今日で5年 5 years today


Has it really been 5 years since that March afternoon that changed our lives forever?  In some ways it feels so very long ago and yet it feels like it happened yesterday. I am talking about the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.  As we have said so many times, we would never, ever wish for an experience like that, but having lived through it we can be thankful for so many things that resulted from that absolute devastation.  



One such thing I am thankful for is Yarn Alive. Before the Tsunami, my husband and I were living year round in Shichigahama, a place that used to be our summer vacation spot on the ocean. My husband was traveling most of the time. I was in semi-retirement, living the slow life on the cliff over-looking the Pacific Ocean. I did knit and crochet, but only as a relaxing past-time. 




Then came the tsunami and the idea, a few months afterwards, to give ladies in temporary housing something fun and purposeful to do with their hands. We started by providing needles and hooks and yarn and working on a joint project to help others who had suffered more than we had during the tsunami time.  Everyone joined in.  There was so much laughter and joy when we gathered!  Knitting and crocheting gave hours and hours of pleasure to these women who had nothing else to do.  Some even said knitting helped them relax when they woke up in the middle of the night, too anxious to sleep. According to one lady, "I have no future and I have no hope, but I have yarn. I am so thankful." 



As word spread about our activities, yarn poured in from all over the world. There was never a day when I had to say, "Sorry, the yarn has run out."!  All of the needs were supplied by so many people.  Yarn of every kind, needles and hooks of all sizes, stitch markers, scissors, patterns, buttons, etc.  What an amazing out- pouring of love for the ladies here in this corner of Japan!  We have been blessed beyond measure!



Just as we have been blessed by others, it has been our joy and privilege to bless other people around the world who have also faced disaster in their lives.  We have sent hats and scarves and children's clothing that we made to Syrian refugees in Jordan.  We have sent blankets to a children's home in the Philippines after the tsunami in the Philippines.  When the earthquake happened in Nepal we sent hats for people in the mountain regions.  We have also sent hats to school children in Mozambique and just this past Christmas we donated 2,440 hats to go to children in the Philippines as part of the Operation Christmas Child project from Japan. Can you imagine how one of our ladies feels when she realizes that a child somewhere in the world is wearing a hat that she knit? Our world has become so much bigger!



Yarn Alive is getting bigger too. We finished building the Yarn Alive House last year and moved all classes there in September, shortly before I had to leave for the States. When I left, we had about 80 members, but when I returned just 5 months later we had grown to about 120 members! Yarn Alive is growing!  So many people hear what we are doing and want to join!  What a joy it is to welcome them to our groups! 



Needless to say. our classes could not have continued without the Yarn Alive House. I can not say thank you enough to those who contributed to the building of our wonderful facility.  It is fulfilling the purpose for which it was built!  And this week the Yarn Storehouse will be totally completed so that we can move all of the yarn into the new building!  Again, we could not have done this without the help of so many of you!




Five years after the Tsunami, most people who were in temporary housing have moved to newly built houses or into government-provided apartments. People are finally beginning to settle into their new homes, but we hear that stress levels are up again. Some people report being lonely after leaving the temporary housing areas, which was like being in a big camp. Adjustments are hard for all of us, but especially the elderly. How thankful I am, then, that we can provide yarn and purpose to so many of these ladies to help them through this new stage in their lives.  Truly yarn is helping keep people alive here in Shichigahama!



With a heart full of thanksgiving to all of you who have helped make this possible,

テディ・サーカ、ヤーンアライブ Teddy Sawka for Yarn Alive