Just FYI this is going to be a long post. I don't think there is any way around it. Just have stuff to get off my chest and figured I would share it. :-)
I have been thinking a lot about my little brother lately, Zacky Poo. He is going through a lot of major change in his life right now. Well really he's gone through a lot of change in the last 10 months or so. Last August we all gathered and tearfully said goodbye as Zack left to move a universe away to Japan. He left us for Kuji City, Iwate with a two year contract through a teaching program to work with the schools in the area teaching English. We prayed for a safe trip there and that he would be happy. He was gone a short time and came home for Christmas. Again we said a tearful goodbye, but new he was happy there. He had made friends, gotten settled and now had a girlfriend, Georgia. His overall safety in Japan never crossed our minds. Japan is a major world power after all. It's not a third world country nor is it war stricken and even more so the crime there isn't what we see here. He seemed safe and happy.
Then on March 11th came that call that no one wants to get. It's the middle of the night, way to early phone call. The one that you immediately know something isn't right because people don't call at those times to say they got a new puppy or are getting married or are having a baby. They wait until reasonable hours to do those things. No this was my mom, a little before 6:00AM, calling to say that we needed to get up and start praying that there had been a horrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan and that they couldn't reach Zack. We had no idea if he was ok. I jumped up shaking and got Ryan and ran to our computer. (We don't have cable or satellite so no news channels.) I pulled up MSNBC and found the most devastating and scary pictures one might see when your loved one is potentially in the middle of that. The first headline was "Nuclear Emergency Declared in Japan" and below it were pictures of fires and rubble that was unrecognizable. There was video after video of this enormous "wave" of water inundating these towns and cities that line the coast. Unfortunately, my knowledge of Japan was so minimal it was so hard to tell where things were and what was going on. All I knew was there had been a 9.0 earthquake (one of the largest in history) and a tsunami that was recorded in some areas as high as 30 feet or more. High enough to demolish some 2 and 3 story buildings, strong enough to move entire houses, it picked up cars and put them on top of large buildings, tore families apart and devastated a country. This is where my brother was. Somewhere in the midst of this. My heart felt like it was failing me. How could this be happening??
We immediately called on friends and family to begin praying for safety and that we would hear something soon. If I have ever been thankful for social networking it was at that moment. I was able to post my prayer needs and within minutes I had so many people joining with my family in prayer. It was an awesome thing. Somehow we all pulled ourselves together enough to go to work that day. Although we spent a majority of it checking the news, calling each other and emailing search and rescue through the US Embassy that had been set up. It wasn't until that evening that we got word in a round about way that my brother was ok. He was alive, but had set off on foot to the town where Georgia lives which would usually be a short drive away. The stress continued for all of us not know about her safety and whereabouts and Zack's continued safety. We hadn't actually heard directly from him and unfortunately in situations of this magnitude communications are wrong and people are misidentified. The next morning we all received emails from Zack that he was safe and after 20 hours of hiking and trying he found Georgia also safe.
This is something we never in a million years thought we would have had to go through. The concern and fear I felt over this, I am sure I have never felt before. I didn't sleep well for weeks. It seems that just hearing he was safe wasn't good enough. It took several weeks for me to stop checking online for aftershocks and checking the US Embassy's website to make sure they weren't ordering an evacuation. Even now, I still check on the size of aftershocks from time to time. Because they still continue, just yesterday there was a 6.7 aftershock or earthquake.
The country is cleaning up and things are turning back around. Their bravery and the way the Japanese people handled themselves is amazing. I watched the news and read stories and was amazed at the way they handled themselves in the face of disaster. I am not so sure the same would happen here. While I would like to say that there wouldn't be looting or crime here, I am not so sure. I am so proud of my brother. He has grown up so much. He isn't really my baby brother anymore. I would say he's officially a man. I am proud of who he has become. He has gone through more in his young lifetime than most will go through in their whole life. We love him very much.
Through this I was reminded of how important it is to lean on God. To rely on Him as our comforter and provider, the one who brings peace. I know that he is in control through the good times and the bad. I think more importantly I am trying to remember that God is worthy to be praised even in those horribly uncertain times. The times where it seems like things are falling apart or that there is no good happening, I have to remember that God is in control and he has a plan. If God knows the number of stars and has given each one a name (Psalm 147:4), how can he not know and have control of the details of my life or my family? I continue to pray for peace and for comfort for the families in Japan and throughout the world who weren't as blessed as we where. The ones who waited for word that never came. I pray that they will feel God's overwhelming love and know that he is the one providing it.
You can still donate money towards Japan relief. Here are a couple links if you want to:
www.shelterbox.org (you can't specify Japan here, but it's a cool organization)