Since our last prayer letter, so many things have been happening; it would take an epistle to explain it all. So we are going to mention some of the highlights here and send along a few pictures. On February 27th Chile experienced a devastating earthquake, magnitude 8.8, which affected 80 percent of the country’s population. The quake triggered a tsunami, which hit several coastal towns, and tsunami warnings were issued in 53 countries. The quake also generated a blackout that affected 93% of the population and lasted for many days in some locations. As of April 7th, the death toll is 486 victims. Seismologists have reported that GPS measurements indicate the telluric movement moved the entire cities of Concepción and Constitución 10 ft. to the west. The capital, Santiago, experienced a displacement of almost 10 inches west. (Information taken from Wikipedia) Here are some of our activities in the past month:
After the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami, an estimated 350 people died in Constitución alone, one of the hardest hit areas. People in the town had known to head for the hills after the earthquake, due to earlier periodic earthquake preparedness drills. The tsunami was estimated to be 3 meters high and covered much of the downtown and surrounding flat areas.
Pastor Gary and his family have been living in a rented home for the last few years, and about one third of the house was destroyed. Gary sent his wife, Loreto and their two sons to be with us for a few weeks while the damaged area of the house was taken down, the worst part of the debris was cleared away, and a retention wall in the back yard was shored up.
Dave took a crew from our church to rebuild their kitchen. They shored up some walls, built a new back wall, installed a new kitchen sink and cupboards, ran new water lines and gas into the house, and installed new equipment donated by other pastors and missionaries, including a water heater, stove and washing machine. The house is still a mess, but looking somewhat better now that Loreto has returned. The stench in the city is terrible. It will take many months to demolish buildings and years rebuilding. The city is a literal “dustbowl”. Fine, powdered dust is in the air constantly from the adobe bricks that crumbled. Big machinery is there digging out, demolishing and tearing down much of the town. The tsunami left mud all over downtown and about 12 blocks all around. It’s impossible to get away from the dust unless you leave town. It’s everywhere, all the time.
Pastor Gary has been working hard in the weeks since the earthquake, visiting, giving out relief items that have been arriving from all over the country and preaching whenever and wherever he can. He has spent much time in the tent camps, and many folks have made professions of faith. Just a couple of weeks ago, Dave had the privilege of participating in the baptismal service of ten new members. Please pray for this dear family, for encouragement and strength. Our long-term goal is to be able to find a piece of property to purchase on which we can build a small wooden home. They are faithful servants, and we believe that this is a real need at this time.
Pastor Juan Quilodrán lost both the church building and the connected parsonage. The blessing is that he does own another very small home which he was renting out to add to his small monthly income. With the help of other pastors here in Chile, Pastor Juan has been able to make some modifications to his small home and has moved his family there for now. Please pray for this pastor’s wife, Monica, as she is expecting and it is very difficult right now to get appointments for check-ups and exams. Many of the medical facilities were destroyed. (300 clinics and hospitals throughout the country)
We held a pastor’s meeting in our church here in Santiago a few weeks ago in order to organize the relief efforts toward the pastors and churches worst hit by the earthquake. Over twenty pastors participated, and one important immediate need was met – that of providing the funds necessary in order to demolish the condemned buildings. The church was taken down and the area cleaned up rather quickly, but the house in back was delayed due to red tape by the municipality.
As soon as the buildings are completely cleared away, Pastor Juan will be putting up a large tent on loan from missionary Don Nevels (Argentina); and as soon as is possible, plans will be drawn up and reconstruction will begin.We have received around $6,000.00 to date toward the reconstruction of that building. Please pray that the Lord will provide more funds through the offerings of His faithful people to get this church up and running very soon.
Hualpén is a suburb very close to the port city of Talcahuano, which suffered greatly from the tsunami. Hualpén was without running water for more than three weeks. Many buildings have fallen down. One apartment building just fell over on it’s side and split in half. Much of the city is in rubble.
Pastor Leonel and his family and church members spent hours every day, for several weeks, hand pumping water out of an old well in back of the church and giving it out to the long lines of people coming from all over the community for help. Having available water has helped a great deal these past weeks, but they are exhausted and have suffered with health issues.
We spoke to Pastor Leonel just this morning, and he tells us that a 20-meter brick fence on one side of the property was completely destroyed. They are working on getting it rebuilt as soon as possible. Also, there is a very large crack in the back wall of their new auditorium which will need repairs. And finally, they have determined that their wooden Sunday School building in the back is unsafe for use, so they have begun building a new building. Meanwhile, dozens of people have made professions of faith, many of those even as they waited in line for water! We will be visiting them very soon taking an offering to help with these much-needed projects.
There is so much devastation it is just monumental what people are facing here. Work crews and engineers are in high demand. We can’t even do much work on our apartment as the demand is so great for work crews to get in and repair buildings. We had a meeting with our apartment complex community last week, just to get an idea on where we stand. The company that built our building will be repairing all the commons areas – stairways, halls, entries, elevators, etc. Each owner is responsible for his own apartment. We are trying to get one construction company to come in and fix all the apartments. I had to ask one of my men to come in recently to help with some doors that wouldn’t shut. We have been advised not to do too much just yet because of the many aftershocks that continue to shake the building. It’s a bit unnerving at times, but God is good.
We have been seeing people saved. We baptized 5 last week at our church here in Santiago. Praise the Lord. Thank you all for your prayers and for the gifts that have been received at this special time. May God richly bless each one of you.
Dave and Peggy Disney
Your missionaries to Chile