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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Earthquake

A road very close to the epicenter of the earthquake
     I have never experienced an earthquake before. Well... maybe I have, but they've never been strong enough for me to feel. Last week we experienced a very strong earthquake here in Costa Rica. It was originally said to be a magnitude of 7.9, but then later declared it to have been a 7.6. Either way, it was very strong and quite noticeable.

     I was in class when it took place and it was really a bit surreal. I always expected an earthquake to just feel like I was being shaken back and forth, when in reality, it felt more like being on a boat in really rough water. The ground beneath us was moving back and forth, up and down, and everything was just seizing in different directions. It wasn't incredibly strong at first, so we all just looked around for a few seconds before fully realizing what was happening. It continued to grow stronger and stronger, and as it escalated we all made our way out of our seats and outside as quickly as possible. 
A bridge that collapsed due to the quake

     There was a small degree of hysteria, as many people had never experienced an earthquake before and some that had were just very frightened because they don't like them. Many people immediately thought of the safety of their family members and were understandably worked up. Cell phones were quickly seen all around me (those of the Costa Rican teachers in particular) frantically calling their loved ones to be assured of their safety. Though it felt incredibly strong where we were, the epicenter of the earthquake was about 120 miles away from us-- which makes it scary to imagine how it must have felt to those at the center.

     The school's president was out with all of us and called an impromptu gathering of all the students after the earth stopped shaking. We spent time in prayer together as a student body-- thinking of those who were near the epicenter, or in buildings and locations where significant damage had occurred. We read portions of scripture together. The staff did a great job of reigning in all of the emotion and excitement and focusing that energy on our hope and trust in Christ, and praying for those who sadly don't have that assurance.
A road blocked by boulders and debris 

     Suzy and Kaia were back in our apartment and made it out in a timely fashion as well. Our neighbor experienced the massive earthquake in Haiti a couple of years ago, so when Suzy overheard her telling their daughter to get outside, she promptly got Kaia up from her nap and joined them outside.

     It was a surreal experience. Though I felt a little dizzy and nauseous, I didn't feel fear. Isaiah 54:10 says, "Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the LORD, who has compassion on you." My hope is found in Christ. I don't fear the things of this world, because to live is Christ, but to die is gain. I can't imagine not having the assurance that we have in Christ and going through difficulty. Life is trying and difficult even with Christ; I can't imagine the fear, despair, and hopelessness others must feel when difficulty comes their way. 

     When the earth shakes, Jesus Christ is our rock, our cornerstone. When everything else in this world lets us down, God is faithful. When there is no one else to turn to, God is still patiently waiting. God has not given us a spirit of timidity or of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and discipline. And yet he tells us to cast all of our anxiety on him because he cares for us.

     So much has happened since we got back to Costa Rica-- physically, spiritually, and in our day-to-day schedules. Though we're incredibly busy, working hard, and the ground beneath is is shaking, Christ is faithful. He has called us here and we are overjoyed to be exactly where He wants us to be. Therefore, we praise his name! What a joy to live life for Jesus Christ, our Savior!

 -jim

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