Covenanters Share Experience When Quake Hit

Post a Comment » Written on May 13th, 2008     
Filed under: News
PINGLIANG, CHINA (May 13, 2008) – Dennis and Heather Choate, who work at an English/computer training school here, say they are safe following the earthquake that devastated much of China on Monday.

According to news reports, the quake has killed more than 12,000 people and destroyed 3.5 million homes. The school is several hundred miles from the epicenter but still shook, leading faculty and students to evacuate the building.

Dennis was teaching a class when the quake hit, but did not realize what was happening. The students knew. They initially had trouble communicating the urgency, however.

“Earthquake, Mr. Dennis, earthquake!” the students shouted. “I was in front of the class working on the next stop of a process in class when I thought the students were saying, ‘Right click, Mr. Dennis’ as the solution I needed,” Dennis says.

“I had noticed the teaching desk wobbling, but it is normally a wobbly desk,” Dennis recalls. “Then I felt the floor moving, looked up to see the projector image moving around on the wall and the students pointing at it and saying, “earthquake.”

At that point, he directed the class to join other faculty and students in an “efficient evacuation.” Heather was leading her class, praying, “Keep us safe.”

No one knew the devastation the earthquake was causing elsewhere. “After gathering safely outside, and away from the building, it took a while to learn what had happened,” writes Dennis. “The cell phones were all getting a network error as the whole Pingliang area was trying to find out information at the same time.” Eventually the Choates were able to receive a call from a friend who informed them about the quake.

The faculty and students were able to return to the building briefly and found minor damage: an overhead projector had toppled to the floor from its normal position near the ceiling and brought down some pieces of ceiling tile with it.

“The students returned for evening study hall, but we soon left the building for the night at the recommendation of the vocational school on whose campus we run our school,” Dennis writes. He adds, “The students were already lobbying for extensions to homework that is due tomorrow and next day.

So far, the area has not felt any of the quake’s aftershocks.

Dave and Judy Dolan, regional coordinators for Chinese ministry with Covenant World Mission, say friends and partners have reported no fatalities or injuries.

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