No time spent with your family is ever wasted.-- Don Donahoo

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fun in Japan comes to a stop

Ben had the day off on Friday and we had planned to go to base in the afternoon. By 11:00 Lucy and I were ready, but Jack had fallen asleep, so we decided to let him take a nap, and Ben wanted to take one too! My friend Ashley was going to go shopping with some of our other friends around a mall at a nearby train station, so instead of waiting around for the boys to take a nap, we decided to go shopping with them and meet up with Ben and Jack around 2:30 for lunch and a trip to base.

Lucy and I had fun, just the two of us, shopping with our friends and when 2:00 rolled around we decided to head to the train to ride it to Yokosuka-chuo to meet Ben. I was still walking with Ashley when Ben called. He said that he forgot to feed Jack before he left, so he had to hurry and feed him and was just getting ready to leave the apartment and head to the train station. By this time it was already 2:30pm. So Ashley and I parted ways, as she was heading to base to meet her husband, and I decided to go back to the train station and wait for Ben's train to come. We sat down and waited for about 10 minutes, and then at 2:45 the ground started to shake. At first I thought I was losing it because I seemed to be the only one who felt it. But as it kept going and getting bigger, others around us started to feel it too. I didn't know if it was ever going to stop. Lights in buildings around us were swinging inside and it was hard to keep your balance. I picked up Lucy and got to the middle of the side walk where we were standing and I was praying that the buildings wouldn't collapse on us. It seemed like the quake lasted for at least 5 minutes! All the lights and power went out at the train station and people were in utter panic. Crowds gathered around the train station as a man with a megaphone was announcing something... I couldn't understand it, as it was all in Japanese. I was starting to panic as my mind raced with all the possibilities of what was happening to Ben and Jack. We waited at the train station for about 15 more minutes, as another quake started, it wasn't as big, but we sure felt it. By this time, people were trying to call whoever they could, but no one's phone seemed to be working. I asked a man to use his phone to try to call Ben, because I didn't have a phone. When I tried to reach him, it was just a busy signal. "What could have happened to them? Where they on the train? Are they okay?" As my mind was flooding with worry, I couldn't help but break into tears. When I finally got myself together, I went down to see about getting a taxi home, but where there were usually rows and rows of taxis, there were none. They were all gone. What now? The only thing I could think of was to go to Nirvana's, a restaurant that we have been to frequently, where I knew the man who worked there spoke English, and perhaps his phone was working. When I walked in and asked him, he said the landline was down, and as I said "thank you, anyways,"with tears in my eyes, he pulled out his cell phone and offered it to me. I dialed Ben's cell phone number two or three times, and it wouldn't connect. The man at Nirvana took the phone up to the street and kept trying until it finally was ringing! I spoke to Ben for a few minutes...He was at the train station waiting for the train to come when the earthquake hit, he was walking home and going to ride the apartment shuttle to base and I was going to meet him there! What a relief! We had a plan and I was feeling much better! What an answer to my prayers, that Nirvana man!! He offered Lucy and I some drinks and a place to sit so that we could put ourselves back together and regroup. By this time I was feeling much better and excited to see my husband and son!

