Mormon missionary moms fret after Philippines typhoon

Nov 9 2013 - 9:09am

Images

Mitch Green (left) of Hooper is shown on the streets in the Philippines following a previous typhoon with others who are natives of that country. Green has 11 days left of his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His mother, Karen Green, said knowing her son is experiencing the affects of what has been called the worst land storm in history has been difficult but she has relied on her faith. (Courtesy art)
Joseph Baker
Mitch Green (left) of Hooper is shown on the streets in the Philippines following a previous typhoon with others who are natives of that country. Green has 11 days left of his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His mother, Karen Green, said knowing her son is experiencing the affects of what has been called the worst land storm in history has been difficult but she has relied on her faith. (Courtesy art)
Joseph Baker

HOOPER -- Typhoon Haiyan, a storm thousands of miles away in the Philippines, has played an emotional toll on the mothers of missionaries serving there.

"I've teared up a few times in the last few days," said Karen Green, whose son, Mitch, is set to come home from a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 10 days. "We're the ones glued to the TV."

But in those trying times, Green said she has turned to her faith.

"I find comfort in knowing it will all be OK," she said. "It's all OK."

Another mother said she hasn't gotten any sleep for three days because she's been so worried and she's been constantly on the Internet in all that time.

"He's right where the eye of the storm went over," she said. "I have not heard from my son yet."

Monica Jo Baker of Lewiston said her son, Joseph Gregory Baker, is living in Ormoc, which is right next to Taclovan, a city she's heard is "completely gone, obliterated."

"He has 13 days before he can come home," she said. "I hope he can come home."

Baker said her son has experienced an earthquake, has been in the middle of a tsunami and, just a month and a half ago, transferred to a place at the epicenter of this storm.

"He has been through a lot," she said.

Mitch Green is living 150 miles away from where the typhoon hit, serving in the Quezon City North mission, the parents said.

Karen Green has monitored a website for mothers of missionaries serving in the North Philippines and has found mothers in far more panicked states than she is experiencing.

Some of those who are most nervous, she said, are mothers of newly called female missionaries.

"It's not like it's my first rodeo," she said, pointing out her older son served there 10 years ago.

And Green's husband, Korry, said every couple of months for two years the family has been aware of a severe storm in that country.

"My brother, Dennis, tracks storms and he always lets us know," he said. "There have been a dozen significant storms while he's been gone."

With all the likely power outages, Korry said he doesn't expect to hear from his son again via Internet before he comes home.

Karen said church spokesmen have said on the website that they have accounted for all missionaries in that country.

Korry said there are 21 missions there. With 200 to 250 missionaries in each mission, that means more than 4,000 LDS missionaries are currently serving there.

Karen said she's most worried about the aftermath of the storm.

"It's so dirty there anyway," she said. "With all of that garbage and germs floating around in the water and six of the deadliest snakes in the world there, it is concerning."

The mother said she believes her son will spend his remaining time in that country cleaning up from the storm. She hopes the storm has not affected the airport enough to keep Mitch there extra time.

The Ogden mother of Alex B. Johnson, serving in San Felipe, Naga, Philippines, said, "My son was out of the main path and I've yet to hear what conditions he faced. I know he is safe, but he lives in a very poor area and I don't know how things held up through the storm."

Johnson said she was nearly consumed with worry at first when she heard about the storm.

"Someone said, 'You can fill your mind with faith or worry,'" she said. "After I heard that, I changed my focus."

Camille Bowen, of Hooper, who just returned from a mission in the Philippines well away from the eye of the storm on Panay Island, said she found that people adapted well to storms there.

She said the poorer people with thatched roofs, bamboo houses and dirt floors faced little cleanup as the waters subsided. Those with cement floors and walls had a lot more work wiping things down, she said.

"We would go visit people and they would have their books outside in the sun drying out," she said. "Their papers would be drenched."

She said families with a second floor or a loft would put all their belongings in these upper rooms whenever a storm would come.

But she said sometimes the storms would come in so fast people wouldn't have any time to do anything about their possessions and there wasn't time for warnings to go out.

"Sometimes you have to run for your life," she said.

Contact reporter JaNae Francis at 801-625-4228 or jfrancis@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @jfrancis.

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