A potentially disastrous situation turned into a rewarding one for members of the Hanalei Branch in the Kauai Hawaii Stake, thanks to a spirit of giving and enterprise.
Despite heavy rains and the threat of floods, about 80 branch members and friends joined together Dec. 13 for a dinner and social. But less than two hours later they learned that the rains had overrun the Hanalei River bridge and the road was closed."We continued with our party because the road has been closed before with rains and usually it takes just a few hours to clear it," explained branch Pres. William Swain.
But as the heavy rains continued, branch leaders decided to send members who could reach their homes for blankets, extra milk for young children and for more food.
"We put on our videos for the group and listened to the radio for weather updating," Pres. Swain said.
They soon heard of many tourists who were stranded and invited them to join in the social and take shelter at the meetinghouse.
"From that invitation and from an announcement we made over radio, 20 non-member visitors joined in our festivities," Pres. Swain commented. "They watched our videos and we all played games."
Two full-time missionaries attending the social, Sister Valerie Henderson of West Jordan, Utah, and Sister Amy Bennion of Murray, Utah, utilized the time to visit with non-members.
One non-member couple was receptive to their message and accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon. An investigator who attended the party asked to be baptized.
When the Hanalei Fire Department's helicopter landing pad flooded, the meetinghouse parking lot became the landing pad and the meetinghouse became the department's base of operations and shelter for stranded travelers and tourists.
Twenty-two hours later the road was cleared and members and non-members were able to return to their homes and hotels. There was plenty of food to serve to the entire crowd for dinner on the evening of Dec. 13 and breakfast and lunch on Dec. 14.
Lawrence Lee, bishop of the Kapaa 2nd Ward in the stake, said homes of some Church members were damaged and one member lost a home in the flooding.
The Kapaa 2nd Ward includes Anahola, the area hardest hit as flood waters swept through the region in northeast Kauai. Four lives were lost during that weekend in the Anahola region.