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: 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 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 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.
If you have already recieved this email, please disregard this copy.

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 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