Posted by: calloftheandes | August 22, 2016

First-Person Account: What We Did on Our Summer Vacation

By Ralph Kurtenbach

July 10, Tonsupa, Ecuador

 In the dark—electricity out—we crawled from the living room to a bedroom, glass breaking behind us. Toilet water sloshed as we passed the bathroom, my wife, Kathy, hanging onto my heel and directing me to a bedroom and under a bed.

Ralph Kurtenbach

Ralph Kurtenbach

We squeezed under there and communicated (by phone, iPad) that we were OK, for now. Kathy was telling our kids in the U.S. that we were in Ecuador’s province of Esmeraldas at a beachside condominium owned by friends. We were on the seventh floor.

Under that narrow space of the bunkbed, we prayed. Psalm 46 came to mind—even though the earth be removed and the mountains crumble and fall into the sea. I was wishing I knew more memorized Scripture to pray. (“Help!” is enough for God, but Scripture can help one’s mind and heart attain peace.)

We waited. Would the building tumble down and we go up to heaven? Or would it fall only to find us under rubble hoping to have a dog sniff us and start barking for rescue workers to come?

It did not fall. After a while, we joined others on the tennis courts. We were a safe distance away from buildings and power poles where we waited for 90 minutes.tonsupa3

We returned to the condo where hanging kitchen lamps had clanged together, breaking the glass. Otherwise the place was in pretty good shape. We went to bed and slept. We stayed another couple of days.

Ralph and Kathy Kurtenbach have served as Reach Beyond missionaries in Ecuador since mid-1992.

 The 5.9- and 6.2-magnitude quakes of Sunday, July 10, in Ecuador’s coastal province of Esmeraldas left one person dead and 22 injured. In Pueblo Nuevo, a landslide caused 70-year-old Isasio Zamora—who was walking—to fall into a hole. There was also minor damage to area homes. Tourists left, and the Atacames beach adjacent to Tonsupa was practically abandoned.

A gecko less than two inches long on a repaired corridor wall at the condominium mentioned in the story.

A gecko less than two inches long on a repaired corridor wall at the condominium mentioned in the story.


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