The 7.9 magnitude earthquake jolted the earth, our bodies, and spirits on April 25th, 2015. It’s a day we’ll not forget. We had our good friends Matt and Cindy visiting. Cindy was taking a nap. I was 7 weeks pregnant and happily napping as well. It was noonday. Phil, Matt and Abyala had left to buy envelopes for our Trade for Freedom shipments. I didn’t know exactly where they were going, but I wasn’t bothered because I knew they’d be back soon.
Then, the shaking began. It was like a violent roller coaster. I woke up to the bed moving harshly back and forth and the alarm sounding. I began yelling for Cindy, “Come, Cindy! Come, Cindy!! It’s an earthquake!” I was disoriented. Glass was crashing around me. Was Abyala home? I checked her room and remembered she was with Phil. Was Cindy gone as well? I continued to yell for her. Only seconds passed but it felt much too long. I started into the stairwell still calling for Cindy. I knew I had to be careful not to fall and injure these precious ones inside of me. I got down only a few stairs and turned around for our “go-bag” with emergency supplies. As I started down the three flights of stairs ahead of me again, I saw Cindy and my heart felt a bit of ease. I continued to yell for her and she was coming quickly but unsteadily. Every few steps she would lose footing and eventually came down the stairs on her bottom. I don’t remember how I got down the stairs without falling. I sincerely believe God carried me and my babies down those three flights of marble. When we reached the doorway, we heard our neighbors wailing in fear and sadness as they sat in the green field that we were approaching for safety. The ground continued to shake. We all sat together, scared. I began to pray for God to make the shaking stop as I watched buildings swaying and dust rising up where houses had fallen. After 60 seconds of trepidation, the earth settled. Temporarily. We felt some relief.
But where was Phil, Abyala, and Matt? Were they okay? I had forgotten my cell phone inside the house. On the third floor. I had to go back in. It was my only chance of reaching them and knowing they were safe. So I ran back inside, praying every step of the way. Asking God for his blessing of protection. Asking Him to show me where my phone was situated. I am always flighty about my phone. As I entered our flat I saw complete chaos, but remained focused and immediately God took me to my phone – sitting on top of our dresser – not in my purse where it should have belonged. But He took me there first. And I immediately ran back down the stairs as a tremor began. I held on tightly to the railing and again, God carried us down safely.
I reached the field and Cindy and started to anxiously call Phil without success. I saw a text message from him that they went to Thakali Kitchen to buy us lunch. At least they weren’t far. But were they ok? I wanted to panic. I knew our babies couldn’t afford my panic. God somehow kept me together. I was crying out to Him inside, wanting to break down, but He was keeping me close to Him. He was keeping my babies safe.
I continued to call Phil countless times without avail. My mind wandered where it should not go. I paced. I softly cried. I talked to Cindy. And after the longest 45 minutes of my life, Phil, Abyala and Matt stood at the top of hill yelling for us! It was perhaps the best moment of my life. I saw my two loves and our friend — in wholeness — even smiling! As I ran towards them, Sweet Abyala started crying and reaching out to get me. She had been so brave!! I picked her up with a furry of joy and fear. I kissed Phil and wouldn’t let him a foot away from me. I felt God’s lavish love for our family in a way I still can’t describe. God doesn’t promise us protection, but he blessed us with it that day. Forever grateful doesn’t even begin to describe the way we feel.
Phil, Abyala and Matt were at Thakali Kitchen waiting for food when the earthquake hit. They ran outside. Abyala’s stroller fell down, but Phil had already been holding her, so Matt picked it up and took it outside with them. (Abyala tells this story to me almost everyday, still.) All the cars had stopped. The road was crowded with people, wailing, scared, but mostly safe. Abyala was safely tucked in her Daddy’s arms. After the shaking stopped, Phil went back inside the restaurant to ask for his food. And he got it! (He amazes me.) They had to traverse nearly a mile’s worth of rubble to get back to us. Walls had fallen down all over the road. The alley to our house couldn’t be passed without climbing, so they climbed over the rubble — lifting Abyala over it in her stroller. A typical 10 minute walk took them 40 minutes. If they had been walking on that alley when the earthquake hit, they would have been badly hurt, if not worse. God protected them. He poured out blessing upon blessing.
As we all waited for the tremors to cease, our young neighbors began singing praise songs to our Lord — Jesus! It was the sweetest song of praise. As we waited, we hoped it would stop. But it didn’t. For days, weeks, months, the tremors have continued. The initial shock was life changing. The tremors following were traumatizing. But we’re okay now. There is so much more to say. I could tell you about sleeping outside with Abyala for a few days. Seeking out safe places. Phil leading World Vision in their response. The pain of being separated from Phil during days when we felt unsafe. The way by which we’ve been healed, day by day. I hope to write that down someday. The point is this…God has been good to us. We are grateful. Please continue to pray for Nepal as many people are still recovering and rebuilding their lives.