Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
I am a member of Purchase Monthly Meeting in New York. My wife Hiromi and I have been blessed to worship with Tokyo Monthly Meeting Friends three times in recent years during visits to Hiromi's family. Our family and friends are much affected by the tragic events in Japan. Hiromi called some Friends in Japan on Thursday morning, March 23. Hiromi's report can be read below. We hope to keep Friends updated on conditions facing Japanese Friends.
I was able to talk with two Friends in Japan.
First I called Mrs. Kazuko Kagami, a Tokyo Monthly Meeting member and whom I met years ago, when Brian and I attended the meeting for worship.
Here is the summary of what I learned from her:
Mito Monthly Meeting (North Ibaraki Prefecture, just south of Fukushima)
Meetinghouse and a kindergarten run by them are severely damaged, that they can no longer use or go inside.
However, they are holding meetings elsewhere and trying to organize themselves as a group to help themselves and others to cope with the devastation.
Tokyo Monthly Meeting
Meetinghouse was damaged, windows broken and walls partly fallen, but she said the damages were minor, compared to Tohoku Area. (I guess everything is relative....) The other building they have was also damaged, the building called "Friends Center", which I believe is used as an accommodation for out of town guests and for hosting events.
What struck me most was how Mrs. Kagami's daily life is still nothing close to normal. She lives in her 8th floor apartment, in which everything was turned upside down by the earthquake. Her computer was broken and she cannot connect to the Internet since she couldn't remember the password to log in to her account. The papers which contain that information are under the piles of fallen stuff that she hasn't been able to dig and sort out.
Tokyo Monthly Meeting is rather small, and under current situation, every member is doing all s/he can to get their life back to somewhat normal. It seemed clear to me, that organizing fundraising and operating/managing the fund is too much to ask them at this point. ( I feel this is where we can offer our help with logistics, even from overseas.)
We hear about people who lost their loved ones. We also hear about desperate situations the evacuees face. But what we cannot forget is that people just south of the worst hit area, including Friends of Mito Meeting and Mrs. Kagami and others in Tokyo, are also suffering. They are persevering and striving in this difficult times, because they know, no matter how difficult it seems, people in Tohoku are suffering much more, and they owe it to the Tohoku people, to work hard to rebuild the country.
Mrs. Kagami gave me another contact, Mrs, Yukiko Backes, a member of Osaka Monthly Meeting. She will be attending the FWCC Asia, West Pacific Section meeting from April 1 to 7, in Manila, Philippines, as a representative of Japan Yearly Meeting. She will be a good contact, since she is far enough from the affected area, and she is on the international committee of the Japan Yearly Meeting.
Mrs. Backes told me that Japan Yearly Meeting has set up an bank account and is now accepting donations:
Mitsui Sumitomo Bank
Mita Dori Branch
Branch Code 623
Savings account Number : 6385819
Name of the account holder: Kirist Yukai Nihon Nenkai
(Kirist Yukai means Christ Friends Meeting, or Religious Society of Friends, and Nihon Nenkai means Japan Yearly Meeting)
With the fund, they plan to rebuilt and fix Mito and Tokyo Meetinghouses. They also plan to host evacuees from Tohoku after fixing the damages of the Tokyo building. Both Mrs. Kagami and Mrs. Backes finished the phone conversations by thanking me for calling and extending our concerns from Purchase and New York Friends. They told me that they were grateful for our concerns and they keep praying to God for assistance. With their faith, I trust that they will find the best use with the funds.
I will be more than happy to serve as a liaison and translator.
Hiromi Niwa Doherty