Monday, September 18, 2017

A looooooong time...

Friends and Family,

Here is the latest letter from Elder Troy.  The flood waters have receded enough so he is now back in his apartment.  If you’d like to write him, the US mail is finally operating normal.  His address is:

2931 Barker Cypress Drive
Apt. 1212
Houston, TX  77084

He doesn’t think they’ll be mucking out houses for much longer, but they will be doing service related to the hurricane “for a looooooong time.”  We recently sent him a few respirator masks for those remaining muckings.  He’s happy to share one with his new companion so they can go all in.  He’s really hoping another hurricane doesn’t hit because he can’t take being cooped up that long again.  haha

Thanks for all your love and support of our son.

Much love,

JD & Terri

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Hey Y’all! 

So it was another exciting week here in the field. I have a new companion, Elder Simmons, from Alpine, Utah. He's great!

This transfer, we’re just covering the west lake ward, and we're on bike! On cool days and at night, it's great! But when it's hot...Anybody who knows me well know i sweat way too much already. So biking is interesting.

“J" and her boyfriend “T" are two of our investigators and they both have baptismal dates. “J” is doing awesome, she came to church this week even. “T" not so much. We haven’t seen him in a bit, and we're appropriately concerned.

Service feels like it's wrapping up somewhat. There’s still weeks of work to do, but anyone that’s willing to take help seems to have already gotten it. The missionaries I’ve been serving with have improved SO MUCH. They’ve been working so much harder this last week, for whatever reason. Some of the neighborhoods around us are suing the city. Apparently the engineering firm that made the reservoir told the city to not give building permits within a certain area, but the city gave out permits anyways. Unsuspecting homeowners then lost everything.

We had zone conference this week with the whole mission, and my trainer is training AGAIN. This is a pic of him and I with my two “brothers".

This is also a pic of us eating at conference, with my MTC companion Elder Chamberlain at the table. My new companion is giving me rabbit ears haha.

Have a great week Y'all!

Elder Derek Troy



Monday, September 11, 2017

Rallying around one another

Hey Y’all! 

It was another big week here in Texas. Much of the week was spent helping people with their houses (I took the time to take a couple of pictures personally this week that I think do justice to the scale of the disaster) and we also had a big event!

People are really rallying around each other here now. All differences - race, income, language - are set aside for now. Flags are flying on every street in solidarity. It’s really very moving to see huge flags waving over piles of debris 8 ft or higher. I imagine it’s a bit like what Francis Scott Key felt like.

We can drive through 95% of our area now. The water has generally receded.

This week “C" was baptized. It’s awesome to see some fruits for our labors! She has been super easy to work with. She has such a sweet spirit, and loves us and loves the gospel. Her baptism was super interesting haha. She has Multiple Sclerosis so some adjustments had to be made. She legit thought she was going to drown at one point hahaha.

We also saw a funny sign today for a Chinese Shool while driving!

God bless from Houston TX!

Elder Derek Troy

The product from “mucking” a home out.  
For the most part, the waters are beginning to recede in most areas.  Yay!
It was like this block after block. A big double trailer garbage truck with a claw comes by and grabs everything.


Mountains and mountains of debris line nearly every street in Houston.  A woman searches for a place to pile more garbage.




A member of the ward, Elder Labbee and Elder Troy with “C” at her baptism.
P-Day shenanigans.  Barely got up in time for the photo timer!


 


The school may need a bit more practice before it teaches others!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Harvey vs. Harvey

Friends and family,

Here is the latest letter from Elder Troy.

First, thank you for all of you who have reached out and asked about him.  Your kindness has not gone unnoticed.  As you can imagine, we have been very concerned about him since he was in southwest Houston, Texas during Hurricane Harvey.  Unfortunately, his mission area was severely hit and there is much damage to many, many homes.  Elder Troy’s own apartment was flooded and they were evacuated about 3 days into the hurricane.  The flooding is beginning to recede, but the devastation is immense and there is a LOT of work to be done. These missionaries are going to be busy helping people for a long time.  President Uchtdorf from the Church’s First Presidency visited the mission this weekend, but Elder Troy was in another Sacrament Meeting and out working on homes, so he didn’t get a chance to meet him.  He was disappointed!

