March 1, 2010
Well I never thought I would be part of a natural disaster, let alone the fifth largest earthquake in the history of the world. I hope Ben found out that I am ok from members in his area. I think I have worried most about my family worrying about me. I am relieved to know that all of Andrea, Teresa, and Hno. Peñalillo´s families are safe and accounted for. Ernesto, the convert that was baptized in January, has his wife and daughter in Concepcion and he doesn´t know if they are ok; he has convinced himself that they died. Imagine what it must be like to go through an earthquake as a schizophrenic (with his form every emotion is heightened) so it must have been just horrible.
So here is the run down on my side of the story. But I can´t really recreate an earthquake, so bear with me. I woke up to the walls shaking and it took a few seconds to wake up enough to know what was going on. H. McNeil and I realized that it was real when we looked at each other. Then we threw the covers off and ran to the door. H. McNeil says I was pretty hysterical, I just didn´t know what to do in a situation where I had no control. It was like the earth was picking us up and dropping us, over and over. The earthquake lasted three minutes, it felt like a long time, but afterwards we thought that it must have just seemed like a long time. I remember lots of images running through my head and trying to prepare myself mentally for what would wait us at the end of the earthquake, all while pleading for it to stop. The screams from above and the rumbling from below were terrifying. We are on the first floor, so we were most concerned about the building falling down on us.
When the shaking stopped we offered thanks to Heavenly Father and I went immediately to call our district leader for instructions. I asked him if he felt the earthquake, not knowing how much distance an earthquake covers, and asked for direction as to what we should do. He had no idea, so I hung up to go outside and check on people. We had no idea the magnitude of the earthquake, it was the middle of the night and we don´t have radio or tv. So after finding out that everyone was ok, we went back into the house and I wanted to go back to sleep, thinking we are going to be getting up at 7:30 and it is going to be a long day of work. I went to sleep after counting 15 aftershocks. My companion didn´t go back to sleep at all.
We got up like normal the next morning, not knowing what else to do and not hearing from our leaders. We left for a little bit in the morning, thinking we could help clean up. Then we got a call to go back home and stay there until further notice. Well notice never came that day and we spent the whole day inside, with lots of questions in our heads. There were about 4 strong aftershocks that lasted about a minute Saturday.
It was disconcerting to hear that the earthquake was an 8.8 and the fifth largest of the world. And to know that it was bigger and lasted longer than the one in Haiti. We feel worse and worse as the death count goes up and up. I lost all of the missionary focus that I had worked so hard to gain and now I will follow President´s counsel from today and start with the spiritual basics. Thanks to Heavenly Father, a lot of people have been humbled by the experience and their hearts will be open to our message. We are going to work especially hard this week to find those that are awaiting us.
One success story. We are teaching two middle aged orphans. Lessons with them are the most profound that I have experienced in the mission. But despite this, they didn´t come to church last week. I was frustrated by this and knew we needed to have a spiritual lesson about the importance of going to church, so that's what we did. Yesterday Rodrigo showed up at church, even though it was cancelled. It was a tender mercy from the Lord. And we are excited for the progress he is going to make.
I am grateful for your concern and prayers. Keep praying for Chile. Pray for those that have lost family and houses. And pray for my investigators that they can find new houses and that we can have the words to calm them in this time of need.
I love you with a reawakened love,
Understanding the Atonement: Christ shows us what we should do when we have trials so painful that we don´t want to live them. He prayed. It is interesting to note that he prayed three times and to examine what he prayed for each time. Matthew 26:39, 42, 44
Missionary Tip: I have heard that in altitudes above 2000 meters there are no sicknesses. The people that live in high altitudes don´t even have cancer. And the people there are skinny. Maybe we should move there huh?!? I think this is another wives' tale from South America, I don´t know.