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Earthquake in Chile: Faith prevails over fear   Leave a comment

Ana Torres Henriquez is a reluctant earthquake veteran. As a Chilean,she’s learned first-hand that her country is a seismically-active land.Geologically, the Latin term “Terra Firma” does not apply to Chile. In1985, Sister Torres Henriquez survived a deadly quake at its epicenter inthe coastal city of Valparaiso. Still, nothing from the past prepared thisward Relief Society president for the massive magnitude-8.8 temblor thatrattled the central coast of Chile on Feb. 27.

AP Photo
Aftermath of the magnitude-8.8 earthquake in Chile.

“It seemed like the movement of the earthquake was eternal — itnever quit,” wrote Sister Torres Henriquez in an e-mail shared withfriends.

The disaster — which claimed more than 700 lives and left manymore without power, water and food — “has been a great blow for all,and event of much reflection,” she added. “Chile is a country of manyearthquakes, but I think this has been devastating.”

Counted among the quake’s mortally wounded is one Latter-day Saint. (Thename has not been released to the media.)

All missionaries serving in the country’s nine missions were reported assafe and many have been enlisted in ongoing relief efforts. Some missionaryapartments were severely damaged, so affected missionaries were staying inthe homes of members or in meetinghouses, according to a Church newsrelease.

Church-led efforts to provide relief to those in need following what isbeing called one of the most powerful earthquakes of the last century wereimmediate. “Local leaders and members began relief efforts shortly afterthe quake distributing food and water already located in Concepcion [wheredamage was severe],” the news release said.

“Church leaders have identified that food, water, tents, blankets,hygiene kits and sleeping mats are needed to assist people in the affectedregion. Representatives of the Church in Chile have been in contact withthe country’s Interior Ministry to determine how the Church can mostappropriately assist in relief efforts. Emergency response personnel atChurch headquarters are poised to provide assistance as appropriate.”

On March 2, the Church delivered six tons of food from local bishops’storehouses to the city of Talca to help feed those impacted by the quakein several cities north of Concepcion. A second shipment of 20 tons of foodwas also sent to Concepcion, according to Church spokesman ScottTrotter.

Two additional shipments of food were also sent to affected areas southof Concepcion.

Lynn Samsel, the Church’s director of emergency response, said that anyloss of life and destruction is a tragedy. Still, he added, “we don’tanticipate that the situation in Chile will be nearly as devastating aswhat we’ve seen in Haiti.”

More than a half-million homes in Chile reportedly sustainedconsiderable damage following the main quake and its multiple, powerfulaftershocks. Most Church buildings “fared well” in the quake, though manyare filled with dust. At least three meetinghouses suffered extensivestructural damage and another was severely flooded, according to theChurch. A house that served as a meetinghouse near the Chilean coastlinewas swept away in the tsunami triggered by the quake.

Meanwhile, the Santiago Chile Temple was spared any significant damage.The trumpet from the statue of the Angel Moroni that stands atop the templedid fracture and fall to the ground.

Communication in quake-affected regions of Chile proved unreliable fordays after the disaster. Many members utilized text messaging and otherforms of online social networking to communicate with worried relatives andloved ones. Some shared terrifying first-hand accounts of the early-morningcatastrophe.
“The movement of the earth was terrible,” wrote Carmen Luz LamosLastres, who lives about an hour southwest of Santiago in the TalaganteBranch of Chile’s Talagante District. “I have been in several earthquakesover the course of my life, but this surpasses anything expected.

“[During the quake] I walked to the door of my house to open it and bein a safe place. The ground was moving up and down, like the movement of aboat.”

Sister Lamos Lastres wrote that she found comfort in the midst of thepanic “knowing that our Father in Heaven loves us and protects us.”

Eighteen-year-old Susana Fuentes of Penaflor, Chile, shared thisaccount:

“I was awakened by the rumblings and jumped in bed with my sisters towait for the shaking to stop. My older sister said it would be wise to moveunder the door as a precaution. We all held hands and moved to a placeoutside on the patio where we would not be hit by any falling objects.

“We could see the cars on the road moving and going up and down. Iprayed that God would help us and protect my family and all who needed Him.I remained calm. The floor was moving from one side to the other like awave.”

Sister Cheryl Lyon is the matron of the Santiago Chile Temple, where sheserves with her husband, President Ted Lyon. Sister Lyon wrote that she andthe many others who work and worship in the temple were relieved todiscover the edifice remained largely unscathed. Electrical service wasinterrupted in Santiago on the morning of the quake, so the decision wasmade to close the temple once the gas that fuels the temple generator wasexhausted.

“Then, just in the second that the lights began to dim, the power cameback on!” wrote Sister Lyon.

They proceeded with an endowment session and sealings for the benefit ofthree couples from out of town who had stayed Friday night in patronhousing on the temple grounds. Workers, who typically serve on Friday’slate shifts and generally stay in the housing and serve early on Saturdays,were on hand for temple work Saturday morning.

“We had a most moving morning. The quake has brought such a sense ofunity to workers and patrons, and the Spirit was amazing. I’ve seldom hadsuch a moving experience [in the temple] — with three consecutiveyoung sisters receiving their endowments.”

Guillermina Guerra, a member in Santiago, wrote that following thedirection of inspired leaders to store emergency food and provisions hashelped sustain her family in the quake’s desperate aftermath. “Many peopledon’t have food now that the supermarkets have been closed. It is then whenthe members remember the welfare plan that is inspired of God in order toprotect us. We have our emergency things that helped us.”

Posted March 5, 2010 by rexfordgbeardsleyjr in Faith Endures Forever