Sami singing the song she wrote

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

First letter from Concepcion

First a letter from Sami to us:

Dear Family,

The ward in Santa Sabina is about twice the size of the one in San Carlos ( 156 people this Sunday and about 80 in San Carlos was normal for Sundays). We are living in the same house where they have always lived. It has a lot more amenities than the house in San Carlos. We have a sofa! But we don't have any time to use it. We have everything we need. Things here in Conce (Concepción) are normalizing pretty fast. In my sector there wasn't that much damage from the earthquake because the houses are a little nicer and therefore better built and it's not close enough to the ocean to receive damage from tsunamis.

My companion is named Hermana Carzoli, she is from Texas and is going home at the end of this cambio.

I played guitar and sang for a baptism yesterday.

It's still warm and not raining, daylight savings hasn't started here yet.

I saw Hermana Grahn. I officially love here and I'm about 95% sure that she will be married before I get back from my mission in 10 months. Her name is Rachel Melissa Grahn (so it is easier for you to stalk her). I already offered her a place to stay on my futon bed and some canned food, I hope that's alright. She has a goal of going to the temple with YOU mom. Make it happen. And buy her a tasty dinner from me. And some chocolate from the liquidation store. Please and thank you.

I will try to send stuff but I will never make any promises that it will actually work.

Love you all!!!
love,  Hermana Smith

Now, a rough translation of a letter to her mission president (with help from Google & some hopefully educated guesses on my part)

President Chavez,

First I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to progress through a change of sector. Even I learned things change. This week was good. I am learning the area and Hermana Carzolio is helping a lot in that. It seems we have some challenges in this sector: we don't have many investigators , for now, and we are having difficulty entering homes to share the gospel. Of course, we must teach everywhere in every moment, but in the homes of people they can feel the Spirit in a more relaxed environment. So they want us to return. Hermana Carzolio said we often have good first lessons. but then we have trouble meeting with them again.

I've been thinking about what we did in San Carlos to see if there is anything we can do here to overcome this challenge. I know that the best remedy is prayer and focused on the problem. In San Carlos, we had a challenge of haveing our investigators come to sacrament meeting, but we focused on that alot and when I left we were having five or more investigators in church on mst Sundays. I know there is no problem or difficulty that we can not improve with the help of the Lord. This is His work and thus, he is very concerned about how it goes. Sometimes we are left alone for a few moments to give us the chance to be our own agents. It is a blessing to have a difficulty because it means that the Lord knows that we are able to overcome it. I am a little anxious about having to teach the sector to someone new in a few weeks but I know that the Lord prepares us for the callings that he gives us .

This week I also learned something of love. I have a struggle at times to know if I really love people enough. My last night in San Carlos when I said good-bye to the members, new converts, investigators, that is to say all the people that I came to know; in the process of saying good-bye, I realized that yes, I love the people . There was one person who we taught who was baptized and later married a church member who had reactivated a year or so ago. Her name is Karen and when she started talking and crying, it gave me sadness to leave, but also so much joy to see how her life has changed. When I started teaching her, I never could have imagined the changes and the blessings She has received. I am so grateful for the privilege to know her and all the people I know now in San Carlos. It makes me feel so happy that I love certain people very much. I know that while it is progressing, my ability to love people will increase and I will be able to love more fully.

Well, this post is super long but I am learning a lot. I know this change is the answer to many of my prayers. I can always see after something happens when the Lord answered my requests. I am always ready to learn more of the things that the Lord wants me to learn during  this mission. I'm still working on my diligence with accuracy. I want to be an example to others as some other missionaries have been good examples for me.

with love,  Hermana Smith

Now some info on what else she did this week - some pictures & comments from Elder Jarr (he is in her zone & may be the Zone leader) from his blog about some service work the zone did this week.
Dichato - after the Tsunami 
Photo from Elder Jarr's BLOG
Dichato - after the Tsunami 
Photo from Elder Jarr's BLOG
 Some of the missionaries resting after some hard work
photo from Elder Jarr's BLOG
The Workers
Photo from Elder Jarr's BLOG
A hard working Zone
Photo from Elder Jarr's BLOG

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


In spite of Earthquakes, life goes on & Sami is having her first transfer. After over 5 months in San Carlos she is moving to Concepcion Tuesday Mar 23. She will be in the Santa Sabina ward which is actually where the new temple will be built.   She is sad to leave those she has grown to love but is looking forward to new experiences.
Her email to us:

I will keep this short because there were cambios today and I´m leaving for Concepción tomorrow. Hehe. Love you guys. I am going to the sector of Santa Sabina which apparently didn't have too much damage. So I need to pack all of my things and say goodbye to all the new converts and investigators.

Mom, thanks for sending the stuff through Elder Merrill´s parents (Sister Merrill was nice enough to take some things for the sister missionaries when she went to pick up her son before the earthquake - but I think they were supposed to use the peanut butter to make cookies for their whole zone!). We just got it two days ago but I got to enjoy the m&ms and some of the peanut butter so that is good enough for now. We had interviews on Saturday which is why we got the bag of goodies.

As for winter clothes, I´m sure I´ll be able to find what I´m missing so don´t worry about it. Upside to the cambio: I´ll get my package a lot sooner. :)  Don´t worry about the snuggie.

And about the music, give me a while to get settled in and organized and I will worry about it. As of right now, I still have a lot of music I haven´t used. But I wrote some songs! Being in Chile during a 8.8 earthquake really helps get the creative juices flowing.

