Saturday, August 29, 2015

Our April 26 Earthquake Story

This post is "Remembering April 26, 2015--Part 1."

The best part of that day was actually waking up that morning!

If you missed what happened to us on April 25, you can read about that day in these three parts:  

At the end of Part 3, we were trying to fall asleep on a mattress outside of and in front of the operating room.  It was hard to sleep--our minds were churning and so was the ground under us!  

For those who are interested, here is a page from a website that lists all the aftershocks above 4 on the Richer scale:
You can see what we were dealing with and the frequency.
If you were still, you could feel the ground shaking with the tremors under 4, 
and they were in between the ones listed.  With those above 4 you could hear it and then 
definitely feel it.  It's freaky!

This still is happening.  Today I was taking a nap and felt slow shaking.
As far as I have heard, there have been over 23,000 aftershocks under 4, 
and about 380 above 4. 

OK, back to our story.
Here is an excerpt from the end of Part 3 of my thoughts as I tried to sleep:

I wondered to myself, 
"I wonder how long I'll be able to go without washing my hair," and
 "Does Mitchum deodorant REALLY work for 48 hours as they claim?"  :)  

Here are the answers:

You can go longer than you think you can without washing your hair!
No one worried at all about how they looked and we all looked the same!

Yes, Mitchum deodorant really DOES work for 48 hours as they claim!
(We had brought some back from the States last year, and still had some!)

Well, I think we both finally fell asleep from sheer exhaustion about 3:00 a.m. and we woke up around 5:00-ish, when the sun came up accompanied by more aftershocks!  
We thanked the Lord for waking up!

If you looked at the aftershock list above, you'll see there was a large one at 2:52 and then the next one was at 5:01, and thankfully we were able to sleep during those two hours.  The next aftershocks followed at 5:21, 5:26, and 5:32!  No, we couldn't sleep any longer even though we'd only had two hours of sleep! 

We went to our apartment, where, in the front yard, many church members had spent the night,

and brushed our teeth!  What a wonderful feeling!  Then we actually took about 15 second showers, a rinse actually, changed clothes, and ran back outside.  Still had our passports, etc., in my purse and toilet paper and our no-bake cookies from my friend Diann's recipe (Yes!) 
and water in our backpacks.   

Ramon went to check on patients with his team and I decided to go around and see what was happening.  People were getting up and checking on their friends and family members.  Doctors and nurses were checking on the injured.  Someone had a newspaper so I joined the crowd to see
what had happened.

Someone translated some of the stories to me in English.
We were all in shock and it still didn't seem like it could be real.

I tried calling my mom and sister now and then.  Sometimes I could get through for a minute
and other times I couldn't.  Again, the phones were working off and on.  At least I could keep them updated on how we were and ask them to tell me what they were hearing on the news!  I asked Mom to call my cousin's husband who speaks Spanish and ask him to call my mother-in-law and tell her we were OK.  We didn't want her to worry and have a heart attack!

I headed out to see what had happened and was happening.

You get the idea.

Four months later work is still going on to fix everything.  Can't even guess when it will be finished!

Earlier this month we found out that all the stress underground was not released!
This means that there are real risks of more earthquakes.

All we can do is pray!
Thanks to all of you who have prayed and continue to do so!

Well, the rest of the day was basically the same as the day before--staying outside most
of the time, talking to people, hugging and praying with (at their request) whatever lady was near me when an aftershock happened.  There were about 38 that day over 4 on the Richter Scale
and who knows how many under 4!

Once someone told me to go to the courtyard and take a picture of another outdoor c-section
in progress.  Ramon had lead the team outside for one the day before.  No one knew if the building would stay standing!  I asked,  "I really can go over there?"  "Yes, and take pictures!  Hurry!"

I ran over and took this picture, which has traveled around!
Ramon is in the green hat.

I didn't stay long, of course, and got some pictures of some of our patients, who all
gave me permission to take their pictures.

