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Updates from Kay Stotts Godoy #1

  -March 12th, 2010 @ 4:11 pm

March 5

Tales from the Twentieth Floor …

The past week has seemed like ten; we’ve slept little and have experienced wide ranges of emotions. Our 20th floor apartment, with its spectacular view of the Andes, now feels way too high above the earth far below!

At 3:34 a.m. on Saturday, February 27, we were jolted awake by tremendous shaking and rocking as if on a fast rumbling roller coaster ride. Chile is known for its frequent tremors, but right away we recognized that this one was very different. Bolting out of bed, we found we were unable to even stand up in the hallway as Leo and I got thrown back and forth against the walls. We ran to grab Sofia out of her crib and made it back out to the entryway, trying to avoid falling bookcases, wall pictures, etc. We could hear glass breaking in the kitchen and later found that a loud noise in the bedroom was the closet being ripped off its track and 5 shelves worth of clothing, supplies and odds and ends spewing across the floor.

There came a slight lull in the movement, and we hoped the quake might be subsiding, but within seconds it struck with more force than ever. Death seemed absolutely imminent. We are ready to meet our Maker, but in that moment we just wanted to survive! Sinking to the carpet in a tight huddle around her, Leo and I cried out to God for His mercy, pleading with Him to stretch out His powerful hand and miraculously calm the earth beneath us. Sofia clung on with white fingertips and eyes wide as saucers. I was frozen in fear on the floor, but Leo began to work on getting us out. He quickly grabbed formula, water, a bottle and a blanket and then I ran to find my glasses. They had fallen off the night stand. As I frantically searched in the dark under the bed, the Lord seemed to place them into my hand!

We now know you need to open the main door immediately when an earthquake occurs. Ours was jammed shut by the time we tried to leave. Leo pulled and pulled. Finally it opened! The long trek down 20 floors of stairs, baby in tow, seemed unending. But we made it, emerging to find hundreds of others already in the lobby and outside the apartment. Our pastors Karim and Carmen, who live on the 8th floor, came running up with life-grateful hugs! We located friends and neighbors among the crowd and waited through the remaining hours of darkness … filled with great relief at having survived so far, still filled with fear as aftershocks continued rocking the ground beneath us, filled with assurance that God in His sovereignty is in control and filled with hope that He will help each and every person in their plight.

The earthquake is, of course, the number one topic of conversation now. And many people are much more open to spiritual things. Please pray for us, as we have many opportunities to introduce people to the God who saved them and who wants them to know Him personally.

And Now Almost One Week Later …

Santiago, 200 miles from the epicenter, suffered damage to buildings, some highways are out, water and electricity have come and gone, but overall weathered well for having experienced an 8.3 earthquake that lasted a full three minutes just six days ago. All eight of our Free Methodist pastors and families in Santiago are safe. Our fellow missionaries, the Gomez, are fine, as are Leo, Sofia and myself. We praise God! Our apartment building was declared “safe” by several engineers, so we moved back in on Monday after having stayed with my in-laws over the weekend. Frequent aftershocks keep us ready to depart again at a moment’s notice.

As you know from TV/internet news and mission updates, the situation is very grave to the south, closer to the epicenter, where the bulk of our FM churches are located. For that reason, Supt. Sergio Loyola immediately set up an emergency response team to coordinate help efforts. Our Chilean FM church is among the first to respond with basic necessities of water, food, gas, and clothing. I am so proud of the way our Chilean church less affected by the earthquake has generously given goods, time, use of vehicles to those in great need! Yesterday, my friend Isabel used the money she had set aside for a much needed haircut to buy water for those without.

Specific Prayer Requests

  • Help for those who are still without water, food, adequate shelter and other basic necessities … that assistance will arrive soon.
  • Safety for those distributing relief supplies … there are still strong aftershocks, looters on the loose, curfews, bridges out and other dangers to deal with.
  • Wisdom for Superintendent Sergio Loyola and his emergency response team.
  • For people of all ages under tremendous stress and suffering from trauma, especially for the children.
  • That people will draw close to God and find Him as their only source of hope and salvation in this world.

Be encouraged along with us! God is at work bringing light to the darkness and helping in supernatural ways. Please keep reading below for examples of His mighty love and power in the last couple of days …

God Coordinating His Own Relief Efforts as We Pray!

