Japan Quake Rpt: Mito Mar 29 ’11
This is an excerpt from a note from Atsushi Tsuneki, minister for the Mito church. While we have not heard from him directly, they have been very busy as a congregation in their local area helping people affected by the earthquake.
Two weeks have passed since the earthquake. We now start to realize not only the physical damage, but also how much our own members are damaged and affected emotionally, spiritually, and in their life. For example:
- Unfortunately we had to cancel the farewell party for the AETs (Assistant English Teachers) who are leaving that was planned two days after the earthquake, on March 13. And one AET member and one AET couple returned to America earlier than they planned due to the pressure from their family and fear to stay here longer. Because of their immediate decision to leave their apartment, they even didn’t wash their dishes! Some of our members spent time cleaning their apartment last week.
- One American family had to make a very difficult decision to move back to the States after spending 13.5 years in Japan. They just left Japan yesterday, on March 28. They were very busy last week, packing, closing their business, and cleaning their house. Many of our members helped the family and volunteered to clean their house and English school last Thursday through Sunday evening. Not enough time to mourn and say good-bye. We need to move on, but this is very sad.
- A member whose mother-in-law’s nursing home was tore down by the tsunami in Oarai (coastal region of Ibaraki) started to live with their family. Her mother-in-law had a tendency to wander off so our member is having difficulty to be away from home. Her mother-in-law is still struggling with trauma and shock from earthquake/tsunami and even having hallucinations.
- A couple’s grandmother started to live with them after the earthquake. Their mother is taking care of the grandmother. The husband needed to stay with fellow workers for a week for his work. No water until last Friday (about two weeks).
- Another member who is 88 year old and living with her son who is struggling with his gout. We organized a team to help in cleaning their homes last Wednesday. He asked our help to put a sheet on their damaged roof. We are helping some of the elderly members and those who live alone who are feeling devastated now.
- Another member had a health check the day of the earthquake. She was diagnosed as “cardiectasis” (dilation of the heart). Her daughter, also a member, had a pneumonia around the same time.
These are just some of the examples of what we have been doing. Many of our members have been experiencing a difficult time, sudden change of their life style, trying to adjust/renew their own lives and transitions. In the midst, I think our members have been doing their best!
Some have opened their homes and gathered together so that no member was left to feel alone in the face of this crisis. We tried to make phone calls several times, travelling around (by bicycle!) to make sure that everyone was safe and accounted for as we were facing continuing aftershocks and the nuclear power plant situation in Fukushima. Some AET is volunteering to help shelters in Oarai area.
Having said that, it seems that gasoline and water situation started to be finally resolved since last weekend! Finally our members in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki-machi, and Naka-city area were able to take a shower after about two weeks (!!), and more members started to be back to worship service last Sunday.
This week we are beginning asking for the needs of the surrounding churches, giving them a ride, taking a shower, doing some laundry, share meals, etc. I think we are beginning to find time and energy to serve the needs of our community and those who have come here seeking refuge. We believe that God will continue to build our strength and ability to reach out farther into Ibaraki and the other damaged areas to the north.
We are very much aware that this disaster will require a long-term relief plan that will demand a lot of wisdom and endurance. We want to find the path that the Holy Spirit will open for us to be involved in the physical, emotional, and spiritual rebuilding process because we know we will fail if we act without his guidance.
Our request is that the churches in America continue to join us in covering our decisions and actions in prayer. We believe that they have been led by the Spirit to help us, and so we hope that they will trust us to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in deciding the best way to use the blessings.
We will strive to be transparent and honest in the ways that we use the donations that we receive. We ask that you be patient and understanding of the constraints on our time. We fully intend to give the glory to God because of the ways he is moving in His world-wide church to care for his children in Japan.
Atsushi Tsuneki, Mito Church of Christ