Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas From Elders Veater, Valentine, Carreon & Hartner

Merry Christmas

Dear Family & Friends:
Sounds like those of you in Seattle, Wisconsin and Utah are having a very white Christmas!
Christmas is going to be great around here. We have been invited to a few members' houses and so things are looking good. I don't know what time my phone call will be at because we can't use phone cards on the cell phones, so we will either have to wait until 7 p.m. when it's free or try and use a telephone at a member's house.
Right now it's really cold here (around 38 I think) and we heard it might stay this way for a little bit. I did get some holiday packages, and now my companion and I have 3 Christmas trees and tons of presents.
Our ward had its Christmas party on Saturday, and Santa came, so we all got our picture with Santa. It's been a pretty exciting time around here, everybody is really going all out with their decorations. It's really interesting to see the difference between the people that have a great Christmas planned and the people who are giving up everything to make certain their kids have a good Christmas. Speaking of Christmas, we taught this Jewish lady the other day. She is super nice and has actually been to church before in Arizona.
Merry Christmas to everyone, I appreciate your cards, letters, gifts, encouragement, and support. I can't wait to call home to say hello!
Elder Carreon

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snowman From the Famous Texas Snow of '04 - Will History Repeat Itself?

The Christmas Spirit Is Alive In Texas

Hello everyone
Happy Holidays.
We actually have transfers this week, but we all think that we are going to stay the same, but who knows. This week was a great week, we had a lot of success in finding new people to teach and we were really busy. I can't believe how fast time has flown by this transfer.
It's really starting to feel like Christmas around here. A lot of people go nuts with putting out lawn ornaments and lights and stuff and we figured it was because it is usually in the 80s around here, but all of that is changing! Today it's about 40 or so and last week it got down to about 30ish. There was a freak snow storm in 2004, and its looking like it may be cold enough to possibly get another one, but who knows. Today (Monday) we are going to go bowling because its the last P-Day of this transfer and next week we are going to have a multi-zone Christmas devotional and gift exchange.
Portland is great so far. It really has more of a smaller town feel to it and the people are generally very nice to us. The other day somebody gave us a box of chocolate-covered cherries! Things are definitely looking up for next transfer and hopefully we'll have some baptisms. We have a few that look good right now, but experience has taught me that you can't be sure until the baptism is already over! I got a letter the other day from our recent converts in Brownsville. The daughter really wants to go on a mission in July when she has a year in the church. She and her family went to the broadcast of the rededication of the Mexico City Temple and she said that motivated her even more to prepare to go. I am praying that I'll get transferred back into that ward before July so I can see her go! Anyway, have a great day, I want to thank everyone for their letters and words of support.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Historic Christmas Snow of 2004

The Holidays in Texas

Dear Family and Friends:
This week was pretty good. People around here really love Christmas. They go all out with decorating their lawns and houses and all sorts of stuff. We figured because it doesn't get cold here that people have to find other ways of getting in the holiday spirit. Apparently, it is supposed to get super super cold (maybe even the 30s) on Tuesday. It snowed on Christmas in 2004, and was a big deal, a children's' book was even written about it. Everyone says that was a one time fluke, however, and the temperature in South Texas is usually in the 70s or higher in December.
This week we had our interviews with Mission President Miller. I love interviews because I always get good counsel from him and learn a lot.
Every Friday we sing at this retirement home for an hour, and last Friday when we went and sang, there was this lady who had just had her birthday, so she had a balloon in her lap while we were singing. She started to flick the balloon with her nail and every time she did, it made this really loud popping noise. There was this older man sitting near her who was obviously bothered by the noise while we were singing, so he snuck up behind her and tried to steal the balloon from her, but it was wrapped around her finger. So they were both tugging at the balloon and the staff had to come and break it all up. It was pretty hilarious!
The First Presidency (out of Salt Lake) Christmas Devotional last night was awesome, and we even had some investigators come and watch it too!
Hopefully the memory card from the camera will turn up soon, in the mean time I'll try to get another one at Wal-Mart today (P-Day).
Right now Elder Waite is my Zone Leader, and tomorrow I'll will be going on exchanges with him. small world, right?
Mom, I don't know if you remember, but you sent me with three journal notebooks to write in. I am about to finish my second one and will start the third one soon, so if you could send me one more that should last me for the rest of my mission. So far I have written a journal entry for every single day of my mission! Tell everyone I love their cards and letters.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

View of the bay in Portland, Texas

Thanks for All the Packages and Cards

Dear Family:
Thanks for the various packages I have received from all of you and (those sent via dearelder.com, Deseret Book, etc.). Anything that wasn't sent by regular mail I will get on Wednesday when we have our interviews with President Miller.
This week was only so so. On Tuesday, I got pretty sick and had a fever and stuff, so we had to stay in all day and I mostly just slept! By that night my fever was totally gone and the next day I felt great, so It wasn't too big of a hinderance. Thanksgiving was great! We went over to the Kimmal families house. They had prepared the most awesome Thanksgiving dinner! There was so much food and they said they had used almost every dish they owned! It was an amazing meal, and it took us over an hour just to do the dishes! I hope everyone else had a great Thanksgiving. The only complaint I had was that it was about 75 degrees out and didn't feel at all like Thanksgiving or winter for that matter.
I can't believe it's already December, time is just flying around here. I also can't believe how fast this transfer has flown by. We have our interviews with President Miller next week and transfers are only in a couple of weeks. I really like it up here in Portland. Gas is at $1.57 now, and the rumor is that we might be next in line for getting a car. Cross your fingers. We have 3 companionships in our District. Of the 6 missionaries, 3 are from Washington, 1 from Oregon, and 2 from Utah, so the Northwest is pretty much dominating up here. Mom, I sent the memory card to the apartment address that you gave me, so maybe it's at the apartment office or something. I have a feeling that if it was returned to me, then I'll probably get it on Wednesday when we have our interviews. Tell everyone thanks for the birthday cards and that I'll write everyone back eventually! I hope all is well and that its not raining too hard. Thanks for your packages, letters, and prayers.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Boys at Thanksgiving

The Dessert

A Thanksgiving Surprise

Note From Ryan's Mom:
It was a wonderful surprise on Thanksgiving evening to receive this email and the above photos from the family that invited Elder Carreon and the other missionaries over for Thanksgiving dinner. It was especially thoughtful because I was missing Ryan and I'm sure the thousands of families of all the missionaries worldwide felt the same bittersweet feelings of pride and joy mixed in with the pain of separation. I very much appreciate the Kimmel family's wonderful gesture to take photos of the missionaries and then email their families.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, I just wanted to say that it was a delight to have your boys over for dinner. They gave us a really great spiritual thought about gratitude- you should ask them to share the story they told. They were a great BIG help with dishes.
Thank you so much for all your sacrifice! We appreciate all these guys do in this area.

-The Kimmel Family

Monday, November 24, 2008

Salt Lake Temple in Autumn

Happy Thanksgiving From Texas

Dear Family & Friends:
Happy Thanksgiving to everybody!
This week has been pretty good. I did get a few of the birthday packages, the UPS ones can't be forwarded, so I'm going to have to wait until somebody from the mission office drives up here. We have interviews on the 3rd, so I'll definitely get them all by then. I also got some cards numbered 1, 3, and 4, so hopefully #2 is on its way! Anyway, it was a great birthday. We found out that one of the guys we are teaching had his 21st birthday on that same day, too!
We had two pretty crazy things happen on Tuesday. We have a meeting every Tuesday morning with all of the Elders in our District, and so we decided to put our bikes on the bike rack behind the other elders' car so that way they could drop us off afterward and we wouldn't have to bike. As we were strapping up the bikes, this lady came up to us and said that she felt like she needed to talk to us. She had just been randomly wandering around our apartment complex because she was having a really, really bad day and saw us. Turns out her marriage is about to break up, and she was feeling devastated. We were able to get her address and go over to visit with her later and help her out with a gospel lesson about self esteem.
As we were loading the bikes on the rack, we put mine on first and then my companion's. As we were driving down the freeway, Elder Hartner, who was driving, said, "Oh no! We lost one of the bikes!" We quickly pulled over and got out, and Elder Veater's bike had popped off the bike rack and fell all the way off. One of the spokes on his front wheel had miraculously latched onto the pedal of my bike, so we dragged the bike with us as we pulled over. The other crazy part was that both bikes were 100% fine except that Elder Veater's bike seat got scratched up a tiny bit. It was pretty crazy!
After District Meeting we found this seafood place that has a $2.50 all-you-can-eat plate on Tuesdays only, so it looks like we're going to make that a Tuesday tradition from now on. We have already been invited by so many members for Thanksgiving, so are going to get pretty fat!
P.S. The lady that came up to us on Tuesday is going through a super tough time, and we have done our best to find words of wisdom to help her. I was wondering what kind of advice anyone has for somebody in this situation. Does anyone have a favorite scripture or song or anything like that we could use to help her? Write soon and let me know. Thanks a lot!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy November 20th Birthday to Elder Carreon!

