News Release

One Year On: How are the People of Christchurch Doing?

By Melanie Riwai-Couch

One year on from the 22 February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, children are leaving for school dressed in the provincial colours of red and black. Around the city there will be a two minute silence at 12.51pm in memory of the 185 people who lost their lives a year ago today.

While most people have shown incredible resilience and community spirit, there is still the grief and sadness that comes with sharing a tragic life-changing event. Some still have nightmares, others feel angry, frustrated and tired. But everyone is in it together and tears flow easily as people remember what has been lost, the things that matter most and the change that has been forced upon the city.

In The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ when the people were "suffering all manner of afflictions," the Lord commanded them to "give thanks in all things" (Mosiah 26:38–39). While the earthquakes have impacted each individual and family differently, time has allowed most to identify things that they are thankful for. Gratitude for family members being safe, for people who provided help and assistance because they could, for home and visiting teachers, for priesthood leaders who care, and teachers who kept children safe that fateful day at school until parents could arrive to collect them.

The Prophet Joseph Smith counselled Latter-day Saints: "[We are] to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to provide for the widow, to dry up the tear of the orphan, to comfort the afflicted, whether in this church, or in any other, or in no church at all, wherever [we find] them" (Times and Seasons, 15 March 1842, 732).

As well as Church-specific welfare projects, members have had the opportunity to work shoulder to shoulder with other community organisations and faith groups. Service in many ways has been the pathway for healing, as people have been able to serve others they have gained appreciation for the plight of others, shared testimony and been reminded that "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God" (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 2:17). The Christchurch earthquakes have provided ample opportunities for us to serve each other.

Even forced change can lead to positive changes. The Christchurch Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has undergone a transformation with changes in ward (congregation) boundaries, new leadership, families who have left the city due to earthquake-damaged homes, and families who have moved in because of new employment opportunities. The Christchurch Stake has been visited by loving Church leaders including Latter-day Saint Apostle Elder Quentin L. Cook. Visitors shared their love and concern for the people of Christchurch.

So even today when a year has passed and the people of Christchurch continue to see and feel every day the impact of the 22 February earthquake, we can remember the special teaching and promise offered by the Lord: "Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks; ... and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good" (Doctrine and Covenants 98:1, 3).


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