Intense Storms Provide Members, Missionaries Opportunities for Service

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • 3 March 2015

Missionaries serving in the Massachusetts Boston Mission help in their community after large snowstorms in their area.  Photo courtesy of President Daniel W. Packard.

Article Highlights

  • After parts of the East Coast experienced record snowfall, missionaries in the area answered the call to serve those in need.

“I can’t describe in words both the resilience and exuberance of the missionaries—they have taken it in stride without a word of complaint. They don’t like to stay in. They just want to get out and help, and they have done exactly that.” —President Daniel W. Packard of the Massachusetts Boston Mission

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

After weeks of snowfall and record-breaking temperatures, Church members and missionaries on the East Coast are reporting they are safe, despite harsh weather conditions.

Beginning in late January, the East Coast has experienced extreme weather. Boston, Massachusetts, made headlines around the U.S. as the city and surrounding areas experienced more than 100 inches of snow in just a few weeks—making it the second snowiest season on record.

“We have had an unrelenting winter,” said Boston Massachusetts Stake President Kevin B. Rollins. The stake includes the city of Boston and around 40 miles to the west. “Most everybody has about four-plus feet [of snow] on the ground, and there are some areas where it is 10 feet high.”

No major injuries or health problems have been reported among Church members, President Rollins said, adding that one of the biggest problems has been the amount of snow.

Most places in and around Boston, Massachusetts, received four-plus feet of snow, while in some areas it was 10 feet high. Photo courtesy of President Daniel W. Packard.

Missionaries have spent many hours shoveling walks, digging cars out of snow, and doing other acts of good will. Photo courtesy of President Daniel W. Packard.

Missionaries serving in the Massachusetts Boston Mission help in their community after large snowstorms in their area. Photo courtesy of President Daniel W. Packard.

Missionaries serving in the Massachusetts Boston Mission help in their community after large snowstorms in their area. Photo courtesy of President Daniel W. Packard.

“We haven’t had any illnesses or anyone get hurt, but it has been difficult to get around—especially to work for some people, and mass transit has been shut down several times,” he said.

Because there has been so much consistent snow, it has been a challenge to keep drivers on the road and homes safe, President Rollins said.

“At some point it needs to be somewhere, and we have no place to put it,” President Rollins said of the snow. “We know in the spring we are going to have a lot of home repair costs. But right now, nothing has been too serious.”

Home teaching and visiting teaching “calling trees” have helped in locating and making sure everyone is safe, the leader said. When appropriate, Church meetings were cancelled or consolidated. “For the most part we have had a fairly uneventful situation of people being in trouble and in need.”

Whether it has been lengthy snowfalls or cold temperatures, the members have been resilient, the leader said.

“The members have been fabulous—they are very resilient—and have helped one another where they could,” President Rollins said. “In our stake we formed two brand new branches during this time. Everybody came, even in the freezing cold subzero weather. I am lucky to get to see the faithfulness of people in a crisis like this.”

The missionaries have done remarkably well, said Massachusetts Boston Mission President Daniel W. Packard. “They are all safe. We kept them indoors on the days it was dangerous, but, for the most part, they have wanted to be out.”

Missionaries have spent many hours shoveling walks, digging cars out of snow, and doing other acts of good will.

“They have given particular attention to the most vulnerable in the community,” President Packard said. “They have been working hard.”

Despite the many inches of snow, President Packard’s 280 missionaries have continued to serve.

“I can’t describe in words both the resilience and exuberance of the missionaries—they have taken it in stride without a word of complaint,” he said. “They don’t like to stay in. They just want to get out and help, and they have done exactly that.”

President Packard said there were a few days with a frostbite warning that missionaries were asked to stay in, but, given the chance, his missionaries have been out and braved the subzero temperatures “with smiles on their faces.” With a chuckle in his voice he added, “Many are cold, but few are frozen.”

Winter storms brought rain and snow also to states in the South and the Midwest.