The below is an unedited email sent by Heather Martin, a Union Univeristy student who was trapped in her dorm room bathroom after a devastating tornado wreaked havoc on Union University's campus. I know it is long, but it is worth the read and encouraging.
How lucky we were...Our God is truly awesome!This amazing testimony is from Heather Martin. She was at Union University the night of the tornado (2/5/08). She is from Erin, TN and was a homeschooled student. Praise God the students are all safe!Well, most of you have probably heard by now, my school, Union University was hit by an F4 tornado this past Tuesday night (Feb. 5, 2008). Thanks for all the calls and messages. I will try to talk to you all as time and my emotional state allows. I don't know what reports you have read, but I was one of the 15 students who got trapped in the wreckage. I was in my dorm room with one of my roommates (Kellie), the 3 girls from upstairs, and my mentor from church. About 2 minutes before the tornado hit, my other roommate (who is an RA) ran in and told us to get in the bathtub. We barely made it. Our ears popped, my mentor (Julie) looked at me and said, "We have to get in, NOW!" -- then the lights went off. I was the last one in. My legs didn't quite make it before the building collapsed on us. I have not yet found words to describe the actual tornado, the noises, and the pressure. Maybe one day I will. We felt our bodies being compressed and compressed, and then it stopped. I couldn't move. We made sure everyone in the tub was alive. It felt like we were miles from outside -- it was pitch black. My initial thought was, "this is where I'm going to die -- there is no way the rescuers will get to us in time". Then, I assessed my physical state. My body was twisted and contorted into a position that I plan on never attempting again...I think God placed me in there just so, because I don't know how else I could have fit. I had a pocket of air against Julie's legs. I couldn't feel my legs because they were pinned between the edge of the tub and all the debris on top of us. I thought through what my death was going to be like. I realized I was probably going to pass out first, and then I would be with Jesus. I've always wondered what my "last thoughts" would be. As one who has struggled in the past with doubts about salvation, I have always wondered what my last moments would be like. All I can say is, God was there. I knew He had me. And I knew He was either going to save me unto Himself or He was going to save me for a little more time here. I began to pray aloud, I prayed for peace, for the ability to trust Him. I started accounting for everyone who was in the tub. At that point I realized that someone under me was near the point of death (from her breathing). Then, I called out Julie's name and realized it was her. My heart sunk at that point. I didn't think my heart could bear losing another friend. I started praying for her out loud, telling her to keep breathing, God was with her. I was so afraid she was going to die underneath me. I think I even asked God to take me if He took her. Every time I moved, she either couldn't breathe or she had excruciating pain. I tried to stay as still and calm as I could. I know God was managing my thoughts for me at that t point t. I could NOT panic...and by His grace, I didn't. I found out later we were trapped for 45 minutes. One of the other girls in the tub had her cellphone and was actually able to call 911. I honestly only felt like I was in there for 10-15 minutes. I don't know if I ever lost consciousness or if God just allowed it to seem shorter. I was told later the rescuers had to use a backhoe to remove the initial debris. None of us remember that -- again, that was by God's grace. We would have been terrified had we heard that. When the rescuers started digging us out, it was terrifying. Julie's neck was exposed in such a way that one wrong move and it would have snapped...she was still having lots of trouble breathing. At one point, the rescuers could see my face and I was screaming out to them...telling them I was not panicking but there was a girl under me and I could not move or she would die, and that they needed to lift the debris a and not slide it. Once they broke through to us, they got everyone out in about 10-15 minutes. I was the last because my legs were stuck and I couldn't feel them or move them. Julie and I ended up needing to go to the hospital. But neither of us had to stay overnight. It was a night of chaos. And yet, God was in the midst of us. We were buried in a tangled mess of wreckage and yet He knew how each board, each piece of brick and rubble was placed. For example, right next to my legs was a 2x4...it ended up keeping just enough pressure off my legs so that I did not lose them. I haven't gotten all my feeling back, but I'm walking around. I know I have mentioned God a whole lot throughout this note. I know many of you who are reading this do not know Him and may think I'm a bit odd. But it comes down to this, there is NO other explanation as to why I am alive today other than, God had His hand over us. He kept just enough pressure off. He didn't let me panic. Was I scared?? Yes -- terrified at first. But at one point, my friend Kellie said "Heather, it's gonna be okay". And a sense of peace came around us. I know God was with us that entire time. And He did give me a sense of peace -- it kept me from panicking, it all owed me to speak up for Julie when the rescue started. My life has been a little screwy recently. I've struggled with trusting God. I've struggled accepting the fact that He loves me unconditionally. But God was with me. He showed me how to trust Him in the rubble -- in the chaos. I know I have some long days ahead. There are sounds stored in my memory that I'm not aware of until I hear them again. I freak out at some very random times and I'm not sure what all the triggers are. But this is what I'm holding onto -- God is not finished with me yet. He still has a purpose for me here on earth a little while longer. And the One who sustained me through the nightmare of Tuesday night will continue to sustain me, to love me unconditionally, to comfort me, and to hold me when I'm scared. And knowing that is what allowed me to get out of bed this morning. He is a good God. If you don't know Him, you need to. He loves you. He wants to know you intimately, and He wants you to know Him intimately. Like I said earlier, I want to talk to each of you. I am quite fragile emotionally -- so it may be a while. I'm at home -- have some fabulous painkillers -- will probably not have to take them except for at nighttime today. So, my body is healing. Just feels like a building collapsed on it...:) I love each of you. I do not have a new cell phone yet. I will post my number when I get one.