Dear Family and Friends:
Portland, Texas is great. The ward I am in is pretty small and will only get smaller since the nearby Navy base is closing down in February. A lot of the members are in the military, and quite a few of them have recently been deployed to Bahrain, a tiny country in the Middle East.
We had Zone Conference on Wednesday, which was way good. It's starting to cool off here ( in the '70s!), which is really nice during the day. It's fine at night with a sweater, but the first couple of nights we weren't expecting it! It also rained for a day on Thursday, but all in all it has been pretty good. Yesterday was pretty fun as well. I was asked to teach the gospel principles Sunday School class at the last minute, but it went pretty well anyway. Things have been going good here so far, nothing too crazy this week, but things are definitely picking up and we have a couple of really cool investigators. I can't believe it's been a year since I've seen everyone. I now officially have more days behind me than I do in front. I think it will really start to hit me when the New Year comes around. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Transferred to Portland, Texas!

Hello to all. This week was crazy crazy crazy! On Tuesday nights, the week of transfers, we usually receive the call from our District Leader as to who will be transferred the next day. Elder Clarke and I thought for sure that we were going to stay together, so we didn't worry much. At about 9:30 p.m. President Miller called us and talked to my companion first. He told Elder Clarke that he was going to be with one of his former companions again, and afterward he talked to me and told me that I was going to be transferred to Portland, TX.
My new companion and I are going to "white-wash" the area. That means that both of the old missionaries get transferred out, so both my companion (Elder Veater) and I are brand new in the area. So the next day I got transferred. It was sad because I really loved Flour Bluff, but Portland is super amazing. It's a very scenic place, and reminds me a lot of California. Ever since then, my companion and I have been trying to figure out where everything is and who all the members are and stuff. I'm not 100% sure about the new address, so just keep sending stuff to the mission office.
Elder Veater is from Ogden, Utah, and he's only been on his mission 10 months. The other companionship that attends our ward got white-washed in too, so yesterday everyone in the ward was surprised to see four new Elders! This area is great. The only downside is that we're on bikes again! We cover Portland and a small little town named Gregory. Pull up some pictures of Portland, because it's a super nice area. Across the street from our apartment is Nueces Bay, and we have this awesome view of Corpus Christi.
Just keep praying that we can get some good things done. Have a great week and tell everyone HI!
Love, Elder Carreon
* Blog Master's Note: Here is some info on Portland, Texas:
Portland is called the "Gem City of the Gulf Coast" and is described as being the most attractive and pleasant spot in Texas. It is situated in a beautiful 30- to 40-foot-high bluff overlooking 150 square miles of waves and fronted the deepest water in Corpus Christi Bay. As a summer and winter resort, Portland is described as being particularly pleasing with a mild climate and prevailing bay breezes. As a place for sportsmen, Portland is also known for its clean, family-oriented atmosphere, its TEA recognized school district, its very close proximity to downtown Corpus Christi (7 miles) and the multitude of recreational activities afforded by its position on both Nueces and Corpus Christi Bays; including birding, kite-surfing, fishing, golfing, swimming, canoeing, biking, kayaking and nature viewing. Portland also has 5 historical markers that tell stories of its past. The original Townsite of Portland came into being from 640 acres purchased by John G. Willacy in November 1890. The land was located on both sides of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad and overlooked both Corpus Christi and Nueces Bay. Ducks and other game are abundant, while the bays abound with redfish, tarpon and other varieties of fish. More fish and oysters are taken from these waters than at any point in the Gulf Coast.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween and Possible Transfers

Hello to everyone:
This week with Halloween was pretty interesting. We weren't allowed to be out past 6 p.m. because of all of the trick-or-treaters and stuff, but around 5:30 p.m. we started to see people coming out. We knocked on this one door and this guy in a clown suit answered. We had to try really really hard not to laugh. We also saw a person dressed as Jesus answer another door. At 6 p.m. we went to the chapel with a bunch of other missionaries and had pizza and played games and stuff until 9 p.m.
We have transfers this wednesday. I can't believe it's been six weeks already. I hope I get to stay here longer, I really love it here and I can see this area progressing, so if my mission president or his wife happen to be reading this DON'T TRANSFER ME!!!!!!!
Unfortunately, I also have been a bit under the weather. It started yesterday and really hit me last night, but when I woke up today I felt way better, so hopefully it's nothing too big. The election seems to be all everyone is talking about around here, sounds like it will be an interesting one. I still haven't gotten my ballot yet, but I heard that Los Angeles is having a record number of absentee voters and so it's taking them a long time to get the ballots out. Hopefully I'll get mine soon! I requested it almost a month ago! Mom, happy birthday! Love, Ryan

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Baptism Coming Up

Thanks for all of your prayers. We had some great things happen despite my companion being sick at home for a few days this week. It was hard for me, too, because I was getting cabin fever staying home. Usually we are busy every moment, so it's quite a switch to have down time like that.
As for how the work is going, there is this girl whose boyfriend is a member of the church, and he invited her to church and gave her a Book of Mormon and all this stuff. She had been going to her boyfriend's Ward since August, and about a week or so ago she went to the Bishop and asked him how she could get baptized! She lives in our area, so on Thursday we took her over to a member's house and had a lesson with her. It was great! She is super prepared to receive the gospel. She said that she and her boyfriend read from the Book of Mormon together and that she feels different at our church than the other ones she's been to. She is amazing, and will be baptized on November 9th! Please keep her in your prayers! If everyone could please continue to pray for our other investigators, that would help out a lot, too.
Friday night was pretty lame. We got in our car and drove far away from our apartment, and after we were done in that area we went back to the car, and it died on us. It was probably the fuel pump, and this one guy told us that a lot of fuel pumps have been going out lately because this certain gas station puts some extra stuff in the gas that kills the pump faster than normal. We had to walk home, and we've been on bike and foot since then. Gas is super super super cheap around here, about $2.25 a gallon. There are rumors that gas in Ingleside is less than $2 a gallon! I hope it keeps going down!
We're going to a Halloween party at the church on Friday with all of the missionaries, so I'll send some pictures. Tell everybody that I say hi!
Love, Elder Carreon

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nearing the One-Year Mark

Dear Family & Friends: I can't believe it's been almost a year since I started my mission. This week was kind of crazy. We had our interviews with President and Sister Miller, which is always a good experience. They are a big part of why this mission is so great.
I do have one request. I know I haven't really done this much, but I would like to ask you guys if you could pray for two of our investigators this week. That would be great. I won't give their names to respect their privacy, but please pray for them and for us so that we can know how to help them. Come to think of it, why not pray for all the investigators!
Flour Bluff is an amazing place. The people and the members are wonderful. I've learned so much since I've been here. I'll try to resend the pictures, they were returned because I didn't have the right apartment number. Write soon and thank you for your letters, prayers, and encouraging words.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Members and the Beach

Hello to alI:
Mom, I did get the Halloween package.We are now addicted to candy corn. We have this member who is trying to quit smoking and wants to come back to church. She says she has tried everything, so what we decided to do was get her to smoke less and less until she can go cold turkey. We took her pack of cigarettes and put in a picture of Jesus, so every time she wants to smoke, she has to reach over the photo. We hope that helps her out.
On Thursday, I went on exchanges with Elder Lopez. He's from Long Beach, so we talked a lot about L.A. On Saturday we spent most of the day on North Padre Island. We ate with a member family who live in an apartment building right on the beach. It was pretty awesome. There were a bunch of people kite boarding in the water and stuff. The week was pretty normal on the whole, but the members around here love us and are giving us a lot of names of people to work with so hopefully something good will turn out soon! Anyway, all is well here and I'll send some pictures soon.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A New Area

