Last Saturday, we got a call from Elder Heim asking about bad weather approaching. We told him we would let him know as soon as we could return home and check the internet. I checked our Google weather app. and it had no Alerts, but predicted 22 mile per hour winds. We passed that on to Elder Heim and Elder Bloxham and went to bed.
Early the next morning, we checked again. It still said the same thing, so we left early for Wichap on the south end of the island where we had scheduled an Easter DVD. It was dark and rainy, but not bad. By the time we reached Wichap it was raining even less. We went inside the chapel and waited for Sacrament to begin. Only six of us made it. We went ahead and showed our DVD and the storm began. It was a whole lot more than 22 miles per hour. When it abated, we headed for home, only to find our road blocked by fallen trees. We were able to move and cut some of the trees for about 1/4 of a mile and then it was really bad.
We called the Zone Leaders to come get us, parked the truck in an open area, and started walking out. The Elders and President Macky walked out with us. He had not made it to church since he had been helping members secure homes and roofs. After about a mile and a half, we met the Zone Leaders. They had been delayed by having to remove some trees also. President Macky told the Zone Leaders they needed to call the Mission President to report that some of his missionaries had been swimming. We had waded through water that was deeper than my knees. Everyone had a good laugh.
Just before we reached home, it hit again and with a vengence. We had been walking in the eye of the storm! The second half was much worse and the winds blew in the opposite direction. We lost power and rode out the storm in our concrete and block apartment. We were without power for a day or so until a generator got us a light and a plug for our fridge. About a day later we got a bigger generator for the whole apartment, but only for about 12 hours a day, and no Air Conditioning. Finally, we got regular power turned on after 4 or 5 days. On Saturday, after a lot of work and prayers, we got through the trees and safely retrieved our truck. The next day we attended church. It was Easter Sunday and Fast and Testimony Meeting. The meeting was over 90 minutes long. We had no breaks in testimony bearing. Sunday School was our DVD and then Priesthood and Relief Society time was spent handing our rice and Ramen to families that needed it. Several of the teenagers and kids opened a package of ramen and ate it without it being cooked.
We are so blessed that no members lost their lives. Many lost roofs and a few lost homes. Two sets of Elders (Udot and Paata) went to concrete buildings for the storm, only to find they had no home after the storm. We are hoping this experience will bring about more good than harm. The Reeds, a self-reliance couple are coming to Chuuk this Wednesday. I think hearts have been prepared for their program. It will be amazing to see what happens in the next six months or so.
Trees all over the island are fallen and have branches broken. This tree had grown so big it occupied half the road, allowing one-way traffic only. A government worker told me they didn’t know what to do about it. Problem solved, sort of; they don’t know how to get rid of it. Brent Chowen, my supervisor from BYUH, and I are in front of this massive tree. It gives some perspective of the size.
Brent was scheduled to come at a different time, but his schedule was bumped by storms. We had tried to visit the Department of Ed, The College of Micronesia, and Chuuk High School during his visit. They were all closed down by the storm. However, a charter-like school run by a man named Clark Graham, was open. Clark is on the School board for Chuuk and has a good understanding of the education process. We had a great visit with he and his principal, Chris. No electricity that day, but the lights were on in student’s eyes.
The Elders worked Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, helping members and nonmembers in their areas. On Friday, the power was back on and the laundromat was a popular place. Elder White and Elder Maughan display their shirts AFTER they have been washed. Elder Jonas is in the background. The laundry was packed all day. As far as we know, there are only two laundry places on the island.
This is the road to Wichap. Elder Eliason and I went with several Elders to try to open the road. We cut through several huge trees with band saws and machetes. As the day went on, we were joined by several members and nonmembers who shared the load and made a huge task smaller. Starting at the left, the Elders are Schroath(blue), White (white), Maughan(red), and Robison(grey shirt and blue shorts). In the picture on the right, Elder Matavao is in the red shirt.
After working on three huge trees for several hours, we were tired and worn. Just then, a track-hoe from the public utility caught up with us. He had been pushing smaller trees and poles off the road. His work on the bigger trees was much easier because we had cut through them. The giant tree in front of Elder Eliason took him over thirty minutes to push off the road. The picture on the left shows the back of Elder Maughan and Sekinson who will be leaving on a mission for Austrailia. In about two weeks he will be in the Provo MTC to learn English.
Just after the track-hoe pushed the big tree off, he got a call saying another storm might be coming, so he had to leave. By that time, we had cut a path under the final tree blocking our way. All the Elders together hoisted a power pole part way up a hill and we went to our truck. After a little more difficulty, we were able to drive under the final tree and make our way back home.
It is nice to have a vehicle again. We were able to drive to church today for a wonderful Easter Fast and Testimony Meeting. Tomorrow morning, we can attend seminary. Thank you, Father in Heaven.