First Strike

Thanking all our brethren for praying for my safety during the Nepal crisis. On 24th April, 2015 I travelled to a village called Panchkol which is 2 hours drive, away from Kathmandu City, along with Senior Pastor Dev Chetri of Beth Shalom Church Putlisadak Kathmandu (one of our Compass Partners), his wife, Bro John Rodrigues and his wife, Glancy. We also took along Meena (Pastor Dev’s younger sister and her little daughter Sharon 2 yrs old).

IMG_8073Pastor Dev has a branch church at Panchkol. We did a small meeting at another village, 45 minutes away and then went to Pastor Ganesh’s home to rest for the night.

Pastor Ganesh lived in a 2 storey house (100 years) made of mud and stone, built by his grandfather.

On Saturday morning (25th April) we were all ready for the church service and left the house at 950 am, walked a short distance of 5 mins and the church service began at 10 am.IMG_8060
I was given the privilege to sharing the word and spoke on Ps 23 “He restores my soul” God takes away our Guilt, Grief and Grudges.

At 1150 am I stepped off the pulpit and at 1156 am, what began as a mild vibration of the windows turned into a violent earthquake of the magnitude of 7.9 which lasted 20 seconds.

People began to pray and moved out of the Church building. Houses around the church collapsed in a matter of 6 to 8 seconds. Most of them were Mud houses.IMG_8066

After the first tremor, we asked all the members to go to their houses and check the status and return back to the church compound. I was able to make one call back home immediately after the first tremor and conveyed that we are all safe.

Most of them reported that their houses have collapsed or inhabitable due to the cracks developed. We proceeded to see the Pastors house in which we had spent the night before. Half of the house had collapsed. It was side that we had slept in. I could see the blue Mosquito net that hung above my bed. Our bags were inside with our Driving licenses and one of us had left the cell phone back in the room.
People were in a state of shock and kept staring at the debris. We were told that a woman whom we had seen in the morning is under the debris. By the time we took her out she was dead.

5.We were able to salvage our bags and some of the important documents of Pastor Ganesh. We were able to retrieve his Gas stove with a cylinder, clothes, vessels, a sack full of rice and a sack of potatoes too. This was just enough to begin providing food for all affected and we settled them in the Church premise.
We returned to Kathmandu city that night, through roads that have developed cracks, passing hordes of people sitting on the streets, away from the buildings. Buildings had crashed, electricity supply had shut down. We passed the departmental store that we often visited during our stay in Kathmandu. The whole 5 storey building had crashed with each Reinforced Concrete Cement slab piling over each other, like a club sandwich. Many faces that we saw each day, the girl at the counter, the family of the store owner were missing.IMG_8128

We stocked up food and water in our home, as we knew that everything would run out shortly.
We then had to sleep in the car as tremors and aftershocks continued the whole night. With that began the restless days and nights until the departure to India.

We walked around with all the money, passport and return tickets in our pockets. Along with communication, water and electricity supplies had shut down too.
All communication systems were jammed. No more phone calls could be made. Everything came to a standstill.IMG_8154
Bro John Rodrigues and his wife Glancy opened their home, to accommodate a few people and provided food for mothers and children, as heavy rains began to lash the city and staying in tents with little babies was just impossible.
Almost 8 Million people in and around Kathmandu City, were immediately and directly affected and were forced to live outside their homes in tents and make shift shelters. Rescue workers trying to reach the people in need of help, were unable to reach due to heavy rains.

IMG_8169In Kathmandu, where the quake felled temples and homes across the city, many people are desperately trying to return to their family homes in the countryside. These people were much better off than those cramming the wards in nearby hospitals.

A squad of riot police was deployed in response to demonstrations held by locals due to lack of adequate help from the government. Bus companies have hiked their prices and are taking advantage of the situation.

News began to trickle in from all corners of Nepal. Almost every person was grieving for someone whom they knew and had fallen victim to the earthquake.
Risk of infectious diseases spreading looms across the country and affected areas.
The airport is filled with people with no place to even sit while the outside is worse. Thousands of people have camped outside the airport waiting for an opportunity to fly out of the country.

Johnson Samuel
Executive Director