Monday, March 1, 2010

Well, for those of you who haven´t heard yet, I just passed through the scariest and most interesting experience of my whole life. For a couple weeks I´ve woken up several times in the night, feeling a slight tremor. But never anything big, small and smooth, and they last like 10-15 seconds. And only I feel them, Elder Squire no. Friday night, however, was different. About 3:30 in the morning, 11:30 pm in Idaho, I woke up to a small tremor. I expected it to be like the others, small and short. But after the time when it should have stopped, it started getting bigger. I thought "I wonder if Elder Squire feels this one." I looked over and he had raised his head. We looked at each other and both asked "What´s up?" Then it started getting worse. Ended up being an earthquake which lasted almost 3 minutes. We weren´t sure what to do. The automatic answer is get under a table or in the doorway. But in a 13 story building, us living on the 9th floor, what would that help? So we just sat up in our beds and started praying. Elder Squire said one outloud, and was nice and calm. But I was praying inwardly, and not too calm. After an eternity of praying, shaking, and listening to all the sounds (the rumble, stuff falling, etc.) it all stopped. We sat there for a few seconds, then went to check on the damage. Surprisingly, nothing broke. The fridge moved several feet, the small stove fell of the table it was on, and a ton of papers and books fell of the tables. But that was it. We sang Master the Tempest is Raging, said a prayer, read the Emergency Plans of the Mission, talked to our DL, Elder Rosenlaf, and then went to bed. Elder Squire fell asleep right away. For me it was harder, but I was able to sleep some. About 8:00 we got light and water back, but the water is bad to drink, contaminated. Good thing we have big bottles of extra. We got instructions to stay in the house all day. Plus, due to the explosion of a plastics chemical plant in Quilicura, a nearby community, we had to keep the windows closed. We slept a little, wrote in the journal, and studied.

Vivacet, the sector next to us, with Elder Barney and Elder Valencia had to leave their house. The building, only 2 years old, is now in bad condition. They left right away, and later went back and snuck in to pack a fast backpack with important stuff. They then slept in the house of a member and later snuck in again to pack some quick suitcases. (Quickly, because at any moment a 6.9 aftershock was going to hit.) As they were getting out, the fire department and police arrived, saying that no one can ever enter the building again. Since then, it´s been seconds from falling. I imagine they´ll destroy it. They showed us pictures, and it is in horrible condition. So they´ve been sleeping with us.

Yesterday we just had Sacrament meeting. There were very few people. The bishop talked at the end and said that he´d spent some time calling and driving through the ward, and all the members are okay. We also have visited some people and everyone´s okay.

Obviously, thanks to the earthquake, we didn´t have transfers today. They´re going to wait a week. We also have to be in the house at 8:00 every night, instead of 10:00.

Here are some numbers I´ve heard: over 700 deaths; at the epicenter was 8.9, Concepcion 8.8, and here in Santiago 8.5; It was almost 1000 times bigger than Haiti, even with way fewer deaths. Here is why: 1) The ground in Chile is harder, more solid, and 2) Chile is more prepared, with some sort of law that the buildings have to be built ready for an earthquake. We also heard some about the tsunamis. Seems like nothing happened on Easter Island, and on Robison Crusoe there were 8 deaths and a few missing people. Heard about another island that I forgot the name that everything was wiped out. I´m not sure about that one. I also heard that they were taking people from Hawaii to Australia, and that the tsunami alert was for all of the pacific: South, Central and North America, Hawaii, Japan, China, etc. Maybe it´s died down and we haven´t heard. Also, I´ve heard that this is the 5th biggest earthquake in the world. Chile also has the record for the biggest, in Validvia in 1960. 9.8 I think.

Things are getting more or less back to normal now. We´re still a little unnerved, but getting used to the aftershocks. I think I have felt almost every single one, some getting about 6.0. In Concepcion there was a boat that got carried on a wave to the middle of a park. Next to Elder Barney´s building, there was another department building that had (emphasis on had) a swimming pool on the roof, which fell 3 floors. I personally was thinking during the quake "Is the building going to collapse downward, or tip over?" If it had tipped over, chances are it would have destroyed the big Catholic church next door. I was really scared, but things have calmed down now.

Well, I think I´m about out of stuff to talk about. Oh, except for that I SURVIVED AN 8.5 EARTHQUAKE!!!!

Wednesday night we received a call from the bishop. He was in his office in the church and a 19ish year old José Mendoza walked into the office and wanted us to visit him. We passed by Friday. Three years ago, in Peru, he was about to get baptized, but between his parents saying no and his work he couldn´t. But now he can and wants to. He quickly accepted a baptismal date and the invitation to the church. Actually, he lives in a little alley right in front and was gonna go anyway. He still has his Book of Mormon and was already praying to know the truth about Joseph Smith. He hasn´t received it yet and was feeling bad, but we explained that it takes time and faith and patience, but he will receive it. Unfortunately, he couldn´t come to church, because right after the earthquake he went to visit family members. So we´ll have to call him and set up an appointment. But he was really excited to see us.

Another problem from the earthquake is that Tomás didn´t get baptized yesterday. The bishop and we decided it would be better not too. But next Sunday is Stake Conference, so we can´t do it then. And Tomás doesn´t want to wait more. So we´re thinking of doing it Thursday afternoon. He´s way excited about it all. He already has the triple combination, the new bible, hymn book, and new Gospel Principles book. He´s ready and, like I said, way excited.

Yesterday, unsure of transfers, we stopped by to visit Nicolas and Natasha. After much waiting we had gotten them some gifts. We gave Nicolas the triple and a hymnbook, and Natasha some pictures of the life of Jesus Christ and a hymnbook. They were both way excited and happy to receive the gifts. It was kind of like a goodbye, but it looks like we´re both here for one more week.

Well, I´m out of things to say. So, until next week. Ciao!

Elder Murdoch

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