Missionary Story: Elder Michael Ellsworth(Serving in Izumi-from Las Vegas NV)
We were in the middle of a companion exchange and my companion was in the middle of writing down the changes and the room started shaking horizontally. We looked at each other and I thought this is going to be kind of interesting. It started getting a little worse and the pictures started shaking left and right. We wondered what was going on. It shook even more and we heard a crash and we both dove under a desk. My companion yelled “Inori!” (“Pray!”)
Everything started crashing. The sink crashed and fell. The refrigerator crashed down and food fell out everywhere. My companion yelled again, “pray, pray!” The earthquake kept shaking for a few minutes and I just remember in those few minutes some really horrifying thoughts. I was honestly thinking that it was the end of me, that life was going to end right there. The earthquake kept happening but I found that I had time to think while believing that I was going to die. In that moment, I thought, “I could have gotten married and could have had kids. This is pretty sad.”
I was waiting for it all to end and thinking that it was my time to die and the earthquake stopped. I jumped up and grabbed my pack-back and we raced out of the apartment. The stairs cracked in half as we were running down the apartment stairs. In the street all the construction workers were looking shocked and disbelieving. No one was talking but everyone was staring at everybody else.
Everyone seemed really humbled by the quake. I still had the feeling that we were going to die. To my left a huge granite statue had fallen and broken into pieces all over the road. We could not have moved these huge pieces. It was shocking to see the statue broken in the road. Big buildings had their windows smashed out. We were wondering whether the Sister missionaries were okay. We decided to go to the church to see what had happened.
As we were walking to the church, I saw the weirdest thing. There was a cat showing the weirdest behavior that I had ever seen in an animal before. It looked savage and in a rabid state. It was completely broken down to its animal behavior. It had lost all of its domestication. I felt the same way as the cat. We felt like we had been broken down in all of our feelings. The only thing left was to survive. There were old grandmothers on the side of the road crying. They were hysterical. We tried to help but they were hysterical and did not want help. We felt in a crazy state of mind and did not know how helpful we could be anyway. On the way to the church there were kids running through the streets and there were power lines hanging down everywhere. You never see power lines hanging down… Again there was the feeling, of “Can you believe this is happening!?” It was very surreal like being in a movie that you were thrown into but really did not have a part in.
We got to the church and hoped that the Sisters would be there . They ended up showing up about three or four minutes later. We stayed there a little bit later and then the weirdest thing started happening. A snow storm suddenly started. It was freezing outside and I was regretting the decision not to bring a jacket with me.
I went back to the apartment to get a jacket. While we were returning back to the apartment, there were still tremors going on. They were pretty big but small in comparison to the first one. My companion waited outside and I went in and grabbed my jacket and my wallet and we headed back to the church.
This is completely a miracle what happens here. We had a baptism date with a Chinese gentlemen (Leonardo Ruyao) for the Sunday. I am walking along wondering if he is okay. The craziest thing happens. On our way back, we saw him in the midst of this huge catastrophe. He had been posting pamphlets for his job and we happened to see him on the little road going to the church. Of all the places he could be, he was working there. We asked him if he was okay. “Man, are you okay?” We invited him to come over to the church with us. He said,” I am going to finish up and then I will come over to the church.” The Sisters had managed to get a little bit of food and it was some kind of fruit, an orange I believe. So after this, I came into the church-Oh did I tell you his name was Leonardo? - and we came in and talked to him. Are you safe? He said he was good and that he wanted to talk to his parents. He said he was going back to his apartment. That is the last time I saw him. We found out after we got to Sapporo that he had left Japan and gone back to China.
At random times we went to get food and water from the apartment. We tried to get everything we could from the apartment and took it to the church. We slept at the church and it was freezing because it snowed the whole time.
At one point we went to get water and the line was three miles long. As we joined the line, the line broke off into ten lines and we thought that we would never be able to get any water. Just then we got a call to go to Kamisugi, and on our way we met people who were coming to find us. It was Elder and Sister Phillips."