Dear Family & Friends
I'll send home the memory card from my camera today. I have a lot of pictures from when we went to the zoo in Brownsville.
This week I am trying to decide who to vote for. I haven't heard anything about any of the candidates except one rumor that Obama might not actually be a U.S. citizen! That would be a huge problem if that turns out to be true. I have already requested a ballot from California, but I still have no idea who to vote for.
My new area, Flour Bluff, is pretty crazy! There is a real cultural difference between here and the valley.
People here are super nice, too, but more willing to be honest with you and slam the door in your face. It makes finding those who want to hear about the gospel a lot easier, but still takes some getting used to. General Conference was amazing! It's pretty much like Christmas for missionaries because all we do is hang out at the church and watch all of the sessions. I'm pretty sure the world is going to end soon because during the first session all of the speakers were super intense and spiritually powerful and talking about unifying our hearts and minds in Zion and stuff. It was way more intense than I remember it being, but maybe that's just because I actually paid attention! I can't wait until the Ensign (church magazine) comes out. Our area covers Flour Bluff and North Padre Island. Yesterday we went to the island (we usually go on Sundays). It reminds me a lot of California. It's very beachy and there are lots of palm trees and stuff. A lot of the houses come with a private dock. It's really cool, but takes like 20 minutes to drive across the bridge to get there.
Hope you had a great week and write soon.
Love, Ryan

Monday, September 29, 2008

Another Baptism & a Transfer

Hello to all:
Well, this week was great! We had been teaching the second daughter of a woman we baptized, and she said that she wanted to be baptized. We had the interview on Tuesday night and everything was great! She said that she wanted me to baptize her, too! Unfortunately, on Tuesday night, we got the call that I was being transfered up to Corpus Christi. It was very sad, but I'm glad that she was baptized yesterday and they gave me their address, so I will probably write them a letter soon.
Right now I'm in a place called Flour Bluff in Corpus Christi. It is right across Oso Bay and you have to drive over this bridge across the water to get the city. We also have North Padre Island in our area. It is a super cool place. I am co-senior companions with Elder Clarke, one of the missionaries that flew into Texas with me. He's From Toronto, Canada. We get along great and we are going to have an awesome transfer together. This area is super different than the valley. First of all, everyone has a southern accent and it's just a different type of people. It feels more like the actual "south." We have about 10000000 members in our area and we have a car, so I will probably get fat while I'm here.
Crazy story. So last night we went over to a member family's house on The Island, named the Sturgis family. The parents are both originally from Southern California, and Sister Sturgis is cousins with the Tanner family in Arcadia! Small world! Brother Sturgis is really into guitar and music recording and has a studio and a ton of guitars in his house. I think I'm really going to like this area a lot. The members are super awesome and feed us all of the time. Yesterday alone we had two dinner appointments in a row! They are all super excited about missionary work too, and so we have a lot of ward support.
As you know, we had the chance to have Elder Shumway come and train us. He was awesome! The whole Valley met up in McAllen at one of the chapels, and we had a huge Zone Conference. Elder Shumway talked about how he sees great potential in this mission!
I am also excited for General Conference (broadcast from Salt Lake City on television) this weekend. It's pretty much like Christmas for the missionaries, because all we do is hang out at the chapel and watch all 5 sessions.
Cooper told me his school might get cancelled because of gas shortages in Tennessee. We haven't really had any problems down here. We have had some debris washing up on the beach shores (tv, clothes, microwaves, etc.). Sounds like the hurricane did some real damage up in Houston! Well, gotta go, almost out of time!
Write soon.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Elder Carreon Reunites With Elder Maynes From MTC Days

Zone Conference & Transfers

Dear Family & Friends:
We haven't had any problems with gas prices or shortages in this area, but I heard that in northern Texas it's pretty bad. I also heard that gas prices might go up if any of the refineries were damaged by the hurricane.
Tomorrow we have Zone Conference with Elder Shumway of the Seventies, and then tomorrow night we have transfers. We are all excited to see what happens. Elder Gish wants to go to one more area before his mission is over, and I love this area and want to stay, so hopefully we will get our wishes! We are pretty sure that we will be splitting up.
Last monday for P-day we all went downtown. It was uncanny how much it looks like downtown Laredo,I felt like I knew my way around!
On Wednesday we had our interviews with President Miller. It was a really good interview. He's a really great Mission President and a great leader.
Thursday was pretty funny. We were teaching this lady on her front porch. The whole time her kids were runnig around in the yard going nuts. So we were talking about families and she said how much she loved hers, and that they were really happy. Almost on cue, her littlest son runs out into the front yard, pulls down his pants and starts going to the bathroom in front of us all. Then her other son grabbed the hose and started trying to squirt him and almost got us too! It was pretty funny. Also that night we had a very interesting experience. We went to a lesson with a member. When we got there, the family told us that the husband was running late and would be back in 5 or 10 minutes, so we decided to wait. About 5 minutes later the brother we were waiting with said, "Hey elders, lets go knock that door." So we go over to this door and knock it and start talking to this lady. All of the sudden she says to him, "Cousin is that you?" Apparently it was his cousin and he didn't even know she lived there! We were able to teach her a lesson and it went great!
On Friday the Ward put on this activity about the "Articles of Faith." It went really well. Each auxillary organization was assigned a few of the articles and had to recite them and explain what they meant. It was fun and we had a lot of people show up.
Today we are going to try and go to the zoo, but it was raining this morning, so we'll see what happens. Tell everyone to write soon, I really look forward to all your letters.
Love, Ryan

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ties and More Ties

Spending Time With a New Member

Looking Forward to Zone Conference

Dear Family and Friends:
I can't believe Nana and Ron will be getting home from their mission to Africa so soon!
Honestly, we were all pretty disappointed that Hurricane Ike totally missed us.
Just last night it started to rain and thunder just a bit, but other than that nothing much has really happened. We were excited because we were on call to see if we were going to get evacuated or not. Then, we went about three days with no new updates as to whether it was going to hit us or not. Then they finally called and said Ike had turned and was going up to Houston, so we were fine.
Yesterday at church however, the Bishop of the Spanish Ward said that there are two more hurricanes that are forming near the Gulf and we should be prepared.
Apparently, this year has been one of the most active hurricane years in a while!
It seems early to give you my Christmas wish list, but here goes: cds would be great. We can listen to MoTab, Hymns, and Classical music more than 100 years old. Any good classical music would be great. We were going to go to the zoo today, but it's pretty rainy outside, so maybe next week. Also next week, we are going to have Elder Shumway from the second Quorum of the Seventy come and give a special Zone Conference, which should be great! We are all very excited. Tell everyone hi and keep me updated!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Missionaries Return Home, Back to Work

Saturday, September 13, 2008
Texas McAllen Mission

To the Parents of Missionaries in the Texas McAllen Mission,

We are writing in concern of Hurricane Ike. As many of you have seen, the hurricane turned north of our mission towards the Houston area. All of our missionaries were well prepared for evacuation and for safety precautions some were evacuated, but we are happy to say that all of the missionaries have now returned home and are back to work. We experienced some minor rain, but there was no damage from the hurricane in our mission. Thank you for your prayers and concerns.

Kindest Regards,

President Gary F. Miller
Mission President

As Hurricane Ike continues its path across the Gulf of Mexico, representatives of the Church are planning ways to help. Church representatives have been asked by emergency management officials for the state of Texas to provide support. In fact, many relief supplies delivered by the Church are being stored in facilities managed by Texas authorities and in bishops’ storehouses. Church representatives continue to work with emergency management personnel to identify where help may be needed.
Emergency supplies are positioned in six different locations in the Gulf region and are ready for distribution to several thousand people. These supplies include truckloads of cleaning kits, hygiene kits, blankets, water and food. Small quantities of additional supplies such as sleeping bags, work gloves, chain saws, wheelbarrows, first aid kits, cots, tents and tarps are also on hand if needed. Additional truckloads of hygiene kits are currently being created in Salt Lake City today, many of which are being delivered to the Gulf region.
Following the storm, and after officials have authorized return to the area, the Church will offer support to local elected officials. “We have remarkably close relationships with those leaders. They are familiar with what the Church can do with our resources, manpower and commodities,” said Peter Evans of the Church’s Welfare Services Department.
Earlier this week and into today, volunteers are working at the Church’s Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City assembling hygiene kits to replenish supplies being used in support of current disasters. At the bishops’ storehouse in Dallas, volunteers are busy today assembling 2,400 food boxes and will continue their efforts tomorrow. Each of the food boxes can feed a family of four for 10 days.

