I just wanted to record some of my thoughts about the 7.8 earthquake in Ecuador on Saturday and the over 250 aftershocks they've experienced since. I served in Manta and Bahia de Caraquez, which were two of the worst hit cities out of three that were mostly toppled. Many of my friends were scared and left homeless, some even lost family members and friends, but thankfully I've been able to check in with them and they're mostly okay. They've posted pictures of all my loved ones huddled in blankets in the halls and chapel floors. Watching them go through all this made me grateful for many things. I'm so grateful for the Resurrection and the Atonement. I'm also grateful for the physical church organization here on the earth. Because of the organization, they all had a place to gather when there homes were lost or dangerous... They also had leaders looking out for them. They were able to post on facebook within mere hours that all their wards were accounted for because of Home Teachers and leaders. I'm also very grateful that the Latin American people are so spiritual. My instructor in the MTC said that he'd never met a more spiritual group of people. I didn't understand what he meant. It's common practice in Latin America to speak about God in their everyday lives with everyone they meet. It's not uncommon to meet people that have dreams and promptings long before they're taught by the missionaries. That's the kind of state of being that lends itself to believing in and accepting when miracles happen. My mamita in the Manta ward has been going through cancer treatments, lost her son in an accident a couple years ago, and now lives on her own. She usually is all on her own, but a couple just happened to be visiting her from the ward when the earthquake hit and were able to get her to safety. The couple were the parents of a lady who was serving her mission here in Utah at the same time that I was there teaching her dad. Her dad has never joined the church, but he was willing to visit church members when prompted.
This tragedy that will leave a significant impact not only on the current but also future financial state of Ecuador may leave a significant impact on the spiritual well being of these amazing people. Not only for those directly involved, but those lending helping hands as well. The third area that I served in was Santa Elena. What was two branches is now two stakes, and they posted pictures of a chapel full of supplies, water, food and people going to help those that lost everything. People with nothing giving to people who lost everything. It's a beautiful thing.