In the first 24 hours after the 8.8 earthquake hit Chile, many of you began praying fervently for God’s provision, protection and peace. And how He responded! Before our FM church could get to hard hit areas with basic supplies, before the government started sending in relief, even before TV crews could reach people with needs fast becoming desperate, God Himself began showing His loving kindness in extraordinary ways. Pastora Carmen’s family in hard hit Lota/Concepcion experienced just that …

Carmen’s sister, Susana, and her husband had left their son Cristobal with his grandparents in Lota. The original plan was to leave Cristobal there overnight while running errands in Concepcion (which turned out to be the epicenter). They finished their work in Concepcion and rather than travel to their home in Coronel (later hard hit as well), they made a quick last minute unexplainable decision to return for Cristobal in Lota. Praise the Lord He nudged them in that direction! That very night at 3:34 a.m. the earthquake struck south central Chile, sending people on the coasts escaping to higher ground. Such was the case in Lota. If it were not for Susana and her husband returning to Lota that night, the family would not have had a vehicle to make it up the steep hill to safety. Susana’s husband, not yet a believer, declared, “There is no way that was just luck!”

Carmen’s parents decided to spend the night with friends near her father’s small hardware shop in Lota. Upon hearing noises like someone breaking into a storage unit next door, her father, Pablo, quickly went to check things out. It was not a thief at all, but rather the owner of the storage unit moving stock for his minimarket to another location. The owner invited Carmen’s father in and welcomed him to anything the family would be needing in the next days and weeks! What a surprise for Carmen’s mother and the whole family when Pablo returned with much needed water, milk, huge sacks of flour and many other goods for the days ahead.

Meanwhile, Carmen’s brother, also named Pablo, and family escaped from the eighth floor of their apartment building in Concepcion (the epicenter). They went to stay at a one floor house they own. In the morning, they heard many voices outside. One of the neighbors, who works in construction, just happened to have brought his huge water truck home the night before and parked in front of his house! The truck survived the earthquake and there was the neighbor with the big hose, inviting all the neighbors to bring bottles and jugs for filling. The construction water truck became an oasis in the midst of destruction where no water/electricity/telephone was to be found.

As we team up with God, and our brothers and sisters in Chile, great things happen. Please pray without ceasing. Please keep giving. I’ll keep the stories coming as we see God’s footprints.

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Chile – Update from Ricardo and Beth Gomez

  -March 12th, 2010 @ 4:10 pm

11 March 2010

Well, Chile perhaps made it back into the news again today. We just had three very strong aftershocks, one of them measuring 7.2 about one hour south of Santiago. There are tsunami warnings along the coast. Please keep praying for Chile! Of course, we have not contacted everyone yet, but …

sorry had to pause for yet another aftershock …

… we know that Pastor Luis Alberto and family, and fellow missionary Kay Stotts and family are fine. We have also communicated with other Santiago pastors.

After being postponed by the Feb. 27 earthquake, schools in Santiago are beginning their school year this week. Juliana started first grade on Monday, and Jonathan’s first day of Pre-Kinder was on Tuesday. Today, we took the kids to school at 8 a.m. and then went downtown (a 20 to 30 minute drive) to run an errand … We stopped in a coffee shop, about two blocks from the kids’ school, to finish planning for tomorrow night’s first session of Alpha for Couples (the marriage course that we will start leading at Casa Grande tomorrow night).

When the ground started shaking we decided to quickly go outside (and everyone else followed us). From there, we had a perfect view of street lights swaying as if they were held up by only a twig. After the movement stopped, we quickly paid the bill and headed to the school. We felt another strong quake (6.9) while driving the two blocks to school and a third (6.0) as we walked up to the school gate.

We were among the first parents to arrive – but were joined by many others. The headmistress of the school came out to the fence to assure everyone that we were more worried than the kids. They decided to release the pre-school kids a few minutes early and said that we could sign out the older children if we wanted, but they didn’t recommend it. After some discussion, Ricardo and I decided it was better not to scare Juliana more by taking her out of school. We’ll go back and pick her up at the end of the day (4 p.m.) unless something shakes (I mean, changes).

Just wanted to give you a glimpse of life in the shake zone and let you know we are fine – in case you’ve seen or heard anything on the news.

We’ve received another touching email from Pastor Nelson. He continues living in a tent and is very thankful for the assistance that the FM church has provided with food and water, etc. He said what they need most (apart from food, water and a safe place to live) is rest and encouragement. He is physically and emotionally tired from caring for his church members while trying to survive himself, living literally on the streets of Lota. Pray for him, and pray that we and others can effectively provide the support he (and others like him) need!

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Earthquake in Chile-Ricardo and Beth Gomez Update #6

  -March 8th, 2010 @ 10:10 pm

6 March 2010

1 week and perhaps 1,000s of aftershocks later, life in Santiago begins to resemble some normalcy. Pastor Luis Alberto and family moved back into Casa Grande last night after it was deemed “safe” by an engineer. The Santiago FM pastors had their monthly prayer (and now relief planning) breakfast today. Church services will be held in their normal locations tomorrow. School starts on Monday as do the Seminary extension classes. Alpha for Couples will begin on Friday. This normalcy, in the midst of continuing relief efforts and frequent shaking.

