Japan gets earthquakes all the time. I personally hadn't felt one until yesterday (Friday, the 11th). And then I felt at least two. I'm sure every single one of you reading this has already heard all the news, but I wanted to document my small experience...you know, for posterity's sake or something. First of all, we are quite safe. There was no damage to anything nearby. We live in Yokosuka, which is south of Tokyo, which is 230 miles southwest of the epicenter to begin with. So it was far away from us. And we live up inside Tokyo Bay, so we are pretty well protected from tsunamis. We did have a warning tsunami warning for up to 2 meters, but I don't think it ever really came to fruition. Anyway, here's our little story.
Ellie was taking a nap and so was I, but around 2:50 I woke up with a start and realized that the house was kind of shaking. Just a little bit. I jumped out of bed and it was still going and growing in intensity. I realized that somethings around the house were rattling, especially a sort of shelf thing in Ellie's room that is notoriously noisy. She woke up and started crying and I went and got her out and everything was still swaying and had reached the peak of it's intensity. It leveled off and I jumped on Facebook and asked if anyone else had felt that. I just assumed it was a small local quake, not necessarily a big deal.
Ellie and I went downstairs to eat snacks and watch "Sound of Music" (we're so cultured!). I tried calling Ben (school got out at 2:20, but I knew he was staying after for a calligraphy class he had), but I kept getting weird messages in Japanese. And then we felt the biggest aftershock, which was for us just a small scale version of the first quake. With that, I started to think this was something bigger. I hopped online and saw the "Breaking News" on cnn.com that there had been an 8.9 earthquake near Sendai, coupled with tsunamis. Then I started getting a little nervous.
In Japan, at least in our area, they have a very widespread loudspeaker system to announce warnings in instances like this. Shortly after this I heard announcements, in Japanese obviously, coupled with sirens, going off on the system. I posted again on Facebook that we were all safe and sound in our neck of the woods, which turned out to be quite fortuitous as our internet went down about an hour later. I kept trying to get through to Ben, but could never get connected. We felt a tiny little aftershock after that.
Ben came home when I expected him and I asked him if he had heard about the quake. He hadn't heard anything, so he had felt it and had to evacuate his classroom where he was planning. He said that they had closed off all areas of base close the shore, but that was it. I told him how big it was and where it was and he was surprised. We went to go watch the videos online, but then discovered our internet was down.
During dinner some church friends who also live off base called us and we discovered that power was out in their area of town. They had apparently been trying for sometime to get through to other members in the branch. Luckily our electricity has stayed on the entire time.
One other interesting thing. Japan has an "early warning system" for earthquakes too. Apparently some areas at least in Tokyo got a warning about 30 seconds before it hit, but we didn't get anything. But since then our phones have buzzed at least 3 times with "early earthquake warnings" though only one was for our prefecture (like a state, only much small geographically). Luckily nothing has come of any of them, but it is nice to get a bit of a heads up just in case. I'm not sure how they determine what merits a warning being sent out, but it's nice to know it's there.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those in affected areas and their loved ones. I'm sure we will have ample opportunities to help those in need, with time, talents, and money. We feel so blessed to be able to be of service in anyway, and that we have been spared any harm ourselves. Our hearts and prayers are especially with the missionaries of the Sendai Japan Mission and their families, as they are the only mission that they have yet to contact each missionary and confirm their safety. No matter what I know that the Lord looks after us in ways we cannot imagine, and comforts us with inexpressible peace when we turn to Him in faith. Events such as this are always a reminder to me of the gift of mortality and the love of my Savior.