It’s a Spanish word I never wanted to have to learn – “Terremoto.” But it’s now in the first sentence exchanged with anyone I see for the first time since Saturday evening, April 16. The news sound bite is over, everyone back home knows I’m OK, and life quickly goes back to its normal routine there.
But life is anything but “normal” or “routine” here anymore. My beloved Ecuador has been forever altered in a single, one minute event called “terremoto.”
Most of my efforts this past week have been focused on fundraising and relief, both for my friend Edwin, as well as several other causes endeavoring to bring urgent help to some of the small, forgotten villages on the coast, north of Manta and Portoviejo, that are by most accounts even more devastated than the larger cities. I’ve also been fighting to expose some misuse of some relief funds, in an effort to see that monies being raised by local organizers are going where it is really needed.
But I’ve also done a little bit of hindsight reading regarding what so much of Ecuador just experienced. Friends back home tell me the media have all but dropped our earthquake from their “news” now, but are still focusing on the Japan earthquakes, despite the fact that one geologist stated that Ecuador’s quake was six times stronger than the largest of the Japanese quakes, and other geologists have estimated it was actually 20 times stronger. In addition, the last reports show the Japan quake death toll at 48, whereas Ecuador is now over 650.
Initial reports stated the earthquake lasted 40 seconds. It seemed longer than that to me, and now I’m reading that some reports were over a minute and others even say up to three (although I believe that to be a bit exaggerated). All I can say is, set your kitchen timer for a minute and then imagine everything around you violently shaking, and seeing things falling and breaking for that period of time – it was definitely the longest minute of my life!
I also read this in another news article:
According to the New York Times, both countries were also hit with different types of quakes, with the two that hit Japan likely resulting from something called a strike-slip, that occurs along faults situated at a relatively shallow level. The Ecuador earthquake, on the other hand, occurred because of a process known as subduction — where one tectonic plate slides under another to create what is known as a “megathrust” event.
I can tell you that “megathrust” is a perfect description of what I felt!
One thing that I’d previously mentioned to a friend was that there seemed to be a “line of demarcation” between the terrible destruction that happened in our nearby shopping cities of Manta and Portoviejo, and the relatively minor damage we’d experienced here. And as I said before, the night of the earthquake I had guessed that we were at the epicenter of a 5.0 quake. Well, interestingly enough, I found this map of the “shake intensity” on the Samaritan’s Purse website (we are very grateful for their relief efforts, by the way). Here you can see that, sure enough, the shake intensity that we experienced was equivalent to a category 5.0, and is dramatically different from those in the areas that experienced a 6.0 intensity.
All I can say is, I regularly cover my little town of Puerto Cayo in prayer. Some people question where our “spiritual authority” lies when praying over territories or regions. But most will agree that we have authority over the homes, neighborhoods and even towns where God has placed us. As Ecuador braced itself for what had been predicted as a “Gozilla El Niño” year, and many here braced themselves for what that might mean for our homes and ability to obtain daily essentials (much flooding was anticipated), I consistently prayed that the rains we would receive be “productive and not destructive.” And you know what? That’s exactly what we got. While other parts of Ecuador experienced excessive rains and repeated flooding, our little area simply got much needed relief from several years of drought.
Recently my “spiritual twin brother” had a similar, but more dramatic experience in commanding a terribly destructive storm away from his parent’s house. You can read his account of it here.
All I know for sure from these experiences that I’ve witnessed is that God is, as He said He would do, shaking all things (Haggai 2:6-7) and that the only safe place to be is “in the shelter of the Most High.” (Psalm 91:1)