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June 30, 2011

Bringing Hope and Joy to Japan

“When we started working in devastated towns and villages in March and April,” says Hiro Inaba, president of Chea of Japan, “many of the victims were in still in shock. The reality of just how much damage the tsunamis had actually caused was simply too much for them to cope with.”

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Recent reports from Inaba reveal that attitudes of shock and despair continue to prevail some five months after the horrific earthquake and tsunami leveled parts of Japan. Disasters on the scale of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami do not quickly pass away. Instead, the aftermath endures for months, if not years. Realizing the tremendous need for assistance—both physical and spiritual—Japanese homeschoolers, organized by Chea Japan, have conducted four relief trips in as many months. Their most recent trip shows how simple involvement from those outside of the situation can jumpstart a will to rebuild:

Three days after the tsunami hit, Mr. Takahashi, a 72-year-old man from Ishinomaki, began clean-up with his son, Yoshio, 46. But when they confronted the massive mounds of rubble surrounding them, they lost all willpower even to begin. Every night after that, he kept telling himself, “Okay. We will start cleaning up tomorrow morning!” But

alas, it was the same thing over and over again. And so the days went on until nearly one month had gone by. The two just could not get over what they had to face every day. The situation was dire&mdashto the point that when we stepped in and began clearing things, they just stood there, looking at us in a daze as if they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. We started wondering if it was really OK for us to be doing this, but slowly, after several hours of standing back and watching, Mr. Takahashi and his son joined in. Later, they shared with us how hard this whole experience had been for them. After about six hours of working together, his son, Yoshio, told me, “There are no words that could do justice in expressing our appreciation for what you have done for us.” He went on to ask me about the Good News and what home schooling was about, among other things.

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On our last visit in June, Mr. Takahashi and Yoshio brought us to a coastal village with a small harbor. The local fishermen’s community had been totally devastated by the tsunami, much as the Takahashi family had experienced, but on a larger scale. Yet the

shock that the disaster had left them in had now continued for three months. The harbor had seen no improvement. So many fishermen were discouraged. Some actually had already left their jobs in search of new ones. But as we started to help with clean up and repairs in the harbor area, the fishermen seemed to rediscover a sense of hope, and as in the case of the Takahashi’s, they started working side by side with us. One fisherman told me, “When I saw the faces of these young people, I got my courage back.” Others were very impressed with the homeschoolers and their attitudes as they worked so hard and in such high spirits. Yet another fisherman told us that we had done two weeks’ worth of work in one day!

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Alongside the cleanup work, we also opened a distribution point for distributing

food, clothing, and other supplies. This went over very well and was especially popular among the women. These fishermen lost their ships and their oyster beds, their main source of income, yet there will not be any substantial aid from the government for another two or three years. They all appreciated the work we did and the things we brought. Their whole outlook on life changed from being dejected and tired to being joyful and energetic!

Inaba and Chea Japan welcome others to participate in their work. Inaba is coordinating a fifth trip for those have a desire to join with Chea Japan to minister to the affected Japanese people. The upcoming trip will be August 29 to September 2, 2011. Additional relief trips may be planned for later this year in October and December or next year.

Inaba explains that the trips have been life-changing for the students:

“The homeschoolers who participated in the relief trips took pride in being able to serve. This has been a tremendous opportunity for these students. Each one feels it an honor to have been able to participate.”

Michael Donnelly, HSLDA’s Director of International Relations notes the importance of supporting these efforts.

“We have the opportunity to bring hope and joy to Japanese families by supporting them with prayer, our financial resources, and even by going ourselves to minister as families or individuals. The magnitude of devastation and suffering in Japan is staggering. These students and relief teams bring a simple gift of hope and encouragement to hurting people, and HSLDA is committed to supporting these efforts as much as possible,” Donnelly said.

If you are interested in joining Chea Japan on their upcoming relief trip, or going on one at a future date, please review the resources linked below or contact office@cheajapan.com with questions.

Chea Japan relief trip flyer

Chea Japan relief trip application