Ike is by no means the first hurricane the Church has responded to. For instance, the Church provided 200 semi-truck loads of aid and 42,000 man-days of labor in response to Hurricane Katrina. In recent days the Church has offered support to Hurricane Gustav response efforts as well. The Church humanitarian aid system is experienced and is well-equipped to respond to a variety of disasters, including hurricanes.

Saturday, September 13, 200
GALVESTON, Texas (CNN) -- Rescuers in Galveston, Texas, were going door-to-door Saturday to check on 20,000 people who failed to flee from Hurricane Ike -- which has slowed to tropical storm status.
President Bush declared 29 Texas counties a major disaster area, making federal funds available for recovery from the storm.
Ike was downgraded Saturday to a tropical storm 11 hours after it crashed ashore as a Texas-sized hurricane that walloped southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.
The storm's sustained winds dropped to 60 mph as it moved north across Texas, expending its power along the way.
In the coastal city of Galveston, CNN affiliate KPRC showed workers checking homes where people who had ignored warnings to evacuate had subsequently begged 911 operators for help.
Three deaths in Texas have been attributed to the storm.
"The hotel we were in was rocking and windows blowing out," Mark Sudduth, of hurricanetrack.com, told CNN.
"There was enormous wave action, the wind, the power outages, fires in the distance. It was everything that a Hollywood epic disaster movie would be made of, but for real," he said. Watch where the storm is now »
Houston Mayor Bill White told CNN that his city appears to have avoided loss of life, but streets blocked by floodwaters, downed trees and power lines hampered efforts to determine the full extent of the damage.
White advised residents to drink bottled or boiled tap water as a precaution after a power outage reduced water pressure, but he said nothing indicated that the water supply was contaminated.
In downtown Houston, streets were littered with debris, including traffic lights and glass. The city's tallest skyscraper, the 75-story JP Morgan Chase Tower, was missing many of its windows.
Nearly 2.6 million customers in Texas and Louisiana lack power because of Ike, the U.S. Energy Department said on Saturday. Watch an iReporter's firsthand account of the storm »
"It's going to take several weeks to get all this power restored," CenterPoint Energy spokesman Floyd LeBlanc said. "We've been saying two to three weeks."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Elder Carreon et al prepared to "Hunker Down"

Texas McAllen Mission
To the Parents of Missionaries serving in the Texas McAllen Mission,

As we have continued to monitor Hurricane Ike, it has moved in a more north-easterly direction of our mission. We have evacuated the fourteen missionaries from the areas that we mentioned yesterday. It is anticipated the other missionaries will be able to remain in their own apartments. As the storm continues we will remain in communication with all of the missionaries to ensure their safety. Everyone is prepared with cell phones, full tanks of gas in their cars, food, and water. As of right now, there is no further need for further evacuations. We may lose power due to winds in some areas, but we expect that we will be able to continue communicating with you via email throughout the hurricane. Your missionary sons and daughters are the very best-thank you all for sending us such well prepared servants.

Best Regards,

President Gary F. Miller
Mission President

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thursday Update on Hurricane Ike

Texas McAllen Mission
Hurricane Ike Update #2
Thursday 11 September 2008 12:30pm

To the Parents and other concerned parties:

As of 12:00 pm today the decision was taken to evacuated missionaries from the following areas:
· Beeville, Sinton, Ingleside, Portland and Rockport.

We will continue to monitor hourly the progress and tracking of Ike, as further evacuations may become necessary throughout the day and into tomorrow.

For those of you keeping abreast of the storm you know that the current projected path has shifted to the North, not withstanding we are monitoring its progress hourly.

Best Regards,

Gary F. Miller
President, Texas McAllen Mission

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hurricane Ike News From The Mission President

Texas McAllen Mission

To the Parents of Missionaries serving in the Texas McAllen Mission,
I am writing in concern of Hurricane Ike. We are well aware of the storm and have been monitoring it very closely. We will continue to watch this on an hourly basis. In event of an evacuation your son or daughter will temporally be located in a safe place in the mission. If an evacuation is necessary we will keep you updated. Your missionaries are in good hands. We will keep you updated daily.
All missionaries as of this moment are prepared, their automobiles have full tanks of fuel and each has an emergency preparedness kit.
At the present time there is a likelihood that all of the missionaries in and around the Corpus Christi area could be evacuated as early as tomorrow. Preparations are now in place for such an event.

Thank You,

Gary F. Miller
President Texas McAllen Mission

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

CNN, AP Report Hurricane Ike Is Headed For South Texas

Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008, 11:45 p.m.
Texas readies evacuation order in case hurricane comes
The Associated Press

McALLEN, Texas | With Hurricane Ike steaming into the Gulf of Mexico, Texas emergency officials Tuesday stood ready to order a million people evacuated from the impoverished Rio Grande Valley.
The emergency officials have another problem: Convincing tens of thousands of illegal immigrants that they have less to fear from the Border Patrol than from the storm.
Emergency planning officials were meeting all day to decide whether and when to announce a mandatory evacuation for coastal counties close to the Mexican border.
With forecasts showing Ike blowing ashore this weekend, authorities lined up nearly 1,000 buses in case they were needed to move out the many poor and elderly people who have no cars.
Federal authorities gave assurances they would not check people’s immigration status at evacuation loading zones or inland checkpoints. But residents were skeptical, and there were worries that many illegal immigrants would refuse to board buses and go to shelters for fear of getting arrested and deported.
It would be the first mandatory large-scale evacuation in south Texas history. State and county officials let people decide for themselves whether to leave a hurricane area until just before Hurricane Rita struck the Gulf Coast in 2005. Now county officials can order people out of harm’s way.
Hurricane Ike left Cuba on Tuesday as a Category 1 storm, but left behind between $3 billion and $4 billion in wreckage to homes, agriculture, the electrical grid and public buildings, the United Nations said.

CNN) -- Hurricane Ike was strengthening Tuesday night in the Gulf of Mexico after battering Cuba, and forecasters said they expected it to hit Texas by week's end as a major hurricane.
Forecast models showed that Ike could cross Texas' coast Friday evening or Saturday morning anywhere from Brownsville, near the Mexico border, to Galveston, about 60 miles southwest of the Texas-Louisiana line, CNN meteorologists said.
Ike is expected to strengthen further over the Gulf's warm waters and could be a Category 3 storm -- with sustained winds of 111 to 130 mph -- when it makes landfall, the hurricane center said.
Galveston, Texas, Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas warned residents to stock up on nonperishable items, including pet food and diapers, and to prepare for going without electricity.
City Manager Steve LeBlanc issued a warning to residents of Galveston's West End, citing forecasters' estimates that the area could get tides of 6 feet above normal if the storm arrives there. The West End, he said, is the area of Galveston most susceptible to flooding.
Thomas said she could call for voluntary evacuations of the West End by Wednesday morning, depending on forecasts.
By Tuesday night, officials in Corpus Christi, Texas, had called for the evacuations of special-needs residents beginning Wednesday morning. They also called for the relocation of high-profile vehicles -- including vans, motor homes, travel trailers and hitched boats -- that could hinder traffic if expanded evacuations become necessary.
The Texas Department of Transportation said it expected to open a shoulder of northbound Interstate 37 to traffic -- from coastal Corpus Christi to U.S. 281 roughly 80 miles inland -- on Wednesday morning to help people trying to leave the city.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry put 7,500 National Guard members on standby Tuesday.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Elders Davich, To'o, Johansson, Fowler, Ortiz, Gish, Carreon, Viera & the Jaramillo Family

Popped Tire


Here Comes Ike

Dear Family & Friends:
So the word on the street is that Hurricane Ike is a Level 4 and might head our way. Last we heard it was just entering the Gulf today and we won't find out what happens until next week. Hopefully everything will be okay. My companion had a dream last night that we were getting evacuated and that he didn't have any food prepared, so needless to say he is going to buy lots of extra food today! Right now it's raining pretty hard and there has been some lightning and stuff.
This week was a pretty normal week. Supposedly it's going to start cooling down (yeah right!) in a couple of weeks. And were all excited to see who is going to come down for our super secret zone conference thingy. I met this other missionary named Elder Hancock who is from Bellevue. I don't have a lot of time, but I heard from Roxanne and Cooper in Tennessee, and that was great. Ask everyone to write me, I enjoy the letters and packages from home.
Love, Ryan

