February 13, 2018

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A Forward of Sister Bernhardt's letter regarding the earthquake that shook Taiwan last week

Maria posted this from Ashley last week and it is a MUST READ! I felt the spirit and perfect optimism while reading it and thought 'if it can lift me, then it can lift you.' It is inspiring and awesome on many levels. Do you still get her letters?

This is part of Ashleys email she sent talking about their experience when the earthquake hit last week. We are truly thankful for our Heavenly Father protecting her and all the other missionaries, and the people she loves so much in Taiwan❤️

Dear Family and Friends,
Here is a little update on the earthquake happenings this week, because I know you are all wondering!

Like I told you all last Sunday night we had a 5.8 earth quake, we thought wow that was a fun little experience to write home about... little did we know that was just the begining! In our mission every day we wake up at 7am, then at night we have lights out and prayers at 11. Some of the other sisters had just been asleep for 20+ minutes when the earth quake hit. At 11:50 a 6.4 earth quake hit. I was amazed at how quickly my reflexes kicked in because before i knew what was happening I heard myself scream "SISTERS! EARTHQUAKE!" I then found myself jumping over to my companion's bed, heart beating a million beats a second as our house spun around. Being on the tenth floor of an earth quake is a scary thing, we have described it as, "salad in a salad spinner... and you are the salad." our house looked like a blender just mixed it all up. It was so scary to turn on the lights and see all of our house completely different with the fridge moved out of the room and all the copys of The Book of Mormon knocked down. An aftershock came and we jumped under the table, said a frantic prayer, at that moment the district leader called telling us to get out! My comp wrote it well and with good details so here is a bit of her email in the italics. Big thanks to Sister Hansen. * sorry if it is a little repetitive but at least you get both angles of the experience haha

Tuesday night we were all asleep when at about midnight I woke up to my companion screaming and jumping onto my bed. I looked up and saw our little chandelier thing above my head shaking and it felt like the whole apartment was being tossed up and down. When it stopped we yelled for the other sisters who sleep in the other room, then turned on the lights and saw that everything in our house looked like it had been blended up. A closet had fallen on the sisters door so we got that off and got the door to their room clear right before the second tremor started, Sister Bernhardt and I dove under the table and I remember saying out loud probably one of my most fervent, simple prayers to date. It was about then our District Leader called us and told us to, "GET OUT!" So we grabbed our phones, the 72 hour kit, and my cheetah print blanket off my bed and ran down the 10 flights of stairs dressed in prime earthquake attire. I feel like the best way to describe going down the stairs was like we were in a video game and with every level there was a big obstacle we had to over come, one with all the shoe closets and bikes everyone puts out by their door had fallen over, one level even had broken beer bottles and the glass every where. Heavenly Father definitely blessed us all with good coordination and a whole lot of adrenaline (at least for a couple minutes) and we maneuvered them with ease. That in its self was a miracle with how fast we got out of the apartment because since then walking up and down those 10 flights its a lot more tiring!

Once we got outside everyone was just kind of standing around. No one really had a plan for where to go or what to do. We decided to head over to the elementary school which is on a really wide clear road with a field across from it, so we walked over there and from about 12:30-4:30 AM sat on a bench and watched the cars parked in front of us rock back and forth with the aftershocks.

By about 3:00ish people were telling us to go back inside....until we told them we lived on the 10th floor. Lots of people were just walking around or sleeping in their cars. We met a lot of really cool people! We got in touch with the Elders who had found a field to sleep in by their house, and the Office Elders in Taipei (who reassured us by telling us their is no way to predict an earthquake). On our way over to the chapel we took a nice little 4am 7eleven run and bought lots of yogurt. At 5ish the aftershocks were fewer and far between so we walked to the chapel and built a little shelter out of tables and slept on all the couch cushions. We tried to sleep but kept getting a lot of calls. By 6:30 AM the Elders met up with us, a selfie was taken and stories exchanged and then we got the instructions from President which were to sleep until we woke up and then start our day like normal. So the Elders went home but we stayed under the tables because they didn't know if our apartment was safe to go into yet. We slept until like 1:30 that afternoon and woke up right in time for our 2 o'clock appointment....who showed up! Yes that is how GOLDEN our new investigator is. We taught her the restoration in our pjs and Sister Bernhardt was even wearing her retainer haha. --This is true, I taught a lesson in chinese with my retainer and it was just fine hahaha ALSO best of all Sister Hansen forgot her name tag in the rush out of the house BUT dont worry I had an extra so yet again, one of my comps wore my name tag:) haha this is the 3rd time in my mission thats happened!

We ended up staying in the church that night too which was nice because we had a couple of bigger tremors through the night and the swaying would've been a lot worse on the 10th floor. I will add some pictures of our nice little forts we made out of the big tables and couch cushions hahaha. People always ask us if we live at the church and we always tell them no... but hey we did for two nights when the earthquake stroke!

The next night we were back at home, we had one more bigger one at 4:30 AM but not bad. Funny thing, Sister Bernhardt wakes up very easily from earthquakes now and she always says, "SISTER!" and I just learned from our room mate Sister Hanna that I apparently answer her in a very mothering, soothing tone and say, "okay...its okay.." every time (it's unclear whether or not I actually wake up all the way but at least I'm comforting right).

Last night we went to the Shelter and sang songs and Elder Neilsen did a magic show for the kids, which everyone loved. We wore the helping hands vests and prayed with some people, but they didn't want us to do much direct proselyting. We all sang "Come Unto Christ" for them aswell. Our goal was to help comfort people and pray for them and we even taught these cute teenager sisters how to pray. Hopefully this experience will help those people in the future be more open to missionaries and receiving the gospel! The earth quake fault line is right in our area, it makes me that much more thankful that we dont live in our area! Im also so thankful we live with the other sisters so it was not just us as our companionship rather it was all 4 of us together. The leaning building in town is the most surreal thing. There's lots of military and stuff around it and it honestly feels like a spaceship just landed and we're all in the middle of a movie.
Recently my companion and i have had a harder time finding new investigators, but when we do find people they are super solid! Last Wednesday morning my comp and I woke up and just had a good feeling that on that day we would meet a cool person at english class... AND WE TOTALLY DID! Her name is Peggy and she is a just amazing and sooo interested. Within the past few days she's already read to 1 Nephi 10. So as we are waking up from our little camp out at the church we get a call from sweet Peggy telling us she was outside the church doors waiting for us! See look how legit she is, even after an earth quake she is still on time to our lesson! So we hurried and welcome her in... We definitely taught her the restoration and one of the best "on the fly lessons" I've had my whole mission... not to mention we did it all in our pajamas because we had just woken up! Hahaha what a fun little thing to check off my mission bucket list that I didn't even know existed🤗 thankfully she was totally chill with us teaching her in our jammies lol, what an experience!

Needless to say, miracles in a natural disaster are legit. As we have gone out and "forgotten ourselves and gone to work" we have found peace and not felt scared. There are said to continue to have after shocks for the next few weeks but I am so thankful that through prayer we have found indescribable peace. I have had many very tender experiences as I have prayed, I testify that we have a loving Father in Heaven that cares for each one of us. He knows us by name and misses each one of us so much. I have felt myself come closer to him throughout my mission, and especially through this past week's experiences. I am so thankful for this experience and I wouldnt trade it for the world. I'm forever thankful for the love and prayers, encouraging emails you have sent my way. Have a wonderful week and be prepared for my last email as "sister-missionary Sister Bernhardt" next week!


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