Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan: Gomen Nasai (I'm Sorry)

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41: 10

Hello everyone. Great friends are the sweetest blessings and I will always treasure my time in Japan. I was there first as an exchange student on a Japanese embassy scholarship and ultimately as a financial risk risk consultant. Words simply can't express how kind and welcoming the Japanese were to this American. I was already pulling pictures for a future blog on this very special place and I promise to write again soon about some of the happy, amazing experiences I had there.

For now today's devastating images of the 8.9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami have been weighing heavily on my heart. I have been saying prayers for those who have lost loved ones and those who are having trouble connecting with family, along with all the countries affected by the resulting tsunami.

A few years ago I was in Tokyo on a business trip. My room was on the 40th floor of a Hilton hotel. I was looking forward to a sunny day of sightseeing following a particularly nasty typhoon the day before when a 7.2 earthquake hit about 100 miles away. With the tall building swaying and creaking eerily I didn't know if it would fall or if the earthquake would continue to intensify. I ran into the hall as sirens and instructions were going off! Figuring a corner was the best place to be I headed for one and promptly sank to my knees praying with all my might that I'd be able to get home to my family. In the midst of people running up and down the halls I remember seeing a sweet Japanese housekeeper walking calmly down the corridor with towels in her hand as if this was nothing unusual. Her eyes were so compassionate as she looked at me kneeling and praying. She said a simple sentence: "Gomen nasai." That means "I'm sorry." and I can't tell you how much those simple, sweet words comforted me in that moment. It felt like God had given me a hug and let me know all would be well.

Moments later an equally shaken German business man rushed into the hall. It didn't take much convincing for me to join his plan to ditch local advice which was coming at us over the intercoms saying we should stay where we were. We wanted to get out of that building pronto and the fastest way appeared to be via the elevator. Just to confirm, taking an elevator during an earthquake is not very smart. At all. But for this girl who likes to be close to the ground it seemed just brilliant and necessary at the time. I held my breath as our elevator made it quickly to the lobby and we ran outside to meet my co-worker. Running into the streets during an earthquake is, by the way, another not so great idea. Is it ironic that just a few months later I would be put in charge of a major financial institution's business continuity and evacuation plans should a disaster occur. All I can say is that it is much easier to think about what one should do in theory and far, far away from the action. And I'm ok with that.

As Japan continues its search and recovery efforts please remember the people there. The Land of the Rising Sun has always been generous in donating to countries experiencing devastating loss. If you'd like to help out here are two excellent organizations:

AMERICAN RED CROSS: Those who want to help can go Donate here to the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami. People can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific.

SAVE THE CHILDREN: Mobilizing to provide immediate humanitarian relief in the shape of emergency health care and provision of non-food items and shelter. Donate here.

****And I also want to say a BIG thank you for the sweet comments you left under my She Speaks...From a Whisper to a Scream post!!! You all made me feel very special indeed and I am trying to figure out how Blogger will let me respond to you individually. In the meantime, the judges will be reviewing blogs over the weekend and I am hopeful, but also praying God will send the perfect person to the conference who will use it to bring him the most glory. I am so blessed to have all of you in my life and feel like a winner already!! Thank you again and keep those comments coming. I love hearing from you!
- Michelle*****

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  1. I have such great memories visiting you while you were in Japan. I loved everything we saw and the sweet people. I told mom about the swaying Tokyo tower and how scary that was during high winds. Thanks for posting. Will be praying for Japan.

  2. What a nice tribute. I recall how nice the Japanese people were to you. Although we missed you terribly, we knew you were in good hands with your host country. We didn't know that you rode down an elevator during an earthquake. Until now. MY WORD!!!

    Following your example, we are donating to aid relief for Japan.


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