The apartment building in San Carlos appears to be fine. None of the cracks look any bigger than they were from the earthquake and the aftershocks don´t feel very strong at all in comparison so I´m pretty sure it´s good. As for the wall, I think it´s pretty far down on the list of important things to rebuild. Right now they are working on demolishing all the buildings and houses that pose a hazard so San Carlos is about to look a little more spacious.

I don´t think even my footie pajamas will save me from the cold here.

It appears that I have some sort of virus on my SD chip and possibly on my voice recorder but as soon as I get it all figured out I will email you pics and music.

Love you guys!!!!!!
Hermana Smith

And to Jennie:
Hermana Chavez is encouraging us to study the signs of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In D y C (I think...) it says that the righteous will be able to recognize the signs of His coming. And they will only come on more strongly and closer together. Not to be a downer or anything. But good job on your food storage. Especially as a foreigner because who knows if you would qualify for government aid in the case of a catastrophe or natural disaster. Wish me luck in Conce!

Tu Hermana
ps. I thing the aftershocks are supposed to continue for several months but everyone here has calmed down a lot. It´s more like a Disneyland ride now, old hat.

And lastly, her letter to President Chavez: 
Querido Presidente Chavez,

Muchisimas gracias por la oportunidad que me ha dado ( o sea el Señor, mediante usted ) de pregresar en una otra manera. Estoy animada para llvar las cosas que yo he aprendido aqui en San Carlos a mi nuevo sector y aplicarlas aun mejor. A veces uno nesecita un gran cambio para poder hacer todos los cambios en uno mismo. Sé que tendré buenas experiencias que me ayudarán depender más en mi Padre Celestial y menos en mi propio entendimiento solamente.

Va a ser un poquito difícil dejar las personas ( miembros, nuevos conversos, e investigadores ) que he logrado amar pero tambien sé que la obra del Señor sigue sin o con mi ayuda. Solo estoy agradecida que Él ha confiado en mi para poder ayudar y servir a Sus otros hijos aqui en Chile.

Aqui en San Carlos estamos trabajando mucho con los jovenes y el grupo aqui está creciendo y fortaliciendose. Siento que estoy dejando mi sector en un buen lugar. Siento que el Señor está complacido con mi trabajo aqui y que he aprendido muchas lecciónes que Él tenía para mi. Quizas no todas, pero siento muy bien y tranquila y eso es suficiente.

Muchisimas gracias por todo.

con mucho cariño y respeto,

Hermana S Smith
Dear President Chavez,

Thank you very much for the opportunity given to me (ie from the Lord through you) to progress in a different way. I am happy with the things I've learned here in San Carlos I can use at my new sector and apply even better. Sometimes  a big change is necessary to make all the changes in yourself. I know I will have good experiences that will help me to rely more on my Heavenly Father and less on my own understanding.

It will be a little hard to leave people (members, new converts, and investigators) who have been loved, but I also know that the Lord's work continues with or without my help. I'm just grateful that He has trusted me to help and serve His other children here in Chile.

Here in San Carlos we are working hard with the young and the group is growing and strengthening here. I feel I am leaving my work in a good place. I feel the Lord is satisfied with my work here and I have learned many lessons he had for me. Maybe not all, but I feel very good and calm and that is enough.

Thank you very much for everything.

with much love and respect,

Stay tuned for info on what Concepcion is like - and hopefully some pictures soon if she gets her SD card to work outside her camera.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Some pictures from Hermana Knapp

Since Sami was unable to send us any pictures, I am posting some that Hermana Knapp sent her mom for her blog. I suspect the construction work in 2 of the pictures is the roof repair that Sami mentions in her email.
 fixing the roof
More roof work
A street in San Carlos
Hermanas Knapp and Torres
Amid the rubble
Living outside for a few days
Hermana Knapp helping organize supplies
they cleaned up pretty well when Pres Chavez and the area 70 came to town

Sami's letter from Mar 15

Still not much earthquake detail from the Sam - and she has not been able to upload any pictures - hopefully her roommate Hermana Knapp will send some to her mom that I can put on this blog.
This will be short because I have already spent a great deal of my life here in the internet café today. First of all, thanks Mom for forwarding all those messages, it was really interesting to read them all and see how different it was in other parts of the mission. It just made me realize even more how blessed we are here in San Carlos and how the Lord puts us where He knows we need to be. Every single missionary here in Chile is in the place that they need to be, especially with all that happened with the earthquake. (I still picture Hermana Rodriguez yelling ¨terremoto!¨ and jumping out of her bed and into mine every time I write earthquake) And Mom, I think you are right about not being fazed by earthquakes now. It´s hard to tell now when it is actually shaking now because it happens so much.But it will continue for a while longer and I think the fear that a lot of people are experiencing will last even longer than that.

I am learning a lot about myself, my ability to work with other people, my diligence, etc. The harder the lesson the better it is learned. I´m not really sure if that is a saying but... now it is. Sometimes I have trouble communicating with people (a problem I even have in English and one I had before my mission) but I am learning.  I am also learning how people can be united or divided by the same event. Some are closer, some are farther. But we all passed through the same thing more or less, at least here in San Carlos.