Here's a darling brother and sister, bless their hearts.

More darlings:

Everyone was happy to be alive, and at least for us, prayer kept us going.

Thank you Lord!

Bye for now and have a nice and blessed day!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Our April 25 Earthquake Story--Part 3


We hope everyone is having a lovely day and a lovely summer.
We're fine and "enjoying" the hot and humid monsoon season!  We're sad though about the mudslides and sinkholes that have caused more deaths.  Plus, the aftershocks are still coming (I've heard the current number, as of today, Aug. 15, is 378 of 4.0 or above).

In case you're wondering, many people still are in great need here.

Anyway, before I forget what happened, I need to finish telling about the rest of our day that fateful day of April 25, 2015.  The previous two posts are Part 1 and Part 2, if you missed them. 

So, as I told about in Part 2, I had finally connected with my husband, which was joyful because I didn't know where he was in Part 1 , but we couldn't talk for long because he was so busy, so I went back to where the people were sitting and continued talking, praying, hugging and holding hands during each aftershock with ladies who instantly became my sisters since we were in the same boat.  As I mentioned previously, people just grabbed the closest person to them.  The difficult thing about that time, and the feeling is still with us, at least with me, during the continued aftershocks, is the total uncertainty of what was/is going to happen.  We just didn't, and still don't know.  It's hard for someone like me who always likes to read the end of a book first!

Here are some of the people I was sitting with.

There were groups of people all over the place.
I was wearing the red ski hat that Ramon asked me to wear so he could see me in the crowd!

At one point I heard something and saw a large group of doctors and nurses surrounding someone who was on the ground.  It was sort of like this, only a lot more people.
This picture you may have seen before as I posted it on the hospital's news blog.  I didn't take a picture that time because I heard someone shout, "Where's Dr. Ramon?  Go find him!"  I just watched and prayed.  I saw him run over and he disappeared into the crowd.  I just continued praying.  Then the crowd slowly started to break up and the patient was carried away.  I ran up to Ramon and he told me that it was someone who had had a massive heart attack down in the town and had passed away before he arrived.  We prayed for his family.  I think we received eight or nine patients who were DOA that day.

So we continued--Ramon went to work and I went back to the people.

As the day went on, off and on, people were able to use their phones, even if briefly.  There would be a signal at least for a few minutes.  People asked me if I had called my mom.  "I'm waiting until I think she'll be awake.  I don't want to wake her up because I know she'll never go back to sleep."

Now, my mom and other family members were in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, where the Seventh-day Adventist high school, Mt. Vernon Academy was, for Alumni Weekend.  It was a significant weekend, because the school would be closing at the end of the school year--after opening in 1893!  It was our denomination's oldest boarding high school!  It was also my 40th reunion!  I was scheduled to give the mission story during Sabbath School live via Skype and had e-mailed my PowerPoint slide show to a former classmate, Dan, who would be running the program.  We had had a trial run on Friday night and it looked like everything was working well!  I had been looking forward to it!

I had a signal when it was about 6:30 a.m. Mom's time and I got through!  You can only imagine how happy she was to hear from me!  They were at a hotel, and my uncle in the next room had woken up early and turned on the news and discovered the earthquake.  He immediately called Mom and she had been anxiously waiting for a call from me.  She actually gave me an update on the situation at that time because she knew more than  I did since she and my aunt were watching the news.  I gave her instructions about how to meet with Dan.  She went early, found him, went over the slideshow with him, and from all accounts the mission story was a rousing success!  THANKS Dan and Mom! 

In case anyone is wondering, no, we hadn't eaten all day--not since breakfast.  How could we?  Even when I had run to the apartment to change, I didn't even think about eating.  At a time like that, food is the last thing on your mind and you have no hunger.  At one point, someone had invited me to go to her house because she had thrown together some food.  I thanked her, but just felt like there was no way I could eat yet

As the sun was going down, Ramon was able to come looking for me.  He found me easily since I had on the red ski hat.  "Let's make a run into the apartment and get coats (it was starting to get chilly) and toilet paper and decide where to sleep."  I was so happy to finally be near him.

