Surviving Natural Disasters.

SavannahLessons Learned, Mission Trips, New Experiences Leave a Comment

There is so much going on the world today that it can be hard to know what others are feeling. So, in the midst of earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, and the Lord only knows what other impending dooms, I have decided to share my story about living through a 6.8 magnitude earthquake.

As many of you may know, I went on an international missions trip to Guatemala over the summer. It was an incredible experience and, if you haven’t already, I highly recommend that you check out my somewhat eclectic blog post about the whole experience. That blog post will help you to get a much better feel for this one.

We had been in Guatemala for three days when the earthquake hit. I remember it vividly and know that I always will. It was Tuesday night and we had just finished a full day of work putting on a Vacation Bible School for the children in the small village of Pop’abaj. We had returned to the hotel, eaten dinner, and went straight to bed as our days were long and we were completely exhausted. Around 2:30 A.M., the room started shaking. People’s beds started to move away from the wall and the sounds of things falling down in bathrooms and off nightstands were real, terrifying sounds to hear. I woke up to screaming coming from outside the hotel and from inside. My roommate was yelling at me to, “Get up we had to go!” I stumbled to feet still trying to figure out what in the world was going on. I ran down three flights of stairs completely barefoot and without my glasses. I couldn’t see what was going on, but I could hear that whatever was going on it wasn’t good.

By the time I had made it downstairs, the earthquake had stopped. The screams had stopped. The world had seemed to be back to normal, but it never would be. I had to ask three people what had just happened before anyone told me that an earthquake had just taken place. I didn’t know what to do. Part of our group was outside, and thinking back, obviously going outside was the reasonable thing to do, but when am I ever reasonable? I sat down on one of the couches in the hotel lobby, shaking like I never had before. I was suddenly freezing and curled up into a ball trying to conserve what little bit of body heat I had left. I started rocking back and forth, in shock over the whole ordeal. People stopped and tried to talk to me and calm me down, but it was no use. I was completely and totally incapable of forming even the simplest of sentences. Don’t get me wrong, I was concerned for the other people in our group. Especially the ones who were my mommas for the week as mine wasn’t there. Some of the Guatemalan ladies who came to cook for us came over and sat next to me just hugging me and telling me that it would be okay. I cried. And I cried hard. What else would you expect a person who wasn’t sure that they themselves were going to live to do? The way that these women who didn’t even know me came around me and loved on and encouraged me even though they were terrified themselves, was truly amazing.

When I finally managed to compose myself, all of our group was downstairs and I could begin to process thoughts and form sentences. We talked. We googled. We called. We prayed. In that prayer, we thanked God for the protection that He had given us. The only visible signs that there had ever been an earthquake were some crooked pictures, beds moved away from walls, and a few items that were in the floor that had been on night stands and bathroom sinks. We asked that the people we were there working with were safe and that the people would be aware of God in their midst. We prayed that the people in Mexico who were at the epicenter of the earthquake would be protected and healed if need be. We thanked God for bringing us to Guatemala and prayed that He would work through us and earthquake to minister to the people there.

After forty-five minutes, we back upstairs to our rooms and attempted to sleep. Lying in the bed, I started realize what the earthquake had done. My stomach felt so strange and I cannot compare it to anything I’ve ever experienced before. It felt like when you ride one of those scrambler rides more times than you need to and whatever was inside feels all scrambled up. You can tell that everything in your stomach got moved around and it’s kind of a miracle that you didn’t throw up. We had just laid down and started to drift back off to sleep when we began to feel the aftershock. I was awake for the entirety of the aftershock and I’m not lying when I say that being completely awake for something makes it even more terrifying. The aftershock lasted ten seconds, if that, and was over. Just like that, the whole thing was over and done with. Sleep came, but not as freely as I would have liked. I was awake again at 5:30 and spent the rest of the day and most of that night awake.

Wednesday morning came and we had the opportunity to go serve breakfast to some kids that we were working with that week. Getting up early and serving food to kids that would not have had anything otherwise was such a blessing after the night we had had. Smiling faces and hungry bellies showing up with backpacks bigger than them in the chilly air was a sight I will always treasure and never forget.

I was supposed to give the devotion for the group Wednesday morning. I was originally going to speak about doing God’s will, but after the night we had just experienced, that just didn’t feel right. So, I decided to talk about faith and fear. We have the choice everyday to choose whether we are going to have faith in God or fear of the world. I could easily have chosen to have fear of the world and not go on that missions trip at all, but I chose to have faith in God that He would keep me safe. I could easily have chosen to have fear of the world and desire to return home, but I chose to have faith in God even though, I was in shock and missed the North Carolina soil where we never experience earthquakes. Fear gives power to Satan. Faith gives power to God.

Surviving a natural disaster is the most sobering thing you will ever experience. You often wonder why you’re alive, why it happened to you, and what you could’ve done differently that might have changed the outcome. You understand terror on a whole different level than you did before. You have seen death, and this experience helps you to visualize your own. The life you’ve lived flashes before your eyes and you wonder if you’ve done enough, if you’ve lived enough, if people will remember you for the good or for the bad things you’ve done. Life takes on a new meaning, suddenly even the most mundane of tasks, has a new, precious, appreciation to it.

I can’t imagine living through this without having a personal relationship with the Lord. So y’all, pray for safety, pray for peace, but most importantly, pray for relationships the Lord to spark out of all this hurt and tragedy. Pray for a revival and renewed strength among not only those who are unbelievers, but among those who are. Let God be at the center of it all and pray that people are wise enough to see His presence.

“”Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭46:9-10‬ ‭NASB‬‬

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