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Duluth man travels to earthquake-stricken Indonesia to see wife, offer help

Hendrickson has a special connection to Lombok, an island part of the massive Indonesian archipelago. His wife lives there. After learning of earthquake tremors on Friday, he set up a tracker on his phone to notify him of any other tectonic movement.

It went off at 5:45 a.m. Sunday.

“They say it’s all finished,” said Hendrickson. “‘It’s broken.’ That’s the Indonesian translation.”

Hendrickson met his wife, Juni Wati, when he was traveling abroad three years ago. They stayed in touch after he left. They started communicating regularly two years ago before getting married last year, and just celebrated their one year anniversary a few weeks ago.

“Her and I talk religiously twice a day by video call,” he said. “Every single day for the last two years. So, if I don’t talk to her for 18 hours, there’s something wrong.”

Hendrickson spent much of Sunday and Monday trying to learn what had happened. When she reconnected with him over the phone, he said she looked distressed and traumatized.

“She basically told me in the second conversation we had, ‘You have to come, I think I’m going to die here.'” he said. “She was just that stressed and that shocked.”

While he’s been in touch with government officials over in the area, he’s also been readying himself to revisit Lombok. Along with the thousands of dollars he’s withdrawn to finance repairs, he’s also set up a PayPal Gofundme campaign and purchased traveling supplies.

Hendrickson left Wednesday. He plans to meet up with a friend who usually helps transport him to the village where his wife lives when he visits.

“We’re going to load up the car and buy however much food and water we can fit into the car and see how far we can get up the road,” he said.

Indonesia sits on the “Ring of Fire,” an area of the Pacific frequented by earthquakes and the ensuing tsunamis. Late Sunday night, the island of Lombok found itself at the epicenter of a 6.9 magnitude earthquake, which killed 319 people.

Reported by CNN, an estimated 20,000 people have been displaced. As tourists are evacuated from the island, many of its inhabitants will focus on rebuilding. Hendrickson‘s wife lives in one of the hardest hit locations on the island — a small village called Lading-Lading.

“The first people cared for and priority is getting the tourists off the island,” said Hendrickson. “The people that are in the little village everyday to survive have nothing.”

Hendrickson is 56 years old and has worked for Cirrus Aircraft for 13 years. Because of his 70-hour work weeks, he considers himself a non-typical employee. But it’s because of his erratic work schedule he can periodically travel to Lombok. This time around, his return flight is scheduled a month from now.

“I told my sister when she asked me ‘what are you going to do?'” he said. “‘Are you going to bring her (Hendrickson‘s wife) back?’ Well, she’s not a U.S. citizen. She has no desire to come back. She likes her home. My plan was to build a house with her and retire there.”

Those building supplies are still waiting to be used. However, due to recent circumstances, Hendrickson said about 90 percent of the materials will probably go to repairing other people’s houses that were damaged in the quake.

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