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

McAllen Stake Reorganization

Hello to everyone. We didn't email monday because the library was closed for the holiday, and when we went to the library yesterday, the internet was down.
Well, it's official, Elder Oaks of the Twelve is coming to reorganize the McAllen Stake, and at the end of this month we are having a special Zone Conference and will be hearing from a "mystery" General Authority. Hopefully it will be Elder Oaks!
Last week at Zone Conference the Mission President told us some really interesting "news." He said that a few years ago he was a Stake President in California and the state was trying to pass the proposition defining marriage between a man and a woman, and about the same time the church came out with the Family Proclamation defining the church's views. Basically, the proposition passed. Then, there was a huge uproar, so on the ballot this year is an amendment to the California constitution defining what marriage is. So the other day, the President received some letters for some people claiming that there are people that don't support the church's position that marriage is between a man and woman only, and supposedly some of the "authorities" are involved and they are going to start a "secret society" to stand up against the church and such. He said he and his wife had a good laugh because part of the letter said something like "there are some key words that the members of our society will say across the pulpit at General Conference so you know that there are many people who hold this view. The key words are: Faith and Repentance"! We all laughed pretty hard. We continue to work hard and be positive, working to help people with whatever we can.
We keep hearing the news that there are a few other hurricanes brewing in the Gulf that might head this way. Everyone around here is getting way prepared in case anything happens, but it has pretty much been hot and sunny lately. Have a great week and write soon everyone!
Love, Ryan

Monday, August 25, 2008

A New Member With Her Proud Missionaries

A Beautiful Baptism & Elder Carreon's First Confirmation in Spanish

A Rumor and More Rain

Dear Family & Friends:
This week was made even more interesting by some speculation around the mission. Supposedly, for next transfer's Zone Conference, Elder Dallen Oaks (from the Council of the Twelve in Salt Lake) might come down! It was definitely one of those through-the-grapevine type stories (we heard it from the District Leader who heard it from the Zone Leaders who heard it from the APs...) so we'll see what happens. That would be really exciting though!
It has been raining like crazy here these past few days, and it really started coming down hard yesterday during church. One of the companionships in our District baptized 5 people yesterday!!! The Spanish Ward down here is having crazy amounts of success, almost a baptismal service every week.
The English ward is still kind of slow. We just recently got a new ward mission leader, and he has been in the ward since the ward was formed so he knows almost everyone on the roster. We have lots of ideas for him, and we have been seeing a lot of success lately. Our two recent converts have been trying to work with another family member, and we just got a call this morning that she had promised them she would come to church this Sunday. They have also been talking to their friends a lot about the church and they have this one friend that seems interested. They invited her to hear the lessons, so we are going over to teach her. The new members are so awesome, and the daughter talks about how she wants to go on a mission next year (she turns 21 and hits a year as a member in the same month, so she could go).
Things down here are going great so far and hopefully they will continue to grow. Mom, I was wondering: I have a copy of the "New Oxford English-to Spanish Picture Dictionary." I heard that the same company makes flash cards to go along with the dictionary and if so, I was wondering if you could send them to me! Thanks a lot!

Love, Ryan

Monday, August 18, 2008

Elders Carreon & Gish in the Rain

Transfers & a Dog Attack Day

Hello to all,
This week was a very interesting one!
On Monday, we were riding our bikes, and my companion's tire exploded. He had been having a lot of problems with his bike lately, and this was the culmination. Luckily we were right in front of Wal-Mart, so we were able to get him the stuff he needed to repair it.
Tuesday was exciting because we got to find out about transfers. We knew that we were definitely going to have at least one change because Elder To'o was leaving. I think I jinxed the whole thing because I was like, "That would be lame if transfers were really boring and nothing happened!" and then five minutes later we recieved a phone call saying that there was going to be no changes within our district. So now I have had 2 companions in a row for 3 transfers, and for both of them, I'm the only companion that they have had for 3 transfers.
Wednesday was sad because Elder To'o left for the mission office to then go home. He seemed pretty bummed out, but I know he really wanted to see his family again.
Thursday was dog attack day! We went over to see some members in the morning and this big slobbery dog comes out of nowhere and starts jumping all over my companion and drooling all over him and chewing on his back pack and stuff. I just sat back and laughed. Then we had this other dog follow us like 5 blocks and bark at us the whole way. Later, we were with some other members standing in the driveway and this dog comes bolting out of their house and starts jumping all over my companion, so I tried to sneakily back away so it wouldn't jump on me, but it noticed and it came racing toward me. I backed up faster and tripped, and it jumped all over me as I was on the ground.
Saturday and Sunday were pretty crazy. We got pulled over by this guy on Saturday who said, "Hey have I talked to you before?" and I said "No." He said, "Well, can we chat for a bit?" We humored him, but if there is one thing that I've learned as a missionary, it's that if people inivite you into their house or want to chat with you before you've said anything to them, it's bad. This was no exception. Turns out he was a very active member of his church and wanted to argue with us using his scriptures. So we talked for a few minutes and bore our testimonies and rode away.
On Sunday we were telling this story to some other Elders in our district, and it turns out that they met the same guy a few days earlier. I guess he must be going around trying to bash with all of the LDS missionaries or something. I also got a bunch of mail on Sunday, and it turns out that Kelli McCoy (from Arcadia Ward and Arcadia High) is getting married in a week or so. I also got a package and some other letters and stuff so thanks everyone! Please keep the missionaries in your prayers. Have a great week!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Elder To'o (2nd from left, back row) is finishing his mission this week

Typical Street in Brownsville

A Thousand Pounds of Ties

Hello to Family & Friends:

On Tuesday we went over to a member's house and they have this little poodle type dog, and it was running around and on the couch and stuff. I guess my companion didn't notice it, because when he went to sit on the couch, he sat right on it. It was pretty funny.
On Monday the Zone Leaders bought a 1,000 pound bale of ties for $17, and so on Wednesday night they dropped off all these bags of ties for us to have. Most of them weren't any good, but we found some awesome ones in there!
On Friday the ward mission leader in Spanish ward invited us to the church and he and his family made us this huge meal of BBQ and stuff. It was super good!
This Wednesday is transfers again, and we don't find out until tomorrow who stays and who goes. I think I'm going to stay and get a new companion, but we'll see what happens.
Supposedly it is supposed to rain a lot this week, we don't really have access to weather forecast or anything (maybe you could email me the 10-day forecast in your emails or something!). I'm sad that this transfer is ending because Elder To'o is finished with his mission and is going home, but I'm also excited to see what new changes there will be. Only 2 transfers until I've been out a year! That's so crazy to think about. Anyways, take care and tell everyone that I say hi!

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Missionary Moment

It's a Small, Small World

Hello to all

Last week I received an email from the father of one of my Zone leaders, Elder Davich. He said that he was looking up Hurricane Dolly on the web and came across my blog. He said the he was surprised to find out that Ron Bean was my grandfather, because 10 years ago it was that same Ron Bean that had helped bring him and his son (my Zone Leader) into the gospel. What a small, small world!
This week was kind of a slow week and we worked extra hard to find people to teach, but thus is the life of a missionary.
We had our interviews with Mission President Miller on Friday. My interview went really well. He is an awesome man, and is really inspired on how to lead us.
On Saturday we were riding our bikes, and when we went to lock them up my companion was like "oh no!" It turns out that when he hopped off his bike, he ripped his pants! Luckily we only had like 45 minutes until we were going to be at home.
Sunday, our newest convert was confirmed. She is super strong and now wants to share the gospel with everyone. It's amazing how the Restored Gospel changes people. Just in the few weeks that we have been teaching her family, I have definitely seen a change in her and her daughter's countenance. They are both super happy!
This transfer had flown by, and now we have transfers in only a week and a half. I'll let you know if I stay in Brownsville or move to another area of the mission.

