 14 people staying here, most of whom have been out working in the disaster area all day. I am mostly in the management role keeping this place running, but I have made it out to the disaster area a couple of times.
Further south, in Sendai City and near the nuclear power plant, conditions are much worse, but things here in Tono are not bad. We do have aftershocks several times a day, even as I am typing, we just has a shake of about M3 or M4. But, we have food and water, electricity, and kerosene for the heaters. The stores are open and have at least some stock of food and supplies, although only about one fourth of what they normally have. Here, almost all of the damage is right along the coast where the tsunami hit; there is only a little visible earthquake damage. At the coast, the destruction is horrifying, thousands of homes and businesses swept away by the tsunami, cars littered about like toys, boats on top of buildings or swept up streets. Sometimes the scene would be funny if it was not so terrible – yesterday I saw a car balanced on top of a washing machine inside a building. There is a surreal aspect of it when you leave the coast – a five minute drive from the destruction, you can stop and get a coke from a vending machine – a short distance from the coast, life goes on almost normally. I think the psychological impact will hit later for many people.
Thank you for your prayers. God be with you!

Going to Iwate Prefecture

24 March, 2011 (01:08) | Uncategorized | By: Dan

Tomorrow morning (March 24th), Karen and I are flying to Misawa Air Base in northern Japan. At the base we will connect with the chaplain’s office to see what relief efforts are being done through the base and to discuss possible areas of cooperation. Calvary Baptist Church has offered to host us overnight and then the next day we will go to Iwate Prefecture as Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope ( volunteers. We will be helping to establish CRASH bases for volunteers coming to Iwate Prefecture after us, as well as helping the people in the towns along the coast however we can.

The situation in Iwate Prefecture is terrible; however, it is quite safe since it is far from the area where the nuclear power plant has leaked radiation. In addition to the M 9.0 earthquake damage, it was hit very hard by the tsunami, which was more than 30 feet high in some areas, particularly where the shape of the coastline concentrated the wave into a narrow inlet or the mouth of a river. Thousands of people lost their lives in the tsunami and thousands more are missing. You have probably seen the news photos of boats on top of houses or bridges, and huge piles of rubble where hundreds of homes and businesses were crushed by the Tsunami. . Many of these photos are from Iwate Prefecture. It will be years before there is any sense of normal life in the worst hit areas.

We’re here to help!

21 March, 2011 (11:48) | Uncategorized | By: Karen

The title of this entry is actually the slogan of CRASH (Christian Relief, Assistance, Support, and Hope), the disaster response organization with whom we are volunteering (see  We cut short our Guam vacation and rescheduled our return flight to Osaka so that we could prepare to go north and help with both physical and spiritual needs.

Because most CRASH teams are driving north from the Tokyo area and therefore covering the southern part of the disaster zone more than the northern part, we decided to fly to Misawa (north of the disaster area) and head south from there to help other missionaries establish team-sending bases in the northern section of the disaster area.  Our flight is this Thursday.  We’ll try to keep this blog updated as we go along, with photos and perhaps even video – we expect to have access to internet at the bases after they are established (communication is critical for coordination of relief efforts, so internet is a priority).

Thank you for praying for Japan!

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

12 March, 2011 (11:46) | Uncategorized | By: Dan

Karen and I are still in Guam (25th anniversary). We are fine; there was little or no damage here, although they did close the roads near the coast and beaches overnight. The big problems are in the Sendai area in northern Japan, 300-400 mile from where we minister in Osaka. Please join us in prayer for all of those suffering in this difficult time. Especially in these times, we cry out to the Lord for His grace and mercy and rely on His love. God be with you!

In Jesus’ love,
Dan Ellrick