During this whole time, we have been blessed to have a mission president who has been very communicative with the parents and updated the mission blog several times a day to let parents know what was happening.  Thankfully, all missionaries are safe and accounted for!  We have not worried about Elder Troy during this whole situation.  We know that he is smart and obedient to the strict mission rules (stay out of flood waters, take precautionary measures with safety equipment, etc.) and he can take care of himself.  With everything that happened to him BEFORE his mission (hit by a car, bit by a rattlesnake, etc., etc., etc.), it is not really a surprise to us that he would be in a hurricane.  When he was called to the Texas Houston mission, he was curious to WHY the United States, why Texas, why THERE.  To this point, it hasn’t been a heavy baptizing mission or a place that was clamoring to hear about the Gospel and we think he might have wondered to what purpose he was sent here.  That is, until Hurricane Harvey came.  What is needed now are strong, capable and hardworking people who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and help others in their deepest time of need.  What are the chances that he’d be sent to a place that his carpentry and flood damage skills would come into use?  He has been called to Houston for this time and this situation, for these people. 

We are SO grateful that he has this unique opportunity to serve his brothers and sisters in their time of need.  How many times will a young person in their youth get a chance to dedicate all their time, energy and talents to others without the distractions of school, work, relationships or technology?  HE IS BLESSED!  

We thank our Heavenly Father for protecting him for this time and place.  God is good!

Thank you for your prayers and love.  They are felt and so appreciated!  Please keep the good people of Texas and our missionaries in your prayers.

Much love,

Terri & JD

P.S.  At this time, the US Mail is not operational in his area.  His apartment is still under water, so no mail for a while.

————————————

Hey Y'all!

As you’ve all probably seen or guessed, most of this week was spent in service, mucking out people’s houses, and recovering from all of the flooding.

The Church was very organized, and there were many members who volunteered their time helping the community, going out all day in the heat in dozens of teams of five or six.

In the early days after the storm, Elder Labbee and I walked through the worst hit neighborhoods, signing people up who wanted help clearing out their houses. One of the people we found was ironically named Harvey, and he REALLY needed our help. I want to tell y’all about Harvey, because I think he’s representative of the people we are assisting, and I really love sharing these profiles of the people we work with.

His street literally stunk. Fetid mud was still mounded up against the curb, smelling of silt and decay. There was still water standing in patches in the streets. It smelled like a swamp, a dump, and a fish market had collided. As we walked down his street in the hot sun, we found few willing recipients of our help. People didn’t trust us or didn’t understand the scale of their project. There was no answer when we knocked on Harvey’s door, so we moved on. However, we left our phone number with his neighbors - a sweet Hispanic family - in case they eventually wanted help themselves. We moved on down the street, because there were hundreds of houses like Harvey’s. Later, we got a phone call from his neighbor, asking if we would try offering Harvey our help again. She explained that Harvey was elderly and had dementia. He wouldn’t open the door for strangers out of fear. His car hadn’t moved nor had his door opened in several days, and they were worried that he had fallen or trapped and hurt himself. We agreed to go by the next morning to retry.

This time, she came with us, and we knocked intermittently on the door and windows for five minutes. She banged on the door shouting “Meester Harbee? We are berry worried aboutchoo!” Eventually, Harvey limped to the door in a towel, looking for all the world like he had barely avoided drowning in the deluge. Tall and thin, with gray hair on his head and a long white beard, his wide eyes betrayed his anxious confusion. I tried my best to speak softly and act as if we had been friends for years. I shook his hand, and his long yellow fingernails tapped my palm in his frail, quivering grip. We asked about his house and he told us that everything was ruined. With a wavering voice, he explained that he had slipped in the invading water trying to protect his things, and fallen on his back, and couldn’t stand or walk. Two days had passed since his house first flooded, and everything was still in place. Stepping through his home, it already smelled like mold. Each step left behind a footprint in the carpet that filled with water.

The work needed after a severe flood is extensive. Carpets must be removed, and walls torn down from 4 ft, then all of the studs framing the house have to be periodically sprayed with fungicide for three days. All of the furniture has to be removed, and many belongings that were damaged must be thrown away. The water also drives pests into people’s homes, looking for somewhere warm and relatively dry.

We gained his permission and set to work quickly, but the problems were many. A salty old Vietnam veteran, many of the materials in his home were not conducive to the Spirit. We were warned that his Alzheimers and Dementia were severe; and he could forget who these people were who were knocking out his walls at any minute. To further complicate things, the man had dozens of firearms and swords scattered around his house. But the large group we had, made short work of his home, and it was finished by the end of the day, with no major complications except moving a water bed.

