Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More Chile Missionary Email

First, here's a link to Michele Harper's son's blog:

From MM Sally:
Here is just the essential part of his story:

Hola familia y amigos,

What a week it has been. First, so all know, I am fine as well as all of the missionaries in Chile, including the Elders on Easter Island and Robinson Crusoe and President May´s son in Concepción. Thanks to all who sent their love and well wishes. We truly were blessed, Elder Murdoch and I. It was a little before four in the morning when the earthquake hit. My companion had often felt little tremors during the night, but I never wake up. He looked over, wondering if I had felt it this time but obviously this time I did. We sat in our beds and I said a prayer. I do not know why but I was incredibly calm and able to peacefully offer the prayer. At the end of the prayer, the earthquake had stopped. It was very very violent and powerful and exaggerated by our location: we live on the 9th floor of a thirteen floor building. I will never forget the feeling of being thrown back and forth as the whole building was jerking every which way. I was able to be calm even though I was thinking, waiting, for the building to collapse. I was sure it was going to happen and just waiting for it. My companion said the only thing he was thinking was: "is it going to collapse or is it going to fall on the side." I personally was just waiting for the abrupt feeling of the building collapsing straight down to the ground. Believe it or not, whether we are crazy or not, we did not leave the building. I do not know why thinking back, but the building seemed to have survived just fine without damage, as has been confirmed. Several things fell in the apartment. Considering we are missionaries, there are not many things in the house to fall besides books. The biggest things that fell were a door that was already off the hinges and the camping stove we have in the kitchen. The stove falling was very very loud. I had recently cleaned the stove rigorously, not having been cleaned for a life time, and I turned off the propane tank. On Friday night, Elder Murdoch was going to cook some soup but at the last minute, he lost all desire to eat, and never turned the gas to the propane tank on. If the connection from the tank to the stove top had been open, there probably would have been an explosion. There were a few other things, like bottles and vases that were very close to falling but stopped on the edge of the shelves, like a perfect goal in paper football. The refrigerator moved a few feet and miraculously the microwave above did not fall. Not a single dish in the apartment broke.

After the initial earthquake, we called the district leader, sang the hymn "Master, the Tempest Is Raging/Paz Calmense," said a prayer, read from the emergency plans in the area book, and shortly afterwards, we went back to sleep. Elder Murdoch was nervous, understandable, and could not sleep well but for some reason I was just fine and thought about Jesus Christ on the boat with His apostles in the sea of Galilea. He slept through the tempest peacefully, without problem, so I figured to do the same thing--granted a boat is different than an apartment building :) -Elder Daniel Squire, Santiago North Mission

From Rob Mangels:

My son wrote in his letter that his first thought was to go to the bathroom as he had been raised in LA. where we have hurricanes and that is where we are encouraged to go. In fact we spent one night all huddled in the bathroom while riding out Hurricane Andrew in "92". Well that didn't work out to well as the sink fell off the wall and blocked his way in so he went back to the beds and grabbed his companion and they knew what they had been taught and they knelt and prayed together until the quaking stopped. I'm not bragging just telling you his story. When the quaking stopped they grabbed their wallets and hurried outside into the night along with everyone else. Again, having had experience with disasters such as hurricanes I knew that after such events that power is out and communication is down and everything else is in chaos. So I knew that when the opportunity came that we would hear from our son. We didn't hear from him but later that evening on the day of the quake his Mission Presidents wife sent a short email letting us know that all missionaries were safe except for the ones on two islands off the coast. A couple of days later they reported in and all was well. So as that one Brother said that if we just sit back and wait on the Churches plan to be able to get into action we will get the information that we want to hear. We just have to trust in the Lord.

From Jolene's son:
This is from our son in the Vina del Mar mission. He is a zone leader in the Bolleto zone.

