On Thursday night, March 10th, around 11:30 p.m. pacific time, I was chatting happily with the then-future-bride Lisa in her family's home in Bremerton, Washington. We were giddy after a day of church decorating and were just about to call it a night, when Lisa's dad rushed into the room.
"There's been a huge earthquake in Japan."
For the next two hours I was frozen in my seat--watching endless footage of the most horrible devastation I could imagine, desperately emailing everyone I knew on mainland Japan, and praying, fervently, for those in the affected areas. It was a nightmare.
|New York Times|
It also caused nightmares. When I finally was able to close my eyes, my dreams were riddled with those horrible images. Lisa said I even cried out in my sleep.
For the next two days I did everything in my power to focus on where I was instead of on the disaster, and I was able to enjoy myself and the wedding preparations. But every break I had from making flower arrangements or decorating the church found me online, seeking an update, holding back tears, and praying even harder than before.
God, help those people.
I am back in Japan now. Okinawa is far, far from the epicenter and experienced only a miniscule rise in water levels due to the tsunami. Everything is just as I left it, but there is a heaviness in my heart and a hint of sadness in the faces of those around me. During a moment of silence this morning, tears filled the eyes of many of my coworkers. We may be far away, but our hearts are right there with those suffering.
(Here's a map of the damage. If you go way down southwest, you will find Okinawa and see that there was no damage in this area. )
I need to help. I need to do something, to go somewhere, to give. Especially, to pray. National AJET, a volunteer organization that works in connection with the JET Program, sent an email to all JETs with information about volunteering and donating. I found it incredibly helpful and encouraging. It seems that numerous JETs feel the way I do. That we have to do something. There may even be an opportunity to volunteer. I am hoping to be able to donate my time as well as my money and help in that way, but if nothing else I can give money to Red Cross, donate blood (I hope... last time I tried to donate they turned me away for anemia), and pray. Pray, pray, pray.