Rancagua, Chile. March 7, 2010
DEAR FRIENDS AND FAMILY OF THE ELDERS AND SISTERS OF THE CHILE RANCAGUA MISSION:
As you all can imagine it has not been a week like any other in the Chile Rancagua Mission, or in the entire country of Chile. Saturday, February 27 2010, at 3:34 AM an 8.8 earthquake shook the central and southern zones of the country. On the limits of our mission, the tremor was much more than a level 7 on the Richter scale. About 2 hours after the original quake, a violent tsunami whipped the costal parts of central and southern Chile.
Without knowing exactly what happened, since most of us are not experienced with earthquakes, we started the task of finding out how our missionaries were.
The first few hours were anguishing moments. As you all know, the first things to cut out in these cases are the electricity and a grand part of communication systems. So the great task to contact every missionary started. The office missionaries, and the matrimony missionaries that also serve in the office, performed a superhuman effort to be able to contact many of you, in most cases without any luck. We were unconnected and we did not have a precise notion as to what was happening. We knew that the foreign countries and the northern parts of Chile saw with stupor what happened in the city of Concepción, the 8th region of Chile, and were left powerless, not being able to use a phone, internet or even the television.
Finally, Saturday night we knew with certainty that ALL of our missionaries were safe and healthy. Not only that, but not a single one of them had even a scratch. We gave thanks to God. We humbled ourselves even more when we found out that EVERY ONE of the Lord´s Anointed that serves in all of Chile were all fine.
But the great problem of not being able to communicate continued for hours, even days.
While we were receiving your e-mails and telephone calls, the needs of the members began to arise, focalized in a part of the mission, the Santa Cruz District, where the earthquake was devastating. As mission president, I set out to personally contact each missionary and verify the safety of their homes on those places where the earthquake was more damaging. A large part of the freeways and routes were un-drivable the first few days, and with many difficulties the days that followed. Nevertheless, we visited them. We hugged them in your name. We thanked them and encouraged them to press forward. Truly, they are incredible; and this vivid experience together with God´s Servants has marked my life forever.
Your children have been protected. The Lord has preserved them, but not by chance. They have been chosen “before birth” to bring the Gospel of Christ to the world. Now, their responsibility is even bigger; not only to preach His gospel, but also to bring hope, comfort, strength and courage.
Being so youthful, they do not cease to amaze me with their strength and determination to serve faithfully until the end of their missions with obedience. All of them had sufficient to endure the first hours when there was not drinkable water, vendible food or other very important items such as flashlights, batteries, following the instructions of Sister Resek; learning for the rest of their lives the importance of being prepared. The conclusion, just as Doctrine and Covenants 38:30 teaches, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.” They have been prepared both spiritually and temporally and for that, they have had no fear.
Your children are an example of courage, righteousness and Cristian love. I would hope that my own children were like them when they too are called to serve a mission. We love and care for them so much; we love you without knowing you personally!!!
Sorry for not having been more efficient in letting you know more quickly that your most precious gifts, your children, are fine. Know that we did all that was possible and even more.
May God bless your lives. Your children will not be the same after having endured this extraordinary event. They will not be the same, because they now know, more than they ever have known before, that the Lord of Hosts preserved their lives so that they continue, not only in their missions but also during the rest of their lives, to edify God´s kingdom on the Earth. That is, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I leave you my testimony, that this Work is true; that God, the Eternal Father, lives; that His son Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and that His Church is guided by Him and through living prophets.
With deep appreciation,
Presidente Esteban Gabriel Resek-Chile Rancagua Mission.
Ps: All around, miraculous stories are heard of how the Lord´s hand protected our missionaries.
Elders Mead and Joshua Fletcher serve in the coastal city of Pichilemu, the only beachside sector in the mission. After the first earthquake, they moved down to the first floor of the house to sleep. They heard desperate shouts from their neighbors, some of them running. They decided to offer a prayer so that God took care of them, and that is what happened. Just a few hours after, a Tsunami leveled a big part of the beach. I know that place perfectly, and was with them with my family a month ago. The great waves demolished Punta de Lobos just a few yards from their house, skipped the neighborhood where they live, and continued to fill other beaches en the center of the city, leaving them absolutely destroyed. But they were protected….Without a doubt, a miracle!!!