I just wanted to share with you that Riley is doing well on his mission and he has had quite an exciting week. As you may or may not remember, he is serving in the Tupelo Mississippi area. I am sure you have heard that name this week since it was hit hard by a very large tornado. He was right in the middle of it. Needless to say, we were on pins and needles waiting to hear if he was okay. Thankfully, he came out of it, with 44 other missionaries, unscathed.
Today, while at work, one of my nurse co-workers received a phone call from Sister Hanks - the mission president's wife of Riley's mission and this is what she said happened that day:
I talked to Sis. Hanks, Mission President's Wife (MPW) in Birmingham, ALA Mission. She and President Hanks were with the missionaries at a quarterly activity washing and waxing all of the mission vehicles in the parking lot of a stake center in Tupelo, Mississippi. They were eating pizza, playing games etc. Their phones starting going off and they knew something was up. Sooner than later the sky started to go green per her report. They gathered all of the missionaries (44 total) and went into the middle of the building in the chapel. They were somewhat scared and decided to say a prayer. It was suggested that they sing hymns and so they began to do so. Tupelo is the birthplace of Elvis Presley. There is an Elder in the mission that loves music and wants to be a rock starJ Anyway, he ended up at the piano and they played songs such as “Master, the Tempest is Raging” and others that made them smile and less scared. There was a sense of excitement as they sang the hymns with respect, but an upbeat tempo and joy that was filled the room. They felt “a strength in numbers” and were later informed that the place they stayed the night before (Mission President and his wife) was totally destroyed. The devastation was within a mile of the chapel. They were without power and continued singing in the dark until they were informed by phone that they needed to evacuate the area and go west. There was a 3-hour window of opportunity to leave the area before the next tornado was likely to hit the area. No missionary was injured. Everybody left the building uplifted in the face of devastation and destruction.
I sure enjoyed hearing this from the mouth of the Mission President's Wife!
As you can see, we have a lot to be grateful for. He was kept safe in a church building while everything else around him was destroyed. I have attached a picture that we received yesterday of him in his Helping Hands t-shirt that became well known after Hurricane Sandy. His mission will be one of service now. I am proud of him and so grateful that he and the other missionaries were kept safe during this time. I am so grateful that he chose to go on a mission and to serve the Lord. As much as I can't wait to see him again, I am glad he has had this time to grow and to touch other people in the States of Alabama and Mississippi. He has touched my life in so many ways too.
Sister Tracy Harris (mother of Elder Riley Harris)