Tuesday, May 31, 2011




SO! We had a lot of tornadoes in Oklahoma on Tuesday!!! Let me tell you the story!!!

It was Tuesday, and the leaders of the mission and a few others were in Moore, OK for a leadership training meeting at the stake center there. The meeting was going well, and then in the early afternoon, President Taylor was talking to us, stopped, and told everyone to get ahold of all of the missionaries in the mission. A big storm was on the way from the west. As missionaries were doing that, President Taylor had his phone out and showed myself and a couple other missionaries what the radar looked like through Oklahoma. Basically, it was a line of storms running north and south through Oklahoma, moving from the west to the east (basically, it was sweeping Oklahoma from left to right, with tornadoes and stuff along the way). Once all of the missionaries in the mission were accounted for, we all knelt together and President Taylor offered a prayer.

After continuing the meeting for another 10 or 15 minutes, President Taylor said, "We need everyone to get in the hall." We all filed out of the chapel into the hall next to the restrooms. The storm was headed our way. There was a reported tornado touchdown a few miles away from the stake center and if the storm continued it's course, it'd plow right into the stake center. We all went into the girls bathroom (the safest place in a stake center (who would've thought?!)) and waited. It was a pretty good time! We were all talking and coming up with possible outcomes of our situation. After about 10 minutes, we were allowed to go back into the hall. It was around dinner time and thankfully, the Mazios guy showed up with our pizza!!! I tell you what: if you ever want pizza in an environment full of tornadoes, call Mazios! They are hardcore about their pizza!!!!

We all sat in the hall and ate pizza as President and Sister Taylor and the Assistants to the President were in the lobby, monitoring what the storm was like outside while listening to a storm radio. We were allowed to go 2 at a time to the lobby to see what the storm was like. As I was standing near the hall at the edge of the lobby, I looked outside and watched the rain come down. The storm seemed to have weakened and there wasn't a whole lot of rain coming down. Suddenly, as we watched through the lobby doors, sheets and sheets of rain started pouring down and sideways. President Taylor yelled, "Everyone get in the bathroom NOW!!"

We all got in the bathroom and waited. I was standing next to President Taylor and Elder Ellsworth (one of the Assistants to the President). Elder Ellsworth was holding the storm radio while President Taylor was looking at his phone. The storm was right over us. If a tornado would have formed, it would've been a bad day. We stayed in the bathroom, listening to the chatter on the storm radio. It was a little unnerving, listening to the radio. There were a couple of weather people giving the updates on all of the areas. I remember vividly one of them saying, "Paul's Valley. Paul's Valley. We have a tornado warning for Paul's Valley. Abandon all trailer homes. Seek shelter now." (P.S. a tornado watch means there's possibility of a tornado forming; a tornado warning means one has already been sighted). I remember thinking, "We have missionaries is Paul's Valley!" Thankfully, all of the missionaries were in shelter and okay.

After the storm settled, we were allowed to go back into the hall. A little bit later, the "all clear" was given for Moore. We ended the meeting a little early and President Taylor gave us the instructions for helping people out (doing tornado service). Everyone got gloves for all of the missionaries in the mission and then we headed home. Norman wasn't hit, thankfully. Supposedly, there's a tale that a long time ago, a Native American man buried a hatchet and blessed the land against tornadoes. There's also a river near here, so that helps too.

All of this happened on Tuesday, and on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we went to Newcastle, OK to help clean up. There were some houses that had good chunks of their roof completely gone. One family we helped had a trailer that was completely demolished (see attached pictures). There were HUGE trees that were uprooted and tossed around. When I saw the trees, that's when it hit me. I thought, "Wind did this?" It's mindblowing that the sheer force from powerful wind could completely uproot a 75-100 foot tall tree. The wife of the family who had the trailer; she was still in a little bit of shock. We asked how we could help. She had a hard time specifying what she wanted cleaned up immediately, so we just helped pick up the wood from the frame of their trailer and really big branches and things. She wanted to wait to sort out the belongings that she still had. It was sad.

