【October 2019 No.404】Japanese Children from Flooded Areas Attend Camp in Taiwan

by Ise Nozomi, pastor

Okayama Church, Higashi Chugoku District

Children whose homes were damaged during the floods and landslides that struck western Japan in 2018 were invited to participate in a camp in Taiwan from July 29 to Aug. 3. The camp was organized with the cooperation and collaboration of the Kyodan’s Higashi Chugoku District, and the YMCA Setouchi.

 

A total of 21 persons participated in camp activities, including 16 children from Okayama Prefecture (13 from Mabi and 3 from Nishi Hirashima) as well as 5 staff members.

 

The camp had three main purposes: 1) to provide a time of refreshment for the children, 2) to express our appreciation to the 20 Taiwanese carpenters who volunteered to help us in Nishi Hirashima following the devastation, and 3) to fellowship with the Taiwanese people.

 

On the second day, the group visited the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan’s General Assembly, where the children presented colored message cards to the two pastors who had come as volunteer carpenters and then sang some songs for all those present. Four Taiwanese children and five Changhua YMCA staff joined the group on the third day before heading off to the camping site. Although, as predicted, those present faced the encumbrance of a language barrier, this did not turn out to be a huge problem for the children. Indeed, due to the desire to play with each other, the children soon found ways to surmount the language barrier. Actually, for the adults present, witnessing the children’s keen abilities to discover and use various methods to communicate was a rich learning experience.

 

I heard children say things like: “I’m the only one having fun in my family; I wish I could have brought my mom and other family members, too.” I also watched children search for souvenirs they could take back as gifts for their family members rather than for themselves. As they demonstrated such concern for others, I felt as though I was getting a glimpse of just how much these children had been sacrificing since the disaster hit.

 

Engulfed in the warm hospitality provided by the Taiwanese people, the children smiled more each day. I believe that the opportunity these children had to meet personally those who had previously been, quite simply, people overseas whom they knew were praying for them but had never met in person, made the children realize that they were not alone, thereby giving them a true sense of being supported. I thank everyone who gave us this opportunity, those who have remembered us in their prayers, and the Taiwanese people who so graciously welcomed us. (Tr. JM)

 

東中国教区の台湾訪問

 7月29日(月)〜8月3日(土)、西日本豪雨によって被災した子どもたちが台湾キャンプへ招待された。このキャンプは日本基督教団、東中国教区、YMCAせとうちが協力・連携し実現したものだ。真備(Mabi)から13名、西平島(Nishi Hirashima)から3名の子ども、スタッフ5名の総勢21名が参加。

 このキャンプの目的は大きく分けて3つ。被災した子どもたちのリフレッシュ、西日本豪雨が発生した際、西平島にボランティアに来てくださった台湾大工さんへのお礼、そして台湾の方々との交流だ。

 2日目は、台湾長老教会総会(PCT)を訪れ、ボランティアで大工仕事をしてくださった牧師方々へ子どもたちが作成した色紙を渡し、歌を披露することができた。3日目から台湾の子どもたち(4人+彰化(Changhua) YMCAスタッフ5名)も加わりキャンプ場へ。予想していた通り言語の壁が出てきたが、子どもたちにとってそれは大きな問題では無かったと思われる。一緒に遊びたいという思いが勝り、様々な方法でコミュニュケーションを取ろうとする子どもたちの姿は大人の方が教えられた。

 時折子どもたちが話す「僕だけ楽しい。お母さんたちも連れて来たかった」という言葉、自分たちへのお土産より家族へのお土産を必死に探すその姿に、災害が起こってから今まで、どれだけのことを我慢し周りを気遣ってきたのかが垣間見えたように思う。

 台湾の方々の温かい「おもてなし」に子どもたちは日に日に笑顔になった。出会ったこともない、しかも海を越えてもなお自分たちのことを覚え祈り行動してくれる方々、自分は1人では無かったのだと感じさせてくれる方々と実際に出会う機会が与えられたことは子どもたちにとって大きな支えになったと感じている。この機会を与えてくださった方々、覚え祈ってくださった方々、受け入れてくださった台湾の方々に心から感謝。

伊勢希(岡山教会牧師、東中国教区)

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