3:30 AM - Villa Alemana, Chile (Rumble, Rumble) Elder Stratford: Elder Pleytéz, do you feel that? Elder Pleytéz: Yeah...that´s actually pretty strong RUMBLE RUMBLE CRASH Elder Stratford : Oh my gosh... Prrcskkkk CRACK! Elder Pleytéz: It´s getting stronger!!! ***Elder Stratford jumps off the top bunk and fumbles to get under the door frame SNAP!*** Elder Straford : Elder Pleyte´z get under the door frame! Now! **House comes to life, and starts to dance Hip Hop****Elder Pleytéz stumbles to the door frame*** Alright well I was going to try and write it like I story but I can´t accurately describe it. Goodness gracious that earthquake was intense. Here´s what went down. We were sleeping...and I woke up because the bed was moving. I thought Elder Pleytéz was just moving in his sleep, but then It start moving stronger and I realized that it was not Elder Pleytéz. We stayed in bed for like ten seconds until we realized, this thing wasn´t just some tiny little quake. I flew out of my bed to get under the door framed and yelled at my companion to do the same. I stood on one side of the door frame, and my comp stood on the other side, and we put our hands on each other´s shoulders to support ourselves. The house started throwing a tantrum. We were sure the house was going to fall to pieces because it was shaaaking, and violently. As soons as I got under the door frame I said in a raised voice "Heavenly Father, please..." I kind of caught myself off guard saying it, I was almost like a little child yelling for his mother. However, my instincts shouted for a divine help, I think even an athiest would have. Like I said, we were almost sure the house was going down. We were up on the second story and couldn´t decided whether we should try and make it down the stairs, we didn´t because we figured it´d be better to fall on top of everything rather than have everything fall on top of us. So we stayed their under the door frame. I had a minor preoccupation, I was only in my [underwear] as this was happening, so I imagined myself standing on top of a pile of rubble in the street, in just my [underwear]. That would have been slightly awkward.

