Mi amado familia,
Okay, now that I can give a real run-down of everything I shall do so. First off, many thanks for all of your prayers, concerns, and good wishes. Also, I never did say thank you for that fancy-pants scripture marker, I have been enjoying it thoroughly.
Okay, so Saturday morning we awoke to a fun shakery of the house and loud breaking sounds. Exactly when it started I can't say because I don't know how long it took me to be awakened, but it was around 3:40, and kept shaking at full power for about five or seven minutes. It died down to a medium rumbling for the next 10 minutes as we grabbed all the things we thought we'd need and fled for the out of doors. All of our clothes had been thrown about the room so we were looking for flashlights, oil, shoes, keys and water. We went outside and after about two or three minutes the other neighbors began to come out as well and just make sure that everyone was okay. Power and water were cut, but there was a powerful full moon. We checked on other members that lived nearby that morning and all were well, but everything in the house had fallen and broke more or less. One of the members in our ward drives a bus for his job, and he said that it was jumping up and down and sliding from one side of the street to the other. Here in Chiguayante, very very little damage was done to actual houses and buildings, though many walls had fallen and crumbled upon the sidewalk. We came back to the house after checking the church (nobody there) grabbed some sweaters and slept outside sitting in chairs by a neighbor family (part member) until about 8 or so.
There were rumors flying about of another replica (aftershock) at 1 or 3 that afternoon which would be stronger than the first, but this turned out to be as true as hens' teeth. There have been tremors and such all week though, in varying degrees. The first couple of days they were very frequent, but nothing up to the 8.8 level, I think the highest level of replica we had was 6.5, possibly 7, but they only lasted at the most 7 seconds. We ran into our Zone leader and his companion at the Church at about 830 or so that morning but as nothing was going on or happening, he felt greater need to go help peole in his ward clean up, rebuild, etc. etc. At about 6 or so most of the zone was met all at the Church (many of the walls surrounding it had fallen, so even though nobody had keys to the gate we could get within the property). With a slew of bread and water that we grabbed from our house we were at the Church missing only two elders from the zone, so we slept outside in the little patio for a few hours and then found some neighbors that had set up camp in the parking lot (complete with tents and campfire, home-made bread and so forth) One radio station was on and could broadcast for the first slew of days, so everyone was listening to that the most they could. It was very cold, but we were safe.
We then had church the next morning (only sacrament meeting) and were instructed to stay in the Chapel. Two of the other elders wanted to grab their 72 hourish kits, so two elders went with them back to their sector. On the way, they found the other two Elders and brought them over. Luckily the members are pure angels here in Chiguayante, as we were blessed with food rations to last the week. We stayed in the Church without water or light that night and then the next day (an ominous overcast, same as Sunday) the Assistants came by to make sure we were all okay and safe and then told us to hold tight. There's only so much you can do in a church with 12 Gringos and no power or water (or cell phone service), so we built ourselves some beds by taking the cushions from the pews. In our geniusness we turned two entire rooms into large beds.
The President of the mission came on Tuesday (right as the sun broke through the overcast) and we were told to continue holding tight, but doing what service we could in or small windows of time granted (by this time the ''Toque de Queda'' -literally touch of stay--military roaming the streets, everyone needs to be in their houses-- -had started, limiting us from noon to six) So we've all 12 been living in the Church this last week, getting water from nearby wells, using propane tanks and a camping stove for cooking, and the baptismal font for bathing. It hasn't been the most food we've eaten, but it certainly beat the little that we had in our house. We were literally saved by the donations of the members. Tuesday night power came back, and cell service came back wednesday in the day. By Wednesday the streets were safe so we went about helping pull water from wells and other bits of service that we could do. Water is slowly returning, there was a bit Thursday morning, but as the earthquake caused many pipe breakages, it's been on and off as they find the breaks (random founts of water coming from the sidewalk, etc.)
Saturday was a treat though. Elders Amado and Corbridge (Area Presidency and 70's) and Presidente Chavez and their wives came and talked with us (just us 12). Elder Corbridge talked about the need of giving up the natural man, that even though there isn't always the battle between good and evil in our minds and our decisions, there is ALWAYS the battle between what I want, and what The Lord wants. He said that even if we are perfectly obedient doing everything the Lord wants, if it still isn't our will, it isn't going to help us. The only way to win this battle is an unconditional surrender of our will to His. Very interesting. Elder Amado (President of Chile area) talked to us about Love, it being a decision that we make, and that we need to always remember exactly who we are now, who we represent, and make sure that we use our time wisely. Don't let time go to waste ever, even though we may have to be locked up inside for an extra 6 hours each day, we have to use it wisely. Very true.
We're going to be heading back to our houses soon, the Toque de Queda has been relaxed, so now we have from 10 in the morning to 9 at night to be out and about. I know that our house has power, not sure about water yet though. The Helping Hands has been organized and is now in effect, so gargantuan trucks have been arriving from the Church with loads of loads upon very large loads of food and supplies that almost all our ward and all the missionaries, many from the stake all helped unload for several hours. Apparently this will be going on all week, so we'll be spending much time there.
Well, I do also have to write about all the amazing things that happened the week before the earthquake, so I will be brief in that regard:
I learned that the same as in English we have our way of spanishatizing any word (Put 'El' in front of the word and then add an 'o' and the end - El stairso, El sandwicho, etc.) Spanish has its way of doing the same to englishify words, they cut off the last letter of the spanish word and add 'ation' to the end. Thus, when someone asks "How do you say car (auto) in English?" The joke answer is "autation." I found it amusing.
We made ourselves a dumbell using a large and thick reedbar from a junkyard and cement, pictures on the way, I forgot to bring it today :(.
Remember Diego, the 12 year old boy who wanted to get baptized but his inactive parents didn't want it? A miracle has happened there. We ran into his mom last friday in the street (before earthquake) and she said she wanted us to come by the house so that we could get Diego baptized, as well as her other son (10 years old). Apparently the dad had lost his job two months ago and they both in their meditating, etc, realized that they needed the Church. So the whole family has decided that they want to be reactivated after 8+ years of inactivity, get all the children baptized, and have goals to get sealed in the temple.
Later that day, a woman contacted us in the street, and told us that she was slightly upset that we hadn't passed by a certain area for a long time, and that she wants us to come by, because she likes how she feels when she listens to us teach, and that she wanted to understand more about baptism. Her name is Francis. We're going to swing by her house as soonly as we can.
I don't remember if I told you about Roberto, the boyfriend of a member that's interested, but he came to Chuch with her all by themselves, and he wants to get baptized. He prayed about Joseph Smith and said he felt great, excited, and a sense of love inside him from it.
Many other reports of progress of investigators, but as for now, I've already written a novel, so I'll leave it for next week.
The Church is True, God loves you, so do I.
Elder Kent Pimentel