HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!
Yes, it is Thursday, March 17th, but I won't be celebrating St. Patty's Day today. Of course, I never really did when I was in the States either. I have decided to stay home today for several reasons, the biggest is that I do not have a need to travel, so I want to help my not using the trains today. Speaking of using trains, the a couple of the pictures I have included with this post are from Shinjuku Station. This was yesterday around 10AM on the Chuo Line platform. Those of you who have been to Tokyo will really understand the significance of these pictures. The Chuo Line is the train that as a volunteer you traveled on from Shinjuku to Mitaka, Kichijoji, Kokubunji, and Tachikawa. For those of you not familiar with the trains in Tokyo, Shinjuku is one of the busiest (if not the busiest) stations in the world!!! The Chuo Line is one of the busiest in Tokyo, and at 10AM there are typically a lot of people on this platform waiting for the next train. Of course 10AM is not the working rush hour, so what I usually see are people out shopping, college students traveling to class, the older population out running errands, but not yesterday. When I showed these pictures to K-san, she was even very surprised! I am assuming that people are doing what the government is asking us to do, and that is restrict unnecessary train travel in order to help conserve electricity.
You will also notice a couple of pictures of people lined up waiting. One is a line which formed outside of the basement store at the Shinjuku station. I am sure they are waiting to go down and get basic groceries. Stores here do not really open until 10AM on a normal day. I have seen that some of the bread stores have large crowds early in the morning. K-san mentioned that yesterday she was at her grocery store very early to get some items. We are finding that after lunch most things are gone for the day. In Japan, the people don't shop for groceries like we do in the States. What I mean is that many go to the store every day, or every couple of days. The reason is because their apartments/homes are quite small and they don't have space to store a lot of extra food. Also their refrigerators are smaller. Now, for me, I am in an apartment built for Americans. So, I have an American refrigerator, and plenty of cabinets, and therefore, I am stocked up well with food. As long as we have electricity I am good. I have been picking up items each day which do not required cooking, just in case, but right now I am good as far as food is concerned.
The other picture of people lined up is outside of a Starbucks in Kokubunji just before 2PM. I have never seen this store closed but right now they are not opening until 2PM and closing at 6PM. Again, they are trying to help conserve electricity. Many stores are opening and closing at hours different from normal operating hours.
Again, for those of you who have been to Kokubunji, the next picture is of an arcade which one of you (Jared A.) played the drum video game at during our '07 trip. Also in the picture is the entrance to the karaoke place where we use to have our Sunday evening Bible study/church. Jackson Way folks, this is where you went during your trip in '09. Both of these "stores" are usually open at this time, so it was strange to not hear the sounds of the games being played and the voices of students talking and laughing on the street outside.
The next picture is of a convenience store I stop in regularly. The shelves in every store look like these pictures. Doesn't mean we can't get things. I took these pictures late in the afternoon, so the daily supply was just gone for that day. We are NOT starving!!!!
I am reading on American news sites some headlines are saying there is panic in Tokyo. That could NOT be further from the truth. Is there deep concern, yes. But panic like we see in America or the other countries, absolutely NOT! There is a difference in the "air" here. Meaning that although the people are usually quiet anyway, there is a more somber silence now. But, people are not running around screaming and crying. They are very calm and steady, which is typical of the Japanese. They form single file, orderly lines and wait patiently until it is their turn. I have heard that some people up north are waiting 2 - 4 hours to get fresh water, or gas for their cars. But again, there is not "panic" like we as Americans are use to seeing. Is there serious concern? Definitely. I have yet to meet with a person who does not talk about the scare of the nuclear situation. But everyone seems to be trying to take necessary precautions while going about life as normal as possible.
We are still having big aftershocks. Tuesday morning at 5AM I woke up to a shake different than any I had felt so far in Tokyo. It did not last long, but instead of moving side to side, it moved up and down. I literally was bounced (not very far) up from my bed. I have been told that this kind of quake is what is typical for the Kanto area, which is where Tokyo is located. My Japanese friends, later that day, confirmed that it was the Kanto type quake. Then Tuesday night we had another "big" shake. It registered here at a 3 on the Japanese scale. I realize that compared to the 9 quake from Friday a 3 is minor, but these days anything over a 1 gets the adrenaline pumping. I confess that one shook me up a little bit. I am really ok now, but the shake happened around 10:30pm and I just couldn't get to sleep until 2:30-3:00AM. Was SO thankful for God's Word, which I opened soon after, and some wonderful praise music, and harp music I have downloaded on my phone. Still amazed at how music can be very calming for the spirit. We had another good shake last night (Wednesday), again around 10:45pm. I was actually already in bed asleep, but woke up and began praying. Again, we are all ok. I don't want to "sugar coat" things, or make anything out to be worse than it really is, so will be honest and say that the number and magnitude of these tremors/quakes does begin to ware on you. I have wished several times that I could go to the shoes in my closet and find a pair of ruby slippers to put on so I could click my heels three times.
"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:28-31
This is some of the latest news from the mission family in Sendai: "On an amazingly upbeat note, Kevin Qualls, whose family's safety you prayed for writes, "As we have continued to check on friends, today by phone because of the rain and snow, we found out that my friend, whom I made when I joined the cooking class last term and whom we have been witnessing to and praying for, accepted Christ on the 13th. His wife is a believer and we are all praising the Lord for this new brother in the Lord." Lord, You continue to amaze us! (Our leadership is currently putting together a temporary relocation plan for the Qualls.)" Praise God for this awesome news of a new believer. I am sure there are other stories like this happening throughout this country.
Thanks for "holding the ropes" for us through your prayers! God is to be praised at ALL times!