Love, Ryan

Monday, July 28, 2008

Elder Carreon's Hurricane Report; Plus, A Wonderful Miracle

Dear Family & Friends:
This week was the craziest week of all time! Rumors had been floating around that we were probably going to be evacuated due to an impending hurricane/tropical storm. At the same time, on Monday, we had a miracle occur.
We had been teaching this mother and daughter, and recently, the daughter was baptized. The mother, however, kept saying she wanted to be baptized but wouldn't set a date. Nine days ago on Saturday, we had had a lesson with her and she said that she had a situation with her other daughter and that was why she wanted to wait. She didn't go into much detail, but she assured us that God knew the situation. We were pretty bummed out because we thought that she was justifying waiting and that if she kept doing that she might never get baptized. We had been praying really hard for her, and on Monday we decided that we were going to try and help her overcome whatever was holding her back. We had hardly sat down when she told us, "I want to get baptized this Sunday." We practically fell off our chairs. She told us that she was afraid that her other daughter wouldn't approve of her being baptized and it would tear her family apart. On Saturday after our lesson, she went home and prayed and said that if her daughter showed interest and approval, she would be baptized. That night when her daughter came home from work she asked her mom if she could read one of the church magazines with them. So yesterday the mother was baptized!
Tuesday was also craziness as the hurricane set in. We received a call that we would probably evacuate later that day, and at 12 p.m. they told us to get to McAllen asap. We packed 72 hours worth of food and water and left as fast as we could.
We worked in McAllen the rest of the day and saw that some people were boarding up houses and others weren't. That night 16 of us stayed in this one house that the mission owns.
Wednesday it started to rain and blow really hard and they wouldn't let us leave the house. That night we lost power so we had to light a bunch of candles and stuff. They also said that the state wasn't allowing travel to Brownsville, either. Apparently all of Brownsville lost power, 40,000 homes and businesses lost power in Harlingen, and about 10,000 homes and businesses in McAllen.
Thursday we got the power back in the morning, and around 2 p.m. they let us go back. It had stopped raining and such, but a lot of the roads were closed and there was a lot of flooding. It took 4 1/2 hours to get back to Brownsville.
On Sunday I had to give a talk in church about preparedness. Everything else ran short and one of the speakers didn't show up, so I had to take about 30 minutes. Somehow I managed! It actually wasn't that bad, it was definitely one of the better talks that I have given. After church, we had the baptism! It was amazing, and she was sooooo happy!
This morning we went to Los Fresnos and helped clear fallen trees and stuff from the hurricane. Not too much damage happened, mostly trees falling onto people's houses and signs and other stuff had blown down. Reports said that the valley area got really lucky because the storm didn't do as much damage to our area as it did to some others. We might not be so lucky next time.
Thanks to everyone for their prayers and concern.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Safe At Home, Service Projects Abound

Texas McAllen Mission
Parents of Missionaries in the Texas McAllen Mission,

We are pleased to announce that all of the missionaries have now safely returned to their homes. All were anxious to get back to work after having been kept inside. Many service projects have arisen from Hurricane Dolly and we hope that we will be able to take this event and turn it into a positive way to serve those around us and open their hearts to receive the Restored Gospel.
All of the missionaries had sufficient food, water, bedding, and everything else they needed to get by. They all learned the valuable lesson of being prepared.
Although there was flooding and strong winds in different parts of the mission, all of the apartments remained dry and intact. We have been greatly blessed by the hand of the Lord.
Thank you for your prayers and concerns.

Kindest Regards,

President Gary F. Miller
Mission President

Padres de los Misioneros sirviendo en la Misión de Texas McAllen,

Estamos felices para anunciar que todos los misioneros ahora han regresado a sus casas sin problema. Todos estaban ansiosos para empezar a trabajar después de haber estado adentro. Por el huracán, hemos podido hacer mucho servicio y ayudar a mucha gente. Esperamos que podamos hacer que este evento sea una manera positiva para servir a los que nos rodean y ablandar sus corazones para recibir el Evangelio Restaurado.
Todos los misioneros tenían suficiente comida, agua, cosas para dormir, y todo lo demás que se requiere para vivir. Todos aprendieron la lección valiosa de estar preparado.
Aunque había muchos inundaciones y vientos fuertes en diferentes partes de la misión, todos los apartamentos permanecieron secos e intactos. Hemos sido muy bendecidos por el mano del Señor.
Agradecemos mucho sus oraciones para nosotros.


Presidente Gary F. Miller
Presidente de Mision

Thursday, July 24, 2008

All Missionaries Are Safe and Doing Well

Texas McAllen Mission

Dear Parents of the Texas McAllen Missionaries,

We are happy to inform you that all missionaries are safe and doing well. There have been many power outages throughout the entire southern part of the mission; we apologize for not being able to give you an update yesterday afternoon. We anticipate over the next 24 to 36 hours all missionaries will return to their apartments.
We are happy to report that every missionary was prepared with their preparation kits, including water, food, bedding, clothing, and with cell phones charged. This enabled us to be in constant communication with our missionaries.
We will continue to inform you as the missionaries return to their apartments, or as needed regarding any other future developments.

Warm Regards,

President Gary F. Miller

Queridos Padres de los misioneros sirviendo en la misión de Texas McAllen,

Estamos felices para informarles que todos los misioneros están seguros y bien. Por la tormenta, la electricidad ha sido cortada en muchas partes de la sur de la misión, así que no pudimos darles más información ayer como quisimos. Todos los misioneros estarán regresando a sus propios departamentos dentro de las siguiente 24 o 36 horas.
Cada misionero estaba bien preparado con agua, comida, cosas para dormir, ropa, y con sus celulares cargados. Esto nos dio el poder para estar en comunicación constante con ellos.
Continuaremos dándoles información mientras que los misioneros regresen a sus departamentos, o como sea necesaria con cambios en la situación.


Presidente Gary F. Miller

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wednesday 6:30p.m. AP News Report

An assistant to the president missionary, Elder Fletcher, called Ryan's mom Wednesday and said Ryan and the other missionaries are safe at the church building in McAllen. They have 72-hour kits containing food, water, blankets and flashlights and the power is off. He said that everyone is fine and they are on hold just waiting for the storm to pass.

Wednesday Associated Press Report -Hurricane Dolly slams South Texas, but levees hold

1 hour ago

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Hurricane Dolly barreled into South Texas on Wednesday, lashing the coast with winds up to 100 mph and dumping heavy rain that threatened to flood low-lying areas but spared levees along the heavily populated Rio Grande Valley.

Authorities had feared the first hurricane to hit the U.S. since last September could produce up to 20 inches of rain in some areas, possibly breaching levees in the heavily populated Rio Grande Valley. But shortly before coming ashore, the Category 2 storm meandered 35 miles north of the border, veering away from the flood walls.

"The levees are holding up just fine," said Johnny Cavazos, emergency coordinator for Cameron County. "There is no indication right now that they are going to crest."

Although the system weakened after striking land on the resort area of South Padre Island, one official cautioned that the danger had not passed.

"It's still very early in the storm," said Sally Spener, a spokeswoman with the International Boundary and Water Commission.

Small communities just north of Brownsville were taking the brunt of the storm, including low-lying colonias, small villages of immigrants who live without sewer and water service.

Most of the destruction was on the island, where the hurricane knocked out power to thousands of homes, ripped off roofs and smashed windows.

Roads and yards were strewn with toppled trees, fences, power poles and streetlights. Business signs rolled around the streets like tumbleweeds. The causeway linking the island to the mainland was closed.

In Mexico, soldiers made a last-minute attempt to rescue people at the mouth of the Rio Grande, using an inflatable raft to retrieve at least one family trapped in their home. Many people further inland refused to go to government shelters.

"These are people who did not want to leave, and now they are in trouble," said Leticia Montalvo, a spokeswoman for the town of Matamoros, just across the river from Brownsville.

The roof of an apartment complex on South Padre Island partially collapsed, but residents said they didn't believe anybody was injured.

"I thought it was just a big clap of thunder, (then) saw this stuff flying around and it's the roof," said Buck Dopp, who lives in a ground-floor apartment.

A 17-year-old boy fell from a seventh-story balcony, injuring his head, breaking his hip and fracturing his leg. The boy was being treated at an island fire station.

At 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday, the storm's center was about 60 miles northwest of Brownsville and moving west-northwest at about 10 mph. The storm's maximum sustained winds had weakened to about 75 mph. Forecasters expected to downgrade it to a tropical storm later Wednesday night.

Dolly spawned thunderstorms as far away as Houston, 400 miles up the coast. Tornado watches were in effect for many coastal counties between Corpus Christi and Houston.

In Mexico, a 102-year-old woman and seven family members fled their wooden shack in the fishing community of Higuerilla and spent the night at a shelter in Matamoros.

"I don't know if my poor house will withstand the rain and wind," Maria Miguel said.

Many of those who headed north to escape the storm were stopped at inland Border Patrol checkpoints, where agents opened extra lanes so they could check documentation. At one checkpoint on U.S. Route 77, smugglers were caught with 5,000 to 8,000 pounds of marijuana.

Power was knocked out to more than 56,200 customers in three border counties. South Padre Island also lost power.

