International Ministries

There Is Always Good News

March 16, 2011 Journal
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Dear Friends,
Not all is grim.  The news media tends to exaggerate much of what is happening in Japan.  The evacuation is recommended for people living 80 miles radius around the nuclear power plant.  The Hwangs and I are 300 miles distant.  A friend reminded me that when you have a chest x-ray you get 100-300 millisieverts, Sixty two miles (100 km) distance from the nuclear power plant it measures 1.4 millisieverts.The Armagosts live quite a distance farther way than we do.  I’ve got several statements from the State Department, none of these bulletins recommend the evacuation of other ex-pats living at the distance we are.  But if we feel unease, they will help us do so.  I don’t feel unease but am putting together an evacuation plan.  Please don’t worry because your information is not accurate for all people.  We don’t intend to become a guinea pig, but will take the precautions we should.

Things are looking better in the northeast part of Japan.  Electricity was turned on many places and cell phone service has been mostly restored.  I’ve talked to most of my friends.  The pastors in these areas are mostly safe and our churches have not suffered as much damage as we thought.  However, most people I talk about having cousins, aunts & uncles whom they cannot contact, and we shed some tears together with each phone call.

The picture of a map I am adding to this letter show where the tsunami landed on the peninsula/town called Shichigahama.  Not all areas were inundated.  First, in the case of Shichigahama Preaching place, water came to within 1650 feet, covering the rice fields just below the housing area where the church is located.  There are still three feet of water sitting in the rice fields.  Pastor Oyama is fine.  Not too far away lives Mrs. Mikie Sanada.  She wrote:  We are safe but the parking lot of the supermarket down the road is full of cars and debris from houses. We’ve been receiving soot from the local gas plant exploding but now we are worried about nuclear particles. Shichigahama is ruined.”  Please pray that this experience will somehow bring her to the Lord.  Recently she seems so close.

Several people might remember me talking about the Wata family.  Mother, father and two girls who came for a time to the church.  Their grandmother, who is my age, became a Christian through the work of the Salvation Army and now works for them in Tokyo.  We became friends and share our faith with each other as we pray for the Watas.  We heard nothing from them for three days and my friend was quite distraught.  Then one evening, I got this call with a screaming voice on the other end. "They’re all safe, their all safe!"  Yes, the ecstasy  was almost unbearable…or maybe it was the volume of the voice!  Praise the Lord.

Today I talked to Kyoko Akama from the church in Shichigahama.  She lives in Tagajo. She said she and her sister-in-law, Mrs. Hashiura, and niece are just fine. They live next door to each other. I know they really aren’t just fine.  With a 9.0 earthquake, what she meant was that they had not been washed away.  The area and town of Nobiru has been in the news.  Her brother lives on the island off Nobiru in the family homestead.  As soon as he felt the earthquake he reached over to unplug the TV and noticed that the carpet was covered with a thin layer of water.  That’s how quick the tsunami came.  He and his wife grabbed some belongings and sloshed out of their home and into the upper floors of a local shelter in a school.  That was the last time he saw his house or any of his other relatives’ homes.  All except that shelter was washed clean off the island.  Her brother’s married son and grandson have not been located.  We “enjoyed” more tears together.

I asked her about how she was living.  She said it was a challenge but they are doing fine, also housing her other brother and his wife.  What is challenging, I asked.  “Did you hear that on the main Sendai-Shiogama road there is a big house sitting right in the middle of that 4 lane road? The lines for gasoline are so long, we’re just walking everywhere.  Police cars are lined up along with the others!  At the grocery store we take turns lining up because we get tired.  After 4-5 hours, when it is our turn, 10 people at a time are allowed in.  We can buy 5 items with each visit for each family representative.  We wait in the line for water about the same length of time as the grocery store and are allowed 3 liters (3.17 qts) per day.  But we’re doing okay.”  

“But we’re doing okay” echoes in my ears.  It’s like a roller coaster.  “Five hours wait” equals the bottom of the track. Then the car chugs up the steep incline, “But, we’re doing okay.”  That’s the peak of the coaster track.  Then we plunge down again when Kyoko says, “I wonder what happened to the people in that house.”

“The Lord gave and the Lord took away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  I’m getting used to that verse little by little.

Are you tired yet of praying for us?  I still feel supported by your prayers, so you must be continuing to pray.  We’re just now getting a sense of what the financial burdens are going to be.  Would you consider giving toward the relief in Japan through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering through your church or online?
Here is the email address

In Christ, Roberta

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