Thursday, November 28, 2013

Manila - Safety

Missionary Madi prior to leaving for her Mission in the Philippines. Love this girl!
Missionary Madi is thankful for all of the love and support that she received while in Cebu. But now it is time to board the flight from Cebu to Manila to meet up with the rest of her Philippines Tacloban Mission Sisters, Elders and her Mission President, President Andaya. At this point even though the missionaries have had some nurturing from the temple missionaries at the Cebu Mission Home they are anxious to be reunited with their peers. They are still feeling awkward being separated from their president and have been relying on and following the guidance of their Heavenly Father.
Once they arrive in Manila they will be assigned to a new mission. 
Missionary Madi and Sister Dumas are THANKFUL to have each other! Utah Sisters.
Sister Adasme & Sister Sousa are boarding the plane in front of them. Four Sisters for Life!
Once they arrived in Manila Missionary Madi was overcome with emotion to be reunited with those that they had been separated from. The separation was not only physical but the fact that they could not communicate via cell/phone/internet to gain guidance as to what they should do added additional stress to an already stressful situation. They had been operating on pure adrenaline for days. Due to the lack of contact with their leaders they were making decisions and moving forward in high speed survival mode. While in Cebu we were able to Skype with Missionary Madi and she joked with us saying "Hell-o  Everyone.....I am alive, I survived Yolanda! Cause I am a survivor, I'm a warrior. Just kidding it wasn't that bad were all fine here, we are here in Cebu right now......." Reaching Manila only intensified the reality that she indeed had SURVIVED YOLANDA! Safety now surrounding them, they were able to let down their guard and slowly the feelings of fear and thankfulness for the miracle of their survival and ability to reach their destination safely came flooding to the surface. Learning what others had endured brought on a new challenge of overwhelming emotions. Missionary Madi realized that she had been blessed to have been spared from the trials that others had to endure. At this point she truly no longer mentioned anything that had happened to her personally and all of her thoughts went to those other missionaries who were struggling physically and emotionally to deal with the aftermath of Yolanda. She pleaded that we pray for them and of course her people - the Filipino family that she had to leave behind in Ormoc, Matalom and all of Leyte.
The Philippines Tacloban Mission has been closed due to the magnitude of devastation in the area.

Melt Down after the journey!


My girls! Thankful they are warriors, survivors and in tune with their savior!
November 15, 2013
OK dudes
I am overcome with emotion and that is prolly the only time that you will ever hear/read me say that. I am so good I promise but I am emotionally and physically so tired. the tears haven't stopped since I arrived here in Manila this morning.when I saw the other missionaries and all the people who were so excited to see us and how relieved everyone was I broke down. I have never felt so loved by people in my life and I know you all love and care about me over here.  I was so blessed by how much the storm did not effect me. I was hit second hardest in the mission but it is nothing compared to what Tacloban went through. The sisters there had to escape from their house from the flood and huddle up on the roof for hours until rescue came. All of us 204 missionaries are living and well and that in itself is a huge miracle. There are areas where 90% of the people in the area were killed and the fact that the missionaries were able to survive was insane. They have seen terrible things there are tons of missionaries here who literally have 1 outfit now the literal clothes on their backs. I am overwhelmed with feelings of gratefulness for the miracles that I have been able to witness. I would never wish the things that have happened to me on anyone ever but I would never take them back. I want you guys to recognize that I was so lucky through all of this and that all these missionaries here and people still need your help and prayers. If you want to help you can put money on my card or you can donate through the church and just Tacloban Philippines on your tithing slip thing. Please continue to pray and fast for the people here and know that I am great :)
I will be reassigned to a new mission this coming week somewhere here in Phili so on Monday I will be in my new mission. I will still and forever will be a Philippines Tacloban missionary :) My testimony has grown so much through this experience. Heavenly Father loves us and he has a plan for us. There are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason. I don't know why I am here or why anyone of us had to go through this but I know that it will change my life forever. my testimony of the atonement of Jesus Christ and the pain that he felt for all us. All of our sorrows and afflictions he willingly bore and I am choosing at this time to follow whatever gods will is for me. I will willingly accept whatever he has in store for me at this time and for the rest of my life. I know that this church is gods church and that it is the only true church in the world. Never forget what Heavenly Father can do for you and that he is so aware of all of us. Please keep these people in your prayers and know that I am awesome!
I know that your prayers can change the world and help these people. I know that all these things are true and I say these things in the name of our savior Jesus Christ, amen.
Your Missionary Madi
Always a Tacloban Philippines sister missionary

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Boat Ride to Cebu

Missionary Madi was able to Skype with us once she reached the mission home in Cebu. Her and approximately 60 plus missionaries had no contact from any of their leaders. The Elders and Sisters made the decision that they needed to get to Cebu. They pooled their funds, gathered their belongings, boarded a Jeepnee and headed for the Ormoc port and took a boat to Cebu. Missionary Madi was overwhelmed for all that happened after their arrival in Cebu. She said she was in culture shock as there was not any damage in Cebu. She had become so accustomed to the devastation that surrounded them in Ormoc that it was strange and felt like she was in a dream to be in Cebu and there not be any damage. What I admire most about all of these events is that the missionaries all made the best of a tragic situation.

