Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Earthquake in Chile: My Experience

What a week. I had a wonderful time, but I have never been so grateful in my life to get back to my little house and my family. When I walked in the house on Monday night, it was the most wonderful, palpable feeling of relief.  I've had a hard time writing about it because I've felt like I should filter certain things, but then when I started writing the whole story, it just came out. It's personal and has religious content, but it is recorded fully.

Here is what happened. Part of this is excerpted and modified from another blog I keep, so I apologize if you somehow read both of them:

By way of a little bit of explanation,  a basic tenet of my faith is missionary work, because we want to share what to us is good news-that there is hope for this crazy world and that people can find happiness even when life is hard. It is a major focus and considered to be a basic responsibility of a faithful member of the the church. So, I willingly support my kids serving missions, even going far away with limited contact for two years.  It is an act of faith and also love, wanting everyone to have the chance to hear this truth. Right now, my second-oldest son happens to be in Chile.  So, two Sundays ago, I was attending church in Scottsdale Arizona while visiting my Aunt. This congregation was talking about a focus on praying for missionaries and missionary work.  I had what I would call a spiritual experience. What that means is that a calm, good feeling came over me and information and ideas flooded my mind. I call it a spiritual experience because I believe the thoughts and information came from a divine source and enhanced and clarified the workings of my own mind. A series of images formed and I became aware of the reality that all over the world at any given time, many, many faithful people are praying for the safety and well-being of the missionaries. We're talking millions of people.  I felt a powerful feeling of absolute calm about my son being so far away (about 5000 miles). I had a very specific sense that he was safe and protected.  I shared my thoughts with my son in my weekly letter and he agreed-he felt safe as a missionary and he personally had no fear of anything that might happen to him. That was all. I tucked the experience away in my heart and mind and went about my business.

Nearly a week later, on Saturday Feb. 27, while teaching at a knitting conference in California,  I got the phone call at 1 am  from my oldest son letting me know about the earthquake in Chile.  I checked the news and found out Johnathan is living about 200 miles from the epicenter, but I didn't know any more. I pondered the situation and immediately my experience the previous Sunday came to my mind. Thus, I was not inclined to panic and went back to sleep after about a half hour.  My roommate, rather than being annoyed the timing of the call, was utterly kind and supportive.  Later on, I went to the hotel gym alone to run and began to feel a sense of distraction and anxiety. I wondered how I would get through a full day of teaching with this on my mind.  Almost immediately,  I started getting texts and emails and phone calls from friends and family all over the country who remembered that Johnathan was there. The faint fluttering of anxiety was quieted knowing that I wasn't alone in this, even though I was a continent away from my husband and other kids.  At this moment, when I was calm, thoughts of the assurance I had received the previous week came to mind. Then, word spread among the people I was working with, and throughout the day,  each sincere inquiry about how I was doing and whether I'd heard anything helped me to keep my head on straight. I still wasn't feeling any inclination to panic, but I was feeling the heaviness of the the reality of a loved one in danger that I could neither control nor remedy. That afternoon, we got official word from the church that all the missionaries were safe and accounted for. Friends were there to support me as the tears finally came. Sunday, Johnathan called and again, I had friends right there who felt my relief and rejoiced that all really was well for my boy. All that difficult day, far away from any family, I never felt alone or truly upset.  When my human mind would jump to the logical conclusion of fear, the love of others and the power of my previous experience combined to keep me fully functional and focused on the moment at hand.

Again, I call this a spiritual experience because I was able to act with abilities beyond my normal, physical tendencies and capacities. I'm a worst-case-scenario worry wart. Even though I can stay calm on the outside, I tend to fall apart on the inside and have all the symptoms of an anxiety attack. I believe at this time I was blessed to be able to cope with what might have become debilitating worry.  The blessing came through the personal experience the Sunday before and through the actions of many caring people and the quickness of modern technology allowing for lots of contact and good thoughts to get to me. Amazingly, my son is completely safe. He had a wild experience, running out of a galloping house in the middle of the night with the earth moving powerfully enough to rip power lines apart, but his attitude is good and he is ready to help others in need.

So now, a few days after the fact, home again with my family, the only thing I am feeling is gratitude. For Johnathan, for family and friends, for facebook and cell phones and instant information, and for lots of other things. Of course my heart aches for those who did not have the same outcome as Johnathan, but I know that he will never take this experience for granted as he rolls up his sleeves and  works to ease the devastation.  I'm grateful again that he is in a position to do so.


  1. Oh I'm so happy for you and your son and family, Kellie!

  2. I found your blog through Segullah -- forgive me for dropping in without knowing you personally. I served my mission in Chile (Vina del Mar), and I just wanted to tell you that I'm so glad to hear your son is safe. I've been worried about the many friends and loved ones I have there from my mission days, and have heard mostly good reports as well. Bless you and him for doing such a great work. :)

  3. Thank you for sharing your heart today Kellie, I miss you. *Big Hugs* and I am So glad that he is okay, he will be a tremendous help to the people of Chile.

  4. Andrea,
    I'm so glad you found me! My son is in the Vina del Mar mission. Right now he is in Quilpue. If there's anyone you'd like me to try and find out about, I'd be happy to mention it to him in my next letter.

  5. i'm bawling reading this. your faith astounds me!

  6. Me and my head in the sand didn't even know there was an earthquake :( I'm glad your missionary is ok, and that he's able to be there to help others through this. I'm glad you were able to keep the faith through this trial--it's far to easy to disolve into fear and frustration, but thanks to your family and friends and the Lord, sound like you did ok. Hugs

  7. I'm so glad he's ok! But it sounds like your mother's intuition was helping you along, and of course the spirit. This may sound trite, but it reminds me of a movie (I can't remember it, but the mother has 7 sons, and she just KNOWS something has happened to put one in danger and she doesn't know which one). But it sounds like you know your son would be ok, and I believe we have that connection. Again, I'm glad everything is fine!

  8. Very sweet and tender post. Thank you for sharing your heart. I love you.


Thank you for sharing your insights!