A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, January 17, 2014
Yarn Alive Being Kind (Feature Friday!)
When disaster hits—anywhere in the world—the disaster is all over the news. Media coverage and live reports can be seen (or heard, or read) on most any media outlet. Relief efforts are often launched. Good-hearted individuals and worthy relief organizations send donations. Wonderful efforts, one and all. What a loving, giving way to be kind! But then another disaster happens. Another, and another. After a while, something called disaster fatigue can set in.
Specifically thinking about Japan and a disaster almost three years ago, in March 2011, a tsunami devastated large portions of coastal land and the communities on and near the coast. Many of those left homeless were elderly. For many months, huge numbers of these displaced people went to temporary housing. With little to do in the following months except consider all that was lost in the tsunami, large numbers of these elderly people became sad, even depressed.
Enter Teddy Sawka, a Christian missionary to Japan for several decades. She saw first-hand the ravages of depression in the displaced seniors living in her small community of Shichigahama, a sea-side village. Knitting is quite popular in Japan. Teddy thought that by keeping their hands and minds occupied, perhaps these seniors would find some purpose in their lives. She began Yarn Alive among the displaced seniors, who took to knitting and crocheting with great eagerness.
Missionary Teddy’s cousin is Jill France, member of Cuyahoga Falls United Presbyterian Church. Jill and Teddy keep in touch regularly. Teddy communicated to Jill that the seniors in the budding knitting group in Japan needed more yarn. Jill brought this need to the knitting group (prayer shawl-making group) at her church. In a number of weeks, the group had prepared six boxes holding knitting needles, crochet hooks and 40 pounds of yarn to send off to the seniors in Japan. This was the first of a number of ‘care packages’ sent.
Word spread in Japan. Other knitting groups—Yarn Alive groups—began to meet in other villages and towns in Japan. Meanwhile, word also spread among the media. Missionary Teddy was interviewed by a Wall Street Journal reporter in Japan, almost two years ago. Teddy gave the reporter her cousin Jill’s name and contact information. Soon Jill was interviewed, and several women in the Ohio church knitting group, also. After the article appeared in the Wall Street Journal in the first week of March 2012, calls and emails started pouring into the Presbyterian church office. And even more yarn, needles and hooks sent off to Japan.
Signs of such giving, gratitude and solidarity, in Jill’s own words: “The Lord works in such amazing ways. It has been just so wonderful to hear from people that are eager to help and so full of love! It has also opened my eyes to the bonds that women feel for other women around the world. All enjoying the same gift of sitting together and knitting (or crocheting) and talking! Doesn’t matter what language we speak, we are sisters!”
Jill, how right you are, my friend. Such a wonderful ministry. Such a marvelous way of being kind! May God continue to send all of us ways of being kind, on a regular basis.