Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Not in Kansas Anymore

ONCE UPON A TIME.  Today, I will tell you a story.  It was a politely cloudy day, with a slight chance of rain.  My companion and I had just finished a lesson with Henry and his wife, and as we started to bike home, the sprinkles began.

Quickly they increased, to the extent that 2 minutes into our bike ride, we were soaked.
The rain continued to get worse, with gusts of wind tossing additional buckets of water on our already Drippy Companionship.  On top of a bridge, halfway back, with it raining sideways, we began to feel some Airsoft Pellets hitting us.  "That's not rain," we thought in surprise.  No, the storm was sending us HAIL.

We ran with our bikes to the bottom of the bridge, and not finding shelter closeby, ducked behind a car.  We crouched with our bikes, which provided some protection over us.  The now grape-sized pellets continued to assault our frozen bodies for some-odd minutes.  We then realized with horror that the water in the gutter, which had until then peacefully flowed toward lower ground, was rising fast.  Swirls of hail-filled water threatened to engulf our already-wet shoes in yet another layer of cold.

ITALIAN HOSPITALITY.  So we forded the gutter-stream, running towards a nearby apartment, in hopes of finding some kind soul willing to let us in from the storm.  We rang, and someone opened!
 Peace filled our hearts as we gratefully stepped into the entrance!  We were then greeted by a man who upon seeing our bedraggled forms, told us to GO AWAY...

"What," we asked incredulously, "into THAT?"

Yes, there is no place for you here.

"Well, we'll just stay a few minutes."

No, go away.

"No, we'll stay.  We'll leave shortly."

All right, fine. Since you insisted.  Amidst such hospitality we did manage to find shelter from the storm...for 5 minutes or so.

We left the haven to venture back towards home, only to find a tree dashed to pieces in our path.
 Perhaps this mighty timber was a casualty of the lightning we had seen and heard earlier that evening.  Shortly after passing that, we found something that cracked as we rode over it.  Looking down, we saw tile.  Looking up, we realized that these were shingles, fallen from 3 stories above.  The damaged shingles, whether blown off by hail or wind, made us say silent prayers of gratitude that we were not there when they fell.

At long last, we arrived home drenched but whole.  We changed our clothes and started bailing out our roof (it was more fun in normal clothes).

According to the news, that storm was a TORNADO.
Now I have experienced a tornado on my mission!  There were probably angels working overtime to keep us safe, but we are fine now.  I was also worried about picking up pneumonia again, but I got warm and I haven't had any side effects so I think I'm in the clear.  STORMAGEDDON success!  You say it hailed on you in Wayland.  Maybe the storm passed from me last Saturday, to you this week.

CLOSER TO FALL.  Wow, it's that time of the year: school time.  It's a little surreal, since I won't be there, but I was actually thinking about that and Teresa the other day.  A church member's son turns 18 in October, and so will Teresa soon, and I'll be 20.  It's cool, but super weird to think about.

SERVICE THIS WEEK?  We didn't do any service this week, other than English Class, which isn't really service in the sense that you're thinking.  But as a result of the tornado, the church is doing a Helping Hands project, with which we will be helping next week or so.

ADVICE FOR NEW MISSIONARIES.  I think after I have been here a year now, I would tell a greenie (brand new missionary) to just enjoy everything, and keep the perspective of "Bad things will pass."  Often we get caught up in the stress of talks and lessons and meetings and getting from Point A to Point B that we 2 weeks this won't be relevant anymore, or in 2 weeks this will be finished.  So I would emphasize to them not stressing about short-term problems.

Love you all dearly!
Anziano Whitesell

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