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Surviving the typhoon: Fear, faith and miracles for 10 LDS sister missionaries trapped in the Philippines

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  • jackstraw Manti, UT
    Nov. 16, 2013 6:40 p.m.

    While accidents happen and missionaries do lose there lives on missions it is comforting that they are looked after. And that when needed the miracle is there. Very happy the Air Force Sargent followed the promptings of the spirit that day.

  • Jennifer Grigg Springville, UT
    Nov. 16, 2013 7:29 p.m.

    Thank you for covering this story. My daughter leaves the MTC for Cebu on Monday and we needed to see and hear more details. Great journalism, writing and photos. They will tell this story for a long time.

  • utah cornhusker NORFOLK, NE
    Nov. 16, 2013 8:56 p.m.

    I was in manila for my mission years ago. We had typhoons but nothing to this extent. My Love and prayers go out to the missionaries as well as the people of the philippines. God bless those wonderful people and the missionaries.

  • BrentBot Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 16, 2013 9:25 p.m.

    What is the status of the Mission President and Philippine missionaries (only the U.S. and foreigners were airlifted)?

  • MoJules Florissant, MO
    Nov. 16, 2013 10:26 p.m.

    What an amazing story, this would make for a good movie, not one for profit, but one to inspire and remind us that the Lord knows us and hears our prayers. I pray for all those who have suffered from this disaster that they will find peace and comfort. I loved seeing the smiles on the faces of these missionaries. They are 18-21 years old and have gone through a horrific experience, yet they are not letting it destroy their happiness.

  • Away from Utah Lakewood, WA
    Nov. 16, 2013 10:42 p.m.

    Dido on all of these comments. My daughter is leaving for her mission on Monday as well to the Legaskpi mission. Our prayers are with all of our fellow brothers and sisters in the Philippines and for all of our missionaries that they will be strengthened by the Lord in this crisis.

  • ArlaMo Walla Walla, WA
    Nov. 16, 2013 10:48 p.m.

    BrentBot, all 204 missionaries were taken to the Manila MTC where they were received with open arms and open hearts. My daughter is currently in the MTC in Manila and she helped coordinate the clothing donation effort to help ALL the missionaries who had lost everything, not just the Americans and/or foreigners.

    What an incredible experience and what faith. I cannot even imagine.

  • mominthetrenches South Jordan, Utah
    Nov. 17, 2013 2:13 a.m.

    Wow! Thank you for highlighting this experience. Suddenly don't have much to complain about today.

  • DaveRL OGDEN, UT
    Nov. 17, 2013 5:22 a.m.

    It's good to hear they are all alive and safe, wonderful news from a part of the world engulfed in so much bad news.

  • Meg Portage, MI
    Nov. 17, 2013 5:48 a.m.

    What an amazing story. I hope they will receive counseling, as well, to help them with this traumatic experience. Prayers and hymns are absolutely necessary, but the value of mental health counseling is a blessing that will help them to cope with the post-traumatic effects of their experience, as well.

  • New to Utah PAYSON, UT
    Nov. 17, 2013 7:28 a.m.

    Thankyou for an inspiring story that details courage, ingenuity, resourcefulness and being guided by the spirit. Having served a mission in the Philippines and having as lifelong friends a Filipino family who lived in the Tacloban area. I read this story with keen interest. The family I knew had eight children,six I believed served missions.I hope the casualties of this monster typhoon are less than expected and we have further reports of miraculous survival of the Filipino people.

  • Louise-Marie LeBlanc Stratford, 00
    Nov. 17, 2013 7:45 a.m.

    My son Philippe served a mission in the Philippines in 2009-2011 and I have come to love the people from that country. Philipppe has talked so much about their courage, their humility and the love they have for the missionaries. My heart is with them. I am not surprised by the words of Sister Smith because I have heard the same from my son. I know he wishes he could be there to help and just as yesterday he was telling me that part of him stayed over there. I pray for all those who are working hard to help and I know that Heavenly Father is with them and hear their prayers. Lets all unite in prayers for the Filipinos and for the missionaries so the Gospel may continue to be taught and hearts may be healed.

  • Coach Biff Lehi, UT
    Nov. 17, 2013 7:52 a.m.

    My daughter is serving in the Angeles mission where a lot of these missionaries are being reassigned. They will be a huge asset to the mission I am sure. God bless the the Filipino people as they try and recover from this tragedy.

  • vidottsen Payson, UT
    Nov. 17, 2013 8:19 a.m.

    Although so many have lost so much, millions of prayers have been answered. I am thrilled that the LDS missionaries were spared, and my heart goes out to those poor people who have lost loved ones and homes, work places, even whole neighborhoods. I plead that we all remember to give what we can hopefully that the survivors might eventually have even a better place in which to live. Our prayers are still needed to make that happen.

  • truthseeker55 corpus christi, TX
    Nov. 17, 2013 8:36 a.m.

