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A Glimmer of Hope for Quake-Damaged Japan, Part 1

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Faith's Firm Foundation: A Glimmer of Hope for Quake-Damaged Japan, Part 1

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Glimmer of Hope for Quake-Damaged Japan, Part 1

A young woman named Lisa Shoreland contacted me one day about the possibility of writing a guest post for my blog. Reading her sample writing, I learned that she is of Japanese descent and grew up in Japan.  Her parents are still there. While I considered her offer of a guest post and thought about a possible topic that would fit my blog, a momentous event crashed upon the world's consciousness:  a massive earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.  You will be touched and profoundly moved, as I was, by what Lisa has to share.  Please welcome Lisa, and come back Tuesday for Part 2 of "A Glimmer of Hope for Quake-Damaged Japan."  Thank you, Lisa, for sharing from your heart with us.
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When I was 12, home alone one day after school while Mama had gone out grocery shopping, I heard the walls begin to groan around me in a low tremor--nothing unusual in Japan--but the tremor turned into an all-out rumble and my books began falling from their shelves.

My knees wobbled but I was unharmed when my panicked mother called.  I turned on the TV and saw that it had been a 7 magnitude earthquake, the strongest I'd experienced yet.

I wasn't in Japan the day a 9.0 struck off the east coast of Oshika Peninsula of Tohoku.  A mere bump of 2.0 magnitude destroyed highways, bridges, and homes, but its destruction wasn't as fearsome as that caused by the 10 meter (33 ft) high tsunami that struck less than 15 minutes afterward.

Rising Tides and Tension
I called home on Friday morning as soon as I heard about the quake.  My father frequently travels through Japan, sometimes as far up as Misawa, as part of his job with the U.S. military.  I began to wonder if he had been up north when the quake had struck.  I wondered if the tsunami had traveled as far south as Hiroshima, my hometown, and if my mother was evacuating my brother's seaside home for the mountains.  The longer the phone rang, the bigger the knot grew in my stomach.

It took seven hours, but my mother finally picked up. She had been asleep and my father, the lighter sleeper, had spent the night in his office in the nearby Marine Corps base, manning the phones while the disaster unfurled up north.  My brother, his wife, and their newborn child were safe in their home.

Closer to the Disaster
My childhood friend Yasue was not so lucky.  He lived in an apartment in Tokyo, where major power blackouts went on for days before he was able to respond to my frantic e-mail.  He was alive but scared, and his livelihood--the guitar he had played alongside famed bands on several Japanese TV programs--had been shattered beneath a fallen bookshelf in the quake.  Worst of all--worse than the radiation scares that even now have thousands of people stocking up on food or even leaving the city--was that his family had yet to call him.  They lived on the coast in Sendai, a city directly hit by the devastating tsunami.

A look at the pictures or videos of the devastation is enough to bring a tear to any one's eye.  In many, one can see a stretch of water--black with dirt and collecting a wall of debris--growing and growing until it moves entire houses and drowns crops and city streets.  As a dual Japanese-American citizen, however, there's something about this that drives the number 18,000--the number of estimated dead--close to home.

I was born and raised close to fishing villages like the ones up north, at least one of which--Otsuchi--has lost over half of their population to the tsunami.  I have felt a fraction of Mother Nature's wrath and dashed through the house after my two frenzied cats and cowered in my mother's and father's arms beneath a fortified doorway.  For 18,000 people, such measures had not been enough.

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You can read Part 2 on Tuesday--Keep the Japanese people and the rescue workers in your prayers.

Bio:  Lisa Shoreland is currently a resident blogger at Go College, where recently she's been researching doctoral grants programs as well as poor credit student loans.  In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing, practicing martial arts, and taking weekend trips.

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