“El Señor es Fiel”
…these were the first words one of our nationals from Santiago heard from Pastor Gary Yantén when they found him and his family on one of the hills outside of Contistucion, four days after the earthquake hit Chile with its destructive force. Gary and his family fled the city to take refuge on higher ground just after the 8.8 earthquake hit. The tsunami that followed literally leveled more than half of the downtown area and much of the surrounding areas where houses were already falling down from the quake. We organized a group from our church here in Santiago to take in supplies, water, clothing, food and medicines last night (Tuesday). They arrived this afternoon. We are evacuating some of the kids to take back to Santiago while their parents deal with some of the most urgent needs.
Meanwhile, in Concepción, Pastor Leonel Espinoza and his family were at camp 250 miles south of his city when the earthquake hit at 3:30 Saturday morning. They were unable to get back home until late Sunday, only to find large fishing boats resting on the ground 5 to 7 blocks inland in Talcahuano – just south of their church, and crumbled buildings and houses in Concepcion – just north of them. God protected their church and house. Leonel along with the church members began hand pumping water from an old abandoned well that is on the church property. People came and formed lines for several blocks to receive much needed rations of water. Entire families were weeping with gratitude for the water they received. The church members have been pumping water non-stop during the hours that the curfew is not in effect. Sadly, man’s sinful nature also showed up. Many people literally tore the doors off many of the super markets and department stores looting everything they could get their hands on and making an already tragic event even more complicated. Soldiers have been sent in to try to restore order.
Four days before the quake, I had accompanied Dr. W.L. Smith to Lanco, 480 miles south of Santiago, to translate for him in a pastors and Christian workers seminar there. We were with Pastor Neil Arias and his church along with several pastors from South Chile. The earthquake shook us out of our beds, but the town sustained less damage than most. However, we were stranded there for lack of air and bus travel as well as gasoline shortages as trucks were unable to transport. Jody Ray loaned us her car to try to get back to Santiago on Monday morning. We took extra gasoline in plastic containers which one of the Chilean pastors was able to get for us. What a journey! Bridges were down, entire sections of the highway disappeared, concrete overpasses scattered on the roads, many extended detours and long lines of traffic. We travelled 17 hours (normally a 10 hour drive). But, praise God we arrived safely in the early hours of Tuesday.
Juan Enrique Quilodrán was one of the pastors who attended the classes in Lanco. Juan is pastor of the Bible Baptist Church of Talca. When he was finally able to get back to his hometown on Tuesday morning, he arrived to find that his house had been leveled and the church had suffered irreparable damage. They will have to demolish what is left and build again. We have started a relief fund to help these and other pastors and churches rebuild. If you send any offering to us for this cause, mark it “Chile Relief Fund”. We can assure you it will be put to good use providing many churches with much needed help.
“El Señor es Fiel” ~ “The Lord is Faithful”
I was sleeping peacefully at 3:30 am Saturday when our 9th floor apartment began to shake. We have tremors off and on, so I didn’t think much of it at first. But wow! I just covered myself up the best I could with the pillows and prayed, “You’re will be done, oh Lord”. When the quake ended I felt around on the floor for my little bedside flashlight and began to wade through the piles of stuff thrown all around. A lot of broken dishes and glassware, broken t.v., and microwave oven, printer, spilled liquids and a heavy dusting of sugar covered the floors. My little office in the back was flooded because of a faucet that turned on during the quake. All of our files were strewn throughout the apartment. Thankfully, the building seems to have remained structurally sound, but there are many repairs to be done to cracked and warped walls, misaligned doors, and large gaps between supporting walls and drywalls.
Dave and I have already experienced one major earthquake, the 7.8 earthquake of Viña del Mar on March 3, 1985 so we knew a little about what to expect and what to do. I knew that we would probably lose all lights, gas, water and communication for some time. But the Lord is so good! We lost everything except for phone communication. Any tragedy seems less tragic when one can reach loved ones and form a network of support. I was able to contact Dave within a short time and found that he was all right. We did lose touch then for several hours, but were able to re-establish contact later in the day.
It wasn’t long and I realized that there was a great deal of confusion and a need to help pastors and their members contact each other and their families, so I began to make calls and take notes. Over the past days, it has been a real blessing to help out where I could to keep a certain order in communications and rescue efforts. Folks have called to ask for help in reaching or in sending needed items to loved ones. My focus right now is on the pastors and their churches in the most affected areas: Hualpén, Talca and Constitución.
Once we know that things are settling down, and everyone is out of immediate danger, we are going to concentrate on our apartment. We don’t have earthquake insurance because of the high costs, so this will be a major expense for us. Thank you, in advance, for any gifts made for “Disney home repairs”. Our hearts are deeply touched by the calls and e-mails of so many friends. Thank you! We will never forget your love and concern. May the Lord richly bless you. It’s an honor to serve Him together!
Dave and Peggy Disney
Your missionaries to Chile