As soon as we were able, we wanted to get a report to you of the earthquake here in Hokkaido. Here are some facts and some thoughts as well!
1. It was 5 hours south of us so we had no residual damage from the earthquake itself.
2. As a result, though, Hokkaido Power who we get our electricity, was damaged (right in the epicenter area) and all of Hokkaido lost electricity.
3. We had no generator but God provided us with a hybrid (gasoline/electric) vehicle two years ago. As a result of that, beings it has an ‘outlet’ in it, we were able to turn on the car, and plug in our freezer and refrigerator, one at a time so we didn’t lose any food!! When we bought the vehicle (2nd hand that the Lord provided a wonderful price for), we had no idea that God would use it this way to help us through!!
4. Last night (Friday evening after roughly 36 hours) our power was restored! One never realizes how much we take electricity for granted until it is gone for even a short time. We filled the hours with reading, playing games, walking and checking in with neighbors and widow ladies and Thursday night the skies were clear and beings it was all black around us we sat on the deck and observed God’s LIGHTS in the sky which shone so brightly that night. It was a nice ‘gift’ from God including the fun huge falling star I saw that night.
5. Unlike some areas, we at least had cold running water during this time. Some other places are/were not so fortunate.
6. Economy is always going to be affected after major natural disasters. Our area dairy farmers and fishermen will be hurt greatly (and in all of Hokkaido.) Dairy farmers had to just throw their milk out because all the Hokkaido milk plants were shut down. Fishermen lost whatever they had in storage…example…Teshio is known for a small shellfish that is bought not only locally but other areas of Japan. It is harvested in July and August. All the frozen supply was lost. Thank you for praying for the economy of this island.
Thank you for your prayers for us and the work here always but thank you for praying for the unknowns that come that allow us to try and be a blessing to others. It reminds us of what is temporal and concentrate on the spiritual and permanent side of our lives. We know who holds tomorrow and we can rest in that for sure!!
Please keep praying for the Japanese that have been so hit with various extreme situations:
We just had the 21st typhoon of the season!! Osaka area in southern Japan was hit terribly hard and they are still trying to recover including one of the international airports built on reclaimed “Land”. Many still without water and electricity down there. That typhoon came right up the western side of Japan on the Japan Sea so affected many even on Hokkaido just as crops are about to be harvested.
Here is the news from the epicenter area of Sapporo (Hokkaido’s capitol city) according to a fellow missionary who was finally able to get word out about this situation:
“Exactly 24 hours after the typhoon woke us up in the early hours of the morning, we were again frighteningly awoken, this time by what was the largest earthquake we have felt in our 27 years here.
The quake whose epicenter was just 30 km from us registered a maximum 7 on the Japanese system of measuring, we felt it as a six. Our home was shaken quite violently, but at this stage we are aware of no structural damage since it was recently built with modern technology which allows the building to move, rather than fracture. Around the house we had things thrown from shelves, including a heavy pot which smashed our IH cooktop. The church also sustained minor breakages and many things thrown from shelves. Across the island there has been larger damage including roads fractured, trees uprooted and power poles down. At this stage 12 have been confirmed dead and a further 22 are missing as rescue workers continue around the clock. Soil liquefaction has caused building to tilt and roads to crack. Thousands have taken refuge in evacuation centers.
We have spent the first 24 hours following the quake checking on church folk & neighbors, queuing in order to secure necessary supplies (which have been rationed) and cleaning up broken glass and mess. It seems that no one in our church or acquaintance have been injured for which we praise the Lord. Currently, we are without power since the major power plant for our island sustained substantial damage and internet & mobile phone services are intermittent. Most businesses and shops are closed. Most traffic lights are out and major intersections are being manually directed by police. Sirens are going all day long. Food is scarce and given that most Japanese don’t stock but shop on a daily basis, it means that already some homes are running out of food. We are eating up what’s in the freezer in the order that it melts and sharing with those around us.
Perhaps the biggest concern is that several of the recent earthquakes that have caused major damage in Japan have had the pattern of a large quake followed by smaller aftershocks then an even larger major quake about 48 hours later then further aftershocks; everyone is bracing themselves for possibly a larger quake over the next 24 hours. Although power is slowing being restored, there is much tension and nervousness from the aftershocks which are constant (100 so far)! At night we are very susceptible to movement of the house, so sleep has been disrupted for several days.
Even if there is no further major quake, it is going to take quite some time before things are back to normal. For now we are safe and enjoying the beautiful panoramas of stars at night which are usually dulled by all the city lights. Emotionally we are stretched, but we know that God is stronger than the elements. Even if we have no electricity, we look forward to worshiping together with our spiritual family on Sunday, although not everyone may be able to get there. We also desire to be a testimony to those around us, knowing that God is in control.”
Please pray for pastors and churches in that area as they try and not only recover themselves, but also helps others around them and their church folk. Thank you.
A couple interesting observations during this first time experience:
1. our bodies tend to be more in auto mode than we think: Every time we went into a room in the twilight/dark part of the day, our hands went up to turn on the light switch that first 24 hours. Also it was funny because I was putting together a meal at our stove, which thankfully is propane gas, so can light it with a match and when I cook at the stove I always put on the fan over the stove. I had started cooking and Ken calls out “don’t forget to turn on the fan” (on purpose)! My hand starts to go up toward the cord, and then I stop turn around and glare!! ha ha on me!
2. Our refrigerator made me jump!! don’t know if I can explain this right, but we alternately plugged in our refrigerator and then our main freezer to keep them going and the food from spoiling. Most of the time, when I opened up the frig (Vicki) to quickly get something out, it was dark in there. One of the times I opened the door (while the electricity in the house was still out) I forgot that we had the refrigerator plugged in at the moment!! I opened the door and jumped back with a wow! That bright light shining out just was so unexpected!! …..Isn’t it wonderful when the Light of Christ also jumps out at someone suddenly and they know that He is the Light of the World and they accept Him!
3. One gets used to the sounds of your local area…ours is usually mostly vehicles of some sort, neighbors talking below our windows, bugs humming, and some silence in between, the wind blowing (much of the time), and the sparrows talking at our feeder. That first day of no electricity the town was silent for a few hours. No cars were on the road. No people out talking. It was almost eerie. Then the next time I took a walk, the air was filled with a new sound–generators running in so many houses in each block. Almost to the point that when you got to one without that sound, you said a prayer for them that they would be OK working through this situation without any electricity at all.
4. There was just enough cell signal (without wifi) that first morning after the earthquake that we could get word to family, home church and facebook that we were OK and how to pray before our cell service went out for 24 hrs. That was such a blessing to me, especially, to know the world on the other side knew we were okay and could pray for us. When I remember what ‘life’ was like without the internet not only for us for 12 years or so when we first arrived, but all the missionaries across the world (and even some in 3rd world countries today yet) of years gone by and no communication in almost any form, it makes us more thankful for what we can do now: Let you know of special needs – before or during – rather than later after it’s all over! We are blessed in so many ways. Thank you for praying for us regularly and for our special needs as well.
5. As we walked the area and thought of places where we could check, especially widows, I was again struck with thankfulness that I was not going through hours of darkness alone…I know God walks with me always, but to have Ken by my side and to rely on to help me emotionally and physically through this unexpected event was such a blessing. May it always make me aware of the widows around me and their needs!
As I send this out, there are still no food supplies in Teshio or other areas up here. Very limited in the earthquake area so lines are the rule to see what you can receive. We will be patient and wait in prayer and thank God for freezer and canned supplies!
Lord bless you! Thanks for always having our backs in prayer!!
Serving the Lord Together with Thankfulness,
Ken and Vicki