Monday, November 2, 2015

Rain or Shine

October 26, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

We have heard from some of you out of concern for our dryness and safety after last week’s storm. It turns out there is a story.

Our mission extends north into what was the very outer perimeter of typhoon Lando. The mission home is located nearly at the center of the mission, north to south, and had some pretty serious wind and rain, but nothing very alarming. At 10:30 Sunday evening the zone leaders reported all was well throughout, and the storm was supposed to be dying down, so we were comfortable that yet another typhoon had passed us by without causing too much trouble.

An hour later we had received two phone calls.

The Bayto elders had reported in to their zone leaders and gone to bed, but one of them could not sleep because of the heat. The power had been off for hours, and that means no fans and lots of sweating. As he lay there he noticed a light shining at the apartment window, and surprised, he got up to see what it could possibly be. As he did so he became aware of water on the floor and knew he immediately needed to wake up the others and get out. The usual procedure is to quickly place belongings on counter tops, bunk beds and dressers, then evacuate to the chapel or other close by location at higher ground. Surprisingly, there was not time for such preparation. One got his proselyting bag and the awake elder rushed across the room to get the card with our phone numbers on it. Only one got shoes. The water rose so rapidly and with such force that they were unable to open the front door against the current. In moments it was at their shoulders as they made their escape out the back door into the black wild night, amidst muddy churning waters. They held on as a foursome, lifting their shortest companion up between them so his head would be above the water. Two cars had floated along to form a partial blockade in the alley. Seeing the narrow passage left by the cars was where the water flowed most swiftly, they decided instead to climb up on the high path provided by the hollow block and cement fence nearby. After traversing the fence, praying and holding onto each other the whole way, they climbed onto the roof of a house and then jumped onto the roof of a van, calling and waiting for rescue workers to help them. They were able to grasp a rope and were pulled to safety, then along with others, took refuge in the rooms of a college building nearby. They borrowed a phone and made the urgent call to their mission president, barely communicating their situation before hanging up for others to use the phone.

The second phone call was from the Guisguis Elders. They too were taken somewhat by surprise, but had time to put most of their belongings up before wading out in knee then waist deep waters. As they made their way toward the chapel they remembered an elderly member that they often checked on as part of their daily routine. He is a stroke victim and could barely walk. When they arrived at his house they discovered him standing in waist deep water with no chance of getting out himself. One of these elders is a Samoan, built for the task. He put the tatay (word for father or a middle-aged man) up on his back while his companion held the flashlight to help them find the way. Together they struggled along in the rising, racing current, with the rain, wind and darkest night adding to their trial. The elder carrying the gentleman became barely able to hold onto him. At the moment he thought he may not be able to go any further, a light appeared off to the side of the road. Someone had taken the moment to shine his light out into the pitch dark, and seeing their trouble called and guided them into his also flooded, but safer home. These Elders phoned in to say they were alright and to ask if it was okay if they spent the night at a neighbor’s home rather than the church, since they weren’t able to get that far. We learned later about the rescue of the tatay.

President Dahle gathered up our emergency kit along with blankets, shoes, and anything else that he thought would help, and waking an elder serving in the office nearby to be his temporary companion, sped north straight into the storm.

Now, because we need a break in the suspense and possibly some comic relief, let’s recall that the power was also out at the mission home. As the mission president prepared to leave, his companion was nervously helping in the dark, to gather the items he needed. She did not appreciate the brand new strange, human sounding, eerie whistling that had begun at the back end of the upstairs. Not the wild whistling of raging wind, but an odd scale of minor tones, repeating itself in varying sequence and regularity. Dennis saved me by looking to the corners to try to see where it was coming from so I could face the rest of the night alone in this apparently haunted house! No luck! But, also no ghosts or robbers or sadistic whistling creatures, so that was truly lucky! I was also especially blessed, because my sister who lives across the basketball court, Sister Winters, was awake just in time to see Dennis get into the car and drive away. She then texted all manner of offers to come and be with me, while I cowered behind my locked and barricaded (ok, it was a flimsy desk chair) bedroom door. Her kind and funny texts settled my nerves and all was well at the mission home. I settled in with a hiker’s headlamp strapped to my forehead, my favorite pen and journal.

Daylight and receding waters from tropical storm Lando. 

It was this high!!!
Yes, they tie up their cows here. 
Yes, that is a pig. 
The arrival of the president a few hours later at the scene of shivering muddy missionaries was a great blessing. They sat in the car, warming and waiting for the flood to subside and daylight to come, then went farther north to find the Guisguis Elders and survey damages all around. We enjoyed the company of these six fine missionaries for about three days. After the efforts of many, donations of the elders serving in the office, and an all day shopping trip, we were able to send them back out to the field to begin again that which they came to do. They feel, in both instances, that they were saved by a light. You may ponder, expound and apply this in many ways. We have.

Survivors! First they survived the storm, then they survived an all day shopping excursion.   
Turkey chili and chips after much needed showers!!

Wednesday we welcomed Elder and Sister Haynie who joined us for a two day stay and mission tour, where they taught in two zones conferences, a mission leadership council, and a senior couples dinner. They also encouraged, cheered for and gave kind direction to the mission president and his wife. It was a complete delight and a great blessing! Our experiences tend to the extreme, wouldn’t you say?

Zone conferences with Elder and Sister Haynie. 

Great looking service crew! Storm cleanup in Castillejos. 

 Thank you for your prayers! We need them rain or shine.

Much love,

President and Sister Dahle

Remember Grandma and Grandpa Juco? He is 92 and a recent convert! 
The countdown to a temple sealing is on!!
Tree topper! Filipino resourcefulness turns cardboard and paper into something great. 
The tree is made from styrofoam. 
Sisters Enguito (Imma) and Dela Torre (Michelle) met up for a trip back to the mission. 
It was so great of them to knock on our door!!
It's so fun to see them! When our missionaries get on the bus home we wonder if we will ever see them again. 
Four carts in a row! Bags of rice on the move!
New arrivals just off the bus and heading out for two hours of cti practice. Waiting next to the road in front 
of the mission home. Very soon a jeepney will come along and whisk them away. 
They were ready to get to it!
Six of our new October batch. That first ride to the mission home is a lot of fun. 
October batch and their trainers! So much power in this new group. 
Monday morning basketball guest players. President Dahle invited the Castillejos Elders to join the fun. 

Not exactly an action shot... Elder Albano, (Clint), is on the right. He's another missionary gone
home then come back to say hello. And shoot hoops.