"We were there just less than five days ago," she said from her office at World Relief, Moline, where she's the director. "And now it's flattened. I can't even understand."
Specifically, she was looking at a photo of several Buddhist temples, one leveled, in a community just outside Nepal's capital Kathmandu.
She could have been describing the entire Asian country nestled in the Himalayan Mountains, which was rocked Saturday by a massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed thousands.
Rowell was there last week on a mission trip with her church, Heritage Wesleyan, Rock Island. She and her group left Nepal just days before the earthquake, although she waits on word about friends living there.
"Thank God no one we know of that I'm friends with has been killed, though there's still at least one family I'm waiting to hear about," she said.
As the number of casualties continues to increase, the extent of destruction in the rural areas remains unclear.
"A man sent me a picture of his village, and it's totally flattened," Rowell said. "These villages, we haven't even heard from them yet. I'm hearing that kids are out sleeping on the grass because the tremors haven't stopped. It's still really dangerous."
One purpose of her 10-day trip was to offer support to an orphanage in Bhaktapur in central Nepal. She said the earthquake is only going to make the problem of orphaned children substantially worse than it already is.
"Orphans in Nepal is a huge issue," Rowell said. "Child trafficking is so prominent there. It's extremely dangerous and scary for children. The trafficking is a nightmare
World Relief, which helps refugees relocate and settle in new areas, is not directly involved with relief efforts in Nepal but is supporting organizations on the ground, Rowell said. Those affected by natural disasters do not fall under the definition of a refugee, so Rowell said she does not anticipate the earthquake alone will create a refugee crisis in Nepal.
Rowell has traveled to Nepal four times. She's fallen in love with the country, the culture and the people.
"Yesterday, I cried a lot," she said. "I was thinking about friends, who I consider family now. I pray for their safety. I was thinking about the guard at the hotel where I stayed and the waiters who served me at a local restaurant. I wonder where they are, where their families are. I'm really concerned for them."