by Atsushi Tsuneki, Mito, Japan, church of Christ, in email sent Mar. 29

MITO, Japan (BNc) — Two weeks after the earthquake have passed. We now start to realize not only the physical damages, but also how much our own members are damaged and affected emotionally, spiritually, and in their life. For example:

* Richardson family had to make a very difficult decision of moving back to the States after spending their 13.5 years in Japan. They just left Japan March 28. They were very busy last week, packing, closing their business, and cleaning their house. Many of our members helped the Richardson 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 tsunami in Oarai, 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 and tsunami and even having hallucination.

* A couple whose grandmother started to live with them after the earthquake. Their mother is taking care of grandmother. Husband needed to stay with other members for a week for his work. No water until last Friday (about two weeks).

* Masako Kan (age 88) living with her son who is struggling with his gout. We organized a team to help in cleaning their homes last Wednesday. He is asking our help putting a sheet on their roof. We are helping some of the elderly members and those who live alone who are feeling devastated now.

* A member who had a health check at the day she had an earthquake. She was diagnosed as “cardiectasis.” Her daughter, also a member, had a pneumonia around the same time.

These are just some of the examples. 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 has 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 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 and Ibaraki-machi. 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, do 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 also pray that God will strengthen you and give you peace as you deal with other churches on behalf of the Churches of Christ in Japan.

We are full of services already! I am hands-full (and minds-full). I am honestly very tired, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Honestly, the second disaster, pressures and “information tsunami” from America, seems to be much bigger than the first disaster. That is causing more emotional & spiritual stress.

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 worldwide church to care for his children in Japan.