I've really enjoyed working with my hands again. The work has been satisfying and cathartic. It feels very meaningful and people are extremely grateful for our help.

I have been disappointed by how little most of the other missionaries have worked, spending hours of time every day chatting with each other and juggling (literally) tools rather than help in the mountain of labor needed for these hundreds of houses. I’ve ended up in charge of the work for a couple of houses somehow, over teams of both missionaries and grown men less experienced with this sort of task. Motivating the missionaries to help has been a challenge. They get bored or distracted too easily. I think every missionary needs a job in hard labor before coming out so they gain maturity and learn what it means to work, because it seems that the more missionaries there are, the less work they do. My experience this week has felt a little like the MTC at times, as I’ve been called upon to provide leadership I didn’t plan on giving, in challenges I never expected to face.

This storm has also strengthened my testimony of my call as a missionary. It has been pointed out to me just how serendipitous it is that I have served in Houston after this Hurricane, since I actually had a job in flood restoration for a while before my mission. It truly is a miracle. I feel that my talents are really being called on now.

I’ve also been pondering about this flood and the parable of the house on the rock, in Luke 6:48-49. Remember that the house is our lives, the foundation is our testimony of the commandments, and the flood is trials. We can have a good foundation, but if we make a mistake and water comes in, we must act immediately. If we wait, our house will rot from the inside out. And if we find that our house is full of water, the walls must be torn down. If we never tear our house apart and rebuild, our house will kill us, either as it falls on us or slowly poisons us with mold spores.

Have a great week Y'all!

Elder Derek Troy

Standing with the pile of debris removed from a home they have “mucked” out.  It’s sweaty, stinky work.

Streets became rivers.



At another meetinghouse and expecting evacuees to hand out clothing and other supplies.

Friendly pool game after a hard day’s work.

Add caption



Parked the mission car as high as it would go!

Day three of Hurricane Harvey, the flood water had begun to creep up too close to these missionaries’ apartment complex.  They were evacuated.  They were getting cabin fever so they were ready to go.  Floods?  Still smiling!

Safely evacuated and brought to one of our church meetinghouses which is serving as a shelter for evacuees.  Now it’s time to serve dinner to those who are homeless and hungry.  His companion Elder Labbee.

Their final day with this member family they were inundated by the rest of the ward with food and other things for them to take with them in their next housing.


Removing sheetrock and getting down and dirty.

After a hard day’s work “mucking” out houses, they were brought to a member’s home.  Finally a meal!


At the member’s home in Cypress, TX.  The pool in front was planned—the “lake” behind the house was NOT.  Flood water dangerously close.

A little bit of time to rest and recoup.

More sheetrock removal.

Trying to save some furniture in a flooded home.












Monday, August 28, 2017

Hurricane Harvey

Friends and family,

Here is the latest letter from Elder Troy.  As you can imagine, we have been quite concerned about him as he is serving in the Texas Houston mission; right in the middle of the floods after Hurricane Harvey.  His mission president has been remarkably calming and consistent in providing all parents updates several times a day about the missionaries’ conditions. Although the missionaries are all accounted for and safe, there is continued challenges with floods reaching their living conditions.  Some have had to be evacuated and others are waiting in upper level apartments.  We asked Elder Troy if he had to be evacuated, where he might go.  He thought to members’ homes would be likely.  All missionaries have plenty of food, water and supplies to get them through this week.  They will stay in their apartments until instructed by the mission presidency.  It is anticipated that the rains will continue through this week.  Clean up efforts will be monumental and the missionaries will definitely be called on to assist any Texans who may need them.  Elder Troy was frustrated at their mission vehicle and expressed how if he had his Jeep from home he'd be rescuing people left and right!  Soooooo Elder Troy!

As of this morning, the Houston LDS Temple was taking on water.  Many, many members are suffering from the floods and winds.  This damage has been called “unprecedented” and “catastrophic.”  Please keep everyone in your prayers and would you kindly consider a donation to the LDS Humanitarian efforts?  Unlike other relief funds, there is no paid administrators.  One hundred percent of every dollar donated is used to help those in need without regard to race, religion, or ethnic origin.  The Church has already sent trucks full of clean drinking water, food and cleaning supplies before the storm even hit.  They are organized and mobile.  You can even specify exactly where the money should be spent.  Our family made a donation this morning and in the comments section, we put “Hurricane Harvey disaster relief.”


