A family in Sandy, Utah is concerned about the safety of their son, Elder Christopher Morgan, who has already been beaten up once by some Chilean residents who believe a conspiracy theory originally propagated in January by Venezuela's socialist dictator Hugo Chavez that the United States deliberately triggered the earthquake in Haiti, and plans to trigger more earthquakes. Elder Morgan is now staying with a Chilean family who brought him in for his safety, and LDS missionaries have been told to not identify themselves as Americans or wear missionary name tags. KSL news video embedded below:
More details of this have been posted on the Morgan Family blog, which also includes an appeal for personal relief kits. Here's an excerpt from this post:
...He mentioned that all male missionaries have been instructed by the mission president of Concepcion South to: grow out their facial hair, wear grubby clothes, let their hair grow and to stop wearing their tags in the area because of all the racial profiling that is going on. Looting and fire wars are becoming more and more rampant. He mentioned that a group in Chile believes that we caused the earthquake there and in Haiti with a big machine here in the US. The missionaries are also carrying heavy pipes and in extreme cases machetes to protect themselves when they go out. It is complete and utter kayos [chaos]; all the buildings that were salvageable after the earthquakes are now all burnt from all the looters and criminals.
The following silent YouTube video shows the destruction:
You can also visit Christopher Morgan's own blog HERE, which includes a link to a short interview Morgan had on Good Morning America on March 1st.
KSL spoke to LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter, who says the stories the Morgan family are hearing are possible, but from everything he's heard conditions are just the opposite: missionaries are safe, and helping in recovery efforts. Another LDS missionary in Chile confirms that, saying the earthquake hit them "pretty bad," but the recovery work is well underway. So Elder Morgan just happens to be assigned to a "bad" area.
Elder Jeffrey Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve also weighed in on the earthquake. Since he presided over the Chile Area of the LDS Church from August 15, 2002 - August 15, 2004, and lived in Santiago, he is more personally attached than the other apostles. Elder Holland said, in part: "I got the first indication of the earthquake on CNN and then received e-mails on my iPhone. I was greatly alarmed. Virtually every community they mentioned was a community I knew and had been in. It made me think of our people, our chapels, our missionaries, our friends. I could see faces and think of names all over the land, so it was a very emotional thing for me not knowing how they were all doing".
LDS Church leaders in Chile delivered six tons of food from local bishops' storehouses to the city of Talca on 2 March to help meet needs in several cities north of Concepción. A second shipment of 20 tons of food is expected to reach Concepción on 3 March. Two additional shipments of food have been sent to affected areas to the south of Concepción.