Sunday, March 27, 2011

A New Normal

Strange as it may sound, things are starting to feel normal around here.  Granted it is a totally new kind of normal, but it is normal nonetheless.  The active duty member are still working 24/7, there are a lot of people who have left the base & many of the places on base are closed or have shortened hours.  We seem to have settled in to some sort of routine.  Thank goodness!  Yes, it's no fun having husbands that are working 7 days a week, but this is still nothing compared to the loss that so many people have experienced.  We were fortunate enough to have a very normal Saturday night.  Kenny had to work all day, but he wanted us to do something with friends when he got off work.  So we called up our dear friends the Miners, and asked them to come join for dinner.  It was the first time we have gotten to fire up the grill in a while.  We had a great, relaxing evening sitting around the table eating, talking & laughing.  It is so nice to feel somewhat normal again.  Things in Japan are going to take a very long time to return to normal.  But, I am so thankful for our Yokota Family that is adjusting together to make our own normal. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thank goodness for friends!

I would be lost without my friends!!!  I am so lucky to be surrounded by such an amazing group of women here in Japan.  Since the day that the earthquake happened we have all rallied around one another to help each other through this.  Last night was a very needed break from everything going on.  My friend Gabbi is a Pampered Chef consultant here.  She had a party planned with someone that chose to take the voluntary evacuation, so she called me and asked if I wanted to have the party here.  As you know, I'm never one to turn down a party, so I gladly agreed.  It was very last minute, but we had a great group of about 10 girls here.  One of our friends showed up with her "Earthquake Margarita Kit" and it could not have been better timing.  We had a great night talking, laughing, eating and relaxing.  We all agreed that is was just what we needed!  With all of our husbands working so much we have leaned on each other a lot.  I can not imagine being here without my friends. 

I don't want to leave out my family and friends back home in this post.  I have been so overwhelmed by the love & support both from Yokota and at home.  Your prayers, support & encouraging words are helping to carry me through this.  Please continue to support Japan!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Where do I start?

Wow!  Where do I start to describe the last 9 days of our lives here in Japan?!?  Friday, March 11, 2011 started out just like any other Friday for me.  I spent a couple of hours having Friday morning coffee with my girlfriends, then Kenny had a small break from lunch so I met him for lunch as Santa Sushi.  (Yes, that is the real name of the restaurant.  It is one of our favorites here!)  After lunch, I met back up with some of the girls to do a little shopping at the BXtra.  On my way home, around 2:00pm, I decided to stop at the salon here by my house to see if they had any openings for a pedicure that day.  Just my luck, they had one right then!  So of course, I took it.  I had my Kindle in my purse and just sat in the massage chair relaxing while I was getting pampered.  Around 2:50pm as she was painting my toenails I began to realize that I was moving more than just the massage chair was moving me.  We all stopped and just looked at each other kinda like, "Oh crap, we're having an earthquake."  So, at first it really wasn't a big deal.  We get little tremors here in Japan a lot.  Well, then it kept going and getting stronger by the second!  At this point the Japanese ladies working in there told us to get outside.  The humor to the situation is that here I am barefoot with the toe separators on my feet trying to run outside.  I'm sure I looked a little strange.  The shaking felt like it lasted forever!!!  I've heard different reports that it lasted 2-5 minutes.  The buildings were all swaying, and I'm not going to lie...I was scared.  Once we stopped moving, we thought it was all over & went back inside.  They finished up my toes & I went next door to pick up my dry cleaning.  That is when the 2nd big one hit.  I had been frantically trying to call Kenny, but the phone lines were all jammed.  We had no clue what was really going on.  As soon as the 2nd one finished, I went straight to find my friends Lynn & Mindy who live across the parking lot from me.  Kenny had been trying to find me too, but he didn't know where I was.  He had talked to Lynn, so I knew that he was ok.  Once we felt it was safe to go back inside, we all went to Lynn's house.  I finally got ahold of Kenny & he told us to turn on the news because a tsunami was heading straight for the coast of Japan.  We learned that the earthquake that we had just experienced was one of the largest in history!  At the epicenter it was a 9.0, & they estimate that we felt it as a 5.1 here at Yokota over 320 miles away from the epicenter.  WOW!!!  The second one that followed about 30 minutes later was somewhere close to an 8.0 I believe.  (I could be wrong on that one.)  We immediately knew that life in Japan had just drastically changed for us.  Since last Friday we have had close to 500 aftershocks or new earthquakes.  Some have been small enough that we don't notice them, and some have woken us up at night.  None of them have been nearly as strong as the first two!

We were very fortunate to have no damage here on base, & everyone was safe.  Praise God!  Unfortunately the rest of Japan was not so lucky.  The area near Sendai is completely devastated by the earthquake & tsunami.  The rest of the night we sat glued to the news to try to understand what was happening, & if we were safe.  We have been & continue to be very safe here at Yokota!  We have zero radiation in our air, we have power, water & food.  We are truly blessed!

Immediately, our active duty members went to work.  Planning, organizing, making sure everyone was accounted for, etc.  Yokota Air Base is now the hub of military relief efforts for Operation Tomodachi, which translated means Operation Friendship.  I could not be more proud to be a part of this community, & the work that we are doing to help our wonderful host country of Japan.  It has been amazing to see how the AF & our sister services our working together to bring aid to our friends here.  Our military members are working around the clock planning, flying, doing search & rescue, delivering relief aid, & many other things.  They are working extremely long, hard hours.  Kenny has been working on average 14-18 hours a day.  There is no such thing as a weekend here at Yokota AB right now.  Everyone is working 24/7.

This week has been a whirlwind to say the least.  I have not had time to sit down & write it all out until now.  I have been staying busy cooking meals & baking cookies to take to all of the guys working with Kenny.  I have also had the opportunity to volunteer with the Red Cross some on base.  I am surrounded by an amazing group of friends here.  Since all of our husbands are working around the clock, we have had a lot of girls nights.  We have laughed, cried, talked & sat in silence together.  We have been scared, shocked, and felt a peace that only God can give us.  I know that God is in control of this. 

Kenny & I have made the decision that I will stay here in Japan unless they government does a mandatory evacuation of Japan.  This is our home.  We are here together.  I can not imagine leaving him here right now.  This is where I belong.  This is where God has placed us, & He has a purpose for us to be here.  I ask that you would please pray for the people of Japan who have lost everything.  They have lost loved ones, their homes, their cities.  Please pray that they will be able to cool the nuclear reactors.  Please pray for the military doing the relief work.  Pray that they will get the rest they need to do their jobs.  Please pray for us, the families here, that we will remain safe.  Pray that we know how to support our spouses the best way we can. 

I know this post is a little all over the place, but to be honest the last 9 days have been a little all over the place.  Know that we appreciate your thoughts & prayers.  I will keep you as updated as I can either here or on facebook.