Monday, October 9, 2017

Hurricanes and Hope

September 18, 2017

Hello, everyone!  It's been awhile.  Sorry I wasn't able to email last week.  As you probably know, Florida had a big hurricane and it put quite a lot of excitement into our lives.  Here goes:

On Monday the 4th, we had dinner with Sister Thoman and her daughters.  One daughter is less active and the other is very curious to learn more about the gospel.  She had a lot of questions.  The food was delicious and we had a nice visit.  On Wednesday, we were asked to prepare for the hurricane so we did a little last minute food shopping.  We also taught Dustin and were able to get more of a feel for how much he wants to know if God is there.  He feels he needs some big sign.  He came up with his own goal, though!  It was really awesome.  He said he would pray and read the Book of Mormon every day for 7 days and if he got an answer, he would be baptized.  Unfortunately we haven't been able to get in contact with him since.  After that we taught Kiki, Tiffna, Junie, and Falda again and they all said they wanted to be baptized!  We set a date but they're not going to make it with everything that happened with the hurricane and last we heard Kiki is in the hospital.  

Here's where all the fun starts!  On Thursday all of the sisters in our zone were asked to sleep in our apartment and then we would evacuate to the mission office in Tampa the next morning.  So we had 7 sisters in our tiny apartment and then the evacuation was postponed a day.  So we had some crazy exchanges and split up around the area.  On Saturday we headed out.  We were in the church until Monday night.  The storm was at its worst on Sunday night and we really didn't see much of it.  We were sleeping :)  On Monday night when we got back, there were tons of trees and power lines down and a little street by our apartment was flooded.  Our apartment didn't have power.  We were going to just deal with it, but when the night came, it was really dark and we only had one candle and a couple little flashlights.  So...call us wimps, but we ended up staying at the mission home with President and Sister Cooper for 4 nights!  That was really nice.  I really love the Coopers and their house is really nice!

There have been so many cool service opportunities from the storm.  We have been doing service all week, just going out in our jeans and t-shirts.  On Tuesday, we helped an older couple in our ward clear out their banana trees that had been destroyed.  Then we were going to go help at the Bishop's house, but on the way we saw some people cleaning up their yard and offered to help.  They accepted and were very grateful.  Their names are Debbie and Bob, and they said we could come back anytime!  It was cool because their neighbor came out and saw us working and came over to help.  After that, we helped the Hawthorne family clear out their backyard.  The Vickerys, who we had helped with the banana trees, let us come over that night and shower and eat and do some laundry.  They are some of the kindest people!

On Wednesday, President Cooper suggested I stay with Sister Cooper for the day so I could help her and have my last interview with him.  My companions went with the Tampa 2 sisters back to Gibsonia for the day, and I helped sort through leftover hurricane supplies at the mission office.  I had my interview and it went really well.  It was mainly about goals and things to focus on upon returning home.  Sister Cooper and I went home for dinner and I helped her make some delicious tortellini soup and ate it with her and President when he got home.  It was really special to get some one on one time with them and get to know them better.

On Thursday, Hermanas Anderson and Mortensen came with us to Gibsonia because they had been staying at the mission home too because their power was also out.  We saw a yard that had a lot of debris in it and went and knocked on the door but there was no answer.  So we decided to clean it up anyway!  Then a man and his mother saw us working from across the street and came to help.  It was really cool.  That day our power came on, but then went off again.

On Friday, we left the mission home for good because our power was back on.  We went to a church near our apartment and helped pass out food and water to people. That night we went to a fall wreath making activity that the Relief Society president had put together.  On Saturday we helped clean up the church in the morning but I wasn't feeling well so we got some herbal tea and headed home.  I slept for a long time.  I'm still sick, but I think it's just a nasty cold.

Well, that's about it!  It has probably been the craziest 2 weeks of my life.  I think I have whiplash from the roller coaster, haha.  But it has been good.  We couldn't know joy without knowing adversity, and Jesus Christ has suffered all and can strengthen us through all of our trials.  That is how we can have hope.

Pictures!
1. Boarding up windows at the Lewises
2. We stacked all our mattresses and put the bikes in the kitchen.  Everything was away from the windows and put up high.  We were prepared!
3. Lakeland sisters represent!
4. Heading out to Tampa!
5 and 6. All the missionaries in the shelter
7. Sister Robertson and I
8. Getting a taste of Irma
9. Banana tree debris at the Vickerys
10. Huge pile at the Hawthornes
11. Us with the Hermanas at the Coopers
12 and 13. Sunday selfies 














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