    I have been through one hurricane, two tornadoes, and two earthquakes.

    In 2004 my wife dropped me off at work. We had forgotten to pray and I mentioned that but as we looked around us we were surrounded by people and cars in the parking lot. I said we needed to pray and so we endured the embarrassment and did so.

    That afternoon my wife was sitting in the parking lot waiting for me when she had the feeling she should go inside. A few minutes later a tornado hit, driving boards and limbs through all three driver's side windows of our minivan. Normally my wife would have some of our six children with her but she decided to leave them home that day.

    If she and the children had been in the car they might have been killed. A car next to our minivan was turned upside down when we came out of the building - a testament to the power of the twister.

    Whenever I am tempted to not pray... I remember that fall day in 2004.

  • tallboy SAINT ANTHONY, ID
    Nov. 17, 2013 11:27 a.m.

    These are great pictures and a wonderful article. Thanks! I believe the one photo is of Elder S. Joseph Carlson giving a hug to Elder Ethan Carling, and not Elder Wyatt Crockett as reported. Glad they are all safe.

  • tgurd Gonzales, LA
    Nov. 17, 2013 1:20 p.m.

    wow what wonderful testimony builders these stories are, and I wish to thank you and your parents for trusting in the Lord and you going on missions, the world needs to have the gospel and I recall many times in the Book of Mormon as well as the Bible the wonderful stories of being protect because you obeyed and were on the Lords mission. I also read where some of our Missionaries gave their lives in the Lords service, May you parents know for sure that they are preaching in the Spirit world and the Lord needs them there also. No matter where we go or what happens the Lord is there for us and if we can just remember to trust in him and his judgments all will be well, we are stewards over these Spirits and the Lord desires us to remember they are his children and when he desires to bring them back we should rejoice and may we do so. If you have pains of sorrow and hurt go to the Temple and seek answers they are there and so is the comforting of a loving Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ

  • Saharanne Buffalo, IA
    Nov. 17, 2013 1:24 p.m.

    We lived at Clark Air Base/Angeles City many years ago. The Filipino people are wonderful. I pray they come through this horrific storm with increased faith in our Heavenly Father. I know he is with them and hearing their prayers.

  • cke Logan, UT
    Nov. 17, 2013 1:46 p.m.

    Excellent article, Jesse!!! The pacing and the info were perfect to bring emotion and a bit of suspense to the read. I'd love to read more of your work from out there!

  • BYUalum South Jordan, UT
    Nov. 17, 2013 2:15 p.m.

    @ArlaMo I was touched by your message and with all the other comments as well. Our grandson is presently in the Manila MTC also. He was there when the 70+ displaced missionaries flew into Manila, were transported to the MTC, and heard their stories first hand. He has felt the spirit of giving some of his prized possessions to those missionaries who had nothing but the clothes on their backs! It has been an incredible experience for him as an 18-year old young man.

    I remember thinking how slightly disappointed we were in October that he did not get to have the great Provo MTC experience that our other family members have just had. Now, we know that the Manila MTC is where he is supposed to be. It has been life-changing for him! God bless all these amazing young missionaries everywhere as they go forth to serve the Lord!

  • Devo81 Orem, UT
    Nov. 17, 2013 4:06 p.m.

    The sister missionaries worked together. Sister Schaap punched a hole through an opening in a flimsy wall, and the group of 10 swam through the murky water that would soon carry their journals and clothes and pots and pans out to sea. Those who couldn’t swim clung tightly to their companions.
    Really had Journals and saved them?Believed the story up until this point.

  • babe Anchorage, AK
    Nov. 17, 2013 4:35 p.m.

    This article was so well written! I felt like I was there! I loved how the sisters used their faith to sustain one another! I loved their quick thinking! I loved how HF provided miracles! Prayers go out to the people affected by this disaster!

  • suzyk#1 Mount Pleasant, UT
    Nov. 17, 2013 4:48 p.m.

    All I have done is cry as I read these remarkable stories:What Faith, What Wisdom, What Love, What Courage it took to want to survive and most of all it is a testament to me as well as thousands of others as to the pure belief these young men and women have in the Lord. Prayer is the most precious thing we have when we are afraid, alone, discouraged and these sister missionaries have become the perfect example of what the Lord did through their humble faith and prayer. We must continue to pray for this entire area.

  • curiousquestioner Annville, PA
    Nov. 17, 2013 7:16 p.m.

    I'm glad they are safe. And what a beautiful article. With all the need for humanitarian aid, despite the potential for trauma and emotional needs being met, I'm wondering why these valiant missionaries were pulled from the area. Their presence would have been a powerful testimony of their purpose. Were they not called there for a reason?

  • truthseeker55 corpus christi, TX
    Nov. 17, 2013 7:50 p.m.

