On April 25, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, a small but populous country, and left behind crumbled buildings, displaced families, tent cities, and a death toll (nearly 9,000 now) that continues to rise as the rubble is cleared in remote villages. Just weeks later, on May 12, a second large (7.3) quake struck, bringing down more buildings, claiming more victims, and instilling a haunting sense of fear into the hearts of the Nepali people lost without the hope the gospel breathes into the life of each and every believer.
We were taking our break between church and Sunday school (maybe I should call it Saturday school…we have church on Saturdays here!). I was watching out of the window while some boys played cricket in the street. My husband was talking to a few Nepali men nearby in Nepali/English/sign-language combo we have come to master since moving here almost 3 months ago. My son, who was 4 months old, was lying on his blanket with a group of ladies sitting around him. My daughter was waiting in the never-ending line for the bathroom the church shares.
I heard screams before I felt or heard anything else. The adrenaline kicked in as I heard a thunderous noise and began to feel everything shake. I watched as the crowd around my son ran out of the building, and I quickly started for him as my husband ran to find my daughter. It reminded me of walking through a ball-pit or running through the ocean. A missionary friend compared it to walking on a water bed. I felt as if I was trying as hard as I could to run but wasn’t getting anywhere. Out of nowhere, our nanny and friend scooped up my baby. Relieved, I turned around to join the masses in exiting the still wildly shaking building. We made it as far as the bathroom when we were pulled in to huddle and wait out the ‘quake there. A woman prayed aloud as we all hugged as tightly as we could until it passed. At that moment, I forgot the language barrier and my timidity to get close to the Nepali people. For this moment, we were united for one cause: survival.
The second was much like the first, except we were at language school and away from our children. After dismissing the trembling as just another aftershock and realizing the severity of the situation, we again huddled, hugging in a door way waiting for the minute to pass. I think my husband had claw marks on his chest and arm from his terrified wife clutching him so hard-for this time, I knew how scared I should be. Thousands had died in buildings just like the one I was standing in. We made it out to a jam-packed street of people running, scooters blowing by, abandoned cars and people too shocked to even move. We tried to hail a taxi (our car was in the shop from an accident as hoards of people rushed out of the city after the first ‘quake) before realizing traffic wasn’t going anywhere. We walked 6 miles in 2 hours to return to them, to be assured of their safety and the condition of our newly leased house. To spend another day on edge as the aftershocks came quickly and closely.
In my next post, I will describe the aftermath left by these disastrous earthquakes as well as the existing needs in this country torn apart by them. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to become more informed about the great need in Nepal!