International Ministries

Thanksgiving from Japan

December 1, 2011 Journal
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Happy belated Thanksgiving! We give thanks for you and your support. In Japan, they have a “thanks for labor” holiday, on November 23rd. Thanksgiving is a unique holiday in America. This year we celebrated Thanksgiving (and Christmas) with our Bible study group and friends. About 23 people attended including our family. We celebrated with Gordon’s barbecued Costco Butterball turkey, salads, and Lee Ann’s stuffing and gravy. Friends provided the “fixins” including three pies, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and we had a feast! We combined Thanksgiving with Christmas since the students are too busy to visit us during finals. So, we sang Christmas carols and did a “white elephant” gift exchange.

This is also the time of year when Japanese begin preparing for the New Year celebrations, the biggest holiday of the year. My friend just received a mochuuketsurei, and explained it to me. It is traditional to send a special post card, nengajo, with greetings to family and friends wishing them a happy year. However, when a family member has died in the past year, nengajo are suspended. But, if you are not going to send a postcard, people usually send a note, mochuuketsurei, notifying friends and relatives. Most people consider it inappropriate to send a New Year’s card to a person that has suffered loss in their family.

Grieving families will be reminded of their loss as they send mochuuketsurei. In a recent newspaper article, “a survivor Tsukasa Kanno, 59, said the toll of the disaster has weighted heavily on Kamaishi, where more than 1,200 people were reported dead or missing near the coast.

“I lost my house and my shops, but I was happy because all my family members survived,” Kanno said, “But we have gradually started thinking about what’s going to happen to us. I have felt burned out. I can’t see the future.”

Kanno said he’s worried that a gulf has opened between some people in the town who lost everything and others whose lives and homes were spared.

“It’s as if heaven and hell exist in the same community.””

Shingo Ito, (2011, September 1). Suicides stalking the disaster zone: Experts fear survivor guilt will compound disaster despair. Japan Times, p. 3

Please pray for the survivors that they would know Jesus and the true heaven that exists. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” Heb. 4:14 NIV

Please consider a donation to: Japan Relief

May the Lord continue to richly bless you!

Gordon and Lee Ann Hwang