    A bit of a correction to the story about the tornado. It was 2002, not 2004. And the car that was turned upside down was across from our minivan, not next to it. Also, my wife was parked in that same spot (where the car was turned upside down) before she moved our vehicle 25 feet to the other side of the parking area.

    Our car was paid for and we only had liability insurance... if it had been turned upside down we would have lost our transportation.

    If my wife had not come in and had not moved the car... she would have been crushed, leaving me with six young children to raise.

    I always try to pray.

    (And thank you to my wife for helping me get the details straight)

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Nov. 17, 2013 8:09 p.m.

    With all due respect, thousands dead, hundreds of thousands homeless. Yet miracles, a divine intervention on the natural order to produce a desired outcome, are claimed. It really can't be a surprise as to why anyone would have doubts.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Nov. 17, 2013 11:13 p.m.

    I was touched by both the story and the comments to it. I am especially grateful at this time that we were not burdened by comments made by the regular crowd who can find frost in every ray of sunshine and gloom in every new opening flower.

    It is too easy to become complacent; to assume that life just moves casually on as we rush to this event and struggle to find the perfect outfit for that event. There are difficulties which engulf us all from time to time. I hope that when our moment comes that we can act and respond as faithfully as these sister missionaries did.

  • Gosh-DUH Burlington, CT
    Nov. 18, 2013 6:45 a.m.

    Superb article. The writing and photographs contribute to a feeling of awe that these sister missionaries and so many others survived, and sadness at the loss of life and destruction.

    to Devo81, apparently misread. They did not keep their journals.

    The article clearly states: The sister missionaries worked together. Sister Schaap punched a hole through an opening in a flimsy wall, and the group of 10 swam through the murky water that would soon carry their journals and clothes and pots and pans out to sea. Those who couldn’t swim clung tightly to their companions.

  • ricwhite Layton, Utah
    Nov. 18, 2013 11:27 a.m.

    What a heartfelt and amazing story. I am very happy that they survived such a harrowing experience. However, I find it disconcerting that so many men, women and small children died in such an awful way and many are currently on the verge of starvation and death - just struggling to survive. The implication that God "saved" and favored these LDS missionaries over the humble and poor people of the Philippines is, to me, rather disturbing.

  • Pacific_Creek Puyallup, WA
    Nov. 18, 2013 11:39 a.m.

    It is great to hear that all the missionaries from the Tacloban mission are safe including this miraculous escape from the flood waters! I served from 92 to 94 in Baguio and my heart is breaking to see the suffering going on there now. I lived through a couple of typhoons (nothing on this scale, not even close) when I was there. As scary as the storm was living without power for a couple of weeks was also very disheartening. I would encourage anyone who is able to donate to a relief fund to help alleviate the suffering. Filipinos are a tough breed and they have endured quite a bit of hardship over their lives.

  • Little Andy Tremonton, UT
    Nov. 18, 2013 12:14 p.m.

    So much for the weaker sex. These young ladies are just like a mamma bear protecting her cubs. The Lord smiles upon you sisters. This experience will carry you through your lives..Also the prayers back home were indeed heard..

  • BostonLDS Salt lake City, UT
    Nov. 18, 2013 1:19 p.m.

    My heart goes out to these girls. They went through a near death experience, and once in safety wanted to go back and help others! They are amazing women and I hope they will get the counseling they need to deal with what they went through. Such a loss for the Philippines, and I am so sad for all those who lost their lives.

  • Leo Femedlers El Paso, TX
    Nov. 18, 2013 1:30 p.m.

    For some reason this modern day miracle reminds me of Helaman's Stripling warriors...

  • Giz Elk Ridge, UT
    Nov. 18, 2013 3:17 p.m.

    @Devo81 - Just a clarification, I know a journal was saved. Not during the escape, but after. My daughter had put her journal up on a top shelf in the room upstairs and when they came back to the apartment after the flood, it, along with a few other items, remained untouched.

  • elvisroidutexas Herriman, UT
    Nov. 18, 2013 8:23 p.m.

    I feel sorry for the three ladies answering all those phone calls.

  • Rikitikitavi Cardston, Alberta
    Nov. 19, 2013 8:52 p.m.

    The Holy Spirit is by far the most powerful source of comfort through trauma such as experienced by these missionaries.

  • RFLASH Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 20, 2013 4:26 p.m.

    It would be hard to see people die like that! Then, to think that so many people had no where to go afterwards! I never looked at non members in a different way. Somehow, in Sunday school, I remember being taught about where we came from and I have always known that we are the same. It would have been very difficult for me! It makes me feel a little humble reading this story. We shouldn't take life for granted and we should be more caring towards each other. God was with them!

  • Mattone48 Fayetteville, NC
    Nov. 23, 2013 3:55 a.m.

    We are thrilled to see you kids made it home safe! You were a joy to spend time with on the air strip

    SSG Clark & SFC Twiss