Well it is great to hear from you all again! Sounds like a fairly typical week back home, that is good. My week was good, very eventful, and very wet!!
So first off Akeilah got baptized on Sunday! It was great! She is such an amazing person! She has gone through so much to be baptized, she is an all star, didn't think I would ever meet someone like her on my mission, she is the definition of golden contact. The baptismal service went over very well and then she got to teach gospel principles class because the teacher wasn't there. Thankfully she knows a ton about the doctirnes of the church and did an excellent job with the lesson, one of the best lessons I have sat through.
The big news this week was Tropical Storm Nicole! I can positively say that it was the craziest thing that I have ever witnessed. All the Jamaicans are saying that this storm was worse than any hurricane that ever hit the island. It has been really really eventful and nuts! So on Sunday it starts to rain and it just pours and pours and pours, but we don't think anything of it, it is just a lot of rain. Monday it continues just all day and all night intense rain. Monday night we took Akeilah teaching with us and we drove across the bridge to her house and we were amazed at how a river had formed that did not previously exist the bridge just went over a ravine but their is never any water in it. Well Akeilah said that it can get a lot higher and even cover the bridge in a hurricane.
Well Tuesday it keeps raining and things are starting to look pretty wet, the roads are getting pretty ridiculous from all the water, but it still wasn't anything that anyone thought much of. Tuesday night we just hear thunder and lightening and rain all night long. Well we wake up Wednesday and drive Elder Dale to the airport because he was being transfered and the roads were flooded which was weird. While at the airport a huge storm came in and rain just started pouring down. So we run to the car and drive back to our house. The roads had flooded and were up to about 8 inches at the low parts. We were very lucky to get the car home, the water was very high and lots of other cars were getting washed away. so it is just pouring like crazy and everything is flooding so we call all the missionaries and tell them that they don't have to go out teaching if they don't want to. Troy Williams calls us and tells us to come and help him because his house is flooding and than Akeilah calls us and tells us it is impossible to get to her house and she doesn't know when she will see us again. Well this all sounded sort of silly but we drove to the office and got a big 4x4 truck to drive through it all and then began our way to Troys house. All the power in Kingston was out and so that meant no traffic lights. I think I like it better with out traffic lights, no organization everyone just goes and pushes their way through, no one waits for a turn like a four way stop, it is just a mad house. Well we get to Troy's house and it has about 18 inches of water and we get him and we go to see what had happened by Akeilah's house. Well we get to the bridge and it is gone! The river had not covered it but had successfully ripped it out and destroyed it. So it was impossible to drive. There is one other little foot bridge that leads to her house so we went to go evaluate it. the little river had turned into a river 60 feet across and 20 feet deep. we made our way to the foot bridge and saw a ton of damage the river had gotten so bad that it had ripped out the cliffs and all the houses on them, at least 25 houses have been destroyed and are nowhere to be found. Well the foot bridge is holding on but the river is slowly taking it out. We run across it and find akeilah, she is doing just fine and dandy, her house had flooded, but nothing bad. She said she didn't get any sleep because all night long people were running around and screaming as their homes fell into the river (which by the way was about 60 feet below) and as their family members fell with the houses and died.
Well we watched the cliffs fall apart in some big landslides and then we went to the Flake's house and ate dinner and told them of our little adventure. Well the rain started to pick up and then it came like nothing I have ever seen. We had to drive Troy home and so we had to master the storm. It was the most epic drive ever! At one point we were over a gully (this is a big gully, about 40 feet deep and 40 feet wide) the gully was really really full and starting to overflow and we were stuck on a bridge over the gully in traffic because no one was moving because water was so deep on the roads and I look out the window at the gully and then I see the entire gully all of a sudden explode!! It was nuts! giant 40 foot walls of brick just fell and made a huge wave of water. Well we get very worried that our little bridge is about to experience the same thing so we start honking like mad. Well we get off the bridge and try to get to Troys house. cars are breaking down left and right from to much water getting into there engines. Well the water begins to go over the hood of our truck thanks to its depth. well we get through the sea and make it to the bottom of troys giant hill. we stopped at the bottom and looked up and tried to decide if we should try it, no other cars were, everyone else gave up and turned around. the road was like a raging river. 8 inches of water was plowing down the hill with big rapids and giant rocks rolling down. we really needed to get troy home, his family was in danger and he needed to go save them, so we decided we had to master the hill. well 45 minutes later we made it up, I won't even attempt to explain it, it was the craziest ride I have ever been in.
well after that 2 missionaries had gotten stranded so we had to go and rescue them. so we drove to portmore at 9:30 at night, rain is just pouring down. the highway had gone from 4 lanes to 3 lanes because of flooding. we got the missionaries and took them home.
Well we got home and heard the rain all night long, it was pretty terrifying, we weren't worried about ourselves, but the more rain we got the more likely more people would die.
Thursday we get up and get ready, the entire mission is on lock down and not allowed to leave there homes, but we have to go and see some things to ensure that transfers are still possible thanks to road damage. our house was out of water and power. Well we went to troys home to get him, he was alive and well, his house had flooded really bad, he lives in something similar to a pit and he had about 3 feet of water in his house at the peak point. Thankfully for him his house has a god given draining system where a giant sink hole sucks all the water into it after a few hours and vanishes. so it was mostly gone by the time we got there. we get him and then we go check akeilah and them, it had gotten really bad, many more houses had vanished. we check all the roads from yallahs to linstead to make sure all the water was gone enough, I can't believe how much water we got, the rivers had raised a good 15-20 feet and bridges were out everywhere.
well I am getting tired of typing all this, especially since I don't think I am really doing it much justice. so will just give up explaining it all. I don't think that words will ever fully be able to describe the shear wonder and terror of this storm, Kingston was dominated. currently their are 15 reported deaths and 13 reports of people still missing, I think by the end of the week we will be a lot higher, to many houses have just vanished for the numbers to be so low. everyone is saying this is the worst storm they have seen, they said it has brought more rain than any hurricane. The members are doing great, the foot bridge survived thanks to a miracle, a huge landslide happened and diverted the river so that it stopped breaking away the foundation of the bridge, that was truely a blessing from god. most of the members are okay, a few lost their houses, we fear that maybe there are a few dead up in the mountains, but thanks to a landslide no one can get to them so we don't know.
Anyways, I will attach some pictures. We got over 400 pictures and I don't have time to go through them and pick really good ones, so here are what I could find rapidly. lots of damage, Jamaica is in a pretty big mess right now. but things with the missionaries are great, everyone is safe and most have water and power, we don't have water, but we do have power again! The waters are going away and things are returning to normal, hopefully we get conference tomorrow, if not we will just go up to where the damage is and help clear out the mess. oh, I want you to remember when you see the photos that the river in the pictures used to not exist, that was just a big empty space full of houses and a football field,
the bridge that is destroyed with water hitting it, that water use to not be there and the bridge use to be 20 feet below tall, that water is very deep!!! haha
Well things are good, this week was exciting! transfers are this monday. Elder Allen will be my new companion, I am excited to serve with him. It will be fun to help with the clean up of this mess that Jamaica is in. well I really need to go now. I love you all and look forward to hearing from you all next week!
Elder B. Kent Talbert