We still haven´t heard anything about interviews or cambios this next Monday. I hope that I can still see Hermana Grahn before she leaves for Canada.  I don´t know what is wrong with my camera but my card might have a virus or something because I can see all of the pictures when the card is in the camera but in the computer they don´t show up. So I can´t send you pictures of what it looks like right now. Sorry. But I have learned how grateful I am for the experience I gained before my mission. I don´t remember if I told you guys this or already but I had an awesome opportunity to use my skill and experience from work on Task Force and helping Dad with stuff to help one of the members stabilize their roof (half of it fell down and the other half was going down). But with what I've learned working with my hands and my brain, the two of us were able to figure out a way to stabalize the roof with what we had from the part that fell down and their yard. And I´m not going to lie. I feel pretty good about that roof. I would not have a problem living under it. I trust that roof. It´s situations like this earthquake that help us stretch, leran new things, recognize our abilities, and apply what we learn. If therehadn´t been an earthquake would I have know that I have sufficient knowledge and experience to help rebuild a house? No. Was it the best job ever done? Probably not, but we were able to do it with what we had and it will stand for a long time.

Anyway, sorry for the spastic letter. I will try to figure out the thing with the pictures if I can. Love and peace out.
Hermana Smith

Information from one of Sami's house mates

Since Sami did not send us any real details about what being in the earthquake was like, I got permission to post information that one of the other sister missionaries, Hermana Knapp, sent to her family. So in the words of Hermana Knapp:
'I first woke up to the sound of grumbling and shaking (a noise I’ve never heard and could probably never replicate) and awoke the rumbling and swaying of my bed, still lying down on the top bunk next to the window in a pitch black room, I hear Hermana Rodriguez yell "terimoto, terimoto” I’ve never heard that word in Spanish and I think you’ll agree it seems better suited in the Chinese Language.  I sat straight up and quickly leaned over to look down to try and see my companion (legs still tucked in covers) and as I leaned over the swaying of my bed grew with intensity and I literally was flung out of my bed and landed on the back of my companion (she still today has no recollection of that) I remember and can literally still see everything as if it just happened five seconds ago.  I got up and tried running towards the door but kept running into the three bodies in our small little room trying to fumble into the right spot (my companion fell to her stomach and slid under our little dinky iron bunk bed) hermana Rodriquez jumped out of her bed and sprang into the arms of hermana Smith as hermana Smith tried to hold onto the top bunk for stability.  Our door to our room wasn’t opening so I being ... almost pushed back and forth or swayed back and forth as I was tugging at the door, it finally opened and I tried hitting the lights a dozen times and looked into the living room to see our fan light swaying with such intensity I was sure it would fall violently... I stayed in the door and contemplated what or where we should go next, I really didn’t expect it to last for so long and I couldn’t hear that well with all the noise of things falling, the fan, and the sounds grumbling the sound of running water and some other weird crackling noises or scratches.

 I finally heard or zapped out of my thought and her my companion yelling from under the bed to watch out ( I had been under the door for a minute by then) she said to look up and I saw the cracked glass above my head, so I hesitated a second to think of which way to go but I ended up sliding under the bed with her and that’s where things really got freaky... my body didn’t fit with our suitcases being under the bed plus us two so as I half stuck under the bed I braced myself for I thought was to come, really thinking the house was going to fall on top of us... this is where I just started praying out loud.  I don’t think I can say I’ve ever used the atonement so fully and received so quickly His peace, it was as if you could literally feel his arms stretched over you protecting us.  I remember praying and pausing in certain moments with just this...  i dont know shock of I can’t believe this is happening I’ve never felt something like this ever in my life.   When it ended we tried to get out of the house as soon as possible knowing there are usually aftershocks just as strong, we grabbed what we needed to call our zone leaders and members of our church, jackets flash lights, food, scriptures, our water bottles with filters and headed for the church, (this is where I started recording on a tape for you fam), being 3:30 everything was still dark, the street in front of our house was filling with water, the wall which separated our house from the train tracks and the once which is the ghetto of san Carlos fell completely, as we walked to the capilla we tripped over something and realized it was part of a house, every block we saw more and more damage of the adobe houses that had fallen... but most houses are not made of adobe (our house included is not made of adobe it’s just a very, very old cement apartment, there are just cracks in the walls, don’t worry every house in san Carlos has cracks from this earthquake, the safest is the wood houses).

The only family in the church when we got there was Josefina, I call her my mission mom her and can’t tell you how glad and reassured I was to see them!  As we walked myself and Rodriquez were trying to make people feel comfortable that were out in the streets telling them they had a second home in our church giving them pictures of Christ and trying to do all we could, but you could still see the fright in the eyes of everyone, including hermanas Smith and Torres who were very responsible and wanting to make sure we took care of all safety things first. So that’s sufficient enough to explain even though everyone could go on but this is a novel already....  over the week we saved water in every available source we could (I knew we could survive because we had water bottles that could filter water, it was more or less how many other people like the family of Josephina and Javier could survive)we didn’t have water for about 3 days and I don’t quite remember when we got electricity, but San Carlos was tremendously blessed, our church was fine with just some fallen lights and cracks and we had gas in containers (not much gas runs through pipes here).  We camped outside for 3 nights and the next days we felt safe enough to go inside the church to sleep.  The city put a curfew of 9pm to 6am for everyone in the city to try and make sure they could identify everyone in the streets (looking for Chillan prisoners), we made a plan for saving food and 23 people put everything they had together and acted as one family (law of consecration), the grocery stores didn’t open up until this past Friday, I remember those yellow survivor books saying you can go two days without water before dying and 7 without food, so looking at our plan it also brought peace.  The day after we were simply doing service and going inside of the fallen house to retrieve things for people but trying to be safe not knowing when the replica was going to happen (still not knowing everyone has an internal fear kind of looking over your shoulder for the next replica).  We worked with the red cross, we helped anyone and everyone, I gave away some of my food to families with children that would come (had to be careful to make sure they knew not to tell others and that this was literally all we had, usually only sufficient enough to feed the small kids), we put together kits of food and supplies that our Church made, we shared with people that would let us (couldn’t believe people were still so hard within their hearts)  lines went around blocks to receive the free food from the city, lines of people with buckets trying to get water throughout different streets.'