Missionary Madi states that when they got to the Cebu Mission Home all of the senior missionaries were so good to them. The senior sister missionaries had baked them chocolate chip cookies, Snickerdoodle cookies and brownies. Missionary Madi stated that she was eating them and had tears running down her cheeks as she thought they were the best things she had ever tasted. The missionaries were exhausted, hungry and elated all at the same time.

The senior missionaries (the ones we spoke to Elder & Sister McDonald from Heber, Utah were on a Temple Mission serving in the Cebu Temple as ordinance workers) upon learning of the arrival of all of these missionaries prepared a room with tables laid out with their personal phones, laptop computers and allowed the missionaries to contact their families in any method they choose via Phone, E-Mail & Skype. Let me tell you as a parent I love each one of them for there generosity. Our children needed that communication desperately. They were all still in survival mode. We know for sure that Missionary Madi did not sleep that night. She told us "Sleep is for the weak!"
Twin Sister Love

The plan was that the missionaries would be fed and be allowed to shower and sleep in Cebu. The following morning they were to board a plane headed for Manila to meet up with other missionaries from the Tacloban Philippines Mission. There they would find out where they would serve the rest of their missions. They would also receive medical and emotional support.
I AM ALIVE AND WELL PEOPLE!! I love you all so much and I am so thankful for your prayers. please continue to pray for those here in Phili. I am in Cebu now and headed to Manila in the a.m. but  I am safe and sound but all my fam dam there in Tacloban is still suffering so please pray for them always. I will keep you all updated on my crazy adventure. LOVE YOU ALL!!
Cebu Temple

Saturday, November 23, 2013


So Relieved right now. I have spoken with Missionary Madi. We spoke on the phone for over two hours. I will try to capture the details (as there are a lot). Forgive me if it is a little crazy. She got to speak to her Dad and to her favorite twin sister. It was super early and I told her KK is in bed. She was like I do not care. Take her the phone. :)

Kara recieved a text at 4:25 AM (not sure why I did not get the text) this is what it said:
#1. She is safe and happy somewhat traumatized as she states they cannot sleep and are anxious. There has been lots of laughter and coping going on for all four sisters who are all happy, healthy and in good spirits. She wants Kara to know that it gets cold there at night and she sleeps with the blanket she sent her every night.
#2. They actually stayed in their apartment during this storm. Luckily one of the elders is from Hawaii and apparently a little bit of a rule breaker and his parents text him and told him the storm was going to bad and to follow directions and be careful. As they had not been given much direction in the way of warnings other than this communication. The sister missionaries were given instructions to go to town and get water, flashlights, rope and life jackets. They knew they could not work because of the storm so they bought Nutella, crafts and stationary. The Elders checked in to see if they had got their safety supplies they told them "No" so they were instructed to go again. This time they got flashlights and some clothing. The roof of the sisters apartment blew off and they were able to move in next door to another apartment. Once the roof blew off lots of water got into the house and into some of their things. Madi said they were upstairs and decided that they should go downstairs. She was sitting on the stairs and said she started feeling water. Water was flowing down her steps like a waterfall. The storm started at about 5:00 am and lasted about 4 hours. She said they knew right when the eye of the storm was over them. She said when it hit the hardest they all cried and were scared. They sang hymns and prayed to calm themselves.
Totally Normal to try to shower in the water cascading into the apartment once your roof blows off.
Big surprise when the roof above the bathroom blows off.
The sisters were able to move into a vacant apartment next door that did not sustain any damage in the storm. Daily the sisters would walk to the church which was about a half mile to a mile away. There they would meet with the other missionaries from their area as they all made their way to the church and used it as a meeting place. They had limited water so they did not venture far.
#3. On Sunday night they had little to no cell signal reception so it was difficult to get cell calls. The way that the phones work in Phili is that they go to a store and they pay to load the phones with minutes much like a prepaid cell phone here in the USA. Missionary Madi stated that she did not know where or if there were any stores left that she could go to or pay to load the phone. When they called the night before and quickly told me to try to call back the number they dialed us on it was because they did not have minutes or load left on the cell phone. The cell phones can have all the incoming calls they want but out going calls must be paid for. Missionary Madi says that they feel it was a miracle that they had enough minutes to get a call and then message to us. Cell signal reception is up again today and stronger.
#4. I was given several sisters and elders parents numbers to call including a woman from Cache Valley Sister Monica Baker who until I called her ten minutes ago did not know the safety of her son who only has ten days left to serve in the Philippines. All of the sisters were speaking to their moms by the time we were done. Crazy. The sisters were so worried about their families being worried about them and thinking they were dead. So they were totally comforted to know that we knew they were fine. She seriously said " Our parents straight up think we are dead." We have got to let them know we are fine so they won't worry. This is a picture of down town Ormoc where the missionaries stayed for a few days taken by Elder Joseph Baker.
 #5. Missionary Madi said "Yeah! You know how they always say the church is protected. Not True." However I think somewhat true. The vast majority of the church was destroyed however the chapel and several class rooms around it are still intact and people are living in the class rooms. Missionary Madi commented later that it is sad as the Filipino people living in these classrooms are living better now than they have ever in their lives. These people have so little.
Hallway in the church
 #6. The devastation is alarming. The sisters are taking it in stride but it is unbelievable. They still have no concept of the magnitude of all of the damage to Leyte. However they have been told a little bit from the locals of them fishing bodies out of the water in Tacloban. She says that in Ormoc everything is destroyed. If the house was made of wood it is gone. If the house was made of concrete the roof is gone and just the concrete part remains.
Flooding in their back yard

