Saturday, March 12, 2011

Reflections of a Disaster

Staring at Kaneko, a twenty something college student, whom I am teaching English to, we were discussing Moscow deporting hundreds of stray dogs to Siberia. Our coffee spills onto the table and we are looking like deer in the headlights as the most violent shaking begins. Things start to fall in the bathrooms and off shelves. The doors and windows start to rattle. We both say at the same time Jishin! which means earthquake. We think it is going to stop 30 seconds go by then a minute, the shaking is still violent we go outside and people are running away from the building. We are on the 7th floor thinking we should go down stairs. So we walk to the Elevator but it is flashing emergency signs and is not running. That's right don't take elevators in Earthquakes. So we go down the stairs. It is about 3 minutes now and the shaking is still going on. When is this going to stop? Buildings and trees are swaying, birds are in the air squawking alarms to something really big happening. Kaneko and I decided to end class early and part ways. At the bridge from our train station to our apartment Mrs Sasaki San who is dealing with life threatening bone cancer approaches me and is rattling off her story. We talk and I encourage her. Her husband is in Tokyo and she is worried if he'll get home. The shaking had stopped but there is an eerie feeling that something terrible had just occurred and we were not the center of it. I call Mihoko and the phones are dead...Uh oh? The shaking had stopped so I went back to go to our apartment elevator to go back and check on our home. Drat it still is out of commission... That's right never take an elevator during an earthquake. I climb up 7 flights of stairs. The disaster was my legs at this point wow I am so out of shape. As soon as I get into my apartment there is a tremendous aftershock almost equal to the original. I stay inside and then go out on the balcony should I stay or should I go. The shaking stops I do what any good post baby boomer pre-gen xer guy would do. I facebook the event. The shaking returns a little less. I can't reach my family. I go outside and downstairs and talk to neighbors. I walk around town to access damage. An ambulance is at the pachinko parlor someone must have had a heart attack when their balls fell on the floor? People are out dazed. I go in to a familiar convenience store. The clerk at the counter is frazzled. I ask, "Daijoubu?" (You okay?) She says very loud as if she had been holding it in for a while, "KOWAIIII!" (Scary!) We laugh I tell her I will pray for her and her family. She is thankful and relieved. I go outside trying to call missionary friends, family, neighbors. Phones don't work. My kids are still at school which is 30 minutes away. I walk back to the apartment and climb the 7 flights of stairs. It is amazing how much Oxygen we demand the higher we go. I look on the computer which is still up and running. The devastation reports are beginning to filter in the Tsunami pictures are already within minutes of the events happening being broadcast on national television.

What has happened is the worst national disaster known in the history of Japan. The devastation is not just one local area or prefecture but it is the whole East Coast about 5 prefectures (States) have declared states of emergency. There are many more prefectures with lots of structure damage but their infrastructure is still in tact. The 5 main prefectures hit have severe infrastructure problems with electricity, water, gas all shut off or broken. Roads are impassible, and fires are spreading in some areas. Landslides have wiped out some small villages and Tsunami's have washed away whole communities. The military and many organizations are already on the ground working but are completely overwhelmed. Children are displaced because while at school their families were washed away or killed in accidents. The trauma and questions being asked are great and we are praying how to best be involved in the recovery and ministry to those hardest affected.

We are partnering with CRASH Japan a disaster relief organization from Grace Christian Fellowship with Pastor Jonathan Wilson. I am heading up Pastoral Care and running admin on coordinating teams from CC churches in Japan to group up and aid in various recovery efforts. Samaritans Purse, World Vision, Campus Crusade for Christ, OMF, JEMA, JEA and many other organizations are all behind us now and we will be having a meeting tomorrow for assessment teams to be assigned and to move out. Over the next few days we will be getting teams of missionaries from all over Japan to pair up and go into the areas and locate churches and missionaries and find our their needs. We are looking to establishing command centers in multiple communities for the express purpose of serving those communities. The recovery process will not be easy or short. One report says over 10 thousand people are missing. We know of about a couple of thousand dead from reports.

We are here in Japan for such a time as this. We are making ourselves available to the Lord for his glory and to use in this effort. Tomorrow we will have an assessment meeting at 2pm in Tokyo. Mihoko with be simultaneous translating it. Pray for her to be anointed to impart the information necessary to direct the teams and train the staff. We are feeling multiple aftershocks some very strong and we are over 250KM away from it all but those in the epicenter are feeling scared and need help.

We need you all to be praying for us. We need the leading of the Holy Spirit for the things he will have us do. Right now we are uncertain what all the details will hold. I will try to post after the meeting to let you all know what's going on. We need your prayers. God is at work and we look forward to what he will bring out of the ashes. Teams in the US are forming up and mobilizing to come over. Pray how to be apart if the Lord allows. God bless

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Just got an email from Aggie and she told me you were needing prayer, not too surprising since you are in Japan. so I found your blog and will pass it around at Newport Coast Lighthouse. please put me on your update/prayer list. Abundant Blessings. Jeff Kirst