Monday, March 8, 2010

Words of Wisdom from a Daughter of Heavenly Father

First, Sami's email to us:
Hey Family,

You are right about this part of the mission being a little ¨safe haven¨. It´s actually really strange because it´s almost like nothing happened, except for all the houses and fences that collapsed. And the people that are still sleeping in tents instead of their houses. But a lot of the people are acting like it is no big deal. Like we should just get on with life. Which is true, but a lot of the people who say that only lost a few glasses or a mirror or two. I really like something one of the members said in fast and testimony yesterday. He said that each one of us experienced the earthquake which we all know was huge. But also that everyone is also experiening their own personal earthquake inside. And people are trying to deal with it in the way they think is best. For some people they would rather pretend like nothing happened instead of think about all the people who are homeless or who have lost family or who still don´t know if their loved ones are ok. On the other hand, we can´t just curl up in a ball and give up. I tried that when I didn´t know if Hermana Grahn or my friends in Concepción and Penco made it out okay. That didn´t last very long because it doesn´t help anybody. There are people who lost everything. And here in San Carlos it is almost like nothing happened. I´m sure we have the least damage of everywhere. But even with that, a lot of houses collapsed and I heard they might demolish the two huge catholic cathedrals here because they are now structurally unstable. Which is probably for the best because one of them is about 3 stories high and you can see the cracks in the walls from the other side of the street.

It is such a strange situation to be here in the safe zone while it seems like the rest of my mission is falling down. President Chavez has asked our zone to keep working as normal since Chillán and San Carlos seem to be the least affected (Chillán was already destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt more earthquake - proof and San Carlos doesn´t really have anything big enough to fall down since it is almost completely houses except the part around the plaza)
So here we are. Working as normal. Not watching the news because it only gives me anxienty. We still don´t really have communication with President Chavez which is absolutely fine because he has things a lot more important to deal with than whether we are going to have interviews or cambios. These past 3 months President and Hermana Chavez have shared Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-28 A LOT with us as missionaries. It reads, ¨(26) For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. (27) Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; (28) For the power is in them, wherefore they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.¨ They have focused especially in the last part, we are agents unto ourselves. Do you think that is a coincidence? I don´t think so. Heavenly Father has been preparing us without our knowing it. Who knows how long we will be without good communication as a mission. That doesn´t really matter. The thing that matters the most now is that we are in good communication with our Heavenly Father because there is nothing or no one that can cut that line of communication except our own selves.

So I guess the summary is I have no idea what is going to happen. You guys probably know more about my mission and the effects of the earthquake now than I do. We are here working as normal, giving service, bringing comfort. The fear here in San Carlos that there will be another big aftershock is pretty much gone, which is good. Not even all the active members had food storage for emergencies like this let alone all the thousands of people who are not members of the church. So I would just like to send a voice a warning to everyone who reads this: if you don´t have food and water stored for an emergency, please make the effort to prepare. I know Chile is a sysmic country that has a lot of earthquakes but that doesn´t mean this type of thing isn´t going to happen in other parts. I don´t care if you believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ or not, or if you think the spirit of the earth is mad because we have polluted it so much, or if you just know natural disasters happen once in a while. The thing is they are going to keep happening whether we are prepared or not. And you can´t just run to the store when something like this happens. The store here didn´t open because the roof fell down. It doesn´t have to be as grave as Concepción or Constitución or any of the coastal cities (which as far as I know still don´t have water, electricity, or adequate food, but I could be wrong). Here we had very little damage but it is sad to see how many people didn´t and still don´t have enough food. People with kids that don´t have food or milk to give them or money to buy anything now that the stores are actually open. People who have to wait outside their houses until trucks that are giving out food pass by because they don´t have other options. So please get your houses in order. Prepare yourself as best as you can for an emergency because we don´t know what or when things like this will happen. And this isn´t paranoia, my friends and the people that know my irrational fears might think that. It´s the sad truth that I´m seeing that cities can be destroyed in a matter of minutes or hours and the time to prepare is before because after something like this happens you don´t get a second chance. The few neighborhood stores that were open after the quake (and by neighborhood I´m talking about smaller than a gas station store) were charging 2500 pesos a kilo for bread when it is normally about 700 pesos a kilo. And the same for flour. People will take advantage of your necessities which sounds sad but it´s true. Not with everyone, but that 2000 pesos difference in bread is a big deal when the banks, supermarkets, and atms don´t work and you are running out of money.

So I think I´m going to step off my soapbox now. Just be smart and listen to what the prophets have been counseling us for years because guess what, they were right.

Hermana Smith

Now her email to Jen:
Hey, if I have learned anything this past week it´s that there are a lot of things in this world that don´t matter. And more importantly that there are a few things that actually do. One of these things is life itself. A lot of people talking about things breaking or their house falling have said ¨it doesn´t matter, they´re just details¨. And it´s true. Our lives are full of things that are ¨just details¨. I´m not saying we should go and throw out all our junk (even though we really should, okay, I am saying that) or that we should give up the extra activities that make us happy. But there are a few things I´ve realized that are relevant to me and I imagine to you as well.

