Family and friends,
I felt so blessed at the number of e-mails I received this week regarding the tornado. We are all fine and safe, although it was a pretty hectic week. We arrived in OKC last Tuesday around 1. We had a short orientation and interview with the President. He told us we’d be going to straight to our areas that night and put to work. I got assigned to be with Sister Carlini and Sister Zaleski in Norman, OK. We are serving in the single’s ward on the OU campus! So… I’m a SOONER everyone! It’s great and so beautiful here. We are a trio because I guess they like 3 sisters in the single’s wards. My trainer is Sister Carlini and she is from Layton, Utah. She went to Cosmetology school and BYU-ID before and she is leaving for home in July! She is great and so loving. Sister Zaleski came out a transfer before me, and she is from Southern California. What is it with me and California comps!? haha I love it. Maybe it’s telling me I should move there someday. Anyways, the first night I was there we taught this man named Zhaotong (Jow-toe). He is from Beijing and got baptized last Friday night (funny story about that… I’ll get to that in a min). We taught him about the Priesthood. He was so excited about it. He researched the Church on his own. He was so prepared when the Sisters started teaching him. He will be such a strong member of the church. He has immovable faith and trust in God.
Wednesday we helped clean up from the tornado. Sorry for all the pics, but some of them are from that day. It was horrible. Any trailer home that got hit was completely gone. The contents of it blown everywhere! We picked up trash, halled away wood from the property and literally pulled down big metal side wall stuff from off of the trees since it had gotten wrapped around them by the wind. It was a mess. Sister Carlini found a tick on her later that day. We framed it.
The next day (Thursday) was super humid. I mean, the hot sticky kind where you can’t breathe… okay that was a little dramatic, but it was pretty humid! We were suppose to teach this lady, but she never showed up and then we got a call from the Sutherwaite’s who are our emergency weather contacts. (Only in Oklahoma). There was a storm coming. We went to their house and just waited. They have a storm shelter so that’s why we stay safe. There are underground storm shelters and ones that look like a shed. In the big tornado in Moore that hit before we came, anyone that wasn’t underground died. That’s how powerful these storms can be. The storm ended up missing us so we went to another lesson with Zhaotong. We taught him about temples and family history work. He was so excited about temples that he wants to go visit all of them! haha I don’t know if he knows how many there are, but more power to ya, it’s a great goal!!
Friday was interesting. We got called up to Moore to do more service. We did a little bit at the Stake Center then headed back to have our weekly District Meeting. We heard that there was going to be a huge tornado that night but we also had Zhaotong’s baptism! We prayed that it could happen, but “thy will be done.” Did the baptism happen? Oh you better believe it. Even the tornado sirens were going off as he was getting Confirmed. It was crazy intense. The Lord answers prayers. They tornado came like an hour after, but Heavenly Father is definitely in control. The baptism was beautiful and he was so grateful. “Sank you,” he always says. After he received the Holy Ghost he said, “Wow, powerful.” He made a covenant with God that day and I was so grateful for his example. Afterwards, we rushed to the storm shelter and ended up staying there til 9:30. The rain was like nothing I’d ever seen. The power went out, so these native Oklahomans pulled out their radio. We got hit by a storm, but luckily not a tornado. We made it home safely that night.
Saturday came and President Taylor arranged for us all to meet at the Moore Stake Center to do service. We had the privilege of having Elder Rasband come and speak to us. He is in the seventy and gave the talk about how missionaries get assigned to missions. Anyways, he’s super cool. He gave us a great message which I will get to later. He was going to be meeting with a congressman afterwards, so he had him come in to join us in singing “Put Your Shoulder To The Wheel” and the closing prayer. The whole mission in yellow helping hands shirts sang that song boldly and firmly. It was powerful. We then headed out and worked with our Zone.
Sunday was cool. We had a sacrament service, in our yellow shirts I might add, and were split into groups. There were around 250 people there with tractors, chainsaws, shovels, gloves and of course smiling faces. We then were able to go to Little Axe, OK which is a little south of Norman and help. The house we were at was a disaster. There was one part that was still standing (I’ll get to that later too) but stuff, trees, and the house were scattered everywhere (one of the pictures). We worked for about 5 hours. Then, we were about to head out, but we heard that Elder Rasband was coming to visit that site. He came and spoke to us, on that property. Behind the group a lady named Lisa walked up. She is the daughter of the owners of the home that had been destroyed. With tears in her eyes this good Christian lady told us of how her parents were both old and crippled and that when the storm hit they hid underneath their bed. The only part of the house that stood standing at the end of the storm was their bedroom. She talked about how she knew her parents had a purpose for their lives and that their lives weren’t finished yet. Elder Rasband asked if she wanted to stay for the message. She did. He told us that he had been in Salt Lake celebrating President Eyring’s 80th birthday. They were having a party in the boardroom celebrating with cake. Elder Rasband noticed President Monson sitting in the corner looking kind of sad. His dear wife had passed recently. Elder Rasband walked up to him and clasped both of his hands as he shook them. (Now keep in mind that he’s telling us this story and I am sitting right in front of him, so he asks me to reach out my hand to demonstrate). He clasped both of my hands and Elder Rasband said, “I’m going to Oklahoma tomorrow, do you—” “Yes,” President Monson said, “I’ve heard.” Elder Rasband asked President Monson if there was anything he wanted to say to the missionaries or people there. He said, 1) Tell them I love them from the bottom of my heart, 2) Tell them I’m praying for them, and 3) Tell the missionaries and volunteers ‘thank you’. Elder Rasband bore powerful testimony of Jesus Christ and of the Prophet. It was amazing. Lisa, with tears in her eyes, thanked us over and over again. Elder Rasband also shared the story of a farmer who lost like 60 acres of his farm. Barns were flattened and everything was gone. As they both stood looking out at the mess, Elder Rasband asked, “What are you going to do?” The farmer replied, “rebuild.” That, my family and friends is the attitude of these dear Oklahomans. Rebuild. Keep moving on. I know that Heavenly Father is very aware of His children here and that He loves them. That is my mission, to “rebuild”. Help others come unto Christ and rebuild there lives so that they can feel of the powerful Atonement of Christ and receive all the blessings of the Gospel-the priesthood, eternal families, The Book of Mormon. Through these things, we can find true happiness and the fullness of Christ’s gospel. It’s the only way. I love you all and pray for you. Thank you for your love and support. Enjoy the pics!