Unfortunately normalcy is far from the reality down south! A 6.6 aftershock yesterday brought with it more tragedy. Pastor Sergio reports that one of the children who attends Sunday School at the church in Talcahuano was killed when a wall fell on him. Please pray for comfort for his family and that of his church family.

We just received a message from Pastor Nelson Concha, of the Free Methodist Church in Lota. We are translating it here for you…

Here We Are.
Now things are calmer, but everything was terrible… from the earthquake to the looting…we protected our lives and then later our belongings. It was incredible to see the true brokenness of human nature after the earthquake.

My family and I are still without water and only have electricity occasionally…. we are sleeping in a tent in the street because our home is in very bad shape. It has be torn now – we hope soon. We have still not seen the government help even though this will be another problem because it isn’t clear how to distribute it and the people of Lota are very violent. Help us pray that all of this calms down. We trust in God and his provision. We don’t want to fight for food.

Our brothers and friends in Chile have helped a lot with food…I know that people everywhere are praying for us and this gives us strength.

God has been our refuge and strength. Little-by-little we are recovering our sleep but the aftershocks continue. This will not be only for a few weeks but rather for many months or years.

We trust in God and in our church. The Lota FM Church is a big family and God knows that we can overcome and help others.

God bless you. “The Lord is our pastor. We shall not want.”

Nelson Concha, Pastor, Free Methodist Church, Lota, Chile

In His presence,
Ricardo and Beth Gomez

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More from Chile Earthquake

  -March 2nd, 2010 @ 4:15 pm

Tomorrow (Wed., March 3) before dawn, Chilean pastors Karim and Sumi, along with Ricardo Gomez will leave Santiago for Chillan, the worst hit earthquake area. They will drive a truck loaded with food and supplies, as well as clothing and blankets donated by Santiago churches.
Superintendent Sergio Loyola has an emergency team in place there to help with distributions. In addition to distributing supplies, the trip will help determine road conditions and assess needs for future trips. A second, larger truck with many more supplies is scheduled to leave Santiago Fri., March 5. Funds from Help Chile Heal will help pay for these supplies.

From Brazilian Bishop Jose Ildo Swartele de Mello: Following Saturday’s massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake, Pastors Sergio and Mari Loyola were able to reach Talcahuano, near the epicenter. With tears they report that 90% of the town is seriously affected. Many houses collapsed due to the earthquake, especially in the area where the Central FMC is located. And then the tsunami hit. Chaos. Pain. Says Loyola: “We will return to Talcahuano with food, kids’ clothes, water …”

From Kay Stotts Godoy and Ricardo and Beth Gomez Families: Profound thanks for all the prayers on our behalf and for the ongoing encouragement and support the Chilean FM family has received in these 72 hours since the catastrophic earthquake. Help has not yet arrived for our suffering brothers and sisters in highly affected areas, where they have been and are still without food, water, electricity and shelter. Tomorrow, Wednesday, teams from our Santiago and Chillan churches will take supplies to Talcahuano, hit by a tsunami 30 minutes after the earthquake, and other devastated areas. People are desperate and in need of not only food and water, but hope as well. Our church is stepping up to the task at hand and your prayers and support are vital. Please continue! Thank you.

Bishop David Roller and Brazilian Bishop Jose Ildo Swartele de Mello will travel to Chile, Mon., March 8.

Continue to pray for all of our brothers and sisters in Chile as they face this tragedy.

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Bishop David Roller – Chile Earthquake

  -March 2nd, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

From Bishop David Rollers blog:

So here I am in Haiti…writing about the situation in Chile!

We have many churches in the affected area. This part of Chile is the birthplace of the FMC in Haiti. Early this morning 3 separate relief parties (1 truck each) set out from Santiago, each one with a specific destination city. They are carrying food, clothes, and supplies.

The Bishops Famine and Relief fund yesterday sent funds and then again this morning we’re sending more money.

I will be traveling to Chile on Monday, the 8th for a quick evaluation visit, along with bishop Jose Ildo from Brazil.

As many know, we lived in Chile for 10 years and so have many personal ties there. We are very eager to help in every way possible.

