This past Wednesday, Eric was leaving our staff meeting in the afternoon to go pick up our kids when I got an email from the elementary school. I went next door to Nozomi to check with the other elementary moms – we had all received it. A tsunami warning, as a result of the earthquake in the Solomon Islands, meant that our school was following protocol and not sending the school buses down the mountain until the warning was lifted. We didn’t know what this meant for awhile… but we received several more emails over the next hour that made it clear that no parents were allowed to come to the school; we just had to wait it out.
The Nozomi and Be One staff joined together to pray. There was a sense of fear — not so much because anyone thought that a big tsunami was going to come (the warning was for at most a small one), but because the memories of the 2011 tsunami loomed large. I have learned – and begun to understand more — that the hardest thing for all my mom friends is being separated from their children.
As the minutes became hours, Eric and I exchanged concerns in particular about Annie. Since the big earthquake and tsunami warnings several months ago, she has had increased fear of tsunamis – most nights talking about it. She has continued to express concerns about our upcoming move because our new home will be in the tsunami zone. We wondered how she was doing with no communication and this sudden event. She wouldn’t necessarily understand if this was a real danger or a precaution.
There were many worried, cold parents waiting when the school buses pulled in around 8 pm. It was good to connect with most of our Nozomi mom friends and their children who had to come single-file off the buses, with a teacher checking off each name and confirming the waiting parent. We found out that the kids had had some emergency-rationed rice at school (“it tasted terrible!”). Annie said that many of the children in her second-grade class were crying. I asked if it was because they missed their moms; she said no, it was because they were remembering the other tsunami.
Both of our children seemed to be ok, though Annie hugged me for a very long time and did not want to let go. We’ve had a few hard days with her since- it’s hard to know how much this has caused her moodiness. I am very thankful for two messages that I received in the past few days to help Annie.
From our friend Shelly – this is a great thing for any parent to do – we never really know when our children may go through something difficult and we can’t be with them:
Sit each child down with you and Eric, then one by one take that child in your arms – like you might cradle a baby and tell them to close their eyes and just feel how good it feels to be held in your arms. Sit with them for 15-20 seconds at least – if they will tolerate it. Whisper that you love them, then whisper that you feel Jesus’s arms around both of you and He is with you. You might say something like “I think Jesus can feel our hearts beating” or something like that. Then the other one should do the same thing. Then tell the child that if they ever hear a tsunami warning, etc at school or when you are away from each other, they can close their eyes and feel that you are always in their heart and they are always in yours.
Don’t make promises that you can’t keep – like saying “I will always be there for you, or mommy and daddy will always keep you safe” – because you can’t do this. But reminding them how comforting it is to be in your arms, and that Jesus is with them in this calming way, may give them some strength in the future.
I love this! Tonight I had some special alone time with Ian when I put him in bed and I held him tight and went through this exercise. I want to keep doing this with each of our children and helping … to instill in them a peaceful and calming place to go internally – no matter what is happening on the outside.
The second email that I received was from my sister Hannah. She wrote an email to Annie after hearing this story, telling her of a recent experience where she met a mountain lion in front of her car that really scared her. She shared about her genuine fear, asking Annie to pray for her about this. Annie listened without much comment, but wanted to see on the internet what a mountain lion looks like. She was quite impressed by the size!
Yesterday she brought up the mountain lions again. She wants to send an email to Auntie Hannah and see how she’s doing, and share about her recent tsunami experience. Thankful for a community even worlds away who are walking with us.