Things that are important: Family, and because the family is so important - temple marriage. Why put so much effort into loving people here and nothing into being with them for the eternities. It just doesn´t makse sense. We know that life continues and that we have the ability to be together forever. Don´t ever settle for anything less.

I didn´t have my family here with me in the earthquake but do you know what I did? I made a family. I hungered for that relationship so much that I made my own family. Sure it was a family in the ward that I already really liked but I consider them my family now in a way. They took care of me and helped me keep from feeling alone. And how much better was it that they could strengthen me with their own testimonies and the scriptures? I can´t even tell you the difference that makes.

Think about what makes you really happy. And then think about the things that stress you out. Sometimes we confuse the things that stress us out as the things that make us happy (for me: basically every boyfriend I´ve every had, for you: I´m going to go out on a limb and say Ryan). There is a difference between happiness and joy and that difference is the gospel of Jesus Christ. You can not experience the same level of joy in any relationship without that connection. It just isn´t possible.

I am also giving you a mental hug. And remember all my words of wisdom that were rude and made you cry when you were still with Ryan? I would imagine they still apply and that they probably would come out the same. (Just because I am a missionary doesn´t mean I´ve developed any sort of tact. :)

Maybe I just like to throw people out and I will end up and old maid but at least I will have hope in the Celestial Kingdom!!!!

Keep it real, J Lynn.
Hermana Smith

And some excerpts from emails from other Chilean Missionaries to their families:

From Elder Garey, who is in the chapel in Chiguayante. His area is Hualqui (Concepcion South)
Most importantly yesterday the water started trickling in to the chaple in Chiguayante and also the food started to arrive.  For the last 8 days I have been sleeping in the chaple with 11 other missionaries.  We shower with a spray bottle in the baptismal font. I am going to try to go back to my sector today or tomorrow.  The road to Hualqui was pretty bad after the earthquake so only small cars and bikes can make it to the town.  They still don´t have water but they do have
electricity.  Our house was fine after the quake but we have a neighbor whose house fell down.  In some parts the sidewalk got ripped up and goes up and down like a roller coaster about 10 ft.  There are also cracks in the ground that I can jump into pretty easily.  We feel tremors about every 10 or 20 minutes still.  The first week the only service we could do was pull water out of wells for the people.  Everything else was too dangerous.  That is also the reason we didn´t get food until yesterday.  On saturday night Elder Amado and Elder Corbridge from the quorum of rte seventy visited us with President Chavez- We had a very spiritually uplifting fireside with them and their wives.  We basically were just told to help in every way possible.

From Elder Pulver, who is also in Chiguayante.

We´re still all livin in the chapel, but we have orders to move back into our houses as soon as possible.  So, now we´re trying to figure out how to survive on our own all over again.  We need to get some government inspector and check our apartment.  It is a miracle that that building is still standing though...the whole foundation and first story walls are all cracked and moved out of place.  The situation here in Chiguayante is still a bit sketchy.  The main parts have power now, but running water is still rare to see.  They turn it on at intervals to find where the pipes are busted and fix them.   A lot of people have gotten sick from trying to use water from the river.  The firefighters also come around at times and disperse clean water to the citizens.  Food is going to be a problem very soon.  All of the  he major supermarkets were completly cleaned out and some were even set fire to.  We´ve seen one that is open again, but under strict military control.  Theyre trying to reopen others, but that might take a while.  Food was sent to the chapels here from the Bishop´s Storehouses in Concepcion and Santiago.  All the food was seperated into smaller trucks and traveled sort of under cover since a giant semi filled with food probably wouldnt get very far because the roads look like something out of Toontown and people are still attacking and looting trucks carrying food.  Also, a ton of helicopters have been flying over and dropping off food at Hualqui since its so hard to get there by road.  The Church sent a ton of supplies from the states, but all that goes to the government to dispense.  Martial law is still in affect, but violence is at a minimum now.  There is a military base set up at a school by our sector and that is where most of the food supplies is being gathered.  We spent all day yesterday unloading trucks of food and hygenic kits with a bunch of troops guarding us.  The whole stake is volunteering with that.  The idea is to find those who really are lacking food.
It was a terrifying experience.  But then I thought of I made the quickest most important prayer of my life and then was when I went into action.  I suddenly had a firm idea of exactly what I needed to do...protect myself, help my companion and when possible, leave the building as fast as I could...and we did just that.  We are alive and well.  Every missionary within the power of this earthquake is alive and well, even those who lived in towns that no longer exist.  The members of the church are helping each other fill the mouths of their children and comfort those who have trouble sleeping.  I remember that scripture in Mark saying that rain and sun falls on all of us.  No one was spared from the earthquake, but some were more prepared...physically and spiritually.  I urge you all to make sure that you are prepared for anything that may come...because something always comes your way.  Be prepared physically and spiritually.
And from Elder Pulver's phone call with his parents:
He is in very good spirits.  He says the violence and looting is "chillin down".  About a month ago the first presidency just decided to send all of the missionaries in Chile water filter bottles.  They can put water from the creek or well and it filters it automatically.  Makes you wonder why they did that???''

