Heartbroken for China

I had Headline News on Monday morning as I was getting ready for work, only half-listening. But suddenly, I was glued to the set as the anchor began telling a story about the earthquake in China. At that very moment, my father was on a plane headed to China, and I had no idea what all this might mean. I kept waiting for her to describe the area of China where the quake happened – I mean, after all, it’s a big country. Hopefully it didn’t happen near Chengdu, where he was going.
She just said Chengdu.
Of course my first and greatest concern, selfishly, was and still is for my father’s safety. He arrived in Chengdu late Monday night/Tuesday morning, and from our most recent update he’s doing well. The area of town where he’s staying wasn’t largely affected. While he would’ve traveled to help in the hardest hit regions, he says foreigners aren’t typically allowed in the disaster areas. So instead, he spent his first day in Chengdu helping gather food, water and supplies for the relief workers to take with them to the disaster zones.
Now that I know my dad is relatively safe, my thoughts have turned toward the devastation around him. I’ve been listening and watching with sadness as the death toll rises, thinking how unbearable the pain must be for the people there. I can’t imagine the despair felt by the parents standing around those toppled school buildings, wondering if their child might’ve found a pocket of air and somehow survived.
Then yesterday, my heart was truly broken as I listened to a story by Melissa Block on NPR. She went along with a mother and father as they desperately led a search in the debris of a collapsed apartment building for their son and the father’s parents. The son was 2 months shy of his second birthday – a little too familiar to me. The mother had left her son with the grandparents so she could go to work just a few minutes before the quake. Her son had asked her not to leave.
He was later found in his grandfather’s arms, with the grandmother close behind. All three were dead.
I can’t understand why these things happen, and sometimes I feel paralyzed with fear knowing they can happen anytime and anywhere.
Melissa Block’s story is remarkable journalism, but it’s such a difficult story to hear, made even more tragic by the knowledge that the family’s misery is being mirrored throughout the region. I wish there were something I could do other than pray, but I find a small amount of comfort knowing my father is there. I know he’ll do anything he can to help, anything he’s allowed to do. He was sent there on a mission trip to teach new pastors in a seminary, but I have a feeling he may do some pastoring of his own. It’s one of the things he does best, and I’m very proud of him.