3/20 Earthquake Update03.20.11

Today I went to Kobe Union Church on Rokko Mountain. Kobe is gorgeous- wish I were here on a vacation, in a vacation mood. It reminds me of Seattle in so many ways including the hills and harbors, attitude and atmosphere. There were three of us “visiting from Tokyo” mothers-plus-children families. Many people in the church had family and friends in the affected area, so the tone of worship reflected their concerns and need for hope and consolation. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:21-23)

The trauma from this earthquake no doubt stirs memories of lingering pain in the residents of Kobe (and of course Niigata also). Scattered throughout the most habitable parts of the city are vacant lots that were not vacant 16 years and 2 months ago, but now lie flat, sterile, and empty, as if even the weeds and flowers hesitate to grow out of respect for the former inhabitants.  It would be interesting to find the actual number that have not been rebuilt since the Kobe earthquake on January 17, 1995. However, it seems Kobe residents have turned their pain into generosity, and have been highly visible in relief work and preparing networks to help refugees. (I don’t consider myself one…I’m a voluntarily displaced person at the moment though they have been very kind to me.) I spoke with someone from the Kobe YWCA today who said she already has a long list of people who have volunteered housing; one family from the Central African Republic was just relocated from Sendai today.

Refugees are also being welcomed into many other prefectures, so between the thousands of people in Tohoku and the thousands of people near the reactors in Fukushima, there is a lot of movement going on. Crisis usually presents both opportunity and danger. The dangers of the tsunami, exposure, thirst, hunger and hopefully radiation are beginning to wind down- those who haven’t got rescued yet or don’t have supplies are dying- although there was an amazing rescue story today about a 16 year old and his 80 year old grandmother who was pinned under rubble but finally rescued today alive, but with severe hypothermia- a body temperature of 28 degrees C.  Those who do have shelter, food, and warmth are beginning to gain their strength back and consider the next step. The next level of danger hinted at yesterday- dislocation from meaningful community- will take years to address and heal. My prayer is that in the midst of the losses many will find a clarity about what’s really important in life, and as they build new community, will open their hearts to the love of God in a way they haven’t known before. This will be more likely to happen if some living in God’s love, forgiveness, and peace are there to welcome them.

P.S. We moved to an apartment owned by the Methodist mission here in Kobe in order to allow our host family to begin to get their lives back to normal. It has a washer and dryer (rare in Japan!), floor heating underneath wall to wall carpet, and Wi-Fi access…poor me.


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Posted by Andrea Johnson under Uncategorized.

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