Gary and I are now in China on a layover as we head home. It is very difficult to leave while there is still so much work to be done.
Last Tuesday, while we were in the village of Swara, we were invited to go and have tea in the village leader’s home. We had a marvelous time and I was able to set-up a solar panel that had been donated to us for the community’s use to charges their phones. Prior to the April 25th earthquake they had a small hydroelectric generator but it was damaged in the quake cutting off all power to the area. It was no sooner operational than we had nearly all the outlets on the multi-outlet plug connected to phones. Nearly all the phone batteries were completely drained from use and lack of electrical power since the first earthquake.
After a time of sharing with the village leader, his wife, and 6-7 others who were present, we knew it was time for them to eat lunch. We didn’t want to be a burden to them by staying and have them offer us food which is so scarce still in the village So, Gary, Pankaj, and I went to a hillside terrace to sit under a tree to eat our lunch which was a military surplus MREs (Meal Ready to Eat). We had just finished eating when the 7.3 earthquake struck. As the quake grew stronger, the villagers who saw us on the hillside, began to yell at us to run to the open field that we had been using as a helicopter landing pad to avoid being caught in potential landslides.
We ran up the hill to landing pad where nearly all the village had gathered. We spent the remainder of the day in that field visiting with our hosts.
We checked to make sure that no one was trapped or injured from the earthquake, then we attempted to visit with each village member to see if anyone was suffering from PTS (Post Traumatic Stress). After which we were invited to share about why we had come to Swara, Nepal, where we were from, our families, likes and dislikes, we were even invited to lay down and take a nap if that pleased us. This time was most precious to us. Here we were with a village that had suffered greatly from the April 25, earthquake and were traumatized by a second and we were now being considered a part of their families. As the day grew on, it began to appear that we may not get out because our scheduled helicopter flight was being used for medivacs for those injured in the second quake. We were prepared to stay overnight in a tent in the open field, but, we also knew that we were welcome to stay with any of the families in their makeshift shelters. Just before sundown, we received word that a helicopter was in route to evacuate us. We were decidedly disappointed to be leaving our hosts and new friends. But, we were happy to return our staff member, Pankaj Sarkar, to Kathmandu to reunite him with his wife who had spent a stressful day without him. Lord willing, Gary and I will return to the village and our friends.
Sadly, as we landed, we saw a US Marine HU1 helicopter launching a SAR (Search and Rescue) mission to look for a missing US Marine helicopter which had not been heard from since shortly after the earthquake that day. The day was a day of mixed emotions. We had seen great gains for the Kingdom and great loss for the people and country of Nepal , and the US Marines.