|Field Update: "More than Soup"|
By the time CRASH Japan volunteers and members of Nihonmatsu Baptist Church reached the kasetsu juutaku - temporary housing community - a crowd had gathered in anticipation for the Imonikai. People outside of the Tokoku region know little about the autumn tradition of Imonikai – literally "potato boil" - where neighbors gather together outside to make a hearty stew, and enjoy each others company and cool weather.
Nihonmatsu Baptist Church's Pastor Hirayama thought hosting an Imonikai at the temporary housing five minutes away from the church would be a great way to reach out to their new neighbors. "We're from Fukushima and technically are victims too, but our church decided now was a time to act and love," Pastor Hirayama said. Church members brought the vegetables and seasoning, CRASH Japan Volunteers brought 5 kilos of pork and the residents of the temporary housing provided the know-how.
Most of the residents of this housing were elderly; hands calloused from years of work, faces wrinkled with stories and memories of many Imonikais past. Though the volunteers had gone with the intention of doing all the work, the residents were quick to lend a helping hand eventually taking over the cooking. Soon the aroma of vegetables, pork, miso, and soy sauce wafted though the 33 housing units, inviting the few who had yet to gather out of their homes and into community.
Over 50 people - almost everyone that lived in that community - enjoyed the steaming stew with plenty left over to take back to their homes. More than stomachs being full of hot soup, the laughter, conversation, and smiles filled the hearts of residents and volunteers present with warmth.
The day was about much more than soup. "A lot of them just seemed like they wanted to talk," CRASH Japan volunteer Deborah Hino shared. "It was a chance to listen, love, and bring hope."