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A story from the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 12-13, 2011) captured my interest. It was about the flight of a local baker from one of the small villages in Japan that was one of many devastated by the recent tsunami. The owner of a traditional sweets shop, Mr. Masayuki Kimura lost nearly everything when the waves swept over Rikuzentakata March 11, obliterating nearly 10% of the town, and 80% of businesses. More may soon leave in search of jobs, homes or medical care. With neither a highway nor a bullet train running through the village, and so much devastation, some residents have all but given up on the place.

Mr. Kimura was faced with a similar question -- to leave or to stay and rebuild his bakery. The tsunami, in a way, offered Mr. Kimura an opportunity for a new beginning: a fresh start in another part of the country. Upon hearing of his plans, local villagers reacted with surprise, telling Mr. Kimura how much they look forward to eating his sweets again.

Mr. Kimura was at a juncture. Should he leave or should he stay? "It's not that I don't want to do it, but it's hard to be brimming with confidence when I think of all the hurdles," he said. "If I was 10 years younger, I can say I'd definitely rebuild. If I was 10 years older, I'd probably pack it in. But I'm stuck in the middle."

In the end Mr. Kimura settled on a decision. I definitely encourage you to seek out and read the rest of the article!

I couldn't help but reflect how much Mr. Kimura's flight mirrors our lives in general, and the decisions we make, in particular. Here was a man who left his small village some 35 years ago to study at the top private colleges in western Japan. He traveled the world and had his heart set to a life as a globetrotter. But faith had other plans. His mother begged him to come home and take after the family business they worked so hard to build. He returned home and took after the bakery, but the decision gnawed at him -- especially as he said, "at college reunions. I thought I could go out into the world and do something bigger," he said.

Many of us are facing our own "tsunamis." We wonder whether or not we have made the right decisions. The current economic problem in the U.S. has made people question decisions they've made in the past and wonder what lies ahead. Those in financial difficulties, are, like Mr. Kimura, "stuck in the middle" -- wondering what options are available for them.

Catholic World Mission is no exception. We are facing what I call our "several years of economic tsunami." The U.S. economic downturn has had a significant negative impact on our operations. I worry we may not be able to continue operations if conditions persist the way they have been the last couple of years.

Mr. Kimura thought he was simply a baker and all he did was bake bread. It turns out after hearing from people in his village, his bakery and what he did meant so much more. "It was not just bread after all." I feel the same way about CWM's mission. We have given bread of a different kind to thousands of poor people around the world. We have lifted people out of poverty and sickness through the generosity of many supporters. More importantly, CWM and our supporters have allowed thousands of people to taste the tastiest bread of all -- we have introduced thousands to the Lord, "the bread of life."

We are at a critical juncture at CWM. We are hopeful we can make the same decision Mr. Kimura made whether "to leave or to stay and rebuild." In the end, Mr. Kimura felt he was much more than just a baker, and it was not just bread. We feel the same way about our mission at CWM and the bread we offer. Mr. Kimura decided, "He will rebuild." We hope you will help us do the same.

Thank you for helping us let thousands of poor people taste the goodness of the Lord. If you are able, please visit us at www.catholicworldmission.org and help us in whatever way you can. At the very least, please drop us an email so we can pray for your intentions. It's the least we can do. Our email is in our website as well.

Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving. Enjoy the bread, and taste the goodness of the Lord
Rick Medina