Warning: this is going to be a crazy email. Apologies for any missing parts- I'll fill in things next week. Also, apologies to everyone I can't reply to- next week I promise!
Last week, I wrote to you about rain. I didn't know anything about rain then. It continued to rain for the next 3 days, straight. I spent 3 days soaking wet, and still smiling. And here's the really exciting part. On Sunday morning, we woke up, and Sister Yanga yells from the bathroom "There's no power!," which isn't that uncommon, and so I went to grab my flashlight for her. We opened the front door, and instead of the little dirt road next to our house, we had a river, which was slowly becoming more of a flowing lake. We took pictures, went back inside, and lit some candles. But the water kept creeping up, closer to our door, so our Zone Leaders came to get us and take us to the chapel. We walked through the knee deep water. (I promise- pictures next week- but it was crazy!) Some guy was taking pictures of the crazy American girls. We then stayed at the chapel almost all day. In some places of Bayawan, the water rose more than 8 feet. The Elders got to go out and help people and bring some kids to the chapel. Mostly, we spent the day reading scriptures, talking to members, singing hymns, and just waiting. It was a weird day as a missionary. We went back to our apartment where there was a centimeter of mud on the ground, so the Elders helped us clean for about 2 hours, and then on Monday, some of the ward members finished it for us. It's sparkling now.
Then Monday, we almost couldn't get through on the bus to district meeting, and we still didn't have power, or cell phone service. But then we got through! ( We went through some water, and next to some completely flooded rice fields) And we got to go to district meeting and meet the couple missionary who has come here, and we were supposed to get transfer calls- but we didn't because of no cell phone service. When we got back to Bayawan, we stopped by the chapel, and the members there were assembling food and rice and some candles to distribute to members. We got to be the ones to deliver that relief to people, along with the Elders here. Everyone is mostly okay- some flooding, but nothing too bad. IN the evening, we went to the city hall where evacuees were staying and got to see some inactive members and give them blankets and food. I can't really describe that experience adequately, but there were lots of almost tears.
And don't worry, I didn't forget about transfer calls. We did get them eventually. Big crazy, scary news. I need your prayers more than ever this week. I'm leaving Bayawan, opening an area for sisters, and training a new missionary. I'll meet her tomorrow, and we're in Dumaguete right now, leaving soon for Cebu. (Sister Yanga is also training again, and she and Sister Rugg and the new missionary will be staying in Bayawan.) My new area is on Cebu, in the south- Sibonga. I don't know anything about it yet, but I guess I'll find out this next week. Somehow, the two of us are going to navigate the city, with my limited Visaya, and whatever she has, and we'll do some missionary work. "Faith not Fear" is all I can say at this point. I'm so humbled by this assignment, and I'm going to keep being humbled. But I know it's from the Lord, and he'll uplift me and help me on my path.
I love you all lots. You're in my prayers often and I want the best for all of you. Keep coming to him, even when the current looks hard. Keep giving more of yourself to Him, because then He can make more of it. I know that the message I preach is true. I love the Lord and this gospel.
Love, love, love,
Sister Josie Tueller