We love you and appreciate all the prayers on our son’s behalf as well as the wonderful Texans he has the privilege to serve.  This week we have the opportunity to participate in our faith’s monthly fast.  Would you please include Texas and the missionaries in your personal fast?

Thank you all.

Love,

Terri & JD

NOTE:  Elder Troy referenced Barker reservoir.  This is near him, so the floods will temporarily increase during this time.  As of this afternoon, the Barker Res. was opened.

==========================================

Hey Y'all!

This week has been an interesting one.

We did some more service at the Buddhist temple. One of the nuns there, Ka, gave us some yogurt they made from almond milk and hazelnut milk. I was a little suspicious as you can see from the photo. But it was really good!

The news this week is of course this hurricane. We are having a once in 100 year flood, and this may end up being a once in 800 year flood. On day one, it was just drizzling. Elder Labbee and I went as far as making a funny newscast about the weather. However the last few days,
the hurricane simply hasn’t let up, and this swamp has no way of getting rid of all of this water. The pictures you see of the flooded soccer field are from down the street on day one. I expect there’s probably two additional feet of water there now. We were asked to hang tight at our apartment. Early on in the storm, we were told to go out and work as much as possible. Elder Labbee and I barely made it back to our apartment before the road was closed. We were then instructed to wait at the apartment for a while. We’ve spent the last two days stuck in our  complex, occasionally going to the gym facility for internet and to watch the news for forecasts. Some small tornados around us these past few days, as close as 5 mins away.

Last night we got almost two feet of flooding in our apartment complex parking area. Another three inches and the first floor of our building would begin to flood. We live on the 2nd floor. That water has been relieved by a local levee opening. They're opening a local dam to relieve some flooding. It has benefitted our area at the cost of adding several feet to downtown Houston. They will get an extra 4-5 ft today.The areas South of us are in dire trouble, but we’re fine for now, with no immediate flooding.

We’re under an advisory evacuation right now, so we are encouraged to leave. I'm safe, but we may be getting evacuated soon. So I’m short for time. We're able to get out now but may not in the future. The highways are already flooding and many of the back roads are covered in downed trees. We have plenty of water and food. We have “go-bags" packed for evacuation. We’re prepared in every sense, just waiting for guidance on what to do/where to go. We moved our car, which is gassed up, to the front of the complex, so we can leave whenever we need, if the road isn’t too bad. We have plenty of food and water as well, and still have power and running water etc. Our location is no longer under warnings for flash floods, lightning, or tornados.

Because I haven’t had to leave the apartment for 3 days, I haven't shaved yet at all. It feels like freedom.

Also, I’m soooooo sick of solitaire.

If anyone is curious to see what we’re dealing with, KPRC channel 2 (https://www.click2houston.com) has been covering the areas around us, including addicts and barker reservoirs, which are flooding but being relieved.

Elder Derek Troy

Flooded soccer fields down the street from them.

A big meal we made with all of our time stuck indoors. 24 hour marinated venison steaks and twice baked potatoes.
View of the Buddhist temple they volunteer in.


Buddhist temple yogurt made from almond and hazelnut milks by the nuns.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Wasps in the dryer

SO, we've still got 4 on date right now: Carla, Anel, Travaris, and Jasmine.

They're all great. Carla is definitely getting baptized on the 9th. Angel probably won’t get baptized on her date (the 2nd) because it's so hard to meet with her :( We're hoping for a Waptism (wedding-baptism) for Travaris and Jasmine on the 16th.

This week our dryer died. We had clothes hanging on our washing machine for probably three days. The problem is, Houston is too humid for air drying. I got really sick of it and disassembled the dryer and made a massive mess until midnight or so. It’s fixed now though :) Attached is a picture. I have no idea what our dryer’s history is, but it had a softball-sized wasp nest hanging inside of it.  Bonus: A wedding invitation I made from the district meeting photo.

We got to go to the temple this week as well!

I hope everyone is well back home in WA, UT and elsewhere!

Elder Derek Troy

=======================

Houston Texas Temple


Dryer and frustration
Ugly ties/skirts at district meeting

???  Apparently these two elders get along well and he's teasing them.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Parrots, Pitbulls and the Pizza Curse

Hey Y'all!

