Blessings Dear Loved Ones & Prayer Partners!
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. Never since World War II has this country needed more comfort. Since March 11th when the 5th largest earthquake in world history took place we have had the largest Tsunami EVER and then an additional 757 other quakes since the BIG ONE! The country is continually shaking. Just today we have already had 7 more quakes, and we fear they will continue for a long time. Luckily for us, our area doesn’t feel most of those, but the people that are in shelters, living in homes without water or electricity, each shake has to bring more and more fear. Please pray that His comfort can come over all of these people.
Until the last couple of days, the major affect have been to those closer to the earthquake center, but since the 11th their have been strong quakes in different parts of the country. Because of the Nuclear Reactor problems, the areas serviced by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. are conserving as much energy as possible. These areas include Tokyo, Yokohama and several prefectures. They are having roaming blackouts throughout each day to save on power. Zack lives in one of these areas and never knows when the power will be on or off. When it’s off, life stops! Japan is dependant on trains for transportation, especially in major cities, so when the lights are out in Tokyo, so are the trains. So in the major populated areas, the blackouts are creating unique problems.
Starting last Saturday, radiation levels were found in milk and spinach grown in the Fukushima area where the Fukushima Daiichi power plant is located. The products were immediately taken off shelves throughout the country, but since the country is already living in fear, almost all the milk and similar products (yogurt, butter, cheese) also are not found. A week ago, all of the toilet paper, tissues, instant noodles and other supplies were gone, but now in our area they are back. Two days ago a new problem developed as the water supply in TOKYO was found to have levels of radiation that were too high for children! A new panic developed as people flocked to the stores to buy bottled water. The stores were quickly out of stock. The threat increased yesterday to include the two prefectures around Tokyo. Bottled water is now NO WHERE to be found! The government is trying to buy as much as they can and freely give it out to families that have children under the age of 3. The trouble is there just isn’t enough water! People are worried about what happens to their children if they absorb or drink water while bathing? No one has the answers. So the news continues to add to their fears. Please Heavenly Father, Comfort your people!
In our last update we said how Kim was visiting one of the main shelters in Japan. It was a 4 hour drive from here and Kim along with 13 others made the trip. The outpouring there was HUGE! The shelter is in a LARGE metropolitan area and the people there are blessed with so many giving people there helping out. Kim talked with many different families. Most of the 8,000 people housed there have already been to 2 or 3 other shelters and are told that this shelter will close on March 31! But, in the center there was no panic, the people were all well organized. Each family had their own small space (enough to lie down in). With cardboard walls built up so they could have the impression of privacy. All of the people said they were being well fed and the volunteers were all great. The provisions for that center are more than the center can presently use as they have no SPACE either to store things or for the people to accept things. When asked what do you need, the most common answer was BATHS! The arenas and gyms in Japan don’t have locker rooms as we know them, so there are no shower rooms. While Kim was there, an announcement over the loud speaker said that for 6 hours that 6 different locations were opening their doors so refugees that wanted to could come and take a hot bath. The people (8,000) were very organized and quickly times and locations were set up and who could go where and when. People were coming by to take the children for study time, and everything was being run like a wonderful community. Only there was no idea what tomorrow would bring, the people all were so thankful for all the outpouring that was coming to them from all over. One old man asked Kim if she was from America. She said yes, and he told her it was Americans and their helping that gave him hope. Presently there are about 235,000 people still in shelters with over 2,500 buildings being used. None of them know anything about their future. Those that were living within 20 miles of the nuclear plant don’t know if they will ever be allowed to return to their homes. They have no jobs, although most of the companies are continuing to pay them small amounts, that money will soon run out. There are no quick answers, no quick fixes, only questions, most unanswerable at this time. Please Heavenly Father, Comfort your people!
For us, our lives are trying to continue as normal as possible. Many people have evacuated our area, especially the foreigners. Normally in Japan the end of March is a time to transfer to new locations as many companies transfer their workers every 3 to 4 years hoping it will keep them excited and more productive than staying in one location. Most of those are now on hold. Two of my students were supposed to move the end of March, one has been postponed until April 15th the other until sometime in August. Gas is sometimes in short supply, some stations limiting your purchase to just 3 gallons (10 liters), while others have limited their opening and closing times. After 5 o’clock in the afternoon it’s hard to find a station that is open. Supplies in the supermarkets are limited depending on what you want. Milk, rice, instant noodles, bottled water are almost impossible to find, while other products come and go. We are fortunate to have lots of storage space, so we usually have plenty but now are less likely to buy some things as we hope they can go to people less fortunate.
We will be having our annul Easter Egg hunt on Saturday April 23rd, and hope that we have a huge turnout. We have been growing and growing with each event that we do with a peak last year at Halloween where 185 people attended. Last year we had 85 people for our Easter event even though it was snowing in the early morning hours. Please pray that God will lead many to the hunt and during the telling of the resurrection story that many hearts will be opened.
By His grace, God continues to equip us for each individual challenge and opportunity that He presents. Your prayers and support are necessary to our being here. We ask you to pray with and for us that we always strive to walk before God, wherever that may be, and be used as instruments of His love in all we do. Should God ask any of you to partner with us in our outreach for Him, please send any love offerings to: Bethlehem United Methodist Church, for Baranski John Alan Mission Fund, c/o Becky Wack, 1003 Rowan Cove, New Albany, Ms. 38652. We do still need our own funds, but presently we need them for our Japanese brothers and sisters. If your heart leads you to send us financial aid for them please make a note with your love offering that it is for the disaster relief. Thank-you all so much for your prayers and giving hearts.
We hold you each in our hearts and prayers with praise and thanksgiving.
In His love & walking before Him, the Baranski Bunch