4/11 Earthquake Update04.11.11

This afternoon, almost timed with the one month anniversary of the earthquake, the wind picked up, the sky darkened, rain poured, and uncharacteristically, thunder and lightning crashed in the dark sky above Tokyo. When I picked up my son from school, the cherry blossoms which yesterday covered the trees  and lightly floated on the breeze were drenched and collecting in sodden pools on the ground.

Just under 150,000 people are still living in schools, community centers, and other temporary situations. In a recent survey, almost half of these people have no idea where or how they will be able to find a place to live, or where or how they will be able to find work. Many are recently bereaved. For those who raised scallops or fished, it will be at least a year or two- maybe many more if they live near the reactors-  until their area of the coast is able to sustain their livelihood again. For those who worked in factories or shops, it is even less certain if or when they will be rebuilt.

In the town of Rikuzentakada, 1162 surviving families lost their homes. Today the first temporary housing units (32 of them) were completed on the athletic field of the junior high school. An interview with one single mother, a school teacher, and her two girls showed their complicated feelings: the 13 year old said, “I’m not really sure if it is OK for us to be in here because so many other people are still living over there in the gym with no hope of moving soon.” Another mother of two decided against even entering the housing lottery and made the heart-breaking decision to leave the area and try to begin a new life somewhere else. All those interviewed long for the restoration of their hometown, but how to stay alive in the meantime is the question.

Tonight I’m watching many tired people who are wondering how long they will be required to hang on. Human nature is such that when faced with a challenge, adrenalin kicks in and we can usually somehow face the crisis. But when the challenge morphs into something worse, then is distorted once again into an even darker, less distinct, more pervasive gloom, hope grows thin.

The milk we often drink comes from Fukushima prefecture, but that has changed lately due to radiation levels. However, cows still produce milk, and will get sick or go dry unless milked twice a day. So dairy farmers still rise early, carefully milk their cows, and almost as carefully, throw it all away. Tonight on one dairy farm, things were very subdued as the grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, and little sister waved goodbye to the junior high son who was being sent away to another city to attend school.  (Although it is the start of the school year, the local junior high had no plan to reopen in the near future.)  When will they be able to sell their milk again? When will their community return to normal? Or will it? Lack of clear information, lack of government leadership, and lack of viable strategies for recovery all make things harder.

In the last month, there have been more than 400 earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 5. Several would have made world headlines (7.2, 6.9, etc.) if they weren’t eclipsed by everything else. While there have been a few quiet days, there were four earthquakes this morning between dawn and 6:30, and a large one this afternoon. I’ve lost count how many there were tonight.  Most people only bother to turn on the TV to find out where it was centered and how strong it was if it lasts for more than 60 seconds.

Recently there are a lot of public service ads featuring attractive, vital-looking young people saying, “We believe in the power of Japan.” The lady doth protest too much, methinks. Japan has been shaken, is being shaken…not because Japan is particularly sinful, or careless about nuclear energy, or any other reason like that. A friend put it somewhat like this. Like the Israel, or the Suffering Servant, Japan is being shaken and tested because Japan was prepared, and can probably endure it. It is a severe mercy because this trauma reveals that human power is not enough. Japan needs the living God, and as Japan turns to God, all of the rest of the world is watching.


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Posted by Andrea Johnson under Uncategorized.

9 Responses to “4/11 Earthquake Update”

  1. It is so hard to imagine this situation with people wondering how long they have to hang on until schools or businesses reopen, until they can move, until… I had no idea of the number of earthquakes still occurring. To live in this constant state of wondering and reminders weighs on the heart. May God’s mercy abound, may God’s compassion surround, and may the Japanese people see and know that He is God with them, for them, just as God is with and for you.

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    Posted by Eva on 12/13/09 April 12th, 2011 at 12:40 AMReply

  2. Very touching article with careful observation, reflections with insights.
    My prayer is: Japan, God’s servant.

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    Posted by Caleb on 12/13/09 April 12th, 2011 at 8:53 AMReply

  3. It is so hard to hear of all that people are suffering. For so many they may never be able to their hometown, a special place in their hearts. I am praying that the Church will be able to offer hope and serve those in their neighborhoods with love in practical ways. Dave will be there next week and see what CWR can do to help.

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    Posted by Ronna on 12/13/09 April 12th, 2011 at 9:17 AMReply

  4. It makes me think of all the places of disaster, like Japan, Haiti, New Zealand, & others- there seems to be rushes of help for first few wks or few months, then donations trickle down, physical support lessens, news stories diminish; but sufferings & lack of needed things like food, shelter, & more continues. Who’s left: the local churches with hopefully it’s “body at large” to continue to give of time & resources & prayers for strength of those working in the areas to be able to keep on by Gods amazing provisions & hope & His joy to share! Your letters keep reminding us of ongoing needs Andrea, thank you & MUCH prayers for ALL!
    Mk 10:29,30:Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake,but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.

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    Posted by JulieH(Seattle) on 12/13/09 April 13th, 2011 at 1:06 AMReply

  5. I loved your last line..”Japan needs the living God, and as Japan turns to God, all the rest of the world is watching.” I marveled at God’s plan. I pray that through all the pain and suffering that the world’s eyes and ears will be opened to Jesus. The time is short!

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    Posted by Bobbi on 12/13/09 April 13th, 2011 at 11:34 AMReply

  6. I can’t thank you enough, Andrea, for keeping us informed–and in such a thoughtful way, too. I saw a Japanese farmer dumping many gallons of milk in a large pit on television the other night. It brings home the many levels of the devastation, doesn’t it? Like you said, he’s still getting up early, still milking the cows, but life is definitely not “normal.” For so many others, they can’t fish or work or take care of themselves. You all continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

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    Posted by Sonja on 12/13/09 April 15th, 2011 at 6:08 AMReply

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