Monday, November 5, 2012

Letter from the Front Lines

Tucker sent me an email this morning.  He sounds so happy to be helping people.  
Thought y'all might like to hear what it's like on the ground after the superstorm.  Here is his letter:
I just recently realized the significance of that name. Sandy Cheeks. Interesting.
Anyway, in case you didn't hear, there was a bit of a storm out here. It was pretty boring to be honest.
We were mandated home by 4 o'clock Sunday, and we stayed home throughout the whole thing. We live in North Freeport, which means far from any destruction. We sat there with the windows open for 43 hours (this says a lot about Tucker--can't resist a storm!), cooped up in our apartment, played risk, ratuki, scripture study, monopoly, scum, all manner of things. We were completely unaffected in any way. Especially since we live on the fourth floor.
Mainly it just blew kinda hardish for a long time. No damage. After the storm, the distress calls came in like crazy. Sister Stevenson had 4 trees down in her yard, could we come help (I LOVE HATCHETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) And we cleared that until it got dark (essentially we can only work until it gets dark, because there's no light).   Then we went home. Wednesday we cleared some other houses, then we went home, and essentially it continued that way day after day. Some days we stay here in Freeport and Long Beach, other days they ship us to Far Rockaway. Long Beach and Far Rock are the hardest hit places in our mission. Flooding reached 6-10 feet in some areas.
We work all day (mostly clearing out basements at this point) lifting heavy stuff, then we go home and sleep. Last night I slept from 7:30 til 6 this morning. It was blessed.
Mostly, the District members (as opposed to Stake) are having a hard time coordinating stuff, so mostly our district (meaning missionaries) goes around doing anything we can. The six of us and Elder Hackett a senior missionary. It's been really fun, but I realized on Sunday when we were walking to church (per gasoline shortages) that I hadn't worn my proselyting attire since the last Sunday when we had gone to church... Weird. I felt more comfortable in my boots (which were the best things ever) than in my regular shoes.
So that's a summary of what happened.
 Everywhere we go, people hail us as heroes and beg for our help and cry when we leave. I've had big tough guys weep as they embrace me thanking me for our help. One house we went to was a man named Greg who had three little kids--a twelve-year-old, a seven-year-old, and a five-year-old girl, and it was the little girl's birthday when we came by to clean their basement, lift all the water-logged furniture out, bust all the furniture with sledgehammers (take that one off the bucket list...) so it'll fit through the narrow openings, and ripped all the soaking sheet rock off the walls, and lug it out to the street in bags to be picked up by the city someday. When we left, we sang happy birthday to Scarlett, (the little five-year-old girl) and just about everyone was in tears. It was me and one other little elder and 6 sisters in that house. I was doing the majority of the lifting as you can imagine. I've lifted somewhere around 50 couches, 25 washers, 25 dryers, and at least 60 other assorted waterlogged furniture pieces out of basements. I have scratches all up and down my arm, I wear the same clothes every day, I cleared out a bathroom full of poop from a vomiting toilet, I've trudged through some nasty grime, and I'm dirty as all get out, but this has been one of the funnest weeks of my mission. And we'll continue to do this, probably throughout the majority of the transfer.
There are some jerk people, but there are mostly really humble people, and I believe that was the purpose of this thing.
Many people try to hand us money, food, tools, gloves, (it's just a donation! We can't take it, here's a card with my phone number if you need us.)
I've walked away from houses sobbing, and I just can't believe how destitute everyone is, but in all honesty,
I'm glad.
I'm glad we got nailed with the "Storm of the Century" because hopefully, prayerfully, there will be people who will find eternal joy because of Sandy.
Hurricane number two, and it was way more fun than the first (Irene in September 2011). I'll get some pictures together and send them eventually.
Elder Denton


  1. Wow! Thanks for sharing this.. Sure gave me an idea of the devastation. Tucker's attitude is inspiring. (Appreciating once again that I live here in Arizona.)

  2. Wow! Thanks for sharing this.. Sure gave me an idea of the devastation. Tucker's attitude is inspiring. (Appreciating once again that I live here in Arizona.)

  3. That was an amazing letter. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  4. Thank you for sharing--I am printing this off to share for FHE tonight with my 17 & 15 year old sons. Did you send him with boots on his mission?

  5. What an incredible experience, life changing. What a blessing he has the opportunity to be a part of it all.

    So glad he was able to email home, I know you said you weren't worried, but it must have been good to see that email!

  6. 2 Hurricanes seems a bit unfair...

    I love this boy!

  7. Your lovely boy has had an event-filled mission, hasn't he? I'm so glad you shared this - service can be a wonderful thing, and it's something he'll never forget (and neither will many of the ones he helped). It was so uplifting to read all of this, and hear of all the good they're doing wherever they're sent.

  8. You must be so proud...I bet his email made you cry. Thanks for sharing,

  9. I'm glad he is able to serve out there! It was good to hear the good news!

  10. thank you for sharing this, it brought back a lot of memories from my mission. he sounds like a great young man. :)

  11. I get a little teary thinking about what a wonderful experience he is having. And I am so proud of him...and all of our missionaries.


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