The following pictures include pictures of Sadie's evacuation to the Stake Center (Jupiter Ward, Stuart Stake Center). The large group she is with is the missionaries she spent her evacuation with.
They had to fill all available containers at the church with water, and they made their beds putting the soft Relief Society chairs together. They got to help with the cleanup of that Stake Center before they headed back to their apartments.
They were able to help Freddye and Darlene's family with the clean up of their trailer home. They are the cutest family!!
Hermana Monson and Sister Petersen got to put on the Mormon Helping Hands shirts and serve in Miami and in Key West!! I loved the read about these experiences in her letter that follows!
These two cute companions got stuck in a major lightening storm and were rescued by their investigator Amy.
Also, pictures of their apartment that they got ready, before they were evacuated.
First of all, I want to thank everyone for all of the prayers. They have been much needed these last few weeks. To start off, I am doing great! I am just so blessed to be a missionary right now! I will do my best to describe the last few weeks, but there has been so much going on I am not sure I will be able to do it all justice.
Two weeks ago we heard word that a hurricane was headed our way. The officially released the news three Sundays ago, and people panicked. The next day was a normal proselyting Monday due to Labor Day, and the storm was pretty much all that anyone could talk about. Lots of people started to put their hurricane shutters up, and the stores were absolutely cleared out of water by the end of the day. Sister Peterson and I had to wait in line for 40 minutes to fill our car with gas that night. The next day, Tuesday we received instruction from the mission office to go to the store early in the morning to get water, and supplies for the hurricane. We woke up early, and by a miracle we happened to arrive at the grocery store at the exact moment that they were unloading the water, so we managed to get a couple of gallons for each of us. We loaded up our carts with canned food, and non-perishables. The rest of the day was fairly normal, we were mostly just waiting to hear news from the mission office. That night we received further instruction that we should not use our cars in order to conserve gas, so Sister Peterson and I spent the next few days biking around. We were able to help a couple people put up their hurricane shutters, but a lot of people were too busy to listen to us.
we were biking to our investigators house when she called and cancelled our appointment. We were already far away from our house, so we decided to stay in the neighborhood and knock some doors. It had started to rain lightly, but we didn't think much of it. Of course, Florida being Florida, it started to DOWNPOUR a few minutes later. We happened to be talking to an old man outside his front door, and he offered to let us use his umbrellas. It was very sweet, but just as we were leaving his driveway there was a huge crack of lightning right next to us, and the thunder followed immediately. We both instinctively took off running, and we sheltered under the ledge of a nearby garage where no one was home. We really weren't sure what to do because there were no businesses close, and we could not bike with the lightning storm that was currently right on top of us. We prayed for help, and a car drove by. Sister Peterson joked that it would be funny if that was the investigator that had just cancelled our appointment. Sure enough, she turned around, pulled into the driveway and motioned for us to get in her car. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so we jumped in. She was able to drop us off at home, and then we were able to go pick up our bikes later, but that was definitely a prayer being answered. Those few days were crazy, there was so much tension. People were feeling very stressed, at that point it had been declared a category 5 hurricane, and Florida was in a state of emergency. I was not too worried, I knew that Heavenly Father would protect us, I just worried for all of the people around us that would lose a lot in the hurricane.
We also did our best to see all of our investigators, but most of them were evacuating, or busy preparing their houses. We were especially worried about Freddy and Darlyne because they live in a little trailer park, and we knew that would not hold up well with such a big storm. They told us they were going to be sheltering in a high school. Anyway, night of that week we had a conference call as a mission, and they announced where we would all be evacuating to. The next day ( ) we spent most of the day getting our house ready, locking our hurricane shutters, moving all furniture away from the windows, bagging valuables, and packing our things to take to the chapel where we would be sheltering. We knocked a little bit, but didn't have much time before we met our district at our chapel and caravanned to the stake center where we would be staying, which was about 40 minutes away from our house. We tried to find somewhere good to eat before being stuck in the church, but everywhere was closed! Almost all of the businesses had their hurricane shutters up, but we did manage to find a burger king that was open. Anyway, we went from there to the chapel, brought all of our things inside the church and helped the other missionaries do the same. We got everything settled, then had another conference call as a mission with further instruction. Then we just played some card games with our zone. We were not allowed to be outside the chapel, so we spent all of inside. We were only allowed to be in the gym until in case the steeple blew over in the storm. We made use of the gym while we could playing around the world and charades (we didn't want to get too sweaty without any showers!). Anyway, after we were all stuck on one side of the chapel. It was actually really fun because we watched Mormon Messages, played board games, and just hung out all together. We had one window that did not have hurricane shutters, so we were able to see outside, and the weather didn't look too bad at that point. All of the sisters slept in the relief society room, and the Elders slept in a couple of classrooms. We made some makeshift beds out of the padded relief society chairs. morning we woke up and did our normal studies, then we had a small sacrament meeting as a zone. It was just the missionaries, and one cute little old couple from the stake. As part of sacrament meeting a few people gave talks about why they chose to serve a mission, and what they have learned. It was awesome.
