Brief phone calls, emails a ‘blessing’ for relatives of Mormons caught in Puerto Rico, Mexico disasters

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico

Elder Jake Jensen called his mother hours after Hurricane Maria made its destructive pass across the U.S. territory.

The 18-year-old from Elmo, Utah, was a bit sore from sleeping on the tile floor of the San Juan Puerto Rico Mission office. And he could only talk for about a minute.

No matter, said Diane Jensen.

“It was a relief to hear from him — we were worried.”

Selina Munoz of West Jordan, Utah, can relate. She received an email from Mexico City from her own missionary son, Elder Benjamin Munoz, just hours after a massive earthquake hit the Mexican capital. Once again, the communication was brief but welcome. All was well for Elder Munoz — and for the other full-time missionaries serving in areas impacted by the quakes.

For many Latter-day Saints with family ties to Puerto Rico or Mexico, even a quick phone, text or email is being called a blessing.

Utah resident Pablo Rivera endured days of silence following Hurricane Maria before he heard from his parents, Pablo and Migdalia Rivera. The Mormon couple live in the coastal city of Ponce on the south end of Puerto Rico.

“There’s no cell coverage, so they had to walk to a relative’s house to use a landline that was working,” said the younger Pablo. “My parents grew up in Puerto Rico, but they say they’ve never seen anything like this. There is devastation everywhere.”

Securing food, water and gasoline has become a daily and sometimes dangerous burden, said Rivera. Looting and robbery remain threats as people spend their day gathering limited provisions.

LDS relief efforts

The Church is part of a growing corps of government and private humanitarian response organizations working together to deliver relief to both Puerto Rico and Mexico.

The past few weeks have been defined by historic catastrophe across the Western Hemisphere.

Hurricanes and flooding have impacted regions stretching from south Texas to outermost islands of the Caribbean. Puerto Rico remains almost entirely without power and enduring what is expected to be a long-term humanitarian crisis.

Meanwhile, two major earthquakes — one in Mexico City and the second in the south end of the country — have claimed hundreds of lives, toppled buildings and displaced entire communities.

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