It has been an eventful week. We did have a big tsunami evacuation last week, and the tsunami did come. Kona was hardest hit in Hawaii. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but there was some tens of millions of dollars property damage along the coast. No one in our parish was directly affected.
I did receive inquiries from some friends of the Missionâ€”many wanted to know how we were, and some asked if there was any need for donations in the wake of the tsunami.
I was touched by their care for us, but I knew that the money was most needed in Japan. We do feel a certain closeness here, with about 30% of the popular of our island being ethnically Japanese. Also it is significant that the only known previous parish on the Big Island, which existed in Hilo in the 1930's, was mostly Japanese.[*] Furthermore, back in 2008, our Mission adopted and was adopted by a parish in Yokohama as a "sister parish," and our children exchanged Pascha cards. (Did you know there are two bishops, about 20 priests, and over 60 churches and missions in Japan, and that the Church of Japan was founded in 1861?)
So an idea was bornâ€”perhaps we could send some funds directly to the Orthodox churches in Japan.
On Sunday evening, I spent an hour on the phone with my friend in Yokohama. He made some phone calls and helped me get me information about where we could send money. As you can imagine, things are still pretty chaotic there.
So now, with the blessing of His Grace, our Bishop Benjamin, and the assistance of our treasurer, Paul, we have setup a fund for the Church of Japan. All of the money we collect (apart from transaction fees) will be wired to the Orthodox Church of Japan. For more details, or to donate securely online, please visit:http://stjuvenaly.org/japan
If you'd like to keep up with what is happening day by day, Fr. George Matsushima has been providing updates on the Church of Japan's Western Diocese website at www.orthodox-jp.com/westjapan/
A final note here: This is not the only way to give money to support Japan within an Orthodox context. Our national church is channeling donations to the IOCC (iocc.org). The IOCC is a great organization with the infrastructure to handle a large number of donations in a fully accountable manner. They are more focused on general humanitarian aid, however, and my goal here is to collect money that can be used directly for the rebuilding of churches and helping Orthodox families that are in need.
(I think of St. Paul collecting money for the Church in Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 11:27-30â€”"the disciples determined, everyone according to his ability, to send relief to the brethren", 2 Corinthians 8-9 and other places.)
Now about our own community... As I said, it has been a great year for the Mission. Having our own place has made a huge difference. Our worship "feels" more Orthodox, and we are much better able to reach out to the larger community and invite people in. Please see our website for more updates, photos and videos.
We remain grateful for what your support has meant to usâ€”it is difficult to put all the implications into words, except to say that we are truly sustained by your love, prayer, and generosity. (Even more so given the scary fact that about 75% of our small budget comes from people on the mainland, and that we continue to pay bills month-to-month.)
As you are able, please consider renewing your pledges to help with our rent for another year, or sending a one-time-gift. The link to our donation page is www.stjuvenaly.org/stewardship
and checks can be sent to St Juvenaly Orthodox Mission, PO Box 4631, Kailua-Kona, HI 96745. (Gifts designated as "Facilities" will go toward our rent. General donations are also very helpful.) Thank you!
Having just begun Lent and experienced the beauty of Forgiveness Sunday, I do want to ask for your forgiveness as well, especially if I have disappointed or offended you in any way. Please don't hesitate to reach out with a phone call or email to say hello or find out more about the Mission.
You remain in our hearts and prayers.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. John Schroedel