For those of you who do not know, my parents are on a mission for our church in India. They were in Sri Lanka last week when the following happened. The link is a video of part of what happened and the story below was written by my dad.
This is Ted's story of what happened in Sri Lanka Friday night. I found it was pretty much what I remembered so we'll go with his version:
Here it goes:
The area president and mission president have asked us to not make more of this than it was. So here is the blow by blow account without any embellishment. It may not be in the exact order in which it occurred however it is to the best of my memory. As you know we went to Colombo, Sri Lanka for a couples convention on Monday February 16th. We had a wonderful time and I will write about that part of it later. You may have heard that there has been a war going on in Sri Lanka for several years. One of the factions call themselves the Tamil Tigers. Friday night, about 9:15, we had just returned to our room in the Hilton Hotel, from having dinner with some of the couples in a quiet little outdoor Italian restaurant. We heard a big siren blaring away but thought nothing of it because in Hyderabad the Hindu's sound a siren announcing whatever. This was an air raid siren but we didn't know that. Then the lights went out. Again nothing so unusual for this part of the world. I walked to the window and saw many huge search lights sweeping all over the sky. I told Shona that if I didn't know better I would think that they were looking for hostile air craft. In fact I said "In coming In coming" and she laughed. Then the anti aircraft guns opened up and about that same time the fifty caliber machine guns opened up and the night sky was ablaze with tracer rounds being sprayed all over the sky. I told Sister Kasper that we needed to get down from the 11th floor. I couldn't get her to get on the elevator. We walked down the hall to the other side of the hotel and looked out. It looked just like it did from our window. About then the emergency power kicked on. We went back to our room with the lights still out in our room and looked out just in time to hear, see and feel a bomb to go off quite close to the hotel. I said, "Now will you go downstairs?" She said, "If we are getting invaded they may be down there." I said, "They are shooting into the air so it's airplanes not ground troops." She wanted to check on the other couples on our floor. So we went to one room (the Asplunds) and they opened the door and looked very apprehensive. I told them we needed to get off the eleventh floor. As we were discussing it they came on the overhead speakers throughout the building and told everyone to turn of the lights in their room and get downstairs. (Now she will get on the elevator.) They assembled us in the ballroom which is below ground level and is concrete walls and ceiling. Probably as safe as any. They began distributing water and soda pop to everyone. They told people to stay calm; which everyone seemed to be quite calm over the whole thing. We started gathering all of the other couples into one place to make sure we had everyone. Everyone was very animated. Then they started handing out flashlights in case we lost the emergency power. We couldn't hear the gun fire from down there, so we couldn't tell what was happening. One of the hotel staff, I assume he was a major manager of some kind, was yelling at everyone telling them what was going on. After about an hour and a half he announced that at least one of the planes had been shot down and the pilot killed. Also that the all clear was about to be given but could we please wait about ten more minutes. The mission President had told us that the Tigers only had a few small Cessna type aircraft and they flew in and hand delivered the bombs out the window. All is well that ends well. The damage was minimal to the government building that was hit. We saw blown out windows the next day on the way to the airport. The news reported two other deaths and 40 people injured. We were very blessed..... the one bomb landed about a block from our hotel. There was some humor in this story. One of our couples was in the swimming pool about a block away from the main part of the hotel. When the shooting started they crawled out of the pool and under a table to wait out the fireworks. Evidently their was anti aircraft guns on a train car right next to the swimming pool. They came into the hotel not long after we got to the bottom of the Hilton. Shona was trying to take pictures. President put his arm out and said "Who do you think you are. My goodness the Paparazzi is here...(or how ever you spell that word) He was protecting their rights as missionaries.....We had a good laugh over that.Elder Mills was also missing. He and Sister Mills serve in Sri Lanka. Elder Wood was sick with "Motions" and the district president of Sri Lanka had recommended a prescription for him. Elder Mills went out to get the prescription just before the excitement started. When we met downstairs, President Nichols called him on his cell. (Lucky he was the one who went because he was the only missionary with a cell that worked.) He said he was hunkered down somewhere out there and would try to work his way back to the hotel. When he arrived he got a standing ovation of applause. We were all so happy to see him.When we finally got back to our room we listened to the news and found out the airport had been a main target so they were closing the airport down. Incoming and outgoing. So we weren't sure we would be leaving Sri Lanka. The next morning we did make it to the airport and there were several extra security check points. When we finally got to the ticket counter, the young man who served us said that he had been there all night. They didn't allow any employees to come or to go....They were trying to keep things tight. He said he watched the enemy aircraft come in and he watched it get shot down. He was very tired after such a strained evening of events.
It certainly was an exciting way to end our conference.That's our story and we're sticking to it.
We are happy to report we are back in Hyderabad......We said for the first time "We sure are glad to be Home." I don't think we've called Hyderabad home ever.......That lets you know where are comfort level lies.
Mom and Dad
Colombo A...jpg This is a newspaper clipping of what was going on. My parents were in this room somewhere.