MEXICO CITY, Mexico
The Church is grieving the deaths of several Latter-day Saints during recent quakes in Mexico — even while providing temporal and spiritual support.
Two massive quakes have severely rattled a nation that is home to more than a million members. The first struck southern Mexico on Sept. 7, killing more than 90 people, including three members. The second struck closer to the sprawling capital of Mexico City on Sept. 19, killing more than 220 people.
At press time, the Church was still assessing the impact of the second Mexico quake, but issued a statement Sept. 20 that confirmed that all missionaries in the region had been contacted and were safe. “Mission presidents have been in contact with families to let them know they are well,” the statement reads. “Missionary apartments in several missions sustained damage, including a few that are now uninhabitable. Missionaries are eager to participate in the clean-up efforts and will do so as they are able to safely engage. Several Latter-day Saint chapels were also impacted, and teams are assessing the extent of the damage. We continue to pray for the people of Mexico as they recover from this serious earthquake.”
The Church also issued a statement on Sept. 19.
“We are heartbroken to see the destruction and suffering that is occurring as the result of another serious earthquake in Mexico. At this time, it’s difficult to understand fully the impact, including to Church members and facilities. The missionary training center in Mexico was not damaged, and the missionaries there are safe. ... We pray for their safety and invite others to join us in our prayers for Mexico and its people.”
Meanwhile, Church-sponsored relief efforts continue in southern Mexico, where three members lost their lives. Thousands of homes were damaged, including 284 member homes. Four meetinghouses in the area have been used to provide shelter.
The Church is distributing food, tents, hygiene kits and others provisions to people impacted by the 8.2 magnitude quake in the southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, according to the Mormon Newsroom.
The southern Mexico disaster claimed more than 90 lives, caused food shortages and has left scores without adequate shelter.
Elder Paul B. Pieper, General Authority Seventy and the Mexico Area President, met recently with families affected by the quake, local government officials and also visited Church-supported food distribution points.
The Church sent 10,000 boxes of food, 300 tents and 5,000 hygiene kits to Oaxaca. Another 5,000 food boxes were sent to Chiapas, according to Mormon Newsroom.
“The earthquake gives an opportunity to not only rebuild the city but also rebuild souls,” said Elder Pieper, who has counseled members to “make sure this natural disaster is not a spiritual disaster; make sure it is a spiritual blessing.”
Jorge Toledo said his family was sleeping when the earthquake hit.
“We barely managed to get out,” he said. “We lost everything.”