JAPAN (BNc) — First reports on some of the brethren in Japan are positive.

Joel Osborne is a missionary in Mito and had worked earlier in Sendai, near where the tsunami hit hardest.  He reports that missionary Sasha Engle and a friend in Japan are safe, but the damage is enormous. Osborne was en route to Cambodia when the tragedy struck.

Sugao Tadokoro, a graduate of Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver, said it feels safer to stay and rest in his car rather than stay in his home, as smaller scale earthquakes continue in Ibaraki, some 5-10 miles from the east coast, according to a Facebook status by Christine Berglund.

Paul Couch reported from the contacts he had there:

“Just wanted all of you to know that I have been in touch with [preacher] Masa this morning in regard to the history-making earthquake.  Masa and his family are fine, as are [long-time missionaries] Steve and Debbie Carrell and the Yokota congregation. But Masa did tell me that the devastation is unbelievable; please pray for the people of Japan.”

Masa Nonogaki preaches with the Yokota church, across from the U.S. Air Force Base, and is supported by the Park Avenue congregation in Memphis, Tenn. The Carrells live in the city of Matsudo, in the greater Tokyo area. He wrote this morning,

Because of the earthquake, all trains had stopped in Tokyo, and a friend who had walked 8 hours from downtown called, needing a place to stay – he’s spending a night with us. Many others are stranded downtown with no way to go anywhere. Prayers still needed all over.

Couch is a deacon at the Newalla, Okla., church. The report came through contacts made by elder Paul Goddard of the Park Avenue congregation.

Marlin and Jean Ray work in Tomobe, Ibaraki, about 275 miles from the epicenter of the quake. She wrote,

We are fine but without power. Cell phones came back on soon but makes reporting slow. Mopping up broken dishes and food here and at church building but no structural damage that we can see. Yamauchi family (8) asked to stay with us as their house is old and scary, and shelters at two schools are full. Lots of roof tiles and stone walls fell near us. Nishimuras lost two-year-old tile roof. In all this, one kid showed up for English class! Our guests get up at 5, so I’d better TRY to get some sleep between tremors.

Makoto Tateno is a student at Harding University Graduate School of Religion, in Memphis. He wrote,

Thank you for your concern. I’ve just watched the news about the earthquake in Japan. A quake of magnitude 8.9 is unheard of. My family in Japan are living in the Kanto area, which is about 150 miles south from the epic center of the earthquake. The Tsunami did NOT hit my family’s area; but few seem to have lost their lives because of the quake; there were many who were injured; some are missing. I am currently trying to contact my family, but the phone lines are busy and I have been unsuccessful in confirming their status. I am relying on email right now. I will let you know as soon as I get a hold of them. Thank you for your prayers.
UPDATE: I just received a email reply from my elder brother, and he says that he and his family and my mom and dad are okay.  He was not sure about my cousin’s family, however. But, they live in the same general area so they too should be fine.

Japan’s Defense Ministry says 1,800 homes in Fukushima Prefecture destroyed.

On the OCNews blog, there was news of property damage in the Ibaraki Christian University facility.

From OC alumni on Facebook, we have learned that there was damage in Ibaraki, including Mito. However, it was far less severe than the devastating images coming from northern Japan, in Miyagi Prefecture. However, we haven’t heard from many people in Ibaraki because there is no power, telephone service or water service.

More information will be added as we receive it today.