BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL – As many LDS families sat on pins and needles waiting for word their family members serving missions in the Philippines were safe, Michelle and Martin Christensen were relieved to know their son was serving in an area that hardly felt the effects of Super Typhoon Haiyan.
Brian Christensen is serving in the Baguio Mission, in the northern portion of the Philippines. Baguio City was not only out of the main pathway of the typhoon, but is in the mountains. Many evacuated from low lying areas affected by the storm went to the mountains for safety.
Brian Christensen has only been in the Philippines since September, but Michelle Christensen said he loves the Filipino people, their food and culture.
He contacted his parents on Sunday, his regular email day, and told them Baguio only got a little bit of rain and some wind. They lost electricity for a day or so, but “the storm didn’t interfere with their work at all,” Michelle Christiansen said.
By Friday, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had made contact with 20 of the 21 missions in the Philippines, and said that missionaries in those 20 missions were all accounted for and safe.
Howver, by Monday evening the church reported contact had been made with all missionaries in the Philippines and that all were safe.
Missionaries in areas affected by the storm were given 72-hour kits and moved to safer locations.
In areas not as affected, missionaries were asked to remain in their apartments for a couple of days.
In many areas, the missionaries were able to go out and help the Filipino people clean up the devastation. An email sent to one father described clearing away trees and fences that had toppled. It also said that flood waters in the Bacolod Mission receded rapidly.
In some areas missionary work continued, with lessons and baptisms scheduled, as usual.
“The storm didn’t interfere with (Brian’s) work at all,” Michelle Christensen said.
The storm, described as one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever observed, made landfall in the Philippines on Friday, with some news agencies reporting sustained winds as high as 195 mph and gusts up to 235 mph, according to news reports.
Some reports estimate as many as 10,000 people were killed by the typhoon, according USA Today. The official count is 1,700 as of press time.