That’s the only way Pinky could describe her Christchurch, New Zealand, experience.
Pinky is one among hundreds of Australians who got caught in the intesity 6.3 tremor which reduced this beautiful city to a rubble recently.
I last saw Pinky when she visited Manila a few weeks back with her husband Bob (eldest son of my sister Dulce) and son Timothy. Upon reaching Sydney, she and her sister Gina, also a Sydney resident, soon after flew to Christchurch to visit their brother Ron--- confined in a hospital for an emergency operation. He just finished an English course along with other Filipino nurses.
Then it happened. As they were preparing to go back to Sydney, the quake hit. Rushing back to the hospital, the siblings awaited the worst, constantly praying, running towards Ron--- still on his hospital bed, and hugging each other, with every aftershock.
The six-story CTV school which Ron attended was flattened like a deck of cards, with those on the fifth floor scampering off the building as if from its ground floor. Some of those still trapped under enormous piles of concrete and wood and steel are Filipino students who have pinned their hopes on making New Zealand their future home someday.
Search crews have not yet given up. To this day, both local and foreign rescuers continue to dig, bit by tiny bit, making sure that those still alive could be scooped out alive. Australian television continues to report increasing death tolls, more than 140 at this writing, showing a city mourning and mangled to its core; yet hopeful that a rebound is the only way to go from here.
Pinky and Gina were more fortunate. They were back with their families in Sydney in due time, courtesy of Australian army planes. It is comforting to note that in their new-found home, the government prioritized the welfare of its citizens above anything else. They deplaned to a host of doctors and nurses, social workers, blankets, food and water, and loved ones thankful for their miracle.
"People have experienced what is known as a reality rip, where everything we are confident and secure about is suddenly ripped open and unsettled--- it makes us wonder what we can count on," remarked University of Auckland head of sociology Dr Tracey McIntosh. He expects a lot of people to leave New Zealand.
This episode makes you wonder too. Where could one really go when the earth shakes or the torrents come or the blizzards raze with their deathly sting ?
We've had our fair share of earthquakes and super typhoons in the Philippines. Chile, Haiti, Japan, Indonesia, China, U.S.A. These countries have experienced them too, and in increasing numbers. Those once immune from disasters wonder why they're getting hit more often now. Scientists and environmentalists have explained the reasons why: The earth's ring of fire, global warming, etc.
But what about wars and rumors of wars? Local revolts seem the Middle East's daily fare from Algeria to Yemen. Iranian and North Korean nuclear threats have always bedeviled the super powers.
These shouldn't surprise us. Matthew 24 talks of these as the beginning of birth pains just like a woman in labor. Along with these, an increase in lawlessness and famines in many places.
Because of these, Jesus says that the love of many will grow cold. Many too will fear. That's the bad news.
The good news is this: God is still in control and He wants to give comfort to those whose hearts are fainting. "Come to me all of you who are weary and heavy laden, for I will give you rest," says Jesus.
Your life may be bottoming out. Your ground may be shaky. A dreaded disease might be consuming you or your loved one. You may have lost everything because of a disaster or a bad decision. Your life may have long been broken and in the dumps because of some family dysfunction.
But His love assures us: He will protect. He will provide. He will heal. He will restore. He will give you wisdom. He will be your Rock. And on that rock, you can stand secure, no matter the circumstance.
Oh Jesus, thank you that you are my Lord. And Lord of everything in my life, therefore I will not fear anything because you are the Rock of my salvation.