At about 3:30 in the morning I woke up to my bunkbed violently shaking. We changed houses about a month ago and never got around to finding tools to assemble the bunkbed properly, so all of the nuts were just hand tight. We used to always be very carefull about not wiggling the bed becuase we were always worried it would fall apart. Well, now we know that nothing can make that bed fall over becuase with was shaking and swaying a whole lot, but my comp didn't fall down. All I remember thinking when I woke up was "dont let the bed fall apart, so I clung to the two upper posts with all my might and pushed against the lower posts with my feet as hard as I could until the violent shaking stopped. I couldn't believe how long the shaking lasted. Once the shaking calmed down a bit, the 4 of us climbed out of bed and started looking for the house keys because our door doesn't open even from the inside without the keys and we didn't want to be trapped inside. We found a flashligt and when we turned it on I was surprised to see that the whole floor was full of lesson pamphlets, and that the refridgerator had moved like 2 feet, a closed fell over, and when we looked outside, the cement wall we have around our house had completely fallen over. No damage happened to the house though. So we found the keys, got together some clothes and supplies, said a prayer and went to the church. (It was still shaking during this whole time even though it took us half an hour to get out the house). We got to the church and there were a few members already waiting for us to open it. We hung out in the church until morning.
We found out that we were really blessed, because in Talcahuano, and Concepciòn, the two neighbors of Hualpen (where I live) were both hit really badly, but here in Hualpen pretty much nothing happened. I sort of feel like i missed out on half the earthquake experience.
For the first day there were aftershoks about every minute, but they've been sort of calming down. We've had a few strong ones every once in a while. Just while I was writing that last paragraph there was a little after shock. It sort of feels like I`m riding in a train or something.
So on the second day, the biggest problem was comunication. The cell phones worked about every 20 times taht you try to call someone. We were supposed to meet at a certain stake center in Talcahuano if there was an emergency, but it turned out that te zone leaders went there at like 4 in the morning and everyone else went way later, saw that it was locked, and left, so we never got to meet up. That ment like 2 hours of walking for nothing. We lived in our church pretty much the whole week and it was a lot of fun becuase we were living with other member families and stuff.
On Tuesday we got a phone call and said taht we were supposed to meet in San Pedro (about 2 hours walk away) to meet with the president, so we walked over there and he basically didn't tell us anything new. They had some food from the bishops store house that we ate, but then we came back to Hualpen so we could be with our ward. Most of the misisonaries just stayed in San Pedro. They scariest part of the whole experience was the walk back to Hualpen. First of all, there was a whole bunch of black smoke coming from over the city. As we walked closer we saw some police, and tons of people with makeshift weapons standing in front of their houses. There were people with 2 by 4s with nails driven in them, metal poles, knifes tied to the end of poles, clubs, anything you could imagine. And they all had white bands tied around their arms. Its hard to describe how we felt. It didn't look like a simple group of people trying to guard their houses, it looked like a war zone. People were putting up barricades out of chairs, boxes, burning tires, turning trucks on there sides to block of rodes, making walls crouch behind to shoot from and they all looked really nervouse. These were jst normal people trying to be soldiers. Every man and woman was outside there house like this. We were scared to walk through them because we didn't know what they were doing, but we asked someone and they said that they were defending there houses because supposedly an army of people from the neighborhoods taht were hit harder were going to come and steel all of our food.
We put white bands on our arms so we could walk through without anyone killing us and we made it safely back to our chapel. There was a little violence in the night, but basically no one robbed anything because the neighbors would kill anyone who tried. The crime has gone down a lot now though becuas the government sent a bunch of soldeirs over by wednesday and made it illegal to go outside after 6:00. Its been really calm here in Hualpen but in some other places like Talcahuano it wasn't uncommon to wake up in the middle of the night to machine guns. Things got a lot better when the US army got here.
I think that when most people think of earthquakes, they think of the disaster as being stuff falling down on top of people, but thats really a small part of the dissaster. The main problems are lack of food and water, and theft. I remember watching the news about huricane katrina and seeing people steel food from the stores, and thinking they were crazy, but now I understand a lot more. If you don't steal food from the grocery store, you wont eat, and some one else would steel it. I still don't know if I would steel food if this were to happen again, but I wouldn't judge anyone who did, and I gladly ate the stolen food that the members who lived in the church with us offered us. If they hadn't stolen food, I wouldn't have eaten all week.
