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Updates from Kay Stotts Godoy # 2

  -March 12th, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

March 9
A Miracle! See What’s Happening with Your Giving

Pastora Naty, a district leader’s wife from Coronel, was on the hunt for food for her family. She walked a long distance to the grocery and waited for hours in line just to enter. There were so many people in front of her that she despaired of reaching the store in time, wondering if there would be anything left to buy. Such is the plight of many of our Free Methodists in central-southern Chile, post-earthquake. Suddenly, Naty sensed very strongly that the Lord was telling her to turn around and go home! It didn’t make sense. She had waited this long already, and besides her family would be hungry. Again, she sensed God’s voice telling her to return immediately to their house, that their family would not go without food. She arrived home, explaining to her husband why she came back empty-handed. They knelt together and prayed the Lord would somehow provide for their needs. Five minutes later, a truck pulled up to their house and out jumped a friend from Lota. Loaded with bags of groceries, he came up the walk overjoyed to announce that help had come from afar. People in the U.S., as well as fellow Chileans from Santiago and Chillan, have been giving to Help Chile Heal … and to help families such as Naty’s survive. Thank you for giving in Jesus’ name. He is multiplying your two loaves and five fishes!

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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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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.

Give Now

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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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Earthquake in Chile-Update #4

  -March 2nd, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

From Ricardo and Beth Gomez:



We wanted to give you an update and ask you to pray for tomorrow’s work. Ricardo will leave tomorrow with our friend, Sumi, and a policeman at 5 a.m. They will go to Chillan to drop off some supplies that will be sent to Lota, pick up Superintendent Sergio Loyola and then continue on to Talcahuana where 90% of the city has been destroyed. Due to strict curfews that have been put in place, they cannot arrive before noon and must leave the city by 6 p.m. tomorrow.

We’ve spent the day shopping, making phone calls (the home phone works now as does our electricity since about 4 p.m. today), collecting donations, and filling water jugs to take with them. We’ve just learned that the government is sending its first help to the area tomorrow – so in some ways the Free Methodist Church is among the first responders. Other teams will be going down Thursday, Friday, etc.

This is how the body of Christ is working together in Santiago: some are collecting clothes, some are making bread, others are shopping, all are working together. The Bishop’s Famine and Relief Fund has sent “first response” money. More is expected, thanks to your generosity. We are planning to send a larger truck with more supplies no later than Monday. Based upon what was spent today, we think that it will cost about $20,000 to fill the larger truck.

As we told the bishops this morning, … 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 were hit with a 1-2 punch: earthquake and then tsunami. The few minutes we had enough electricity to watch news last night, we heard 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. Today the military has been sent to help protect the areas most affected. Also, the cities have imposed strict curfews. There is story after story to be told.

The threat of aftershocks continues. We’re just watching a report that says if we have an aftershock of only five, two of the high-rise apartment buildings here in Santiago near us could come down. Almost 900 families live in these two buildings. Fortunately the builders are paying for hotels for the residents.

The earthquake may be far away but it is very real. Please keep praying!

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