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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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From morning to mourning

Indonesia: 'This is a very bad dream ...'

Adi Arisnadi, 32, was enjoying Sunday morning at home in Ulee Lheue, a village on the outskirts of Banda Aceh, in Aceh, Indonesia. His 4-year-old son was playing on the beach when the earthquake struck. His wife, Melinda, 31, screamed for him to fetch the child, which he did. Then he went to the nearby harbor where he worked to check on any damages. Seeing none, he returned home and ate breakfast.

Counselors from Church World Service, an ELCA partner, try to help victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami come to terms with what has happened. The survivors receive food and emergency supplies from ELCA partner Action by Churches Together International. Photo by Orla Clinton.Busy watching their 9-month-old daughter, his wife asked Arisnadi if he could go buy some goods. When he was a couple of hundred yards from home, he saw people staring toward the sea. The next thing he knew, they were running. That was when he saw the huge, black waves.

Arisnadi tried to get his wife but was trapped by water. Clinging to a coconut tree, he started to pray. "I thought it was the end of the world," he says. "All the dead were floating around me. I prayed my family had been saved but realized there was little chance." He lost them and seven other relatives.

Now Arisnadi sits with a counselor in Blang Cut, one of thousands of shelters for displaced people. The Church World Service therapist gently embraces him. CWS is a partner of the ELCA in Action By Churches Together International.


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September issue

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