Perhaps the most helpful, immediate information I can share is the following note I received this morning from Free Methodist missionary Beth Gomez:

“Please keep the people informed. We have pastors and lots of other people living in tents or worse because their homes have been destroyed. Some people are completely out of touch with family members. Others, as you know, have passed away. Lots of people are without water and any kind of food. Supt. Sergio said he saw many are without clothing. What little people do have, others are stealing.Parts of Chile got hit with a 1-2 punch; earthquake and then tsunami. The few minutes that we had enough electricity to watch news last night, we heard that there is so much lawlessness now that some people say it is worse than the earthquake itself. We saw men guarding their homes with guns – in other videos neighbors were forming “armies” using rakes and hoes, brooms, whatever they had to try and protect their areas from the lawless. There is story after story to be told. It may be far away but it is very real. Please help the people see that and encourage them to keep praying!”

Thank you for all you’re doing for our Chilean church.

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Report from Ricardo and Beth Gomez Update #2

  -February 27th, 2010 @ 8:57 pm

Chile thanks you for your concern and prayers! Please keep praying! After shocks have continued all day – some of them quite strong but almost always there is a rocking sensation. We wanted to give you some updates.

Casa Grande has significant damage and so Pastor Luis Alberto and family and Dra. Teresa are staying in our home. Current plans are to go back and have a service in the yard tomorrow – or in the nearby plaza. According to the radio news, more than 1.5 million homes in Chile have been destroyed by this catastrophe. The death toll at this time is 214 people.

School was supposed to start next week but the President has postponed all schools until at least March 8. We are also going to postpone the Biblical Institute until we know that the building (Casa Grande) is structurally safe. Other churches and pastoral homes have structural problems. Please be praying for wisdom to know what houses/churches are safe for living/services and how to make proper repairs.

By the way, we learned that the earthquake actually lasted 3 minutes. They were LONG minutes. We praise God that our neighbors family has been located and is fine.

As the kids keep repeating from their Vacation Bible School a few week ago, “God is always with us; Fear NOT!” We rest in His presence tonight (and hope to get a good night of much needed sleep) — as the floor rocks beneath me. We are actually feeling sea sick!

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Report from Ricardo and Beth Gomez Update #1

  -February 27th, 2010 @ 10:53 am

We were shaken awake at 3:40 this morning by an earthquake. We rushed upstairs, grabbed the kids, and prayed together in a doorway for what seemed like 5 minutes (but later learned it was only about 45 seconds). After we rushed outside, Jonathan asked if this was like the earthquake in Haiti. When I said “yes,” he replied, “then people in other countries are praying for us.” That was a great comfort! While we have just now gotten communication back – we see that we have already received many messages from you, telling us that you are praying. Thank you. We are thankful to report that we are fine. Fellow missionaries: Kay Stotts and family, Pastor Luis Alberto and family (Colombia) and Dra. Teresa (Bolivia) are safe. All of the FM pastors in the city are also safe and we have received reports that many of the other pastors in Chile are too. Please pray for our neighbor, Exequiel, whose parents and niece are on vacation near the epicenter. He still hasn’t been able to reach them. The current death toll stands at 122 but that is expected to keep rising.

The only real damage to our home is a few broken dishes/vases and an office in complete disrepair. Santiago seems to be pretty well prepared for an earthquake although several bridges fell, some new buildings have collapsed and there are problems with fires and destruction, particularly in the industrial part of town. The airport is closed indefinitely due to damage to the building – not the runways. Recent reports (now that it is daytime) say that damages downtown are quite extensive. Casa Grande seems to have a lot of cracked walls – and neighbors thought it would fall based on the way it shook. Luis and Daisy and Teresa (who live there) are not sure that it is safe to live in. The epicenter of the quake was about 200 miles south – and there is much more destruction there. It really seems to have affected all of this long country with its 8.3 force.

We are still experiencing quite a few, very strong, after shocks – many in the time that it has taken me to write this report. The kids are prepared – with their play tent and life jackets.

The government is asking everyone to stay put today so that the safety of buildings, bridges, etc. can be assessed in addition to helping those in need. President Bachelet has declared a state of catastrophe but fortunately all of tsunami warnings are expired for the Chilean coast. Please keep Chile in your prayers as we all work together to assess damage and help those in need.

We will report back to you as we know specific details.

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Chile Earthquake

  -February 27th, 2010 @ 5:55 am

A massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit Chile this early this morning. The epicenter was located about 200 miles southwest of Santiago, the capital.

At this time, FMWM has received reports that each of these families is safe and accounted for:

  • Karim and Carmen Loyola, national leaders
  • Ricardo and Beth Gomez, missionaries
  • Kay (and Leo) Godoy, missionary

Attempts are being made to reach a group of superintendents, leaders and pastors from the central district who are participating in a men’s retreat approximately 30 minutes from the epicenter. Please pray for their safety.

Please pray for all of our brothers and sisters in Chile as they face this tragedy.

Further updates will be provided as word is received.

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