Friday, February 27, 2015

5 Years

I have been particularly nostalgic this week, aching for my Chilean family and missing the beautiful country.   I love the Chilean people, I love the county, I love who I was and what I learned while in Chile.  I hope there is a big movie theater in Heaven where I can go relive those wonderful months.

It has now been 5 years since the terremoto.  I saw the best and worst of humanity (and myself) during the earthquake and the days after.  

Here are some blurry pictures, news headlines, and emails from the Earthquake.  I hope I never forget.

Dear Family, 

I am sorry I was not a able to send out an email last Monday, things were a little "shaky" and I unfortunately was not able to.  Life is settling down here (literally - we get regular tremors where the earth is trying to resettle) and I will try to give you a brief explanation of what is going on.

I am guessing that everyone in the continental US heard my mother´s cries of agony and realize that there was a pretty decent earthquake in Concepcion last Saturday.  It was the first natural disaster I have lived through, and as such this week was rather emotional.  Everyone in this area went through various feelings, ranging from fear to confusion to relief to worry to gratitude to worry to anger to comradery.  The missionaries in Concepcion were so, so blessed, and I have learned a lot from this experience.

Friday we had a good day - we taught several really good lessons where the spirit was really strong.  One man we have been working with for months had a baptisimal date for Saturday, but told us Friday he wasn't sure and needed more time.  We went to bed happy, tired from a long day, and grateful to be missionaries. 

In the middle of the night we woke up to an incredible roaring noise and the house shaking like a boat.  We sleep in bunkbeds, and Hermana Carzoli fell off the bed with a yelp.  The other three girls kind of huddled on the floor, and I stayed on the top bunk trying to hold on. It was like a really rocky boat ride - Mom and Abigail would have gotten sick.  The most notable think about the quake was the length of time - we just waited and waited for it to end - it felt like it lasted forever. We were all fine - I tried to joke, and the other sisters got a little mad. When it finally did end, we were a little shell shocked, and decided it best to go to the main and more sturdy floor of the house.  After making our way downstairs, we got on our knees to say a prayer of thanks for our safety, and during the prayer there was a knock on the door.  We didn´t answer at first - we were a little scared - but then we heard a welcome voice say "soy yo" (I am me).  

This was probably the most tender experiences of my life.  The voice belonged to Leonardo, a new convert who lives just around the corner.  His family have been members for years, but he was kind of a gruff man, and didn{t want to have anything to do with the Mormons.  But miracles happen, and he got baptized in October. Anyway, he is still a rather stoic man - doesnt show very many emotions, but every once in a while we find icecream or chocolate cake or firewood on our doorstep, and thats how we know he loves us.  Anyway, he was at the door, and as soon as I heard those two words - "soy yo" - we immediatly recognized his voice and felt a wave of calm and reassurance flood over us.  I was filled with love and gratitude for this man, and knew that if he was taking care of us, we would all be ok. I was ready to follow him wherever, even though I was in a silly grandma nightgown without any shoes.  He let us take a second to put on clothes, but said several times - hurry up girls, we gotta go!  We were leaving the house, and he asked how we were - fine.  We asked how he was and he answered  - freaking scared.  I am so, so grateful for all the good people in Chile who take good care of us.  Anyway, we went to a plaza in the neighborhood to wait until the sup came up.  While we were waiting, I thought about what happened.  I hope I will be as obedient and ready to follow another voice as we were with Leo.  I hope I will be able to immediatly recognize and feel strength from God's voice, another great "yo soy."  This thought just hit me so tremendously as I was sitting in the dark, with the earth trembling every couple minutes.  God is always reaching down to guide us and help us and give us strength - but will we recognize His voice when the time comes?  I hope so.

We stayed in the plaza for several more hours waiting for the sun to come up.  I remember feeling worried about not getting enough sleep and having to start excersizing and studying right away.  I also remember feeling - oh this is great, EVERYONE Is going to want to repend and be baptized now - Christian is going to change his mind about getting baptized!  When the sun came up, however, we realized the gravity of the situation, and why the adults were so tense.  There was quite a bit of destruction, with additional gas explosions.  We went back to our house to find it trashed - everything had fallen down and broken and was all over the looked a lot like my bedroom at home.  There was quite of a bit of destruction...except in our bedroom.  We walked through all the debris to get to our bedroom, and when we walked in we immediatly felt so much gratitude and a knowledge that we had Heavenly protection.  Our room was untouched - down to the rickety bookcase that had my glasses on it.  Our little toothpick room had been protected.

So that is a pretty detailed description of the earthquake. We were blessed, really taken care of. There are lots and lots of people who weren't so lucky.  There are missionaries in other parts who lost everything - houses included, but in all the missions the missionaries were protected.  The week after was exciting...we saw the best and worst of humanity.  There was a lot of looting and pillaging - from the poor to the rich, the wicked to the Elders Quorum alike.  There was also a lot of goodness - neighbors taking care of eachother, our new converts taking care of church members, kindness and comradery.  All through the city you can hear praises to God for safety and protection, but then at the same time, a lot of people still dont want to come to church.  Christian still doesnt want to get baptized.  Not even an earthquake changes some people.