Well, I don't have that much more time to write, but over all this has been the easiest and most stress free week of my whole mission. People said it was dangerouse to go out working, so we stayed in the chapel pretty much all day playing basketbal, soccer, ping pong, cards etc. We even set up a tennis net out of chairs. We basically didn't have to worry aobut anything since we don't really have any investigators we can teach, adn we couldn't go find any. It was a very well needed break. I think it was funny that dad said that I probalby hadn't slept much, but I've actually never slept so well in my mission. We've been sleeping in too, because there isn't really much of a reason to get up. Our only chore is standing in line to get water every day. (the line cam be between 3 and 4 hours long). It's been really nice. We stayed in San Pedro for a few days also last week and there we got to do a little service and i got to see my converts from Los Huertos. In Hualpen there isn't really any service to do becuase nothing fell over. I've been really relaxed, but it's time to start working again. The area presidency came to meet with us in San Pedro yesterday and they told us that we need to start focussing in baptism again. I enjoyed the break but it's really about time to get back to work.
We just got electricity back in our house a couple days ago and there are rumors that we might have running water again soon, but I think it'll probalby still be another 3 or 4 days, maybe more than a week. The best news is that some of the grocery stores are open again. They only sell the necesities, nad you have to wait in line forever becuase they only let a few people in at a time so that the soldiers in the store can keep everything under control. We'll probably try to buy something today becuase we're completely out of food.
Over all everything is really great. I do feel a little guilty that I basically took a p-week, but there wasn't much else I could do. We're still probalby not going to work in one part of our sector called "the emergency" because it's still pretty dangerous. (we tried to avoid that sector even before the earthquak because there's a reason they call it the emergency).
And from his email on 3/14/10:
Pretty much only good news this week. I get the idea that you didn't really believe me when I said I was just fine last week becuase i probably would have said that whether I was or not, but its true. Last week was basically like scout camp only with a basketball court, mattresses, and not having to complete merit badge requirements.
The biggest problem left right now is that we still don't have running water. i now haven't taken a shower for 2 weeks and 2 days (but I have taken a few sponge baths). Last night all of the electricity from the 3rd Region all the way down to the very south of chile got cut and they weren't sure when it would be turned back on. (That's pretty much all of Chile) That sort of concerned me because I'm out of money but I have tons of money in the bank, I just haven't found a working ATM machine. Here in Concepción there are several ATM machines that weren't robbed but I didn't want to go to Conce until my P-day. But the light got turned back on before I woke up this morning, so I should be able to take out money right now. I was actually really surprised last week that the package you sent me got here just fine. And fortunately one of the assistants had to come to my sector on Friday so I was able to get my package by pi-day.
Last week there were a couple nights when we had a little bit of running water. It was sort of dirty, and it was just a trickle, but it was nice because we could store it all up in buckets to boil later. I made a pretty cool water filter. First out of cotton, but then I improved it using a water bottle filter that the mission sent us all. I'll send you fotos of the whole contraption if I can ever get them. I don't have a working camera right now because I gave my batteries to someone who didn't have any for her flashlight. I'll have to get the fotos from my comp, but he doesn't have a cable handy and I'm getting transfered, so I don't know. Some people in our sector already have full running water, so if we don't have running water when I get back today, we're going to see if we can borrow a member's shower.
I'm getting to where I really start to enjoy the aftershocks. There sort of fun. Some people are still scared and there have been several false tsunami alarms lately that have sent people running, but I've been calm this whole time. More than anything we've been going and visiting with anyone who's scared and helping them calm down, we've helped a lot of people that way. Its perfectly safe to go out and work now. The first day we decided to really work Elder Tobias insisted on us putting on our grubbies and looking for fallen houses and stuff to help fix, but just as I suspected, we just spent the whole time walking around without finding any needed service. The truth is that nothing happened in Hualpen. Everyone is fine and there really isn't much cleanup or reconstruction needed. We didn't end up finding any service in the two hours we spent looking for it.
That big earthquake in Rancagua was pretty fun here. It was really long, and big, but soft here. I felt like I was on a boat or rocking in a cradle or something. It was really relaxing. Elder Tobias and I put are hands up and screemed like we were on a roller coaster. In Santiago it caused a bunch of chaos though because it happened on the day of the inauguration of Piñera (the new president) so it sort of messed up their ceremony and sent a bunch of people running. I guess God must have voted for Frei.
As far as food goes, I have too much. I can't eat it all before transfers. We have plenty of water stored up and sometimes there isn't even a line at the well any more becuase there are a lot more wells opened up now. Members keep giving us bottled water to drink. We're trying to mostly drink from bottles because everyone but me in our house has gotten a little sick to the stomache since the earthquake. Elder Tobias had it the worst, but he's fine now. Now we always filter the water, then add bleach, and then boil it before drinking. Security doesn't seem to be a problem. Up until a couple days ago it was illegal to be outside after 9, and the solders would be constantly patrolling the streets. Now it's illegal to be out after 11 (which is later than missionaries can be out anyway). I haven't seen as many soldiers around here any more. They mostly just guard supermarkets and gas stations now. So things have calmed down. the old appartment where we used to live is also just fine.