After nearly a month in Nepal, I am now safely back in Arkansas. I didn’t plan on waiting this long to post another blog update, and I definitely didn’t plan on making it about this. But here it is… the part of the earthquake story that I can post on the internet…
In Nepal, Saturday is the one day that people are off from work and school, therefore it’s also the day that Nepali Christians go to church. The Saturday of the earthquake seemed like a normal Nepali Saturday morning. I headed to church with my sister, we arrived, slipped off our shoes at the door, and found a spot to sit on the floor of a small garage-like building with about 50 other people.
I didn’t understand anything that was being sung or said during the church service. My sister and I were crammed in the front of the room and I was trying my best to act like I was following along so that I wouldn’t be a distraction to everyone else behind me. I simply tried to clap on beat with the music and entertained myself by trying to perfectly time my “amen”s with the rest of the congregation during the pastor’s sermon.
Then everyone started getting anxious and saying something, I simply thought that the sermon was finished and everyone was praying (in Nepali churches everyone prays out loud at the same time). Suddenly my sister looked at me with fear in her eyes and translated, “Earthquake!”. The small earth rumbles that everyone had heard approaching quickly turned into one of the most violent experiences of my life. It was as if the entire world was riding inside the back of a bobsled. In an instant, I grabbed my sister by the arm and began to sprint through the people toward the exit of the building. When we got to the back of the building the sliding garage-like door was falling shut and a few people were trying to crawl under it, kind of like something Indiana Jones would do. But, in perfect unison, my sister and I grabbed the door and pulled it up over our heads.
Then, just when I thought I had rescued my sister to safety, I saw her bolt back inside of the building. Most of the people were frozen with fear, and not moving. Simply sitting and screaming praises to Jesus! But my sister started yelling for all of them to get out of the building and started grabbing very elderly ladies and leading them outside. So there we were, I was holding up a falling sliding door as my sister herded people outside under neath it, and all I could hear were people screaming “hallelujah Jesus” amongst the loud devastation happening all around us. That 30 seconds felt like an eternity.
Praise God, no one in the church was injured. In fact, it’s an absolute miracle that the building was not even damaged. When the earth finally stopped shaking there was a wave of dust filling the air. Many buildings had collapsed and landslides had occurred. We would later find out that we were located only about 20 miles from the epicenter of the 7.8 magnitude quake that shifted the entire Kathmandu Valley 3 meters south.
I’m not telling you that story to make me and my sister sound like heroes who rescued people from a building – we were far from that. The building and people were fine, and would’ve been fine without us, all because God was a hero. That building could’ve easily collapsed, as many around it did. As we ran outside into the narrow street, debris from other buildings could’ve easily hit us, as it did to many others around the country. We could’ve been in one of the remote villages that was completely wiped out, as we had considered visiting that day. But for some reason, God decided to have tremendous grace on us amongst the devastation of that moment, and I am so thankful for that grace from the real Hero who saved the day.
Over the next several days, the question became, “what do we do?”. Resources were thin before the earthquake, and they became even more scarce after the quake. My sister and her teammate were not in Nepal as natural disaster relief workers. They didn’t have stock piles of rice and tents. They can no longer live in their own house. They became victims of this earthquake just like everyone else. We helped out where we could and met with several relief organizations.
After six days living in post-earthquake Nepal, I am now back in America. Many people have been surprised to hear that I actually got on my plane and returned. Trust me, I thought about staying in Nepal, and I’m a little surprised that I came back as well. A few of the main reasons that I returned are that resources are thin right now in Nepal, and I was an extra mouth to feed. I have no medical training. I also only speak about 10 words of Nepali, so I am no help at translating for doctors and relief workers.
My sister is still in Nepal. Desperately trying to get relief to her friends. I will update on more of that at a later time. For now, please pray that the relief aid will get to those who need it, especially my sisters friends in remote villages.