From Elder Law in Concepcion (Concepcion Mission)

Friday night was a little crazy, about 3:30 in the morning we woke up to the earth shaking... and I remember my companion jumped down and hid under my bed... and as I stood up.. I organized my thoughts and recieved the revelation that we needed to make it out.  I calmly knew exactly what was needed to be done, and I called my companion...I got our consecrated oil, and grabed water.. and headed outside.   It is amazing how the Lord blesses you with the exact revelation that you need in the hour and moment that you need it.  But you have to be ready to recieve it.  It was such a great blessing to feel it come in that moment.    We went and immediately checked on all the members and our investigators, and during this we had some big aftershocks too! It is so hard to describle the feeling of the earth moving, and the sound that comes with it too and the darkness!  There were walls and houses falling, and people panicking.  But the entire time I felt the peace from our heavenly father, and a feeling of how nothing we are.  It is such a humbling feeling, knowing and experiencing, that anything could happen in a split second and lives changed forever. We went and helped people all day re build and get organized, and that night met the zone in our chapel and stayed together waiting for information from the mission.  We slept outside that night... and it was pretty cold but we made it.  Everyone was sleeping outside due to the terrible aftershocks. Really we have felt the blessing and protection from our savior.  The next morning we entered the chapel, and tried to organize things.  I felt revelation from Heavenly Father which we needed again in that time, then I knew what we needed to do.  The spirit was such a great help as it enlightened my mind to the things that we should do.  What a great blessing it was.  We stayed in the chapel, and later that night... saw what a tremendous blessing it was to be protected in the church as thousands of people went to the streets to loot all the stores.  It was such an awful sight.  But really we could feel the protection of angels.  We knew that no harm would come. We didn´t have light or water for a week, and so we organized a schedule of searching for water in a nearby well, and living in conditions without light or gas.  But we had a good scheldule of showers in the baptismal font, and sleeping on the ground, and cooking food for twelve hundgry elders. Ha  But what an amazing blessing it was to have the help and guidance from the Lord, the true feeling of protection and awareness. We have stayed in the chapel for a week and 2 days now, and the water is now coming back on slowly but surely, and we are probably going to move back to the house tomorrow.  And then we have to clean up the house and get things back to normal..  But as for now we have assigments to serve the people and to teach if we can... but to help out with anything that we can do.  So as a zone we have helped the military and the church unload boxes and boxes of food from trucks... and we are bringing them into schools and trying to help the community become rejuvinated.  Things are going really well, and I love
serving these people here in Chile.  It has been tramatic, but it has been an experience that makes me so grateful to my Heavenly Father... How much we owe him!!

From a call with Hermana Amanda Legget, serving in Constitucion (Concepcion Mission)
She said all the Constitucion Hermanas are living with the Bishop at this time for safety reasons. They are being well fed and taken care of. They did not get any damage to their apt. They still have all their belongings. They have been doing service all week. She said yesterday was the first day she has worn a dress since the quake. They have to haul their water from a wood factory that has a well. They got to take a real shower Saturday night at a members home in an area that did not get alot of damage. Before that they took a couple showers in the baptismal font using some kind of firehose LOL.Yesterday they only had sacrament. She hopes that next week they will be able to have all their meetings. The church has a little damage, some cracks in the walls. She said in the central part of the city it is  demolished. I guess alot of adobe buildings. She also said the seashore is a wreck. The Mission President offered to move them out of the city but they begged to stay and continue to serve the people they have come to know and love, so he agreed to let them stay. They have to be in before dark and I think they are limited to how far they can venture out until it is safer. They have been shoveling mud out of some kind of factory this past week. I know they will be very busy for a while helping with the cleanup.

From a call with Elder Riley Harper serving in Talcahuano in the Concepcion South Mission
He said he felt like he was in a movie.  He was in Talcahuano and the thievery, looting and Tsunami related incidences were terrifying. There were 10 missionaries with him staying at a members house in the hills.  President and Hermana Swenson literally rescued them yesterday and brought them in safely to the San Pedro chapel.  Hermana Swenson was in tears when she saw them and gave each of them a huge hug.  Because of the curfew they all had literally 5 minutes to grab what little they could.  All 10 missionaries plus the President and his wife crammed into Presidents truck (not a big one / no bed) and endured the 2.5 to 3 hour drive to San Pedro.  I am sure they had some great conversation. Bless President and Hermana Swenson.
Tonight in the San Pedro Chapel all of the missionaries and displaced families staying there had a big talent show.  It was so loud and I heard a lot of laughter. I heard there were some great new lyrics and music performed that pertained to the recent disaster.  They are eating  a lot of bread, oatmeal and soy meat and my son says it sure tastes good.  The families living at the chapel with them are cooking for everybody. The filter water bottles they were given for Christmas this year were literal life savers.

I recommend checking out his blog at for more details on his adventures.
From email from Elder Nathan Keller (Concepcion Mission serving in Tome) 
Hey everyone! I'm alive and safe as are all of the missionaries in the'mission.Things are fine dont worry at all were all ok and safe. I'll send more info when i can but for now this is all I have time to
send.The town of Tome is fine were just without water but we have ways of getting it so dont worry.
From Elder Barton in Coihueco (Concepcion Mission)
I realized that we were in an earthquake. So I went downstairs and waited inside the front door frame with Elder Nina and just kind of enjoyed the ride for the next few minutes. Our house is perfectly fine, the only things that happened were that our plates fell down, the fridge opened up
and spilled, and that our one shelf upstairs fell over. No real damage to the house itself.
We´ve been spending the past few days visiting members and investigators making sure that they´re all right. Some of the houses in Coihueco got hit hard, but everyone is safe and there aren´t any injuries among the members here. We got the news that Chillán and the surrounding area has the least damage out of all the mission. Coihueco, although several buildings and
walls have crumbled, is basically the same. The instructions we got from President Chávez is go to work if we can, but offer service as needed. We´re doing what we can to help the people o

