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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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Chile Trip Report From Bishop David Roller

  -March 11th, 2010 @ 6:02 pm

The fifth largest earthquake recorded since 1900, the 8.8 Chilean earthquake occurred on 2/27/10. The epicenter was just north of Concepción, the 2nd largest city of Chile. There are approximately 10 FM churches within an hour of the epicenter, another cluster of churches within 2 hours.The earthquake was followed by a Tsunami which was followed by two days of lawlessness and looting in the effected zone. Residents report that the latter two events were actually worse than the earthquake.

Damage Report:

  • No FM pastors or members died.
  • A few casual attenders died, but no regular attenders.
  • No ICCM children died.
  • No FM churches collapsed.
  • The damage in and around Concepcion is significant, major buildings toppled or destroyed. Roads and bridges shifted and/or fell. Even as far away as Santiago, the new airport was significantly damaged and is mostly unusable right now. They’ve set up tents on the tarmac to process passengers.
  • The FM church in Talcahuano urgently needs repair-some of the rafters have separated from their supporting wall. A wall fell on the pastor’s car and it required repair but is now usable.
  • The FM church in Coronel was in pretty bad shape anyway and the earthquake put it over the edge…one of its walls has been temporarily braced so it won’t fall on the neighbor’s house.
  • The FM church in Lota received some damage but probably just needs to have the firewall replaced (it separates the 2nd floor from the neighbor’s).
  • In Talcahuano and Lota many members and 2 pastors are living in tents because their houses have been condemned.
  • The pastor’s house (rented) in Los Angeles is condemned.
  • Some damage was sustained by Casa Grande (owned by Chilean FMC) in Santiago but it wasn’t condemned. It needs repair to the roof and chimney, at the very least.

Finances

The Bishops’ Famine & Relief Fund has sent $19,000 to Chile. The first $9,000 was used to purchase emergency food and supplies and has been well distributed among those effected.The final $10,000 is just being received. The funds have been gratefully received.

The “donor fatigue” from Haiti and the extreme loss of life in Haiti make it difficult for donors to give to Chile right now. Some churches/individuals with strong ties to Chile will want to assist.

Response Priorities
I met with the 5 member Emergency Team of the Chilean FMC and we developed the following list of most-needed responses. If any promotion of these needs can be made I imagine that some churches/persons would like to respond.

  1. 1000 back-to-school kits (notebooks, pencils, pens, colored pencils, erasers, compass, pencil sharpener, etc). The exact composition of the kits varies by school grade. Average cost per kit is $10.00. The articles are available in Chile and can be purchased, assembled into kits, and distributed by the Chilean FMC. School classes were scheduled to start in early March but have been postponed by the government until April.
  2. A debriefing/emotional retreat for pastoral families. Pastors are carrying the burden of their own families’ needs, plus the needs of the larger church family. They will battle fatigue and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). We can assist them by providing a 3-day retreat for pastoral families at a center near Chillán. This will be a significant source of encouragement: a chance to process and heal. The cost will be about $5,000, including bus travel for the families.
  3. Rebuilding priorities:
    1. Talcahuano FMC – no financial estimate yet.
    2. Coronel (villa mora) FMC – no financial estimate yet
    3. 6 pre-fabricated houses for those who’ve lost homes and have a parcel of ground. These houses are commonly used in Chile. They cost $5,200 USD and include installation and fixtures. We would call them cabins but they are often used as long-term residences.
    4. Two months of rent for pastor Alex in Los Angeles so he can move into another rental property (total cost $580.USD)

Thank you for your interest and care for the Chilean people by our response.

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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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