Two LCMS missionaries serving in Japan were in Tokyo when the March 11 earthquake devastated the country’s east coast some 200 miles away.
Career missionary Dr. Jonathan Blanke was working at his home on the campus of Japan Lutheran College when his house started “moving back and forth” like “a ship being tossed at sea.”
“We had a few things bounce off tables onto the floor,” he told LCMS World Mission in a March 12 e-mail. “But our house, like so many that are recently built, has been ‘earthquake-proofed’ as much as possible. It was encouraging to see that it shook like crazy, but held up to the onslaught.”
The only evident damage, he said, is a few small cracks in the kitchen’s ceiling and walls.
Blanke, his wife, Juli, and children, Sarah and Joel, are fine.
To read more about Blanke, click here.
Kim Sherwin, an LCMS World Mission GEO missionary, was at a Tokyo-area church, where she teaches English to Japanese children, when the earthquake struck. GEO, or Globally Engaged in Outreach, missionaries serve one or two years, and many, like Sherwin, teach English-as-a-foreign-language while witnessing their faith.
“I was outside with the three young students and their mothers when it started,” she wrote to LCMS World Mission, also March 12. As the shaking got stronger, the group moved to the middle of the church’s parking lot, where they were joined by two others — GEO missionary Matt Hass and former LCMS missionary Linda Deines.
“The shaking was too strong to stand easily, so we were crouched down, covering the kids,” Sherwin said. “They were really scared, and the mothers and I were doing our best to comfort them — not so easy when you’re also experiencing the strongest earthquake of your life.”
During the earthquake, a Japanese woman who lived nearby joined the group. “She wasn’t a church member or an English student, just a church neighbor,” Sherwin said. “I guess God can even use this kind of chaos to forge new relationships.”
Afterwards, Sherwin and Hass roamed the neighborhood, moving debris out of the road and asking residents if they were OK.
Since the trains were not running, Hass was unable to get to his home, more than an hour away. He and Sherwin and Deines — who lived nearby — decided to “camp out” at the church that night, “both for safety and for moral support,” Sherwin said.
“The aftershocks are still rolling, but for the most part, things here are somewhat back to normal — kind of,” she said. “The adrenaline is still pumping, more than a day later.
“This has been a weekend I doubt I’ll ever forget,” she added. “Watching the news about the rest of the country, I feel like I’m in a dream.
“Continued prayers are appreciated for those who’ve lost loved ones, as well as anyone injured, trapped, or cut off by the earthquakes and tsunamis, and for all of us as we pick up the pieces and try to move on with life.”
To read more about Sherwin, click here.
To read the LCMS World Mission blog, go to http://blog.lcmsworldmission.org.
For more information and resources — and to contribute to LCMS World Relief and Human Care’s Disaster Relief Fund for Japan — visit www.lcms.org/help.
Posted March 12, 2011