From Elder Skyler Miller in Chillan (Concepcion Mission)
All of the missionaries in the mission are safe and well. The only real problem is the lack of electricity and cell phone service so we couldn't contact anybody for a while.  Well, the earthquake woke me up at 3:30 in the morning and was pretty strong. The bed was bouncing around the room and all of the stuff in the house fell over. The house was still standing thankfully but the cement fence fell over and the walls have some big cracks in them. And the foundation is broken.  Elder Barajas and I jumped out of bed in the middle of the earthquake and ran outside. I was the wierdest feeling in the world because there was nothing we could do while everything was shaking. The shaking continued for at least 3 minutes and the it felt like everything was spinning for at least 10 more minutes.
The communication was cut so we couldn't call and find out about other missionaries so we just walked out to Dieciocho in the morning and got together with the Zone Leaders to see how they were. We spent the morning over there and then we went back to our sector for lunch and to help out the members. Thankfully, none of the members were hurt and most of their houses were standing. So we basically went around all day checking up on the members and seeing if anyone needed help. But we slept in the chapel of Dieciocho with the other missionaries and some other families of the stake that don't have houses.

From Elder Forrest Allred, who is serving in Quillon (Concepcion Mission).
e woke up to the bed shaking really hard, at first I thought it was my comp having a seizure, then i realized that it was an earthquake, we jumped off the bunk bed and ran and stood under the door of our room. we huddled there for about 5 minutes until the quake passed and then whent back to bed, we didnt´really think anything of the earthquake until we got up in the morning and realized that we didn´t have any water or electricity, when we whent outside to go to work we realized that there was a whole bunch of damage to roads and fences and houses. then later we realized that we were the only people who sleped that night, everyone else had been running around screaming all night. since there was no electricity we had no idea what was happening outside of quillon for like half a week. we found out that a whole bunch of cities totally got destroyed, and that Quillon was miracuoulosly spared. after like 3 days we finally managed to get enough water to take a shower, now all the electricity and water is back. they only let us have water in the mornings and in the night, the real problem is food, there isn´t much of it, they only let like 10 people at once go into the supermarket and all the little stores are selling food for more than double what it was before.

From  Elder Wilhelm is serving in Concepcion, Laguna Redonda
We had a 2 minute phone call twice. His companion is Elder Michels. They have food and water and in the church where they are sleeping, had been to the Bishops storehouse, and everyone "is very generous in helping the missionaries." It is locked down at night, and the city has a military shut down 9pm to 6am due to looting. He said the city is "crushed" and when he saw the families that came to church on Sunday he wanted to cry for them. One family in particular that he just loves had lost everything. He assured me they are "going to be fine" and they are trying to help where they can. Still had no power or water lines up. Apparently, when he and Elder Michels were dashing out of their apartment during the earthquake, they helped a paralyzed man get down 6 flights of stairs by carrying him down in a wheelchair. I believe they are all growing up very fast.

From Elder Ryan Mayberry in Talca (Concepcion Mission)
Not too much happened to our house, other than that things fell and got moved around.  And from then started the time without electricity and water. So yeah, it finally stoipped, we put on some shoes and went to a members house closeby.  Then we were outside until about 6 in the morning, then we decided to head back to the house to sleep for a bit. Then like good missionaries we woke up at 7.  Soon after that was a strong aftershock, i heard it was like 6.9. But it wasnt very long, but still it was strong. So all the houses and stuff by our house were very littly damaged.  So we really didnt know the extent of how bad it was until later.  So then we headed to the church to go see where help was needed.
On the way to the church is when we realized that a lot more damage was done than we originally thought.  Because then we were getting closer to the part where its downtown, where a lot of buildings are hundreds of years old and made of adobe. Then we started to see the damage. There were houses and buildings here and there completly destroyed.  So we arrived at the church, and not too much hlp was needed there. The church nothing happned to it. So then we went back to the house, got a couple things and then headed off to see the members and investigators to see how they were. SO thats what we did for that whole day.  One members wall fell over, we helped with that. Another the 2nd floor wall fell over and crushed their car, but theyre all fine.  So thats what we did yesterday. A lot of the people here have been sleeping in tents in open areas, because we dont know exactly if there will be anoher that does a lot of damage.  So that was an experience.


