20 March, 2011

Unexpected emotions

This morning as David and I served in the Sunday School we were applauded because we haven't evacuated from Tokyo. We shook our heads, embarrassed at being singled out as something special.
I have been reading people's blogs, Facebook statuses and notes and talking to people. I cannot deny that there is some 'stay' vs 'go' divide out there in the foreign community in Japan. I have to admit that earlier in the week when I heard of friends evacuating I felt all sorts of negative emotions, mostly confusion and abandonment. Every time I heard of someone going or someone asked us if we were, I felt thrown into emotional confusion again. Were we making the right decision? Why were others deciding to go? At the same time as I was reassuring you all that we were fine, emotions were churning inside me.

You have to understand, the friends who have gone (temporarily) are not emotional, unstable crazies, they love Japan and the Japanese and are here because God called them here. They are not homesick new missionaries either. So I was very confused about why they'd gone.  I was possibly even somewhat judgemental in my heart regarding their decision.

Then I read something last night about the reason one mum and her children left for a time. It was because of accumulated stress. She's had a stressful time over the last couple of years and the stress of this last week has been too much. I can truly understand that. First the earthquake, then the not-knowing where her husband was for a few hours, then the constant after-shocks, then the food and fuel shortages and the promises of power outages and to top it all off the nuclear power station problems. It has stressed us all, but for this lady, the stress was too much and God has provided her with a place to go to recover from all of this. Praise God He has supplied her need.

Someone else earlier in the week called us courageous. Then today I read that someone felt the missionaries who hadn't left were feeling proud! It never occurred to me that our response to this disaster would produce such a range of emotions and opinions in other people.

It's made me examine my heart, but I cannot admit to being any of these things. I'm happy that our presence here encourages the Japanese. I'm embarrassed to be singled out as something special. I'm not particularly proud as a result of my decision. Actually our decision is as much a result of weakness as it is of judging the facts. I've been frank here in the past about our family and again, nothing of the facts we found convinced us that putting our boys through the stress of leaving was worth it. Honestly, it sounded more stressful to leave than to stay! That doesn't put me in the courageous category either. Especially when I sat and read the Voice of the Martyrs magazine this afternoon and read of people in Nigeria willing to say to a Muslim with a machete that they believe in Jesus. No, I'm not courageous.

But I am encouraged by this response from a Japanese Christian:

"Through missionaries who stay in Japan, we Christians are comforted, encouraged and strengthened by the camaraderie: by their courage that they are sharing in our future.  More than that, I believe through them, non-Christians Japanese will receive the love of Jesus, who came and identified with us, and who came to give His life so that sinful men are saved.

I am aware my opinion is one sided. I am in no way making judgement on those who evacuate. They must have gone through a very difficult time in making that decision. I am sure the Lord is pleased in whatever response His labourer gives to Him as he/she serves Him. I guess I am voicing my opinion because I believe God will use in a very special way those who stay, and stick to the end, or as far as they go. I hope this will be an encouragement to those who make that decision in response to Him."

I pray she is right.


Lori said...

Wendy, Thank you for your post. This is such a sensitive topic here now. As a missionary in Kansai, I know of many people (missionaries as well as Japanese nationals) who are temporarily leaving Kanto for Kansai for a respite from the stress of life with all the stressors you mentioned. It is not an easy decision. I know of kids who won't take naps because of the earthquakes and so the family left Tokyo to avoid some aftershocks. Some who leave are more effective doing ministry without power outages. I also know of people who want to leave but due to work don't have that choice. Some who want to stay but have been ordered out by businesses or their mission. Each situation is different, they are making decisions with what they believe is best with the information they have.
It's not a situation of coward verses courageous. It is a community of brothers and sisters in Christ that need to respect one another's decision and support them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for talking about it openly. I'm one of those who moved a bit farther out and I appreciate your awareness that people have lots of good reasons for what they do. I left with my kids partly so my husband could be free to stay and serve in any way necessary...

Wendy said...

Thank you both for your comments. Lori - you put it very well.

Cath said...

Thanks for sharing all those thoughts and feelings, Wendy. Interesting the kind of things such a big event makes you think through!

Praying for you all.