Hurray! The telephone/internet company said they’d come put us on-line on April 1. (Right now I’m standing on a packing box in Mark’s study, working on Mark’s lap top which is on an elevated shelf, where we can often find an unencrypted wireless connection.)
Summarizing our earthquake experience:
Mark and I have always been safe, and have had it quite easy. The uncertainty –When will the next quake come? Should I go to bed with my clothes on? Should I drink this water now or save it in case we need it later? Are all my friends and co-workers safe? . . . preoccupied us for a while. Now, two weeks out, life has pretty much settled down. We still have aftershocks, and the news about the Fukushima reactor still catches our attention, but the day to day functioning is slowing getting back to normal. There is some bread, rice, eggs and TP on the store shelves again. It’s being rationed to keep control of the hoarding that was going on. Still no items like milk. There is plenty of fresh produce and we are fine for food. Trains are running more frequently, though not back to normal schedules yet. We have electricity almost all the time. The stores have strange hours to accommodate the scheduled blackouts and the usual bright lights of the city are dim or turned off. Though some gas stations are still closed, Mark was able to get gas yesterday and the line only had 16 cars waiting. This is a huge answer to prayer.
We were in the Sendai area (at the coast) for 6 days before the quake hit. We were supposed to be there a week, but since the moving company changed the moving date we decided to leave on Thursday to go back to Tokyo to finish packing. As you know, 24 hours later the quake/tsunami hit. We had walked on a beach that no longer exists. The road we drove home on was engulfed in tsunami waters 24 hours later. I still get goosebumps thinking about how our schedule changed, and wonder who all was praying for us at that time, and why the moving company changed the moving date they had originally agreed to.
ViBi (the translation project) has not done much translation since the quake as most workers are pastors and they need to be with their people right now. Also, some don’t have the gas to get to work. Also, concentration is still tough for many of us. On the other hand, we’re very thankful that Pastor Minamida was able to volunteer time translating news reports to put on-line so Deaf people could get information on the earthquake in their own language.
The first staff meeting for Wheelchairs of Hope was 6 hours long, as we all sat and talked and heard each other’s stories. We prayed together and were just happy to see each other again, no one wanted to end the meeting.
On Monday (March 28) Mark is going with a small team up to the port city of Shiogama (near Sendai). 40 years ago, his parents planted a church there, at a spot up the hill overlooking much of the destroyed area. The church has asked if we could send anyone to come help with earthquake recovery, so a group of JBF missionaries are going. We’re especially excited that Mark’s brother Bruce will be coming from the US to go along–you can see his story on his blog: http://brucesjourneytojapan.blogspot.com/ . The team will take their own water and food supply, sleeping bags, etc., so pray that we’ll be able to pull it all together. (Water was all sold out when I went yesterday, but we were promised 18 liters by our rice shop, and hope to get it on Sunday. Purchasing gasoline is also still tricky.) The team will be stopping along the way to drop off rice and food to a church in Iwaki for the people in their area. Please pray that the shopping and purchasing will go well, for the team as they go minister, and for those they will be ministering to.
Pray especially for Mark. Our family lived in Sendai for 7 years. When Mark looked through the lists of survivors, he cried reading the names of Deaf people we know, relieved that they were safe, but grieving that they still don’t know Jesus. We’re of course hoping he’ll have time to connect with Deaf friends, but priority goes to whatever the church has for them to do. They are going to there in order to serve.
Ongoing prayer requests would be:
1- For the Japanese pastors and Christians as they face both fantastic challenges and opportunities at this time. That they will be strong and courageous, and yet not strive in their own strength but know it is God who is building His Kingdom.
2- For the many Japanese who are grieving the loss of family and friends. That God will show HImself to them, that they will hear His voice.
3- For the missionaries and also teams coming from overseas, especially for the group of missionaries traveling to Shiogama on Monday.
4- For above all, that God’s mighty name will be lifted up across this land and His will done in all our hearts and lives.
Thank you so much for standing with us at this time. Thank you for your prayers for us and for Japan.
Rejoicing in our mighty God,
Mark and Mary Esther
Several of you have asked about where to send funds to specifically help the Japanese Deaf earthquake/tsunami victims who are often the last to get communication and information. Checks may be sent to:
1501 W. Mineral Ave.
Littleton, CO 80120-5612
They should be marked “Penner Deaf Min & Wheelchairs of Hope Supplement Special Project”, Deaf Earthquake Relief
If you are wanting to give to Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami relief work in general, we heartily recommend sending funds to the WorldVenture Japan Earthquake fund to help our churches rebuild and also reach out to the communities around them by helping them rebuild. This fund can also be found on-line at: https://worldventure.com/GiveNow.aspx?aliaspath=/Give/Give-Now