Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What Can I Do?

Hi, this is Marilyn! The year after I graduated from college, I lived in Kyoto, Japan. There I studied the ancient art of the Japanese tea ceremony (called o-sado or o-chado). I wore kimono every day and sat zazen style (on your calves on the floor) for hours at a time while I served and received ceremonial tea in my daily lessons. I had majored in Japanese, so I got to practice speaking the language, I immersed myself in the culture, and I made many friends. I loved going to the public bath every night, especially in the winter when it was so cold and the baths were so warm. And I'll never forget how beautiful the cherry blossoms looked as they lined the Kamo River, which runs through Kyoto. It was a wonderful time, and my heart is still very close to that country and the people who live there.

Ever since the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan a few weeks ago, Japan and its people have been on my mind and in my heart. I'm sure you've been thinking about what happened there, too, and wondering what you can possibly do to help. Even if you live far away or don't have much to give, there are many things you can do to help. Here are some ideas:
  • Pray for the people of Japan. You can pray for those who have lost their family members, friends, neighbors, their homes and possessions, and their pets. You can pray for those who are struggling to live without power, heat, and food, or who need medical help. You can pray for those who have had to leave their homes for a while to be in a safer place.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Phil. 4:6 NIV)

  • Comfort your friends if they're sad or frightened. Sometimes it's hard to find the right words to say, and it can feel awkward. But saying, "I'm really sorry," or "I'm praying for your family," or "This is a little scary--do you want to talk?," or just asking your friends how they're doing will make them feel better. If you say nothing, they might think you don't care, but saying anything will let them know you do.
"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." (Rom. 12:15)

  • Talk to your family about donating money to an organization that is helping the people in Japan. Three wonderful organizations that are doing this work are the American Red Cross, World Vision, and Samaritan's Purse. There are many others. Maybe you could contribute some or all of your allowance, or organize your friends to contribute or have a sale or fundraiser to collect money to give to a relief organization.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’" (Matt. 25:40)
  • Prepare for an emergency where you live. You might not live where earthquakes happen, but natural disasters like hurricanes, blizzards, and tornadoes happen in other areas. Or the power could go out for several hours or even days. Knowing that you're prepared for an emergency is one of the best ways to deal with one if you ever need to. Put together an emergency kit of water, dried and ready-to-eat food, money (cash), a radio with batteries, flashlights and batteries, a first-aid kit, and phone numbers of people out of the area to call. If your family doesn't have a plan for where or how to contact each other if you get separated, talk about that as a family and make a plan. Type it up, print it off, and give everyone a copy. Chances are, you'll never need it. But if you ever do, everyone will be ready!
Take care, and stay safe, and God bless you!

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