Thousands of people fled to shelters in towns on both sides of the border while police and National Guard troops patrolled neighborhoods.

In Brownsville, the wind bent over palm trees and tossed debris across the all-but empty streets. The windows and doors of shops were boarded up with plywood, and most businesses were closed.

The U.S. Census Bureau said that based on Dolly's projected path, about 1.5 million Texans could feel the storm's effects. Gov. Rick Perry declared 14 south Texas counties disaster areas and sought federal disaster declarations.

As Dolly approached, oil and gas companies in the Gulf of Mexico evacuated workers from 62 production platforms and eight rigs, according to the U.S. Minerals Management Service, which monitors offshore activity.

Shell Oil, which didn't expect production to be affected by the evacuations, also secured wells and shut down operations in the Rio Grande Valley, where it primarily deals in natural gas.

The last hurricane to hit the U.S. was the fast-forming Humberto, which came ashore in South Texas last September. Dolly is the 26th hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. in July since record keeping started in 1851, according to federal researchers.

The busiest part of the Atlantic hurricane season is usually in August and September. So far this year, there have been four named storms, two of which became hurricanes. Federal forecasters predict a total of 12 to 16 named storms and six to nine hurricanes this season.


Associated Press writers Elizabeth White in Brownsville; John Porretto in Houston; John Pain in Miami; Mark Walsh in Matamoros, Mexico; Jaime Zea in Mexico City; Regina L. Burns in Dallas and video journalist Rich Matthews on South Padre Island contributed to this report.

Wednesday Update

Texas McAllen Mission

Parents of the Texas McAllen Mission

Dear Parents;

Over the next 48 hrs we will be updating you regarding the progress of Hurricane Dolly regarding its impact on the mission and your sons and daughters. There are projected power outages throughout the mission and beyond. In the event this happens, please be patient. All the missionary companionships have cell phones for us to be able to communicate with them. As of yesterday and early this morning all the missionaries in the Brownsville and Harlingen Zones which comprises all the surrounding areas and cities (all of the south-eastern part of the mission) have been evacuated from all of those cities and towns. We have been in communications with the Stake Presidents and the Physical Facilities Management group of the So. Texas area, to locate missionaries in chapels, that are of construction considered to be safe for these conditions.

Church buildings in all the remaining areas of the mission are and will be available to house the missionaries in the north and north eastern areas of the mission as needed.

In the advent of any power outage-we will communicate with you individually by cell phone only as necessary. Please be patient with us as it is impossible (unless necessary) to communicate with you individually as much as we would like to.

Please know that we love each of your children they are powerful servants of the Lord.
Best Regards, President Gary F. Miller

Miércoles el 23 de Julio 2008 9:45 AM CDT (el tiempo de Tejas)

Padres De La Mision De Tejas McAllen

Queridos Padres,
Por las siguientes 48 horas vamos a estar dándoles información del Huracán Dolly y su impacto con la misión y sus hijos e hijas aquí. Es posible que la electricidad pueda ser cortada por la tormenta. Si esto pasa, por favor, tengan paciencia. Todos los compañerismos tienen celulares para que podamos comunicar con ellos. Desde ayer y temprano este mañana, todos los misioneros en las zonas de Brownsville y Harlingen y las áreas cercanas (todo el sur-este de la misión) han sido evacuados de los ciudades y pueblos. Hemos estado comunicando con los Presidentes de Estaca y con los que están encargados de los facilidades de la iglesia para asegurar que la construcción de las capillas esta suficiente fuerte y seguro para éstas condiciones para que los misioneros puedan quedar allí.
Las capillas en el resto de la misión son y serán abiertos para dar lugar a los misioneros en el norte y norte-este partes de la misión como sea necesaria.
Por si acaso que no tenemos electricidad, comunicaremos con ustedes individualmente por celular como sea necesaria. Por favor, tengan paciencia viendo que es imposible para poder comunicarnos con cada uno de ustedes individualmente.
Por favor, sepan que amamos a cada uno de sus hijos individualmente. Son poderosos siervos del Señor.

Presidente Gary F. Miller

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Evacuated! Please Keep the Missionaries and People in the Hurricane area in your prayers

Texas McAllen Mission
To the Parents of Missionaries in the Texas McAllen Mission,

We have been monitoring Hurricane Dolly on an hourly basis and as it has approached our mission, we have been temporarily relocating missionaries as necessary. As of 12:00 noon (CST), we began evacuations from Brownsville, parts of Harlingen, and surrounding areas such as Raymondville and San Benito. Further evacuations will be made well in advance of any possible dangers. The missionaries will currently be staying at church meeting houses and with other missionaries throughout the McAllen/Weslaco area. Please rest assured your missionaries are in good hands. If you have any questions, please email us at: hurricane@texasmcallenmission.org or call the mission office at: 956-664-0273.

Thank you,
Assistants to the President

Texas McAllen Mission

To the Parents of Missionaries serving in the Texas McAllen Mission,

I am writing in concern of Tropical Storm Dolly. I am well aware of the storm and have been monitoring this very closely. I will continue to watch this on an hourly basis. In event of an evacuation your son or daughter will temporally be located in a safe place in the mission. If an evacuation is necessary we will keep you updated. Any questions or concerns email at hurricane@texasmcallenmission.org or call 1.956.664.0273. Your missionaries are in good hands.

Thank You,

President Gary Miller
Mission President

A los Padres de misioneros sirviendo en la mision de Texas McAllen,

Estoy escribiendo porque va a ver una Tormenta Tropical que se llama Dolly. Estoy atento de la situacion con la tormenta y la estoy sigiendo continuamente. Continuare sigiendola cada hora del dia. Si al caso tendria que haber una evacuacion su hijo o hija sera mandado a un lugar seguro dentro de la mision. Si al caso hay una evacuacion les diriamos lo mas pronto possible. Si tienen alguna pregunta o duda manden me un correo electronico a hurricane@texasmcallenmission.org o llamen al 1.956.664.0273. No se preocupen sus misioneros estan en buenas manos.


Presidente Gary Miller
Presidente de Mision

If this e-mail does not apply to you please disregard and delete it.
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A los Padres de misioneros sirviendo en la misión de Texas McAllen,

Al estar viendo el Hurican Dolly cada hora, se ha acercado a nuestra misión, hemos estado moviendo los misioneros temporalmente. Desde las 12:00 de la tarde tiempo central, hemos evacuado a Brownsiville, partes de Harlingen, y también alrededor de áreas como Raymondville y San Benito. Si es necesario que evacuemos a otros misioneros, será hecho mucho antes que haya peligro. Los misioneros se estarán quedando temporalmente en las iglesias y también con otros misioneros de la misión. Estarán en la McAllen/Weslaco área temporalmente. Por favor no se preocupen de sus misioneros, están en buenas manos. Si tienen alguna pregunta, por favor mándennos un coreo electrónico a hurricane@texasmcallenmission.org o llámennos a la casa de misión al: 956.664.0273

Los Asistentes del Presidente

Monday, July 21, 2008

New Member, her mother, & Elder Carreon

Book of Mormon Challenge, & Ties by the lb.

Dear Family:
Thanks so much for the rain coat! I got one and I'll probably get the other today or tomorrow. This week has been really warm, but they have been stressing that we stay prepared for hurricanes, and it sounds like there might be one coming tomorrow (Hurricane Dolly).
This week was pretty good. On Thursday we had Zone Conference. We are studying chapter 5 from Preach My Gospel (PMG) about the Book of Mormon. We watched this really cool historical documentary that a bunch of church scholars put out about the route that Lehi and his family probably took when they departed Jerusalem. It really made the Book of Mormon come more alive! I really love how the Bible and the Book of Mormon work together and how they both testify of Jesus Christ. Our Mission President challenged us to take a fresh copy and read all the way through and highlight every reference to Jesus Christ, His Attributes, and His words (either when he is speaking personally or when the prophets say "thus saith the lord..."). I am really excited to take the challenge and re-read it again ( I had just barely finished) and I want to encourage everyone who is reading this to do the same! I really love how the Bible paints a a great picture of what kind of person Jesus Christ is and my testimony of Him and His sacrifice is enhanced when I read the Book of Mormon.
On Friday we went over to a member's house because the girl we just baptized was having her 20th birthday and she invited us over. So we went and we had cake and lots of food!
On Saturday, we went over to this one guy's house who we had talked to, and he invited us to sit down with him. Turns out he was totally drunk and was just rambling on about random stuff. A bunch of mosquitos were attacking us, so Elder Gish went to spray some bug spray, and nailed the guy right in the eyes!
Yesterday was great! I got to confirm our new convert, and I did it In Spanish! It was the first time I've ever confirmed someone. She is now offically a member!
This morning the Zone leaders picked us up and we went "tie digging" in this huge warehouse downtown. They have these huge bales of ties that you dig through and they charge you $1 for every pound of ties that you have, so you can get a lot for really cheap. Plus, there are usually some really good ones. I came away with 5 pounds! Everything is going great here. Just keep us in your prayers!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Signs of the Times

