The more I began hearing about the details of the tsunami caused by the 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan, the more I have thanked God every day.
I had set my alarm to get up at 2 a.m. to make a phone call to the states. I got on the internet and was greeted with emails from friends and family urging me to contact them and let them know I was alive. I was honestly in shock. Earthquakes? Tsunami? Marshall Islands? It was all surreal and I remember turning my head for a moment to listen for the rush, or the calm or whatever you listen for when a tsunami is barreling down on you.
I quickly began emailing to diffuse their anxieties about my well-being. We were all sleeping, except me and my phone call, and we hadn’t heard a word about the danger.
As the days passed, the story began unfolding and my heart rejoiced more and more in our God. The initial warning went out just a short time after the earthquake that all of Ebeye was to be evacuated. The school administration did not inform us but were waiting, I suppose, until they absolutely had to; all the while hoping, praying and believing in God. The police were canvassing the streets and people were preparing to evacuate. How was this going to happen? There are sixteen thousand people on this island. Twyla said she turned to Nobel that night, just hours before the tsunami was scheduled to hit and said, “Where are they going to take all of us?”
I doubt there are enough boats, even using those from Kwajalein, to hold all the people here. And you need a lot more time than a few hours to transport that large of a number of people and children. And what about family’s homes and possessions? Even if they took us out to sea, which would likely be the safest place, what would we come back to? Where would we sleep? And all the food would be washed away. I was thinking about all these things as they were telling me how close we came to disaster. But God was watching…
An hour before impact, the warning was lifted. We were all still soundly sleeping. By the time I had awakened, the danger had passed. Nobel said the scientists had all their data and charts in front of them and they charted that the winds had shifted, which in turn, stopped the energy of the wave. He said, “…the scientist have all their data and numbers about the East winds changing direction, and all that scientific stuff but…all I know is that God saves His people!”
I know. I know that East wind. They can call it whatever they like. Put a number on it and chart it in their little books. But His eyes are on the righteous and not a sparrow falls to the ground without Him knowing about it…much less sixteen thousand of the most precious people I know, the apples of His eyes. Closer to peril than I would otherwise ever want to be, I know God and I believe in miracles. Thank God I’m here writing this blog post to you today. Thank God for that. Thank God for His infinite mercy and steadfast love which never ceases. And thank God for the friends and family and all the people who got down on their knees and prayed, because God answered them.
I just Thank God that I belong to Him.
(Edit) Update 3.14.11
I was talking to Annalise who lives on Kwajalein, about the circumstances involving the evacuation of the islands in this area. We were exchanging information and one of the interesting points she mentioned was the geography of this area. The islands are part of the largest atoll in the world; we live on the rim of a sunken volcano.
So unlike most beaches in the world that have a slow grade rise up to sea level, we have a 100+ foot drop to the ocean floor. Tsunamis gain their power and height as the ocean bed ‘pushes’ the mass of water up before hitting land. But here, when the energy of the wave reached us, its power struck the 100 foot wall and dispelled around the atoll and consequently all the islands were relatively untouched.
She said the scientist and forecasters still aren’t sure what happened (funny that she mentioned that). The tsunami did come onshore, but it was also perfect timing; low tide. The majority of the shock was absorbed by the drop off and no damaged occurred. Thank God!