We all had a few hours to relax, journal, study, play more board games, etc. The storm started picking up around in the afternoon, we could hear the wind outside, and sometimes things would bang into the windows. Around the power went out, and so we had a great time playing board games in the dark with our flashlights. The power was off the whole night, so we played a lot of group games that don't require light. It started to get REALLY hot with no ac, so that was a little miserable, but it was fun. We were all living off granola bars, peanut butter sandwiches, and licorice. On Monday morning we woke up, the power was still of, but it was light outside. After our studies we had another mission conference call which told us that we could go outside, and start picking up the chapel grounds. It felt so good to be outside! There was a few trees that had fallen over, one of the palm trees had cracked and landed on the church, but had not done much damage. Other than that there was just tons of palm leaves and other branches everywhere, so we spent a few hours cleaning those up. Near the end of that the Stake President showed up, and he took the Elders to go see if their house had power. Turns out it did, so all of the Elders went to one house to shower, while President Westover took the sisters to his house. It felt so good to shower, and his wife made us breakfast! It was so great to eat something besides granola bars and peanut butter. After that they took all of us to go help a friend of theirs who used to be investigating the church. We spent the rest of the day helping her clean her yard. There were branches and pine needles strewn everywhere! By the end of that we were all exhausted, and ready for another shower. Thankfully, our bishop texted us that our power was on at our house again, so we were able to go home that night. It was so much fun to be with the other missionaries in the chapel though.
The next few days was just a lot of craziness trying to put everything back together, and normal proselyting. We were able to help some people clean up their tree branches out of their yards. Our area was not hit too badly, a lot of people didn't have power for a few days, and a lot of trees had fallen over. we were finally able to go see Freddy and Darlyne, we went with 6 missionaries to go help them clean up their trailer. They were so so grateful.
we went with some ward members to Miami. We met a bunch of other volunteers at a chapel, and then from there we split into groups to go do service. There was about 600 volunteers, and it was so cool to see everyone come together. We were in a group with our ward, and we were in charge of filling work orders for people in Miami. We drove to a few houses, and helped to chop up trees, rake leaves, and remove branches. Some of them were members, some of them were not, but it was awesome. Everyone was very grateful, not everyone would allow us to help, but the ones that did were so happy. Miami got hit pretty bad, there were a few houses that were destroyed by trees. That night we drove home, showered, and then went out to proselyte again. We came home exhausted, and tried to sleep fast so we could wake up early morning.
We woke up early morning, went to a short sacrament meeting with some other volunteers at . Then drove an hour and a half to go back to Miami. It was so fun to see other missionaries and old ward members at the chapel. They split us into groups again, and Sister Peterson were so excited when we got assigned to the Keys! We drove with our group another hour and half to get to Key West. They were not allowing people in, so there was a huge line up of cars waiting, but the national guard let us through because we were volunteers. The drive was beautiful with the ocean and everything, but the islands themselves were badly damaged. Most people on the islands live in trailer parks, and a lot of trailers got demolished. There was tons of debri everywhere, especially tree branches. We first went to a little neighborhood and decided to help clean up the Christian church. We chopped up some tree branches, hauled them into a huge pile, and swept away old leaves. It was cool because a couple people showed up for morning service just as we were finishing, and they were so grateful, especially the pasteur.
A lot of people had already received help, so we were thinking about going further south, but we decided to try one more little trailer park before leaving. We were so glad we did because they were in desperate need of help. The manager, Scuba Joe, was so grateful for us! He had heard that the Mormons were going to be in town, and he had prayed earlier that morning that we would be sent to him. His whole trailer park had been buried in water during the storm, so there was seaweed up to your knees! We spent all day yesterday raking seaweed, hauling tree branches, and getting rid of debri. It was so fun! They were so so grateful, and by the time we left it looked so much better. There was still a lot of work to go, and they still won't have power for a few weeks, but it was great. There was a couple of national guard volunteers as well, and the red cross provided us free lunch. Last night we drove home, showered, and went to proselyte for the last hour of the night. I am so tired, but so so happy. My testimony has definitely been strengthened in new ways these last two weeks. I feel so blessed to have been the answer to someone else's prayer. I know that Heavenly Father is aware of all of us.
I love you all!