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Monday, March 15, 2010

Letter from Christopher, Terremoto 8.8 aftermath March 15, 2010

Dear Family,

I am having the greatest, hardest time of my life here in Chile. Concepcion is better. It has really calmed down since the quakes and looting. Almost everything is back to normal. Water and power is back. The stores are open too. We are teaching more than doing service now. There is still a curfew. They changed it on Thursday from 11pm to 6 am. Last night there was a scare because there was a nation wide power glitch where it just turned off in the whole country. Rumors quickly spread that it was government doing because they knew that another earthquake was coming. False. We woke and there was power and no earthquake. There were tremors like every day, but it was normal. Renee said that you told her that I talked and sang in church yesterday. Who told you that? Did I? how strange...
I have no news any of those missionaries all I know is that they are ok. Nothing else.

Here is the 8.8 story. I think that I can finally tell it because my mental capabilities aren't working off of adrenaline anymore.

Anyways... When I normally sleep I toss and turn a lot. On the 27th of February I was tossed and turned more than I could have imagined.

At first I just thought that it was raining because I could here things hitting the roof but I didn't know what. Then I heard the fridge fall over and the glass in the microwave shatter. I hopped out of bed not knowing what was going on. I, then gripping the wall for balance, found shelter under the door frame. Seeing that Elder Chapman was still asleep, I yelled "earthquake! earthquake! EARTHQUAKE!" I don't know what he was thinking because he told me, "hey, quiet, I'm sleeping," and closed his eyes. Then realizing what was going on jumped out of bed and put his shoes on. We ran out of the house fast. Minutes passed and the shaking didn't stop. I was scared that the giant billboard right above the house was going to fall. It was shaking violently. All of a sudden we saw the pandemonium brake out as our neighbors started yelling "tsunami! tsunami!" Thinking only about how close we lived to the river we thought that it was possible that a tsunami could reach us. As we ran for about twenty minutes towards the hill in our sector, the shaking continued at a weakened, but bone rattling strength. Then we stooped and prayed, the whole while trying to find balance as the earth continued it's angry awake. The feeling was unmistakable that we should go back and help people. We put on jackets and went around asking people if they needed help. We could see that most houses we intact outwardly but that the insides had been close to destroyed. We found people very shaken up emotionally but mostly ok physically. We found many families in great need of comfort as they yelled, "my mother!" or "my son, he lives next on the beach in Penco!" another cried. Wanted to calm them, we decided to sing hymns. Even as the tremors continued a calming Spirit came and we felt strengthened. About an hour after the quake we heard many explosions. Later we found that a chemical lab had exploded and that a bridge next to our sectors had fallen and that the cars had on it had also exploded.

Later, finding that everyone was ok, investigators and members, we tried to call our leaders in vane being that all communication was down. As the sun rose we saw the real damage as we saw that many older homes had collapsed. We spent that day calming people and trying to clear the rubble. We found sanctuary that day with the Olivas.
The next day I was able to talk to you. At about 9 am, a want-to-be-army dude came and warned us that we needed to find food for the next months because all supermarkets would be closed. He said that one close to us was "gifting" food and that we had to get there before it was closed. When we went we found that the "gifting" was actually a dangerous looting situation with people stealing mattresses, plasma screen TVs, and a lot of alcohol, a little food. We left quickly as we saw that the walls were about to collapse on the looters. About 10 died. Later we went downtown and saw that many very tall buildings had toppled. The worst was an apartment building. Other buildings we passed looked like they were about to collapse. Finally we found the office. The office workers were sleeping as we entered. We saw that the wall had many cracks and fissures. We received instructions that we should save water and food and help as many people as possible.

For the next few days we saw many other buildings topple as the tremors hit. We also saw the worst damage of the looting as hundreds died burning in buildings they were looting. From 6pm to 12 the next day we were to stay in the house. At night we were woken up by many fire fights right outside our house between the looters and the military. A few days after we went to Talcahuano to see if we could help. Some of the worst damage we saw was in Talcahuano. Many boats had been lifted to land. It was a strange sight to see huge navy boats in the middle of the street.
The next day we went to San Pedro, but we had to leave quickly as we saw that the escaped prisoners and the looters we looting everything and starting fires without any resistance of the military of police. Events such as these continued for many days all the while we were locked in the Oliva's home. Of course it was difficult and very stressing. But understand that I have seen this earthquake as a great blessing. I feel so much stronger because of it. I have seen that many people have been humbled because of it. One of these is Alex, the 19 year-old son of one of my converts, he was a good kid before but now he is ready now for the healing power of the Atonement. He wants to serve a mission too. If that is the only miracle of this, it was worth it. But there have been many others too.

As we see many people choose Christ, others have lost their faith. Last Sunday and yesterday there were dissension and open apostasy. At the same time I have felt that these Sacrament meetings have been the most edifying for me. We now see that it is true that in the Last Days that the wicked will get more wicked and the righteous more righteous. I have learned so much from this experience. Truths that one can only learn by experience.

Since last week I have moved back to our own house. It is a two floor home the only con is that there is no oven. The address is in Lorenzo Arenas, Concepcion Chile.
My comps name is Zachary Chapman. He is a cool kid since the earthquake, it'll be ok. He's from Alpine Utah. I have found that I need as many copies as possible of the PeaceGiver in Spanish. Also more works pants and shorts and shirts.
I believe that another wonderful thing would be some chocolate . I haven't gotten any packages yet.

It is so good to hear that all of you are helping so much. Thank you. I think that the best thing to do is to send the things that you have already gotten and pray for us. Also, you can help the missionaries that have lost everything by either sending things or by depositing in my account. Either way is helpful.

Today I read Helaman 5. It was very good. Read it. That's how I feel.
I love you all, thank you for all of you letters and everything. I hope I have answered all of your questions. if not, next time.

Love you, Elder Christopher Morgan

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