Hurricane Richard - Posted October 27, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We survived our first Hurricane.  Hurricane Richard was considered a category 2.  They are ranked 1-6, six being the worst, so we are grateful it wasn't higher on the scale.  Our mission president, President Lopez and his wife, and Elder Martino (area presidency) and his wife had flown into Belize City for district conference.  Because of the storm warning, the last 2 days of meetings got cancelled, and our important visitors flew to their homes in San Salvador, and Guatemala City early.

Misson zone conference.  This photo shows only half the missionaries that attended.
Sunday church was a short sacrament meeting only with both our Belize City and Cinderella branches meeting together.  It was announced that a bus had been hired to take those wishing to leave their homes to Orange Walk City.  Several families went on the bus.  

We took the 6 young elders that were in Belize City to their apartment to get overnight things, then drove to our house.  We waited out the storm there.  We had extra food prepared anyway, as we had thought we would be having our conference visitors to dinner. 

Desiree's home was flooded, as were many other members'.

About five in the evening, the storm got strong enough to knock out the electricity and water .  The missionaries are each supposed to have a working flashlight in their emergency packs.  Only one elder had one, and its batteries and bulb didn’t work.  Elder Pattee and I had a small solar powered flashlight, but it was a bit dim.  We also had one large candle, so we got by fine.  The elders used their cell phone lights to get ready for bed. 

The storm raged throughout the night.  Strong winds and heavy rains beat down upon our house, but it is well built, so we had no problem.   By morning the storm was gone.  A large mahogany tree out back was toppled, and some roof tiles were in the driveway. 

Flooded streets were everywhere.

Our landlady was sad to see her Mahogany tree uprooted in the backyard.

Elders and roof tiles

After a cold breakfast of bread, cereal, and juice, we took the missionaries home.  We saw flooded streets, trees uprooted, fences and signage down.  Many utility poles and wires were down or dangling.  We saw roofs partially blown away.   

A television station had 3 of its towers blown down.   

About noon we took the branch president of Belize City Branch, President Gordon, around in the van to see some of the families in the branch he was concerned about.  Deseree (mother of Elder Warren Card) was in need of help, as her house got flooded from high water.  The rain also came through the roof and walls.  Everything was soaking wet.  We saw that flooding caused problems for other branch members’ homes, as well. 
Many coconut palms were uprooted.

Later we saw a house that was totally collapsed.  The owner was sitting in the midst of the wreckage warding off any would be looters.  It was a sad sight.  We didn't have our camera with us, but I don't think I would have had the heart to take a photo.  It is a picture I will carry in my mind for a very long time.

Many many people here live in just shacks or shanties.  There are gaps in the walls and roofs.  The water surged up so high that their homes were flooded by water coming from up underneath, and through the walls, and roofs.  Because destroyed shacks don't add up to much monetarily, total damage costs due to the storm won't be as much as if this had happend in the U.S.   But the cost of human suffering is great. 

More downed trees.

Now that things are drying out, everything feels like a giant saunna.  I've never experienced such humidity.  We were among the first of those to get our electricity back.  It was only off 24 hours.  But then it was off for several hours again today.  As of this afternoon our young missionaries were still without electricity.  Most places in the city did not get power back as soon as we did.

 Sorry the photos aren't better, but a few of the ones we thought would be good, (missing roofs) didn't turn out at all.  Also, we got a new internet hookup last week, and it makes attaching photos a very slow process.   

Missionary work kind of came to a standstill here this week, but we did give training to a perpetual education fund hopeful, and today Elder Pattee was able to helped Sister Patnett get 26 names ready for her to take to the temple.   
We are glad things are starting to get back to normal.

October 17, 2010 - We visited Orange Walk and Corozal Branches

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The most exciting thing that happened this week is that we got a new grandchild--Claire Kate!  She  is our 7th granddaughter and 13th grandchild.  Jon and Erika are the proud parents.  Claire Kate has 2 big sisters, Ella, 4 and Jane, 2.  We were happy to see her on Skype via Jon and Erika's webcam less than an hour after she was born.  What a great blessing! 

Yesterday, we took our first trip up to the northern part of the mission to visit the Orange Walk Branch and the Corozal Branch.  We left in the morning and came back today (Sunday) late afternoon.  We were very busy the entire time and met many members of the Church.  We were also able to visit with the seminary and institute leaders in both branches. 
Orange Walk Chapel with Sisters Benitiz (from Guatemala) and McDougal (from South Jordan, Utah).

We saw lots of sugar cane along the way. 

We stayed at a place called Tony's Inn.  It was located right on the Carribean and was landscaped beautifully.  The hotel has probably seen better days.  Our room was comfortable and came complete with a gecko in the bathtub. 

In the photo below you see the Carribean Sea in the background.

We are still getting used to the heat and humidity.  These days Sister Pattee's style of hair is "wash and wear".  Her perfume is "Essence of Deet".

In the photo above Elder Pattee is showing Brother Castenetas how to make and use a cardboard funnel to pour gasoline from a container into the gas tank of his car.  (The container didn't have a spout.)

We both spoke in the sacrament meeting in Corozal Branch this morning.  Sister Pattee was asked to say a few words in relief society, too. 

Here are some of the  Corozal Branch relief society sisters. 

The Corozal branch has its own chapel, as well, though it is small.  What a blessing that these branches can have their very own buildings.

October 11, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

We had a great day at church at the Belize Branch yesterday.  It was fast and testimony meeting.  
Mostly men bore their testimonies—a couple of women spoke near the end of the meeting.  Though many are converts, I think these people have a lot of faith.  Chelsea, a little primary-aged girl, got up and said she wanted to express her testimony by singing a song.  In perfect pitch she sang the primary song “What Has the Father Asked of Us?  Be Like His Son”.  She closed “in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen”.  The Spirit was really in that meeting. 
Also, there were 4 little babies blessed today—3 girls and 1 boy.  I wondered how many of those young mothers were married. (I found out later none of them were.) 

The Sandbergs came yesterday afternoon from St Ignacio and stayed overnight. We had dinner ready for them, as Elder Sandberg had interviews at the church right after.  Later, 5 young men met here for the missionary preparation class.  We had Mystery Pudding with ice cream for refreshments.  When I went to take the foil off the freshly baked pudding, hundreds of little sugar ants were crawling all over it.  Sister Sandberg and I just dumped them off and served it up.  That was all we could do.  The young men loved it and asked for seconds.
Left to right:  Branch President Gordon (only back from his mission to Georgia a few months ago), John, Warren, Mika, and Elwood (recently back from a mission to Georgia, as well). 

This past Wednesday night, we and Elders Choc and Lunt were able to go to Leticia Peters’ house and teach her and her two children.  This was  our first time to be in a local person’s typical home.  They live pretty humbly.  Letitcia was willing to read from the scriptures and even said the closing prayer. 

We bought a "gym" membership at a local Best Western hotel.  We go swimming 2 or 3 times a week.   Most days the water feels pretty cold when we get in at 8 am, but after a few minutes it's okay.   

We buy big 5-gallon bottles of water at the water store for drinking water. We also use a special pitcher with a Seychelle water filter that Dave and Christine Ostler gave us.  It is a big help. 

We spent quite a bit of time with the young elders and sisters this week jumping through all the necessary hoops to get all of our work permits. This is why we went to Belmopan a week or so ago.  In three more weeks we should all have them.  The permits are good for one year. 

Elder Pattee drives the mission van, which is a "stick" shift.  Sometimes hauling missionaries around on mission business is also part of our job. 

We Loved General Conference

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lots of people were at church yesterday in both the Belize City and Cinderella Branches to see the broadcast of general conference. In the chapel we had the regular English broadcast. In the cultural hall was Spanish. Both were well filled for the morning session. The afternoon session attendance was sparse—about like Saturday’s.
The upside was that conference was wonderful as usual. Roshane, who is borderline less-active came at our request (morning session). Also Letitia, a young woman that we met while shopping at Brodie’s (she is a clerk there) came with her two little children (morning session) at our request. After the morning session was a baptism for a Brother Gift from Kenya. Sister Vernice, a member, talked Letitia into staying for the baptism, which was very good.  This was the 4th baptism we’ve seen since we arrived.

One of the mornings that the Sandbergs were still living here, Sister Sandberg was in the shower. All of a sudden we heard a loud scream. After Sister Sandburg turned off the shower, she had grabbed her towel and started to dry her face. She didn’t know that a gecko had crawled onto her towel.  It really startled her when the gecko ended up on her face. The gecko was probably startled, too, as they don’t really like to be around people and usually stay up on the walls. Geckos are good to have in your house, because they eat insects. But they can startle you from time to time, and you have to clean up after them.

A few days ago we drove to Belmopan, which is the capitol of Belize. It is about an hour's drive east, and a little south of here.  We had to go there to get registered in the country and get work permits. The countryside kind of reminded us of an African veldt. 

Saturday, October 2

Saturday, October 2, 2010

We got to go inside the temple that is being constructed in San Salvador, El Salvador. It was an amazing experience. Every piece of granite on the exterior arrives cut out and numbered.  Then the workers just put it all together like a puzzle. Much of the woodwork detail inside the temple is done in the same way. This temple is scheduled to be dedicated sometime next spring. Besides us in this photo, are Elder and Sister Fenn, temple construction oversight missionaries, and Sister and President Lopez our mission president. 

This is President and Sister Sandberg. They have been wonderful trainers for us. They moved up to Cayo on Wednesday where they will help in 7 different branches. We help in 5 here. Only 2 of which are in Belize City.  President Sandberg and Sister Sandberg served as temple president and matron in the Guatemala Temple. He is now a counselor in the mission presidency here in Belize. 

This photo was taken outside our house this past Sunday.  We are looking forward to seeing general conference today.  It will be broadcast at the chapel here in Belize.  Since the times are the same we can actually see it live.  In Ukraine we had to wait a week and see it on DVD, as there was a 9 hour time difference.  Also, our building had no satellite setup. 


Mission Conference

Friday, October 1, 2010

We have many fine young missionaries here.  Most of them are native Central Americans. We do have two sisters from the U.S.,  Sister Stout and Sister McDougal. 

We are very grateful to President and Sister Sandberg (he is a counselor in the mission presidency) for all their help in getting us oriented.  They provided us with a map of the local area with many needful places marked like grocery stores, post office, chapel, drinking water supply place, bakery, etc. They then took us to get supplies to get us started. They also helped us get our internet and printer hooked up and helped us understand many of our basic missionary tasks. They have only been here 7 or 8 weeks, so they are still learning, too.