Thursday, October 8, 2009


Its back looked as if God had pulled out the Sunday School arts and crafts box to decorate it. About ¾ of an inch long, in the shape of coat of arms, if he hadn't been slowly walking across a child's notebook I would have thought he was a toy. But no, the red sequin and careful glitter green X across the beetle's white back were real. Along the sides were stripes of bright blue and though I don't remember where it was placed, I remember a small patch of cheerful yellow.

Brian had just gotten back from the boat after the tsunami scare and I was getting ready to hug him when the creature caught my eye. A walking whimsy of God on a day when thousands of people had prayed for safety and been spared. We'd heard the radio announcement in a squatter settlement of Indians. A tiny ancient couple needed a drainage ditch enlarged and we 5 grownups and two kids arrived, greeted them with shovels in our hands, and walked behind the corrugated tin shack to survey the ditch. That's where we heard the announcer, "….the 8.0 earthquake that hit Vanuatu this morning has produced a tsunami….predicted to arrive at the Western Coast of Fiji at 11:40 this morning. All people in low-lying areas are urged to move to higher ground." I looked at my watch. It was 11:00. We had a hasty meeting, went to the car to listen to the radio for confirmation, told the Indian couple we'd be back another day and headed back to Lautoka. Brian wanted to get back to the boat and Lena and Mere were worried about their children. During the 25 minute ride back to the city across low lands, they urged Brian to go faster and to turn up the radio. Traffic was increasing and we passed many uniformed school children walking along the roads, released from school. At the turn off for us to go up to the base, Brian turned the driving over to Dave, hopped out and hailed the bus that was behind us. It was 5 minutes until the tsunami was predicted to hit but we hadn't seen the tide sucking out so Brian believed he could make it to Nomad in time. We kissed each other hastily, and as I looked into his eyes, I thought of Joan and Danny. They didn't even have a chance to say good bye to each other. Somehow, I knew everything would be Ok but I still didn't like seeing Brian heading toward the water.

The moment Brian hopped onto the bus, the radio announcer spoke, " inform you that the level of the tsunami warning has been raised from 'moderate' to 'high'." There was nothing I could do except pray. We headed up to the base and passed the park out front. The shade patches under the park's giant mango trees were packed with school children. Teachers had walked their classes up the hills to this park for safety. Streets were jammed with cars along the edges, waiting. At PTC, I could see the ocean was at an extremely low tide with mud flats extending from the islands. But I couldn't see the waters off of the main port where we were anchored. I felt relief anyway because I knew there was nothing severe happening. Within an hour the radio and the internet declared the tsunami warning cancelled. Streets started clearing; children dissipated. I checked my email and was happy to see Brian had just sent me an email that all was well at the boat. He would come up in time to help at the 3:00 Kid's Club.

Kid's Club had it's share of little jeweled creatures, as well. After I told the Bible story and the memory verse, it was time to bust out the arts and craft box. Brian was given face paints and brushes, I had a box of beads and stretchy shiny string. We were surrounded in moments by 5 - 8-year-olds. Jima had another box of beads and string for the older kids. For an hour, Brian painted crosses, flowers, bumble bees, stars and a few spider webs onto cheeks. I helped make bracelets and necklaces.

It was a full day in which we felt vulnerable and yet received many treasures of memories and joy.

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