From Elder Aaron Mayberry (Santiago East Mission)
o you know, we live on the third floor of an apartment building, just imagine it being high up haha.  So i wake up, and feel he bed shaking.  Im on the top bunk and i asked elder frost if he was feeling it too.  He said yeah so i figured it was an earthquake.  It started off pretty calm, just a little shaking, so i jumped off the bed and got into the doorway.  And as soon as i got there the shaking got harder.  And then it started shaking harder and harder and HARDER.  I cant even tell you what it was like.  It was insane.  The noise was so loud, the walls were shaking ridiculously hard.  My thoughts were the following.  Without even thinking i said a prayer, then came the thoughts of panic.  It seriously felt like the walls were falling down.  I thought for sure the building was coming down, and there was nothing we could do on the third floor.  It was too hard to move because everything was shaking.  I remember thinking at one point, because it really felt like it, that the building was collapsing.  I have never feared for my life, but in this moment i really did.  It was pretty darn scary.  And it didnt help that at one point a man outside started screaming.  I thought, oh man, that guy is dying, we´re all dead haha.  Then the shaking got even more intense.  The earthquake itself lasted for like a minute and a half or something, with a majority of the super hard shaking.  But then it ended.  Finally.  We all 4 elders threw on shirts, shoes grabbed phones and keys and RAN outside.  I was expecting to see pure destruction outside, like buildings on the floor and everything.  But there wasnt any of that when we got outside.
We then got a call from our leaders and they told us to go out and work in our sectors in street clothes and offer service to people that need it.  So thats what we did.  Actually first we ate lunch.  We had no power, water or gas, so we couldn't do anything.  So we went to a little store and bought bread, ham and cheese and ate sandwiches.  There there was a tv and we got to see exactly what happened everywhere, the damage and all that good stuff.  Anyway, we went back, ate, and then left to the sector.
Going to the sector we expected to see a lot more damage and stuff but surprisingly nothing happened in our sector.  The only damage there was was that some walls that were around houses fell down and also that big wall with all the graffitt on it.  Some of that wall fell down, so thats disappointing.  But we went and visited all our investigators and the members houses to see if everything was all good.  And it was so that was good.  All our investigators worried about us haha.  Every single one of them said, oh we worried a lot about you elders all alone and stuff.  It was funny, cuz they all said it haha.  But yeah, thats how we spent our day the day of the gigantic ridiculous earthquake.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Update from Wed Mar 3 - 4 days after the earthquake

I was able to talk with Sami Wed morning at 3am Pacific Time. She is really truly fine & her apartment is OK except for a broken window and stuff all over the apartment that fell off of shelves etc. They (the 4 sister missionaries) have been sleeping at the chapel with a couple of families in the ward who cannot return to their homes but mainly because they are 4 girls alone without the priesthood in their apartment. They slept outside the first couple of nights (everyone in Chile is afraid to sleep inside with all the aftershocks still going on) but slept in the chapel last night. There was little serious damage to her town. Some houses & stores had roofs collapse & most of the Adobe homes (in the poorer parts of town) collapsed but no one was seriously injured. The stores were open sometime on Saturday & the stores are limiting what each person can buy  so that supplies do not run out. I was happy to learn that it is possible to drive from San Carlos to Santiago even though the Pan American highway cannot be used due to collapsed bridges and gaps in the road. Apparently there are back roads that are usable (quite possibly dirt roads) although she said the trip now takes 10 hours instead of the usual 5. (One of their investigators successfully drove up to Santiago to get his daughter). This is good news because it means that supplies can be delivered to their town before the main highway is repaired. The local food supplies won’t last forever and most local Mormons do not have a very long term supply of food due to their small homes & general lack of funds.  Sami’s zone is the only one in either the Concepcion or Concepcion South Mission that is doing ‘business as usual’ – more or less – the actually took a bus (now running) to Chillan for a zone conference on Tuesday (everyone else in their zone – all elders – are in Chillan). The missionaries are visiting members & investigators & generally offering comfort and any help they can supply.

Elsewhere in her mission – the phones are finally working in the Mission Office (Concepcion & Concepcion South offices are located in the same building. The mission home did not suffer serious dammage and the mission presidents can now have contact with the outlying missionaries who do have phone service (not all do). The missionaries have actually been relying on emails or calls from parents for information on the situation outside their area – though I think they are allowed to watch TV if power & it are available where they are. They did not find out until Tuesday that all of the missionaries in their mission are ok & Sami did not know about the missionaries in the other missions until I told her. The Mission Presidents did make sure that all missionaries were ok before reporting back to SL. If they could not reach the missionaries themselves (I understand text messaging was a common method used) they somehow managed to have ward members check on them and get back to them. I am truly impressed with the organization and structure of the church that they could verify the safety of these young folks so quickly. And their survival in good health was indeed a miracle. Sami says that most of the missionaries that serve in the coastal towns live near the beach – so they had to run to high ground to escape the Tsunami waves. Most of those apartments or houses were destroyed or are under water or flooded as is the chapel in Constitucion. Many missionaries (but luckily not Sami) may have lost all of their possessions. But from what I have heard only 1 church member is known dead & the church has already been distributing food from the storehouses they have in Chile.

My heart is  full of the blessings that these missionaries have received in spite of the situation they are in.
Her is part of a message sent by one of my missionary mother contacts:
Stay off the news channels...Channel the Lord...
Know that Chile has been taken to it's knees.....Do the same...
Don't listen to the tragedy .....Listen to the Spirit....
Don't research the seismic activity...rather the magnitude of the missionary activity.
Don't ask the Lord to calm the earth .... rather calm our souls
We say "Lord, my child is there, I can no longer take this"....He replies:
"I knew she could ...that is why she is there!

Monday, March 1, 2010

I Heard Her Voice

Just got a VERY short (but greatly appreciated) phone call from Sami (who was about 60 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake). She and the other girls living with her are all fine. They are staying at the LDS chapel and have food and water. Their apartment is ok except for a broken window.

And I just now got a call from a RM who had served in San Carlos. She had received a facebook message from the niece of the Bishop of the ward in San Carlos. He had given his niece a brief call & gave her the the telephone numbers of the parents of the 4 sister missionaries there so she could call us and assure us that our daughters are ok. They are without power, but do have some cell phones that they are using sparingly since they may not have a way to recharge them. Isn't it great to know that members of the church will care for my daughter and the other sister missionaries while they are so far away from home.