Monday, April 14, 2014

Matthew 6:19-21 - Treasures in Heaven where dust can´t corrupt

Hey Family!

   I don´t know if you all remember but last week the scripture was 3 Nephi 13:25 - Take no thought of temporal things.  Now this week´s message (as you can see above) has to do with treasures in Heaven.  Both of these scriptures repeatedly came to my mind this weekend as I witnessed the destruction that a natural disaster caused here in Valparaiso.  I´m going to send 2 emails, one with my personal experience and the other with the story of the fire.

   On Saturday afternoon, at around 4:30, my companion and I were in the church waiting for an investigator to arrive.  Through the windows we began to see smoke rising behind the hills of our ward.  We immediately ran to the back of the church to see better and took some photos (photo 1) of the small stream of smoke. Our investigator called us to let us know that he was inside the Church, therefore we returned to teach him. Once finished teaching him, another investigator came and we taught another lesson.  We remained in the Chapel until around 6:30, waiting for a Matias (the Argentino member that I mentioned a couple weeks ago) to arrive and come with us. Upon leaving the church, we looked towards the hills and saw that the smoke was tremendously bigger.  We then called the other 2 missionaries in our ward to tell them to come down the hill and stay with us in the downtown.  President Kahnlein called us around 7 because he could see the fire from Viña.  He instructed us to stay off the hills and only walk around in the center.  We went to the street entrance of cerro el Litre and were informed by people running down the hills that houses were burning.  We tried helping as many people as possible without climbing up the hills.  At around 830, our Bishop called us and informed us that he needed the Church to be opened so that the members who had lost their houses in the fire could take shelter.  We ran to the Church, and began preparing the building for those who were coming.  The rest of the night was spent helping the faithful members who had lost everything in the fire.  As we left the Church at around 10:30 (we had permission to be out later) we looked towards the hill and could literally see dozens of houses burning to the ground.  In that moment, we knelt down in the center of the plaza and offered a quick prayer for those who were suffering.  

   The next morning at 9 A.M , we arrived at church in service clothes.  We cleaned up around the building until 10 when the Sacrament Meeting began.  Due to Fast Sunday, it was a testimony meeting and I will never forget the humble yet powerful words that were expressed.  I wrote down a few quotes from members who, just the night before, had left everything they owned in a house that now doesn´t exist. Here are some of their words: ¨I have what I need, my family.¨ ¨Brothers of the ward dropped everything to go to the rescue of their fellow members¨ ¨We are going to continue forward just like the pioneers¨ ¨I am a Seminary Teacher and I need to be with my class. God will ask me for my calling, not for the things I lost in the fire¨ ¨I cannot say that I don´t have a house because all of my loved ones have offered me their own.¨ ¨I am happy!¨ One sister said that she was more thankful than she had every been in her life because her long lost son finally returned to her in moment of danger.  The family was finally complete and all together in the church.  Those precious testimonies show that these families have placed treasures in Heaven.

   The other 2 meetings were cancelled and members with desires to serve from all over the Stake began arriving to our Church.  We were divided into groups, each group going to a distinct hill, in order to make a stop by each house of every member on the hills. I was assigned to lead my group of 20 elders (members and missionaries) from the stake to cerro las Cañas.  The truth is that once we arrived to the burnt houses, nothing was recognizable. We began clearing out the debris, looking for any valuable items that had been saved from the fire with little success. President Kahnlein even came from Viña to help in the cleaning.  We were up in the hills for 3-4 hours until we were instructed to return to the Church due to the growth of the fire in cerro Merced. (Read the next email and it will make more sense) In the end, 26 families of the church lost their homes in the fire. 

   The sisters of the Stake began collecting house supplies (clothes, food, etc) and the ending result was amazing!  The Church turned into a Bishop´s Storehouse! Members who had nothing had tears in their eyes when they saw the donated items.  

   I´m very greatful for the restored truths that we have.

Elder Weidman

My camera just ran out of batteries.  More photos next week.

I´m happy and safe is the main message!

Elder Weidman's Second Email: Fire in Valparaiso

At 4:30 Saturday afternoon, a fire (it is not known how it started) began burning a forest behind the houses that are on the hill La Cruz.  (I´m going to call each hill by it´s name so that it´s easier to describe) Around thirty minutes later the wind carried sparks from the fire to the neighboring hill, Las Cañas.  Trees on Las Cañas began burning as well.  At around 6:30, houses began burning on both hills.  The wind carried to fire to two more hills, El Litre and Merced.  The flames continued burning houses on La Cruz, Las Cañas, and El Litre until Sunday in the early morning.  Houses continued burning in Merced until Monday in the early morning. Around 1,200 houses were burnt (as of last night). Now the fire is completely put out.

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