The Search Continues
Slowly information has been coming in from the Sendai areas. The search continues for nearly 10,000 people still missing or unable to be contacted in the hard-hit areas around Sendai. Whole towns simply disappeared in the tsunami. Many of the missing were likely swept out to sea along with vehicles, houses, and everything else. You need to understand that this is not exactly next door to us. As you can see by the map below, Sendai is quite a distance from Tokyo, nearly 150 miles away.
For Kaori and I, the distance makes the devastation no less easy to bear. Now that reporters have gotten into the area, the information coming out steadily is absolutely heart-wrenching. To see the constant unspeakable images of the Japanese people we love suffering (and understand what they are saying), to know (and have visited) the places where the tragedy occurred, and to be able to do SO little from here is particularly emotionally draining. We feel a sense of powerlessness and grief for the incredible humanitarian need just north to us. Yet, we don't dare turn off the news for long periods of time as there is information we do need to know (and much we wish we didn't).
Our situation is far more secure and comfortable than many. We have all basic services. Food and water is also readily available. However, rolling blackouts throughout Tokyo have begun today. Japan has been strictly told to do all it can to conserve electricity (b/c of loss of power plants), and so we're heating and lighting a single room (our prayer "command center"). We are told we'll be without power tomorrow for part of the day. We're eating through our perishables in anticipation for blackouts, but have plenty of nonperishable things to keep us going a long time without shopping.
Today I was out for a bit in the shopping area of our town to get an idea as to the mood of things. People are very polite, but there is a general sense of concern and emergency permeating things. Many of the stores were closed. There were lines for many things. Grocery and convenience stores were very busy. One was virtually stripped bare except for some candy and ice cream. Today at least there obviously is a little bit of panic buying in light of the blackouts. I was happy to see that some cereal (which Japanese generally don't eat) was left. It had my name on it so I happily brought it home.
Aftershocks are continuing, a few more than 6 magnitude. We are told to expect a 7 magnitude in the next few days. We have flashlights,blankets, Bibles, earthquake kits (CHECK BLOG HERE FOR INTERESTING STORY ON THAT) ready at the door if we need to leave in a hurry. But at this point it would be unlikely even with a 7 magnitude quake. We are also too far inland to be easily affected by a tsunami.
The real concern remains with the nuclear power plants along the coast up north. It seems that a meltdown may have been averted, but the situation is still fluid and somewhat sketchy. A worst case scenario might have a radiation leak turning the surrounding area (we have a flagship church right there) into a ghost town, and perhaps affecting areas as far south as us. This is highly unlikely, but the surreal events of the week remind us that nothing is beyond imagination at the moment. It's great to know that God's got us covered regardless.
We as humans live a weak, frail existence. We depend upon a great God, the only One to cling to when the foundations of this world shake. This week reminded me anew of this. And so we need your prayer.
1) for the rescue efforts going on in the hardest hit areas -- it is expected to snow up there tonight
2) for a "lifeline" to be reopened to the north areas allowing transport of essential items and help
3) for many people in the area that STILL have not yet been heard from by friends of ours
4) for three churches in our church association in the area that STILL have not been heard from
5) Most of all, for Japanese to turn their hearts toward Him and for opportunities to witness and comfort
99% of Japanese are without the hope and eternal life Christ gives. We have prayed and sweated for this country's revival a long time. Could God be allowing an answer in this way?