Wednesday, March 10, 2010

From One Who Lives In Chile

As most of you that got my first email of this last weekend's activities know, the two stakes here in Temuco spent most of Friday collecting donations and preparing for a trip to the cities just south of Concepcion. I was incorrect in my original email, we were only going to 5 cities not 6: Ca?ete, Los Alamos, Arauco, Lota, and Coronel (This is the order we visited them as well). All of these cities are being used as a refuge for all the people that have lost their homes in neighboring cities.

100% of our donations went directly to LDS chapels in those cities. When I left the Stake Center on Friday night, the members were just starting to pack to the trucks. Most of them were there until 12 - 12:30 AM. Original the Stake President thought we would be okay with 3 vehicles to deliver the supplies. We had so much to take that we doubled that number to 6! According to the report from the Stake President, over 3 tons of food/supplies and 2500 liters of drinking water was distributed among the 5 cities by our caravan. At about 6 AM on Saturday morning we had a caravan of 6 vehicles and 18 people at the Stake Center ready to go. Basically, each vehicle was destined for one city. As we got to each city, the assigned vehicle would stay while the rest of us would keep moving on. I actually had the opportunity to visit all cities but one (Arauco). The round trips ranged between 11 and 15 hours - depending on which city we were assigned to - and we will all do it again if we are asked to. It was an awesome experience to see so many helping hands and happy faces. For those that would like to see some pictures of the trip, I have put a website together consisting of photos from both my camera and the Bishop's camera - I haven't received pictures from anyone else in the caravan yet. You can see those pictures here:

For those that would like to put a face to my name, I'm the blond-haired guy in this picture (my bishop is the one with the hat on):

I could sit here and tell you about all the sad things that I saw, but you get that in the news and I would rather tell you about the good things that are happening.

Chile is uniting as a whole and peoples lives are changing (most for the better). Sundays' fast and testimony meeting went about 15 minutes over without a single pause between testimonies (our average attendance is only 90 people). Faith is growing stronger, not only here but in your homes as well. People are getting to know their neighbors and friendships are being created!

Never before has the country united so strongly for such a cause. People are giving and sharing what they have. The countrywide (maybe nation or worldwide - not sure) telethon set a goal to raise approximately 30 million dollars between Friday and Saturday - at last count on March 6, the total donations received was over 60 million dollars!!! WOW! Think about that, when was the last time you saw a telethon raise more than double the amount of the goal that was set?! Yes, there is a lot of work still to be done and it will a take a while for some of the areas to get rebuilt. People are still without water and electricity, others don't even have a home, but there are a lot of good things happening and I can't help but have hope for a better tomorrow. Thanks for the many prayers that have been offered in behalf of Chile and the people here, they are being answered daily.

Tom Woodworth, Temuco, Chile
Here is where Temuco is on Google Maps:

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