The gospel came alive to me this week.  The Book of Mormon became less of a cannonized history and more of book of prophesy.  I feel like I really saw Gadianton robbers, and that I really saw miracles.  In Alma, we learn that the people who are humbled without being compelled to be humbled are blessed.  This is true!  An earthquake did not drive people to repentance.  We should not wait for a sign, or the "right time" to align our lives with what God wants.  Everyday is the day of our repentance - right now is when we should be prepared to meet God.  I have loved rereading parts of the Book of Mormon in the last week - it is the word of God.

We saw varying responses from people this week.  We saw a lot of worry and fear.  From the new converts and faithful church members we saw faith and hope and peace.  I have come to understand better what it means to be a covenant people.  In Mosiah we learn about the strength that comes from the covenants we make.  The Lord is bound when we are obedient to our covenants.  Its true!  As soon as I can learn how to aptly teach that to people, and as soon as we have enough water to fill up the font, we are going to have a line of people in white.

I have to run - sorry this is lengthy.  Thanks for your prayers - they were felt.  Keep praying for the people in Chile.  DO YOUR FOOD STORAGE!!!!!!!  THIS IS DIVINE COUNSEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The people who were prepared did not have to fear.  Unfortuanately, not many people in Chile were prepared.  Have lots of water - I did not realize how much water we need.  I still have not showered - we have decided that it is more important to flush the toilets than to shower.  Try living on your food storage for a week - it really is surprising how much water we need.

I love you!  Thanks for being so good to me.  We are safe and happy and blessed.  Please think about the missionaries in your area.

Love, The STINKY Sister Hardy

Dear Family, 

Thank you for your prayers - we are feeling them!!!!  We were so blessed this week, and I am so grateful to be a missionary in ConcepciĆ²n.  I am also so grateful for the emails you have all sent to me - I am sorry I can`t respond to them individually, but I am grateful for your thoughts - please keep them coming.

Living in post-earthquake Chile is like ultra missionary - regular work and service, without the showers.  We are doing fine - great, in fact, but still without water - apparently there was quite a bit of damage to the pipes.  We are grimy, the house is grimy, but somehow the Chileans don`t really look any makes me wonder how often they shower when there is the luxury of running water.  This morning we woke up to water out of the pipes - we were overjoyed - but the water only lasted long enough to flush one toilet.  I had no idea how much water I would need - Bishop Joe, way to go gathering water...but you need more still, trust me.

We were so blessed this week!  We have been teaching really wonderful people- FAMILIES - and we are running around happy.  We taught a young couple the Restoration on Friday, and it was such a tender, tender experience.  After sharing the First Vision, everyone in the room was quiet for a few minutes, and the couple was very emotional.  They felt, rather than heard, what we were trying to teach.  They came to church on Sunday, as did several other young families.  We had 13 investigators at church.......THIRTEEN!!!!!!  That is incredible, usually we have two or three.  All these families have young kids, and Sacrament meeting was like a circus.  The chapel was filled to the brim - people had to stand in the back, and I was so happy.  It is beautiful to see people come to the house of the Lord, to feel the love of our Heavenly Father and see the little monkey children running around.

We saw miracle upon miracle this week, but I want to devote the rest of the letter to telling you a little about what I have learned in March.  I have grown a lot, I feel - and not just around the waste.  Here are a few of the things I learned:

1.  It is not sanitary to never wash dishes, even when water is a endangered resource.  Fortunately, you can use water from the toilet tank to wash the plates.

2. Unfortunately, neither is it sanitary to never flush the toilets.  We tried everything to converve water to put in the tanks, but our efforts were not enough.  We are renting the house we live in from people who left all their stuff...including their wine collection.  We have asked several times that they take their wine - we are missionaries, and we don`t want it in the house.  They never did, and we had the brilliant idea of using the wine to put in the toilet tanks.  It worked - there is now a better smell.

3. I am becoming domesticated!  I now know how to cook lentils, beans, soy meat, make bread, cook over a fire, and wash clothes by hand.  However, I now also know it is not enough to just have these things in your food storage.  When preparing food storage, you really need to think through the details.  Do you have a way to clean the water, or to cook food?  Do you have spices to cook the beans and lentils?  Do you have yeast to make bread?  Do you have enough dish soap, laundrey detergent, clorox?  Batteries? Gas for the car? A radio?  Candles?  Being prepared is NO JOKE!  Try living on what you have for one week, and you might have a better idea of how to prepare.

4.  Chilean media is VERY censored.  Last night all of Chile had a major blackout, and the reason is still unknown.  The best way to get information, relief, instruction, or help is through prayer.  The prayer lines are never down, or busy.

5. Missionaries NEED mail!  Thank you to all who write!  Write the missionaries in your ward, send them peanut butter, send them emails - it is all good.  Thanks for your support - being a missionary is wonderful.

Yesterdays church service was really good.  This whole experience has taught me a lot in not just how to prepare for emergencies, but also how we should react to emergencies- especially the little day to day emergencies.  It is better to serve than criticize, help rather than accuse, smile rather than cry.  I have had a lot of repenting to do the last week - there were a lot of stressful moments I could have used more productively.  I encourage you all to better your reactions to little emergencies.

I love you all - have to run!  Thanks for everything!


The STILL STINKY Sister Hardy