I've been transferred to the Morton Ranch and West Lake wards, my new companion is Elder Labbee, and I will probably be 'killing' him here, because he only has two transfers (3 months) left on his mission. That probably means that I'll be here for 3 transfers for the first time in an area.

Before I left Oak Ridge, Elder Mcdonald and I went out to do some tracting. We picked a street and parked. When I looked up, there was a tropical bird (I think a Macaw?) Chilling in somebody's front yard. I took him some of my sunflower seeds to try to feed him, but I don't think he likes dill. He licked a couple of the seeds, looked at me sideways out of his beady little eye, and promptly bit me on the second knuckle of my pinky finger. Ouch! He tried to pop that thing like a walnut. I included pictures of him. Doesn't he look like a stinker? It's because he is.

AND THEN, we stopped by a family this week and one of their pit bulls bit me :'( let me tell ya, those suckers are strong. I walked a lot of pits at the animal shelter, but they were always really sweet and just grateful to get outside. This dog was mad, he even did the pit bull head shake. He grabbed me right on the wrist and just ripped into me. I'm okay though :) my cuts are scabbed over and stuff, and nothing's infected.

I also got to use the gift of tongues this week! We were in a largely hispanic apartment complex, and I was trying to use my limited Spanish to get the Hermanas some referrals.

A aged hispanic man opened the door. He was old in that Latino way - he could have been 50 or 80, it was hard to say. He was thin and had a broad smile, a dark mustache, gray hair, and a thousand wrinkles and creases in his face. He was wearing that light blue jeans and colorful button up outfit that South Americans love. He was very glad to see us. His accent was different from the Mexican I'm used to, and he didn't speak a lick of English. The spirit helped me to understand every tenth word or so. It was cool, I couldn't understand what he was saying so much as what he was trying to tell me. He kept calling us his brothers, and from what I could gather, he had been taught by missionaries about the Book of Mormon over dinner in Honduras. It wasn't totally clear to me whether he had been baptized or not. So I got his phone number, name, and address, and referred him to the Hermanas. Well, they contacted him, and he IS a member, and has been inactive in the church for years. His entire family is nonmembers, and he wants the missionaries to teach them. He's getting his whole family together for the Hermanas to teach on Wednesday, what a miracle!

Elder Labbee and I have also acquired a pizza curse. A pizza curse is something that happens to missionaries where they're fed a ton of pizza in a short period of time. We've probably eaten pizza (of necessity) for 8 meals this last week.

We also set a date this week though, with an investigator, named Anel. She's great. I'm exercising faith that this is the date that goes through :)

Hope everyone is well in WA, UT, and elsewhere. Have a great week!

Elder Derek Troy







Monday, July 24, 2017

Cowboy boots, Levis...and sushi?

Hey Y’all! 

I know my Emails have been inconsistent, but today I'm doing my best to get everyone caught up.

One of my favorite things to do in these emails is to describe the amazing people here, their stories, and our efforts. I have one I want to share about today!

One of my favorite people is Roy. Roy is thin, older (in his seventies) and is a great guy. He wears cowboy boots and Levi's, and keeps his long gray hair greased back out of his eyes. He owns and operates a plumbing business; and the way he wears his Levi's suits his occupation's stereotype. He greets us with a wide grin and a chuckle when he sees us. We always give him a big handshake and he'll laugh a hoarse laugh, followed by a cough from years of smoking. He is always glad to see someone, who is glad to see him.

A few years ago, Roy's beloved wife died of cancer. Grief stricken, Roy's sole comfort came from his only son, who was born with down's syndrome. A few years later, his son died unexpectedly. 

Alone and comfortless, Roy depended on two sister missionaries to help him believe in hope. He was baptized two years ago.

Soon after, he took his smoking habit back up. Aching bones from working all day kept him from church on Sunday.

We've helped him to get down to below a half pack per day,  but he needs to quit completely; because after weeks of work to get him in his scriptures and feeling the spirit, he's decided he wants to take his son's name to the temple to be baptized, since his son never got the chance when he was alive (for the non-LDS: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/baptism-for-the-dead
1 Corinthians 15:29)

Hopefully he's on the upswing now, and we can keep him up there! We've been loving and serving him into activity, winning his trust in acts of service, digging holes and doing yardwork!

Keep our efforts in your prayers please, and have a great week everybody!

Elder Derek Troy

Not sure what the story is behind this sushi, but I like it!
Nothing like going to Texas to learn how to become a sushi chef!