On Saturday, April 25th, 2015, a violent 7.8 earthquake struck near Kathmandu, Nepal, destroying thousands of lives, ancient buildings and heritage sites, homes, infrastructure and communications.Buildings crumbled into heaps of stones and bricks, large cracks destroyed roads, and a deadly avalanche crashed down on climbers preparing for the trek to Mt. Everest.
There is a small LDS church congregation in Kathmandu, the only one in Nepal (pictured right).We have one senior missionary couple in Nepal, and no young missionaries. Elder and Sister Valentine were contacted by the Mission President in New Delhi, India, as soon as possible following the quake. Elder Coffey and I were also able to reach them via Skype very briefly. Their apartment has sustained considerable damage and it is not safe for them to remain inside. They, with tens of thousands of others, fled to the streets where they set up temporary shelter. The Valentines found refuge near the church building, which may also have some damage, and were camping outside near the church with food and water. To the left is a photo of the Valentines (standing) with the Wasuitas, seated, who completed their mission several weeks ago.There was no electricity and their batteries were getting low, so communication ended at that time.
Today we heard from them that they are now at the US Embassy in Kathmandu. We believe all the members of the church in Kathmandu are also safe. What a tragic, horrific experience for the people of Nepal, as well as for the Valentines. We sorrow for the loss of life. Elder Coffey and I were just in Nepal last November. It was a wonderful place!! We mourn for the suffering that will continue for months and years as they begin again to rebuild their beloved homeland.
As is usually the case, there is a tremendous outpouring of supplies, support, and assistance coming in from all over the world. We are grateful that LDS Charities will also be able to send in assistance as soon as possible. Many of the world heritage and cultural treasure sites have crumbled into heaps. In November we visited Swayambhunath temple, also known as Monkey Temple, one of the most famous temple sites in Nepal, pictured below. It now lies in ruins. I don't have any earthquake photos, and don't want to use any copyrighted images from the Internet. But I've included some we took when we visited in November.
|Swayambhunath Temple was one of the most famous temple sites in Nepal.|
|Swayambhunath Temple, now lying in rumble |
and ruins following the earthquake.
|The view from the Valentine's apartment where we stayed in November.|
Many of these homes, typical of homes in Nepal, sustained significant damage from the earthquake.
"Saturday, April 25, in Nepal the Lord watched over His saints. The tender mercy when the 7.9 earthquake hit was the members of the Kathmandu branch were sitting together in the chapel having sacrament meeting. Being together made all the difference. For a very small branch in a city with 4 million people, being together at the time the quake hit meant they knew who was safe immediately. Communication in Nepal is often spotty at best so this information was critical. The members evacuated the chapel and huddled together away from the buildings. The members sang hymns as non-member neighbors lingered near by drawing comfort. The priesthood organized others to find those who were absent. By the end of the day, the saints were accounted for and sent home to be with families or friends. Elder and Sister Valentine, the welfare missionaries, were with the branch and safe. The branch buildings received minor damage, but are still standing. Tremors and after shocks have continued. Nepal has endured 1000's of deaths throughout the nation and sustained massive destruction. They will need international disaster relief. Please continue to pray for Nepal and especially for the welfare of the little Kathmandu branch."
Elder Valentine and I are fine - tired, mosquito bitten from a night spent outside, dirty from no shower and no change of clothes, but we are safe and well taken care of here at the embassy. I have no desire to return to our apartment but we will go quickly to get some clothes.The rest we will leave. There is perishable food all over the floors and in the refrigerator, but we dare not stay long enough to clean it up. I know the Lord watches over us, but he does not expect us to be stupid. So we will spend minimal time in the apartment. Thanks for helping us."