By Kent Larsen
LDS Missionary Tells Modesto Bee About El Salvador Quake
MODESTO, CALIFORNIA -- The Modesto Bee today carried an account of the El
Salvador earthquake from Elder Peter Stone, 21, who is currently serving an
LDS mission there. The earthquake, which hit the Central American country
Saturday morning, killed at least 600 people, including two LDS Church
members, according to an LDS Church press release. The quake measured 7.6 on
the Ricter scale.
Elder Stone told the Bee that the quake taught him something about the
equality among people. "This was not something only the rich or poor were
exposed to. No one could stop it. No one could hide. It taught me a lot
about equality. It was humbling and amazing."
The Church reports that none of the 325 LDS missionaries in El Salvador were
hurt, and that all have been accounted for. However, missionaries are
experiencing much of the damage. As a precaution, according to Elder Stone,
on the first night after the quake they were asked to sleep in their clothes
and have a back with a change of clothing, water and their scriptures handy.
In his conversation with the Bee on Monday morning, Elder Stone told the
paper about the quake. He said the quake started as a rumble that quickly
increased to a roar. When the walls in the building he was in cracked and
the roof shifted, he said, everyone ran out into the street. There, Elder
Stone said he saw the road buckling in waves and houses shaking as if they
were made of rubber. "Then there was this incredible silence that fell over
the town -- there was just perfect silence. The entire country froze for one
minute, causing everyone to look up in the sky and re-evaluate our existence."
After the quake, Elder Stone and his companion (who is not named in the
article) walked around the town of Chalchuapa, where they are serving, and
surveyed the damage, seeing adobe houses flattened, the walls of many
buildings cracked and rubble littering the streets.
Elder Stone also reported hearing that one "mission house" has collapsed,
and the town where another group of missionaries is serving had more than
60% of its buildings flattened. He says that the quake has even had an
effect on the psyche of the people. "Here in Chalchuapa, what has changed is
the psyche and emotional structure -- everyone is in pieces. You can see it
on their faces. Everyone is walking around cautiously."
He also expects that the quake will have an effect on the very nature of his
mission, saying that the missionaries will likely switch their efforts from
teaching to cleanup and community service.
Modestan humbled by deadly temblor in El Salvador
Modesto CA Bee 16Jan01 P2
By Marijke Rowland: Bee Staff Writer