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I’m scheduled to write about a memory for which I’m grateful. Once again, it is very hard to choose just one. I have a tendency to write about memories most of the time so I was wracking my brain to think of something clever or creative. However, while checking my “On This Day” tab on my Facebook news feed, I came across a memory from six years, for which I am so very thankful.

tsnumani_2011

Six years ago last week was the anniversary of the magnitude 9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami which devastated northeastern Japan. With only the 2008 Cedar Rapids flood as a reference, I cannot begin to imagine the recovery efforts needed to return to some sense of normalcy. The effects of that disaster were felt around the world, even in Cedar Rapids, as the McGarveys here (and in the St. Louis area) waited impatiently for news. You see, my beautiful niece Kim was working as a kindergarten teacher in Sendai, only 80-miles from the earthquake’s epicenter. Initially, local people reported 200 to 300 bodies already been found there. It all turned out okay for Kim, but even with all the current technology, it was hours before we knew that for sure. Hours of prayer. Hours of worry (let’s be honest – we say Christians shouldn’t worry, but we do). Hours of waiting for any little bit of news. Hours of watching devastating video. Hours of hearing rumors, hoping it’s all false.

If my memory is correct (please, no quotes here), Kim’s school ended up being a recovery location. She waited herself for news of her little students. As Americans, she and some other teachers ended up being transferred to the U.S. Air Force base at Misawa, north of the affected area. Eventually she flew home, only to return in late summer to help out again.

The numbers involved with this earthquake and tsunami are incomprehensible. The death toll was over 18,000, with over 6,000 injured. Entire towns were lost. Over 228,000 people had to live away from their homes, either temporarily or permanently. The property damage figures are staggering. Some estimate insured losses from the earthquake alone to be $34.6 billion US dollars. The tsunami caused nuclear accidents including meltdowns of three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant complex. People within a 12 miles radius of the plant evacuated. The health results of this part of the disaster may never be comprehended. Radiation levels remain dangerously high, and the Tokyo Electric Power Company reported in 2013 that about 300 tons of radioactive water leaks into the Pacific Ocean everyday.

It is not my intent to scare people. Though I am very grateful for my niece’s safety, for many, this anniversary is a reminder of one of the worst moments in recent history. Please take some time today to hug your kids, call your mom, and pray for a nation still recovering. May my heart be moved as God’s heart.

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