As we walked, he told me that the young police cadet he had set up the outdoor ICU for had been successfully transferred to Kathmandu.  "Good news," I said, "but please tell me about the outdoor C-section."  "We had no choice!"  "But how did you do that?"  "The team was steady as always
and we just did it."

If you have seen the picture already of Ramon and the team doing an outdoor C-section, please note that it was taken the next day during another emergency during the 6.7 aftershock.  We have no pictures of the first one, but here is a picture of the brave mother, proud father, and the little sweetheart which I took the next day.

OK, so as the ground kept shaking now and then, we ran to our apartment, and there were several very strong shakes while we were there.  We grabbed our coats, passports, two bottles of water, and toilet paper and put them into backpacks as well as granola bars and apples, although I told Ramon I didn't think I could eat.  "You must eat something," he said.

Then he spied these:

OK, yes, those are chocolate no-bake cookies.  Yes, one of our favorites!  Yes, I was able to eat one that night since I love them!  Yes, I could only eat one, but at least it was something in my stomach.

Now, about two weeks before the quake, Ramon had said to me one day, "Hey, remember those no-bake cookies you used to make?  How about making those again???"  "Yeah!  I forgot about those!"  I looked online for the recipe, because if you don't get the exact measurements for the ingredients, they will not harden.  My recipes are in our attic and I've never unpacked them.  With the internet, I didn't feel the need.  Anyway, when I Googled the recipe, there were millions!!!  Which to choose?  I decided to Facebook message my childhood friend Diann for her recipe, which I knew to be perfect!  She sent it right away (THANKS Diann!  You saved us!!!) and I made them the day before the earthquake.  I took the picture to show Diann.  I never got around to sending it to her--after all, there was an earthquake and I was kind of busy!  So, finally, here's the picture Diann!  SMILE!

I quickly wrapped up those cookies into several groups with aluminum foil, threw them in a backpack, and we ate and shared them with others for several days actually!

 OK, so we headed outside and tried to decide where to sleep.  People were just laying down anywhere they thought looked like it might be safe.  I pointed to this slope near where I been sitting.  "How about just laying here?  The slope will be like a pillow."

Ramon said, "Well, I'd rather go near the operating room in case I have a surgery."  We headed to that side of the hospital, grabbing one of the few empty mattresses we saw on the way.
Here is where we went, which is very close to the O.R.

We joined the group already there, which was Ramon's assistant and his family and a couple of nurses.  I whispered to Ramon, "This is the first time in my life that I have gone to sleep without brushing my teeth or washing my face!  Even when I traveled around Europe on the trains I somehow managed to do both of those."  (When we had been at the apartment, we just grabbed what we needed and I felt lucky that I was able to quickly use to the bathroom!)  "Do you want to go back and do those things?"  "NO!"  "Well, let's try and go to sleep.  Tomorrow may be another long day."  "OK."  We prayed and then tried to go to sleep.  My mind wouldn't sleep.  All over the country I don't think many people slept, or at least didn't sleep well.  I kept praying the childhood prayer as I felt the ground shake under us, "If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take!"  In this instance, it was a real prayer.  I really didn't know if I was going to wake up.  Sometimes the ground was just moving back and forth, and other times it was a real shaking with the accompanying boom. 

By the way, it sounds like a car backfiring, either close or far away.  It feels like you're in a car going over a railroad track--or many tracks if it's a long shake. 

 I wondered to myself, 
"I wonder how long I'll be able to go without washing my hair," and
 "Does Mitchum deodorant REALLY work for 48 hours as they claim?"  :)  

OK, how long did we sleep?  What happened the next day?
Stay tuned for the next post: Our April 26 Earthquake Story.

Have a nice day.  Thanks for keeping us in your prayers!

Here is an update from last week on one of the hardest hit areas, for those who are interested: