Monday, June 23, 2014

Welcome to Tornado Season

The tornadoes (not from my camera so don't worry)

This week has been a week to remember.  Monday Afternoon as we were having our P Day games at the church, the tornado sirens started going off and we took cover at the ZL's house.  We ended up staying there for the rest of the day and overnight since it wasn't safe to go outside.  We came to find out that not one, but two tornadoes had struck a town called Pilger that's about 45 minutes from here and had destroyed 90% of the town as well as many of the surrounding areas and crops.   We immediately began to make plans to get ourselves down there and start helping out.  Wednesday morning we headed down. I never really believed that tornadoes could do such damage until I saw with my own eyes.  Trees had been completely stripped of branches.  Trucks, cows, and houses had been thrown like it was nothing.  In the crops you could clearly see where the tornado had ripped through, leaving brown trails rather than green corn leaves.  The community had instantly jumped into action making plans and helping each other out.  We ended up spending almost 2 whole days helping out people down there.
A glimpse of the damage

There used to be a house here.

Project name tag

Rocking my summer burn lines
I was especially amazed with one woman who we were helping.  She was in Lincoln, NE when the tornadoes touched down.  Her husband called her and said, "The tornado is coming right at us.  The kids and I are in the basement.  I just want you to know I love you."  and the line cut off.  The husband said that everything got dark, the windows started to shake, him and the kids huddled together in the basement bathroom, he felt a change in pressure, looked up and saw the sky.  Their entire house was taken away and scattered all over their closest neighbor's crops a mile away.  She seemed surprisingly happy though.   Like it didn't even matter.  When we asked her how she was so smiley she said, "I was praying that only 3 things would come out of that house and all 3 walked out without a scratch."   
She's not the only one.  Most of the town has this same, "the crops are dead, the house is gone, but my family is alive and that's all that matters," attitude.  Its amazing.  I love how humble and faithful these people are, even if they're not yet members of the church. 

The tornadoes aren't all that have hit this area.  All this week with all the storms, the Missouri River began to rise, coming dangerously close to hitting a few houses.  President Weston instantly had us jump on helping and we ran over to help sandbag around people's houses.  No damage was done however and the water has begun to recede.  

I took a good picture of the morning time on the freeway on the way to Omaha.  

The Hispanics at Spanish Specialized Training

In other, slightly happier news, we had Spanish Conference again this week!  What's crazy is that was the last time I'll see some of my favorite missionaries like Elder Cabezas and especially Elder Juan.  I miss that little Guatemalan.  He called me last night to say goodbye and it sucked.  I really hope to see him again after the mission.  
"Padre" e "hijo"  Elder Juan & Elder Paddock

Elder Cabezas and I

That's really all for this week!  This week coming up is transfers and I'm in danger of leaving the area.  We'll find out Wednesday I guess.  We've also got lots of service again helping out in Pilger and with de-sandbagging the area.  Should be fun!  
I love you all!  Don't worry about me.  I know the Lord is in this work and will protect those who serve him.  I love you!

Lots of Love 
Elder Zack

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