As we were walking to base, there was a store with the news on and it was in English, we stopped to watch and listen. I learned about the tsunami in Sendai and that the whole east coast of Japan was on high alert with tsunami warnings everywhere! I was right by the base, where water surrounded us... I was beginning to become scared again. Lucy and I waited by the main gate of the base and after about an hour or so, no bus ever came. I was starting to worry. Ben knew I was at the base, maybe he was trying to take a taxi to come and meet us?! I had no idea what he was doing at this time and with no way of getting a hold of him, I asked several people coming out of the base if I could use their phone, but they had no service. By this time it was about 4:45pm. It was getting colder and the sky over the water was turning black... a woman riding her bike out of base asked if we were waiting for somoeone. I said yes, to which she replied, "If I were you, I would get to higher ground. The water level is going down out there." GREAT! Now I was in complete panic mode. My only thought was how I was going to save Lucy. At this point I was thinking it was the end. The end of days. I was never going to see Ben or Jack again. I was a complete mess. I was sobbing. Lucy just kept asking what was wrong. I told her I thought something bad was going to happen. She said, "something scary?!" Yes, I was afraid so. As I was standing outside, trying to figure out what to do, everything just seemed to get quiet. The wind stopped, as did the traffic. There seemed to be a hush over everything... like the calm before the storm. I became panicked! I threw Lucy in the stroller and just began to run. I knew how to get home, it was about 5 miles away. I figured if I ran the way the shuttle goes, or even if I saw a taxi, I could check to see if Ben was in it. I had so much adrenaline, that I really could have run the whole way. I passed the street that the train station was on, and wondered about the train... was it running yet?... I saw a couple walking, and the man looked American. "Do you know anything about the trains? Are they running yet?" I asked him as I ran up to him. He said no, they were totally shut down. He asked where I was going and I told him Kurihama. That is far, he told me and it would take over an hour to get there. I knew this. He offered for us to go back to their apartment with them. They lived on the 5th floor, which would be safe from any tsunami that might hit. I was so grateful to have some help. They offered me their computer as well as their landline phone to try to contact Ben. They gave Lucy some pens and paper to draw with while I frantically wrote emails and searched Facebook to see if any of our friends were on. They weren't. (I didn't know it at the time, but the power was out at our apartment.) I called my mom at home to get our landline phone number to our apartment, and she was definitely worried about us. I had woken her up with my phone call, and after I told her what was happening, she was up and watching CNN to figure out what was going on. It was dark by this time, and I was feeling sick to my stomach as I saw some navy ships leaving base to go out to sea, where it would be safer for them. It was almost 6:30pm by this time. I kept trying to call Ben's phone with the landline phone and by a miraculous miracle, I was able to reach him. He was at our apartment complex at the Mintling's apartment. He had thought I was with Ashley and her husband this whole time, but I told him about what had happened and how we were at the couple's house we had run into. Ben told me about the power being out and Jeff, the man whose apartment we were at, said he would give us a ride home. The traffic going towards our apartment was very minimal, but going away was gridlocked. All the power was out along the way, it was hard to see.  We finally made it home around 7:15ish pm where I embraced my family!! We left the Mintling's and went home. We got the kids in their PJ's and I fed Jack... the last time I nursed him was at 11:00am! They were sleeping and so we went to bed also. I kept feeling small earthquakes throughout the night. Our power was back on when we woke up and informed our friends and families that we were safe.
Throughout this whole ordeal, Lucy was the best she has ever been, thank goodness! What a trooper, she kept me sane most of the time!

This will be a day that will not be soon forgotten... I don't think I have ever been so terrified in all my life....that will be the last time I leave the boys at home to take a nap.

15 comments:

  1. Wow, I am so glad to hear that you all are safe! I can't imagine how scary that must've been. It sounds like the Lord was really watching out for you though, what a blessing!

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  2. So glad you guys are safe! You were / are definitely in my prayers!

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  3. Wow!!! That is crazy! Glad to hear everyone is okay.

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  4. It is amazing how things work out, but I cannot even begin to imagine what you were going through. The Lord truly blesses our lives, and we are so glad that you are all okay.

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  5. Oh my goodness! I'm so glad you wrote your story. Sounds like it was terrifying. And I'm so glad everything worked out and especially that you guys are safe!

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  6. I'm so glad that you guys are ok. Aren't heavenly Father's tender mercies the best!!!

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  7. I don't know if it's because I'm pregnant or what?!...but I was totally crying during parts of your story!!! It was so intense! You brave woman you! I'm sure all the prayers from friends (me included) and family guided you and those that helped you. What a blessing! I am so relieved you are all okay. Next time you're state side - we are totally getting together! Love you tons!

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  8. We're very glad to hear that you guys are ok. I didn't even know anything about it until my mom called friday morning--she was wondering about you guys, I was kinda scared for you. Then I checked my email and Captain Whitney had sent out an email saying that everyone in Japan was accounted for and ok--I assumed that included you too.
    Anyway--your house here is doing find and the goats and fishes are good too.

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  9. SO very glad you are okay. It's amazing for me to be able to picture everything so perfectly. I am certain many prayers were answered for your family. We love you all so much and are grateful for your safety!

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  10. Wow! I get the jitters just thinking of all you had to go through. Thanks for sharing your story. All that day I was thinking... "I should have never let them go to Japan." :)

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  11. I'm glad you guys are safe! That would have been so scarey! I would have been bawling my eyes out too!!

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  12. Wow!! That sounds totally terrifying. The ships were actually leaving and the water was going down in Yokosuka? How scary! I'm so glad that you found someone to help you! Now if I could find out what happened to Rochelle & Dan I'd be very relieved.

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  13. I'm so glad to hear that you guys are safe. Your story brought it all to life for me. How scary! I can't imagine being in a country where disaster was striking and you don't speak the language. I'm glad the Lord was watching over you guys!

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  14. Oh, Elise! I've been praying for you guys pretty much non-stop. I was at the temple that night after hearing about the quakes and tsunamis... so I put you guys on the prayer rolls. I'm so glad you're safe. Hang in there!

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"No time spent with your family is ever wasted."
Don Donahoo