Monday, October 31, 2011

Learning About The Atonement In Japan

Last week after I posted my experience with learning something more about the Atonement, I received a beautiful letter from Yoko who has given me permission to share some of it with you. She began by explaining that she had attended my class on Living in Truth at BYU Education Week in August, and then said, “Your lecture on "Living in Truth" helped me greatly. I wish I had known about this concept earlier, but I can say "Living in Truth" has reduced my vexation by at least half.”
She then went on to explain that she was visiting her homeland in Sendai, Japan, last March when the great earthquake hit. She described the unbelievable devastation and deprivation that ensued and how everyone was suffering. She stayed and did all she could for a couple of weeks, but then had to return home to the United States where she continued to follow the news.

While at home she felt that even though she is 60 years old, she had to go back and help, so she returned and on the day she arrived another 7.0 earthquake hit and she worried that she would not be able to get to Sendai. She had taken a helmet, boots, gloves, food and everything she would need to sustain herself and to help others, but she couldn’t get into help unless she belonged to an organization. She contacted many organizations but while waiting to be accepted she visited the ward she lived in when she was baptized many years ago and discovered that the ward was headquarters for the relief effort. There she was finally given an assignment. But instead of being asked to do physical work at devastated areas, she was asked to give grief counseling. After a brief class where she was taught how to give hand massages with aroma oils as a tool to let people talk, she went to work.

I’ll let you read her words for the rest. “We visited people at many evacuation centers at different cities on the coast. My job was to listen to whatever the people wanted to say about themselves and their experiences of the quake and tsunami. All the people who were at evacuation centers lost everything including their homes and every belonging that they worked hard for. They were there with only clothes on their backs. Some people lost family members. I have never seen or heard so much grief and sorrow in my life. I gave them aroma massages and some of them really opened their hearts to me and told me how they lost their loved ones. One old lady told me that she lost everything plus her daughter-in-law. She and her 50 year old son were at the evacuation center and she said, ‘My son goes outside and cries every night.’ She told me her son, his wife and the wife's friend were running from the tsunami holding hands but somehow their hands were separated and only her son survived. I gave her extra long massage.”

“I loved her hands and couldn't let them go for a long time. I listened to so many people and their profound sorrows. I only could say to them in my heart while I was touching their hands, ‘You might not know Him but He knows you and your sorrow. He is touching you through my hands right now.’ I felt so much love for them. I knew it was His love for them. One other thing I want to tell you. At the end of three days doing this, my whole body was filled with so many emotions, grief, and sorrow. I felt I couldn't listen to one more person. I felt like my head was going to explode if I had to listen to one more. But I thought, ‘I came all the way from America, I can’t quit after only three days.’ I prayed for the strength and somehow kept going. But it was hard. Then the thought came to me that Jesus Christ had to suffer for who knows how many people, not only for sins but he felt people's sorrow, grief, all other feelings and emotions in Gethsemane. Sister Johnson, I felt like I was allowed to peek at the magnitude of His suffering at Gethsemane. My love and appreciation for Jesus Christ increased because of my experiences in Japan. It was real.”

Thank you, Yoko, for sharing. The Atonement is real. It is love, and you were part of that love.


Camille said...

Thank you Yoko for sharing your beautiful story.

Rebecca said...

This touched me. Thank you for posting, and than her for sharing. I honestly do not have the words to describe how this has touched me.

Gma Mills said...

Thank you for sharing Yoko's story. There is so much to learn from her experience.