Eventually the shaking stopped, and miraculously the house did not fall.  There weren´t any serious damage to the house either. After the shaking stopped, we realized that our cell phone didn´t have any more minutes to call our zone, so that worried us. We remembered that a member had offered us a minutes card a few days back, they only lived around the corner. So we took off at like 3:45 Am into the street to the members house. We got there, asked how she was and everything, she was fine. We asked her if she could give us the minutes card so we could call the other missionaries, however she didn´t have it, and the phones were all dead anyways. At that point we couldn´t decided whether we should run to all the missionaries pensions, or wait a little bit. We went back to our apartment and prayed to ask what to do. We felt that they were all fine and that it wouldn´t be a good idea to set out into the night at 4 am, especially because the street lights were out. Everyone was out in the street flipping out. So then we tried to go back to sleep, however our nerves were a little jumpy, and there was little aftershocks like every 3 minutes, and every time their was one our hearts jumped. It was hard to sleep after that haha. We got up again at six and went to the missionaries pension that isn´t too far from us, it´s in an area called The Liahona (yes, there´s a little mormon school called the Liahona, so everyone referes to the area as the Liahona, it´s not an official name though). They were all fine. Both of our district leaders live their, so we assigned Elder Sloop (the district leader) and his Companion Elder Fuhriman to go to the pension of Elder Reyes and Elder Martinez in Castillo Blanco. Elder Pleytéz and I went over to the Hermana´s pension.  All four of them were scared half to death, but fine. All the Elders were fine. So that was good. Intense night. When we were walking back to our pension we ran into our bishop and he said the ward would be in the chapel during the day with food and water just in case we needed anything. We stopped by just to see everyone, they were all happy to see us. It´s actually really cool being a missionary, the members really worry about you. In the chapel they had the news playing on the TV, that´s when I saw some images of what happened in Concepción, the 8.8. Incredible, I was in awe. Where I´m living it was a 7.4. We spent the day passing by people and seeing how they were, trying to be of comfort. First we went to Daniela and Cristina´s house to see how they all were, they were all fine, but turns out their Dad was working in the mines in Rancagua when the earthquake happened, and they hadn´t heard from him. They were all worried sick. He got home yesterday though. Turns out he actually got trapped in the mines with some other guys, they all managed to crawl out somehow, some of them with some pretty serious injuries, he was fine though. We also passed by the less active we had taught a long time ago, she´s like 90 something years old and lives alone. So we went to see how she was, she was fine. We spent the day passing by people. Where we live there wasn´t a whole lot of damage done, from what people explained to me a lot of the buildings are built on some kind of spring that helps the buildings move with the earthquakes, from what I understood. They used some construction terms I didn´t really understand. That´s why there wasn´t a whole lot of damge. But in other parts there are buildings and houses made of Adobe and stuff, so all that stuff was crushed. Here we were left without power and water for awhile, they got it back up going though. Actually, on Saturday night we were the only house that had power on the whole block. Everyone was kind of confused as to why....haha. We knew why. Right now we´ve got water and power, the water is coming out of the faucet totally filthy though. They going to cut the water again on Wednesday for awhile while they fix everything. So we´ve filled up our bathtub, trash cans, and a bunch of soda bottles with water so that we´ve got enough. We´re trying to get enough for us and enough to possibly provide water for some neighbors that may not prepare for it. The water is actually pretty gross though, ´we´re going to have to boil it and then throw some chlorine in it I think. I definitely have a clear vision of why the prophets tell us to have food and water storage. People are losing their minds down here. They´ve rushed all the grocery stores and swept them of all their food and water. You can´t find a single water bottle in any grocery store, it is nuts, and they can´t bring any more food in, all the roads are messed up. People are resorting to buying coke now.  Luckily, my companion and I are smart and are resorting to the juice isle. The coke is going fast, but the juice isles are full hahaha. But it´s crazy. Apart from their not being food, there´s not any money to buy the food that is left. None of the ATM machines have cash, they´ve all been cleaned out, and I actually have an awesome story about that. So on Saturday, my companion and I were doing contacts, and one of the assistants called us to tell us to have our zone call their families and tell them how they were. The problem is that we didn´t have minutes on our phone to communicate with our zone, and we only had like, 2 dollars left (end of the month). We decided to go down to the center to try and find some minute cards for our phone. We go down, and it is chaos, we hadn´t noticed it because we live far from center, but it was crazy, people were rushing the grocery stores. We went around to every single ATM machine trying to pull money about, but found nothing. So then we resorted to trying to just use our cards to buy the minutes, but all the systems were down, and they told us even if we could buy the minutes, the phones were down anyways. So we realized that we wouldn´t be able to communicate with our zone, nor with our families because we didn´t have any many. So then we left and tried to wait for a bus, we had 1 dollar left, we used one dollar to get a bus to the center. We waited....and waited...and waited...No bus came. We realized that the buses had stopped running. We were pretty far from where we lived too, so we got worried.  We said a prayer, and told Heavenly Father that we had know idea how we were going to contact our zone, call our families, or get home, but that we needed help, and we asked for it. After the prayer we started walking back home, despite of how far it was. After about 10 minutes of walking, a car pulled up and a man rolled down his window "Hey you guys need a ride?" We got in right away and he started driving us back home. He started asking us a little about who we were, where we came from, what we were doing, he explained that he had mormon friends and that he knew all about "John Smith". Eventually the conversation led to what we were currently doing in the center, and we explained how we needed to get hold of our families. He whipped out his cell phone and asked me for a phone number, I had him dial dad´s phone, he did. I left a message on dad´s phone, and on the message I explained a little about how crazy it was and how no one could get money. When I hung up he was like "So you guys need money?" He whipped out his wallet and held out $10,000 pesos chilenos, which is like $20. I tried turning him down like twice, but he insisted and the whole time I knew I couldn´t turn it down, because it was the answer Heavenly Father was giving me to my prayer. He dropped us off in our sector, and left us with the $20. I almost broke down crying right there, because previously I had been feeling desperate and helpless not knowing what to do. We didn´t have money, couldn´t get money, had no means of getting back home, nor had any means of communicating with anyone, not the zone or the president or our families. We were alone.  However, because of a prayer Heavenly Father turned everything around. All you need to do, is ask. What parent, there child asking for bread, would give a stone? Asking for fish, would give a serpant? It was an extremely stressful day, in the end we got ahold of everyone, and we organized a time where we would call our families. We went Sunday night, when I called dad. Everything is going good though. We´ve got food and water. We´re still short on cash but the system for the credit cards are working, so I´m able to just use my mission atm card to buy food and stuff. I kind of wanted to buy food for two weeks today but the assistant told me I´d be out of here pretty soon. We were originally going to have transfers today, but now we´re not because of what happened. They´re going to happen next week. So that´s what´s going on down here. Pretty exciting stuff right? So if you don´t have food or water storage, repent and get it. Because situations like this aren´t very cool. Being a missionary, it´s not nearly as scary, because we know the church has our backs if anything gets too out of control. But if I were the Father of a family living here, and had no access to money, food, or water.... I couldn´t imagine the fear I would be experiencing. If we don´t prepare, we´ll definitely have reason to fear. If we´re prepared, we´ll be at peace, even in moments of disaster. It´ll be like that on judgement day to I imagine. When Christ descends out of the sky, and people realize they have no more time to add good works to their book of life, and no more time to blot their sins out. When there´s no more time to prepare and you´re left with what you´ve got, that´s when it all comes out. Who was wise and prudent, and who was foolish. The best part is, it´s all our choice. We can be fools and let it all catch us unprepared, or we can be ready. I know that the living prophets recieve revelation for us today, and that if we follow their every command with exactness, we´ll be alright. Take care everyone, chao!

That's all for now. When more MMs pass their news along, we'll put another update here.

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