(We just sent this out as an email- wanted to post this for others as well). We wanted to send out a brief update to let you know that we are all okay in the midst of the 8.8 earthquake that has hit the east coast of Japan. Our mission has been gathered since yesterday in the Nagano mountains, about 200 miles from the epicenter, for our annual retreat. There are six members from our church in Washington D.C., Fourth Presbyterian, who are here with us as well to minister to our children during this time. We have been very thankful for their presence and stability to our children during this scary time.
Even as far away as we are, the earthquake was scary and lasted a long time. We were all put into one room for an hour or two while the retreat staff checked for gas leaks and other earthquake concerns. We are fine here now, but our hearts are grieving from the news that has been coming in.
Eric and I first worked together from 2001-2003 in Sendai, which is the epicenter of the earthquake. We were able to call one of our closest friends, Kazue H., and are incredibly thankful that we reached her cell phone since other phone calls have since been hard. Their home is very close to the coast. She and her family were able to get to her mother’s home, much farther inland, before the tsunami hit. But they are sure that their home is gone (the name of the small village is Arahama- one of the terrible videos on the news of houses, roads, and fields being washed away is Arahama). She has not been able to contact our other friends from our church there, L’Abri Bible Chuch. The church and our neighborhood are less than 2 miles from the coast, so we are just too sad as we imagine the possible devastation. We are sure, though, that God will use the faith of these believers to reach out to the hurting in the community.
God’s timing is strange. Last Saturday Eric and I attended an all-day training to help Christians in Japan be prepared to respond in case of earthquake. Eric was supposed to teach that day, but we felt this was really important. We both sense that it is likely that Eric will go and be part of relief efforts. How thankful we are for God’s timing in preparing us to be able to more practically help.. We will pray and wait to see how God may use our family, our mission, and the Church to bring much-needed relief as the days unfold. Our prayer is that God will quickly move and unite the Church to reach out during this terrible tragedy. The news that we are hearing is that it may be the worst earthquake in the history of Japan.
We also believe that God has our mission gathered at this time for His purposes. Pray that God will give us wisdom and allow us to be strategic in what will be challenging days ahead. We do pray that the God of Psalm 46 will bring hope to those who right now are buried in tragedy.
Thanks for your prayers and your concern. We will continue to bring you news as we can from in-country. It is hard to know how to pray, but we believe that the Spirit intercedes for us when words do not come. Earlier tonight we prayed Psalm 46; we have prayed for mercy, for miracles, for accounts of Japanese whose eyes are opened to the realities of His love even in the midst of this.
Eric and Sue