Another time, we were at the city tornado shelter where the Red Cross was stationed with food and things for the people who were affected by the tornadoes. We had just finished up for the day and were walking outside when a lady with a large, black garbage bag was walking outside. She looked worn out, so we helped her with her things. Some old guy, not knowing the whole situation or spending time to evaluate it himself, jokingly remarked with a wink, "Ah, you don't have to spoil her!" As we walked outside, she said, "My house just got leveled. I think it's okay if I get spoiled a little bit right now."

And so, the Norman Stake has organized service projects for the Newcastle/Blanchard area and we will be going out again this Saturday to help again.

I'm glad the gospel is here. I'm glad the Church is here. Priesthood leadership is so awesome! In behalf of anyone and everyone here in Oklahoma, thanks for your prayers and good wishes.

And God bless America!!!!

Elder Woolley

The first people we helped on Thursday got hit pretty bad.

This is/was the trailer we were helping pick up. Off to the left (outside of the picture) the family was sleeping in a tent. All of the boards and things in the picture are from the trailer. Where the trailer stood, there is only torn up cement, nothing else.

That's what it looks like when a tornado goes through.

Bad focus on the pic, but these are some of the trees that were uprooted

Monday, May 23, 2011

Weekly Letter -- 23 MAY 2011

Dear Everyone,

This week was good. Everything is going well out here. I don't have a lot of time. The church is true. Read the Book of Mormon. Love everyone, no matter what.

That's all for now. Love ya!

Elder Woolley

Monday, May 16, 2011

More Pictures!

The Youngbull family from Elk City (Leslie and Eagle Soldier (aka Frankie) with their kids,
Halona (the girl) and Lakota (the boy).

The Thackers (Dan and Sharon) from Elk City (SO AWESOME!!!)

An oil rig off of I-40 that we saw when we were going to OKC for transfers

Oklahoma has the craziest clouds

We ate at a place called "Taste of India" in Norman. It was REALLY GOOD! And the flat bread made me want to go back to Afghanistan (yes, it's possible to miss the country I was once at war in)

Weekly Letter - 16 May 2011



This week has been great! My new companion is Elder Timoteo (originally from American Samoa, now in Seattle, WA). Here's why Elder Timoteo is awesome: A) because he's always happy, B) because he is very good at communicating openly with love (which is something I'm going to learn a lot about from him), C) he's Samoan, D) he likes to work hard and he knows how to clean things, E) he can do the haka (and he's good at it), F) he can hula (but he hasn't done it for me yet), G) he smiles a lot, and H) he's a fearless OYM-er. I am Elder Timoteo's 14th companion!! He goes home in December and has never been with a companion for more than a transfer for his entire mission. Basically, Elder Timoteo is awesome and it's no wonder he's had so many companions--everyone has to wait their turn to work with him and learn from him!

I finished reading the Book of Mormon a couple of days ago. This time, I marked the references to the Godhead, the Atonement, and the doctrine of Christ (the whole mission has been doing it). It was awesome :) Moroni's promise is still true. Reading through it has made me ponder about what to study now and for the rest of my life. I remember President Taylor once that his family studied "For the Strength of Youth" for a year and I got thinking, "What if I studied 'Faith in Jesus Christ' for a whole year? and then went through the rest of the principles of the doctrine of Christ for a year each, making a 5-year personal study plan for after my mission?" I've still got some time to think about it, but I look forward to personal study for the rest of my life.

Something I discovered yesterday, the Norman 4th ward is INSANE!!!! (Insane in a good way). Everyone here is connected to their purpose and it's AWESOME!!! I've never seen anything like it! We're walking through church, people are asking, "Hey, did that get done?" People are volunteering to help each other out. It's crazy. I have never in my life been in a ward that even comes close to the "connectedness" that the Norman 4th ward has. We have a baptismal candidate, Harrison Hipp, that is 13 years old. The young men and their leaders are reaching out to him a ton and coming to lessons with us. Now I understand why everyone calls Norman, "The Promised Land". If I ever live in Oklahoma again, Norman would be the choice place (I haven't seen much of the rest of Oklahoma, but Norman is awesome). It's also the home of the OU Sooners. The town shuts down when OU football is going on, so if I'm still here when football season starts I'll get to experience it myself!

