Less than three weeks from when she was to enter the Provo Missionary Training Center prior to serving in the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission, Alma Rosa Nava and her family were among the 106 members of Lehi (Spanish) Branch, Friendswood Texas Stake, forced by Hurricane Ike to evacuate their Galveston Island homes and relocate inland.
With the College Station Texas Stake hosting the evacuees from its sister stake for a dozen days, Sister Nava approached Bryan 1st Ward Bishop David R. Durda with questions about her travel itinerary to Utah.
During the ensuing conversation, Bishop Durda learned Sister Nava had begun purchasing and setting aside clothes and supplies for her mission. But the rushed evacuation leading up to Hurricane Ike hitting southeastern Texas on Sept. 13 resulted in her having to leave her preparations behind.
Uncertain if Sister Nava's family would be able to return to their home prior to her mission starting on Oct. 1, sisters of the Bryan 1st Ward stepped in.
"They are Saints in every sense of that word and are angels to our people," said Friendswood Texas Stake President Jonathan S. Schmitt of the College Station Stake, which ended up housing more than 150 evacuees. "When the members learned of Alma's missionary service, they provided everything on her mission list to ensure she would be prepared to serve."
But the story doesn't end there; the charitable service went full circle. In appreciation for the unsolicited assistance, Sister Nava's family found ways to reciprocate.
"The family wanted to provide service — they wanted to give back," said Lehi Branch President J. Thomas Westergard, with the Navas helping with housecleaning and other tasks in Bryan before departing.
"They gave service back," said Bishop Durda. "All of the Galveston members were very self-reliant." — Scott Taylor