Brownsville Elders

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Monkey Named Carreon and a Bird Named Gish

Dear Family & Friends:
The weather this week has been warm again, with an occasional rain fall. We had been hearing that the rain was unusual for this time of year. If they do end up evacuating us, it will just be to a different part of the mission for a few days or something. Apparently they got evacuated last year, because the "Big One" was supposed to hit right into Brownsville, but at the last second it turned left and destroyed Mexico.
Tuesday we had something amazing happen. Something that I don't think has ever happened before in the history of Missionary Work. None of our scheduled appointments fell through! As a result we were able to teach 4 lessons! For us if we teach 1 it was a so so day, 2 was a pretty good day, 3 was an extra special day, and 4 is like once in a life time day! So needless to say we were pretty excited.
Friday was a pretty crazy day. We had the baptismal interview for one of our investigators. Last week when they came to church, we had just taught them about fast offering to help the poor and tithing. They live in pretty humble circumstances, but they decided to pay it anyways and see what happened. So when we talked with them on Friday, they were telling us how when they were walking to Wal-Mart, they found $50 on the ground, and when her daughter was working, she made 3x the amount of money in tips that she usually makes. It was exciting to see them have the faith to follow the Lord's commandments and recognize the blessing that they recieved.
Saturday we went to see this one guy named Victor, and his next door neighbors were outside BBQing. So we went up to Victor's door to knock, and the people at the BBQ were yelling really loud in Spanish, "Close the door, they're coming!" We laughed about that one pretty hard. I think it's funny how people are scared of two nicely dressed 20-year-old guys sharing a message about Jesus. Lots of people try and run away from us.
Yesterday was way amazing! My companion baptized one of our investigators! Her mom had been having a hard time commiting to a specific date, but she decided this was something she really wanted to do. That night we went over to their house and they had this pet bird that they bought downtown. They asked us a few days ago what to name it and somebody suggested my companion's name, so they called it "Elder Gish." As we were leaving they were playing with this stuffed monkey thing and we were like "Does it have a name?" and they were like "I think we'll call it Elder Carreon!" It was pretty funny.
Write Soon.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Possible Evacuation

Hello family and friends,

Just a quick note: This week has been wet. For the past week and a half, it has been raining nonstop. I guess it's better than the 120 degree summers that I heard about, but everything in Brownsville is flooding and getting soaked. I'm not to up to date with the weather, but we think they will probably evacuate us pretty soon, but who knows. On Tuesday we got the transfer call. Everyone in my district is staying, and Elder Gish and I are going to be together for at least one more transfer! I promise that I will send my memory card home today so you can have some photos to look at. Mom, can you send me a rain coat?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happy Birthday to Elder Gish

This week was crazy! We had an Elder in our District, Elder Breedlove, who was waiting in our mission for his visa to Spain, and on Tuesday we got a call that it had been approved and he would be gone the next day.
It was also Elder Gish's birthday, so we baked a cake and had sort of a Happy Birthday Elder Gish/Goodbye Elder Breedlove party. We went over to an investigator's house and to our surprise they remembered that it was Elder Gish's birthday too, and they gave him a balloon and a tie. So the rest of the day he was riding his bike with a big "Happy Birthday" balloon on his handle bars! At night we got a call from our district leader, Elder To'o, telling us that his visa was expired so technically he was illegally living in the country! But he went down to McAllen to straighten everything out.
We are meeting lots of people, and I think it's funny how when sometimes when we "contact" people (basically going up to people and starting a conversation) some of them give us 1,000 excuses, but never actually say the phrase "Sorry I'm not interested." We contacted these two ladies the other day and we said, "Hey, how are you guys doing?" and the first thing one of them said back was, "We're (already) christians, she doesn't speak Spanish, and we're both pastors' wives." We talked to them anyways and gave them a "Finding Faith in Christ" card. I think it's so funny how people make up excuses when all they have to say is "not interested." Elder Gish said that one time they knocked on a guy's door and he said "I have to go to the bathroom" and then slammed the door and never came back!
This next Wednesday is transfers again. I think that Elder Gish and I are probably going to stay together, but he thinks that I'm staying and he's leaving. I guess we'll see on Wednesday. Tell Nana and Ron that I say Hi and I hope they are doing well! I received their postcard from Uganda. I can't believe that they have less than 4 months left of their mission! Time flies. Well Mom, I hope you have a fun time in Africa and I hope you don't get eaten or trampled or something. Write soon and say hello to all.
- Ryan

Monday, June 23, 2008

Elder Carreon With Uncle Matt Latimer at the Seattle Temple

Chased by Dogs

Hello to everyone:
This week was pretty fun! On P Day we had a zone BBQ and we played soccer and ate hamburgers. Wednesday we had some bike problems. Someone messed up one of my pedals and I had to ride it like that a few days until we found some tools to fix it, and Elder Gish got a flat tire and the crank (the thing that attaches the pedal to the bike) fell of as well!
I am amazed at some of the people here. A lot of time we will set up an appointment with someone and when we come back, they are too afraid to face us, so they send their kids to the door to lie to us. We went up to this one guy's house and knocked on the door and this kid opened the door and before we said anything he said "They're not here!" My companion said back "Whose not here?" and the kid gave us this 'you just caught me lying' face and said "uhhhhh I don't know." What's worse is we could totally see them back in the other room!
On Thursday as we were riding past this trailer park these two dogs came out and chased us down the street. We get chased on our bikes a lot, and so we figured we should buy some squirt guns and squirt any dogs that try and chase us!
Friday was our interviews with the president. It was really awesome! I love our mission president, President Miller. He's a really nice guy and always fun to talk to.
Yesterday was Stake Conference, so we drove into Harlingen (about 30 minutes away). Afterwards we brought some investigators over to a members house to watch the "Restoration DVD." The big missionary joke is that when you are teaching about the Resoration of the Gospel, there is always some huge distraction that happens right at the most spiritual part. So we were watching the DVD and right before the best part, the members started making small talk with our investigators and then these screaming kids came crashing through the front door. Needless to say it was a disaster! One time these two elders (Elder Mynes and Elder Ortiz) were saying how they were teaching someone and they were about to teach that part and a really loud plane flew over the house, so they tried again, and this huge pack of Harleys drove by outside! My companion and I have noticed that our life is a lot like a sitcom, so we think that were are going to write a sitcom about two missionaries that always have mis-adventures.
Mom, I hope you enjoy your trip to Africa tell Nana and Ron that I say hi, and tell me what it's like!
Thanks for your letters everyone, write me some more.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Happy Family

Hello everyone, this week was really good! On Tuesday we contacted these two ladies sitting on their porch and they invited us to sit with them and teach them. One of the ladies was really nice, but the other one was drinking and smoking and was kind of drunk. I guess she had drunk a lot right before we got there, because as we were going through the lesson she was getting drunker and drunker, and then my companion said something like, "...and so eventually the people rejected the apostles and killed them too" and then she was like "how beautiful." and my companion said, "I said they KILLED them."
Thursday was awesome. I went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders. I had a really humbling experience. We had a dinner appointment with this recent convert family and Elder Driscoll was telling me how the dad had a really bad drinking and smoking problem when they met him and it was causing lots of marital and family problems and he had tired to quit several times but couldn't. When the Elders taught him the gospel, he quit his smoking and drinking cold turkey. They are an amazing family. They are super super poor. They have trouble getting together enough money to put a gallon of gas in the car so they can go to church, and when we were over there, they rolled out the red carpet and made sure that we were well fed. They were one of the happiest families that I had ever seen, and yet they had next to nothing. It's amazing the blessings that the Restored Gospel brings into peoples lives. Friday night was the Spanish Ward's Father's Day party. It was awesome. The Spanish people really know how to throw a good party.

P.S. Write Soon

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Worn Out in Texas

Random Rooster Outside Laredo Apartment