#7. The mission presidents home had flooding.
#8. The mayor of Ormoc who is a butcher and loves the sisters brought them two chickens. They thought it was so nice but they do not know how to cook them. So the neighbors told them they would cook them for them. If they would share one with them for cooking for the sisters. The neighbors started fires after the storm and did a lot of cooking for the sister missionaries.
#9. They are waiting in Ormoc until the other missionaries arrive and then they will travel by boat to Cebu. In Cebu they will find out where they are reassigned to. Many of the missionaries are traveling by foot or motorcycle and have had to travel from 5 hours away. The sister missionaries did not have any contact with any members of their zone for a few days.
#10. The people who have become their family are so sad that they are leaving. They do not cry but they get tears in their eyes and are sad.
#11. The people immediately started rebuilding their homes. She said she has not heard one negative thing from any of the people. This is actually really cute. She says they all smile and say "Good morning" to Madi and the sisters as they walk through the area. She says that they tell her "Sister we are all equal now. There is no rich, there is no poor, no one has jobs, no one has food, we all have nothing." She also says they are all just thankful to be alive and that their families are alive. She says they are incredible people. They were out doing their laundry the next day and working to rebuild their humble lives.
#12. She has bathed in the ocean. This has been an highlight for her. She must have told me 5 times. Mom I showered in the ocean.

 #13. They are in a weird state as they are not being structured missionaries right now. They keep asking should we get up at 6:00? Should we do personal study? Top of her list of weird they are not wearing their skirts.
#14. They had church yesterday. She said they had more people attend than ever. She of course added with a laugh. Because they are living here and have no where to go. She said it was really an awesome and special experience.
#15. During the storm at one point before the eye reached them. They went outside and asked their neighbors if the storm was over and they told them no. Go back in your house.
#16. She says it looks like fall here. Which is weird because they do not have fall and it is usually green and beautiful. But all of the leaves have been ripped off of the trees. She says she has pictures of the biggest trees you have ever seen uprooted and ripped from the ground.
#17. She was speaking in Cebuano like it was her job.
#18. They have been told it will take years to rebuild this area. They will not return to the island of Leyte.
 #19. They were told that the storm was worse than Katrina so the missionaries have an a little understanding of the aftermath from the storm.

#20. Tuesday before the storm they got mail. Sister Dumas got a package from her mom with trail mix, almonds and protein bars etc. She said they could have lived on the contents of that package for a long time. She also got a letter from Teronda and her sister Kara (pics of Pete's first day of preschool). Love it.
#21. All of the sisters have written in their journals for hours a day of what they have been through. When they get to Cebu and have the ability to copy the pages. They are going to copy each others pages so they will never forget this experience.
#22. Missionary Madi knows why her and her companion were not separated at the last transfer like they should have been. These four sisters all needed to be together in this situation. They have been each others strength. They feel like all of their individual personalities contributed to their safety and resolve.

#23. There were tons of kids laughing and playing around the missionaries. They had Madi's camera and had taken like 400 pictures. She kept chiding them in Cebuano. Telling them not to drop it and to be careful. She said they were posing and having too much fun. Lucky Marv I think there is going to be another camera purchase in the future.

#24. I am thankful that I could call other moms and let them know that their sons are safe and sound. The lack of knowledge of their circumstances is mind boggling. Some of the missionaries were told to prepare for 3 days. She had one sister missionary from a different area tell her they are going to have to send me home I only have 3 days worth of clothes and supplies and everything else is 5 hours away. Can you imagine.

I think this covers much of our 2 hour conversation. I am sure I have missed a ton.. I feel blessed again beyond measure to have been able to speak to Missionary Madi. All of these missionaries serving in this area are there because they are strong and that is what Phili needed right now. As always they are simply AMAZING!

We are blessed.