That's all for now!!! I'll fill you in on awesome stories as they come along. Thanks for the prayers and love and support! I love all of you! :)

Elder Woolley

Pictures from May 2 - Elk City

It rained a lot and started hailing a little bit too! (it was just little hail, so it wasn't bad)

Me, on our patio, in the rain. :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Weekly Letter -- 09 MAY 2011



Happy day-after-Mother's Day to all of the mothers (present or future) out there!

Guess what?! I'm getting transferred!!! Sad day? Yeah. Happy day? Yeah. Exciting? YEP!
I'm going to Norman, which is the home of the OU Sooners (football!!!!!). It'll be a party! So today I have to pack, which means this is going to be REALLY short.

This last week:
Youngbull wedding/baptism was postponed so more family members could make it. Sad? Yeah, but they're still solid.
I ate Braum's frozen yogurt (SOOOOO GOOD!!! You should come to Oklahoma just to eat at Braum's. Yeah, I'm talking to YOU!)
Elder Garner and I got Yoo-Hoo (the 16.9 ounce glass bottle kind (the best kind) at a gas station in Burns Flat, OK).
We ate more food (for some reason, the only thing that comes to mind right now is "food").

I have to pack!!!!

Today, tomorrow, and always:
Thanks for your prayers, love, and support!!! I love you!!!

I gotta go!!! I LOVE YOU!!! :)


Elder Woolley :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Weekly Letter - 2 May 2011


First item of business, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARY DONAKEY!!

Second item of business, Osama bin Laden is dead. That's really crazy. I'm not going to get into politics or too deep into all of it, but needless to say, I think every military member and their families are VERY relieved that this has finally happened. I know I am!

Third item of business, the gospel is true. That's what makes it work so well! :)

Forth item of business, Oklahoma has crazy weather. It's been the driest Spring in a long time, so a couple of weeks ago, the bishop announced that the Stake was going to join in fasting for rain. So yesterday, as we woke up and looked outside, it was raining! So yeah, fasting works. I give it two thumbs up :)

Fifth item of business, Oklahomans love BBQ. That's why I love Oklahoma. Actually, I love Oklahoma for a lot of reasons, but especially because of BBQ. The second counselor in our stake presidency, Pres. Curtis Crane, lives in Oklahoma City but drives out to Elk City once a week for work. He took us out to dinner at a place called the Hog Trough. All I can say is that they have some good ribs. Big, hefty, delicious ribs :)

Sixth item of business, I'm trying to think of something spiritual to say, but I'm stuck on those ribs now. They really were that good!

Seventh item of business, we should be having a baptism in the next couple of weeks (Elk City's first since the area opened in January). It's a part-member family and they're really awesome!

Eighth item of business, if any of you haven't met my family, you have to! They're awesome!

Ninth item of business, my favorite thing to do out here (or at least one of my favorite things to do) is to tell people I know the Book of Mormon is true. People just can't mess with that!

Tenth item of business, we had zone conference on Friday. It was a good time and an all-day event for us (since we have to drive to and from Elk City).

Eleventh item of business, I'm sure a lot of missionaries think this about their mission president, but my mission president is THE BEST! I just wanted to let you know that :) If you ever get a chance to meet President Nolan Taylor (whether he's still "President" or not) take it! He's knows his stuff and he's basically like Moroni. "If all man had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto [President Taylor]... the devil would NEVER have power over the hearts of the children of men." (emphasis added) :)

Twelfth item of business, I think this is all for this week. Transfers are in 10 days, so I'll find out next Sunday if/where I'm getting transferred.

Thirteenth item of business, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY NEXT SUNDAY!!! Moms are awesome.

Gotta go now. Love ya! :) Thanks for your letters!

Elder Woolley