Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunset over the Tsunami...

A normal day…a Friday… I had been at the elementary school all day. I was ending my day and just goofing off with my coworkers in the office when our friend called us and told us we had a tsunami warning. Not yet knowing the severity of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake only several hundred miles north of our small island in the Pacific, we disregarded it. Silvia, Virle, and I were closing up the school when we got a second alert. Again, being reassured that there was nothing to worry about we went home and planned for our normal Friday evening vespers and dinner at Dr. Stafford’s place. Then our friends Virle and Joeie went out for gas and came right back wondering about the long lines and panic that was rising on the island. At this time our friend Jon came by, being a US Marshall he hasted along the panic along with the warning given to our friends by the police.

We were being evacuated. That’s when it hit me…this is a big deal. After panic started to sink into my stomach my housemates and I ran to our rooms and started packing a backpack full of anything we held dear. I grabbed my computer and a change of clothes…but all my books…all my pictures…all my journals, which would I take? I grabbed my passport, Bible, and two most precious travel/prayer journals and ran out with my roommate. The intensity of having to hurry was beat into me upon seeing police patrol up and down our road which made my heart beat out of my chest. (Considering the police are usually never ever seen on this island…) What was going on…I had anything important to me in a bag on my back...not confident I’d ever be able to go back to the place I’d called home. When do you ever think you’d be in a position like that? I wasn’t trained for that…
My housemates, neighbors, and friends gathered in a circle before we pulled the cars out and just prayed. In my heart I was screaming…this can’t be as serious as they say…then we found out the was supposed to be hitting the island at about 7…it was 6:20. I could just tell by every ones nervous laughter and expressions splashed on faces that I wasn’t the only one afraid. But it was okay, we knew God would be with us no matter what…
As David and I hit the main road in the truck I was doing everything I could to just stay calm. We passed cars with their flashers on…police cars evacuating tourists and low income people in school buses from hotels and homes. All the businesses were barred and closed…even gas stations were empty now. People were sitting on their roofs and stacked in the backs of pickup trucks headed to either the airport or Mt. Tapochau-the highest points on the island. We saw one Navy ship after the other pull out of our quiet harbor as the sun set behind it. Usually I’d enjoy such a brilliant yellow and orange sunset…but not tonight. I looked at my friend of 17 years and tried to laugh as I asked for reassurance. I was just thinking over and over…holy crap, this isn’t a dream.
We reached the top of Tapochau and had to battle through vehicle after vehicle either pulled off the road or just stopping unable to go any farther up the mountain road. Literally thousands of people were with us at the top…just sitting...their silhouettes against the sky seemed picturesque…just watching the sunset over the horizon that was soon expected to be beyond anyone’s control. We were all just waiting.
We reached the top and were greeted by our SDA Clinic doctors and friends who had come to take shelter in this house far up on the mountain…and again, we just looked down at the island and just watched the sunset over the water…and then it got dark. We never saw what really happened. That night when we were laying in bed…not sleeping… it rained harder than I’ve ever heard…eerie.
Everyone thinks it can never happen to them. I thought so too…but I sit back and think…what if  it’d been worse? We weren’t ready…at all. Safety wise the island is prepared…but I know I wasn’t.
I know we just all were praying. And I thank my friends and family...and my friend’s families…when I got on facebook for the first time I literally had over 100 comments and messages from friends praying and thinking of us. Thank you. Honestly, you will never know how much that meant to me after all the craziness. Thank you. We didn’t know how bad things were off the island…I can’t believe how much devastation Japan has. It’s just mind blowing. Hopefully, besides aftershocks... it’s all over for the people on the mainland. WOW.
…Be ready, for anything. Although safe and unhurt, I find myself thinking today what if it had been worse? Who haven’t I made amends with? What if this happens again?…pray for those who didn’t make it.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1


  1. Hi Sera. I'm glad for this post. It gave me a better idea of what you went through... I was on the edge, along with so many others (obviously-that showed on your facebook page). I'm so glad you are okay.

  2. Hello Sera,

    We came over from Bobbi's blog and we will keep praying that you remain safe.....

    coco and tiffy

  3. Hellos, I came from Bobbi's also. Thankk goodness ya'll is okays and safe. We are praying fur all in Japan.


  4. Thinking about everyone over there and glad you are Ok. Bobbi's blog sent me.