International Ministries

Reports from Chile

March 1, 2010 Journal
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Communication with our friends in the areas most affected by the earthquake has been sporadic, at best, due to loss of telephone, internet, and electricity services.  Only recently are we able to restore communication.  We wanted to share with you these reports from three of our friends.  We sense exhaustion and trauma in their voices.  At the same time we know the faith, integrity and solidarity of their churches.  We give thanks that already they are gathering themselves together to reach out to their brothers and sisters who are in great distress.  In the days to come we all have the opportunity and privilege to come alongside them in prayer, financial support, and presence. 

(Bolick family update:  Our return to Chile has been postponed until March 15, due to the Santiago airport's closing.  The airport is re-opening in two phases.  Also, Barb is speaking at a mission conference in California March 12-14.  We want to be in Chile very much, but trust and accept that God's will is done.)

From Pastor Mario Ramos, Pastor of Hay Vida en Jesus Baptist Church, Temuco, and President of the National Baptist Convention of Chile(Mision Chilena):
Dear friends,  At this moment (March 1) I have finally been able to read my e-mails.  Communications were cut off, as well as light, water, etc.  But thanks be to God we are all fine.  Here in Temuco the earthquake was very powerful, but in Concepcion and Talca it has been much worse.  The news reports are not encouraging, and our brothers and sisters in Cerro Verde (a small town on the waterfront) have suffered great losses.  We are still trying to get more complete reports.

We are putting together a trip in a few days to take some most urgently needed basic supplies to our people in the area most affected.  Just today I have received news from the church in Laja and the situation there is difficult.  As time goes on we see more profoundly the dimensions of this earthquake's impact.  Chaos is taking over in some places.

We realize your (the Bolicks) trip has been delayed but we believe at this time it may be better so that you can coordinate relief and we can give you more detailed information.  We are working so that the information and assessments we give you are detailed and accurate.

From Pastor Lord Merino, El Salitre Baptist Church, Temuco:
In Temuco the situacion is about 80% normal.  Gasoline is scarce, and there are shortages of food.  Water service is often cut off as they try to repair damage to the system.   There is structural damage in some key buildings, such as the major supermarket, and electricity service is on and off.
Our brothers and sisters in the central region have suffered much these days.  The tsunamai caused great damage in Cerro Verde and Penco, but the church is not damaged.  Many members' houses were severely damaged.  The big trauma right now is the shortage of water and food.

In Concepcion there is chaos.  The military has taken control of trying to get food to people.  There is a curfew, but many desperate people are looting supermarkets and creating an ugly image for us all.

From Juan Carlos Araya (former secretary of our convention.  Lives in Talcahuano, where the tsunamai hit.)
Dear friends:  At last electricity has returned for a while so I can contact you.  I can tell you that the earthquake was horrible, 8.8 on the Richter scale.  In my house many things fell and broke, but, thanks to God, my mother and I, survived without any problem, only fright.  There is no water, gas, and electricity is only now being restored.  We are at my brother's house so we can all be together.
The truth is that the destruction in Concepcion and Talcahuano was terrible, including new apartment buildings that collapsed.  Bridges and highways were destroyed.  There are many deaths in the affected area, at last count 728.   The destruction of coastal villages is total.  Fishing ports and beaches disappeared.

The worst of all has been the lootings.  Supermarkets and large stores in Concepcion and Talcahuano were looted and burned.  With this earthquake some of the worst aspects of human nature have come out, those who take advantage of pain and commit whatever crime they can.  Groups of neighbors have banded together to protect themselves from robberies. 

Reconstruction will be long and expensive.  Concepcion now is connected to the south with just one bridge.  The John Paul II Bridge is incapacitated, making travel to and from Concepcion very slow.