It was a normal, sunny Wednesday here in the small mining town of Cabildo. We had been walking all day because all of the appointments we had planned had fallen through. So yes, it was a very normal day. At 7 we headed over to our investigator´s house for the appointment we had set with her. We talked for a little bit and then invited two of her kids to join us. The teenage boy denied the offer but sat close by because he just wanted to listen. The 21 yr old daughter joined us. We said a prayer and started teaching the 10 Commandments.
They are a Catholic family by tradition so they are familiar with the 10Cs but as we were talking about the first 2 (1 God and No idols) they brought up the question about the Virgin and the Saints. This was actually the first time I've had to explain to an investigator why we don't worship the virgin or the saints. Why it was the first time, I don't know. It's just never come up before.
Quick cultural note - Here in Chile they have what they call Los Bailes Chino or in English, the Chinese Dances. Why they are called that I have no idea. Basically they are dances that people perform to the Virgin. They dress up in extremely colorful outfits. Just imagine the winter clothes of Indians (like in the movie Pocahontas) but instead of browns and grays there are brilliant yellows, reds, blues, and greens. So ya, dressed like that they dance to the Virgin. Where that tradition comes from I have no idea.
Well, the daughter participates in the Chinese Dances to the Virgin. Right as we were explaining why we shouldn't do that, the ground began to shake. It wasn't anything new because Chile shakes all of the time. We just kept talking. But the shaking didn't stop. Then after a few seconds it got really strong!!! Nothing like I thought it would be. Haha I thought it was awesome but everyone else was freaking out. The lights went out leaving us in total darkness because the sun had already gone down. We were all huddled by the door and after 4ish minutes the shaking stopped. The mom then hugged me tightly and said "Oh thank God you both were here". Everyone calms down and we start cleaning up the few things that fell from the shelves. The grandpa then came out of a back room shining a flashlight. That's when the first aftershock came! It was almost as strong as the first if not of the same magnitude. It didn't last as long which was good but a few more things fell which we then started cleaning up. The grandpa then pulls out a generator out of nowhere and hooks it up to a lamp that he had rigged to work with the generator. That old guy is awesome.
After that nothing really happened. A lot of family members came and went, checking to see if everyone was alright. We cleaned things up then they drove us to our pension.
In front of our pension there are apartments of 5 floors. A few members live in those apartments (including the dad that just got baptized) and we found them outside. We asked where the dad and son were because we didn't see them. They were up on the fifth floor helping someone whose roof fell in and now her apartment was filling with water.
When we got to our pension everything was completely intact except for a plastic bowl that belongs to one of the members. It had fallen and was now chipped. Our makeshift bookshelf had thrown up its books which was to be expected. Besides that everything was fine. Nothing broken besides that bowl.
Now we just feel a lot of aftershocks which we hear are going to continue for up to a month.There have been over 300 aftershocks of magnitudes of 4.0 and higher. Now we are so used to them that we barely notice them. They're less frequent now but in the morning we felt one during our studies.
Besides broken dishes there isn't any damage here in Cabildo. All of the Chilean buildings are specifically built to be earthquake-proof. How things are in Illapel I don't know. Here everything is fine, so no, we aren't spending any time doing service.
Haha every time I say that I enjoyed the earthquake people think I'm crazy! I can't blame them. During the whole thing though I wasn't scared or worried because I knew the Lord would protect us. Therefore, I just enjoyed the ride!
So, ya. That's the big highlight of the week. It kind of killed the September 18th celebrations a little (Independence Day for Chile). The branch had an activity which due to the circumstances was good.
Now we are just working like normal. I can now say that I've lived through an 8.4 earthquake!
Advice for the week - When talking about the Virgin, try not to make her angry. She likes to shake the ground ;)
Love you all!