LDS missionary returns home, shares stories of Typhoon Haiyan

Posted at 9:59 PM, Nov 20, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-21 00:00:29-05

SALT LAKE CITY – In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, many in the Philippines were left looking for food, water and basic supplies; a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who was serving in the Philippines spoke to FOX 13 News about the storm and its aftermath.

Returned missionary Joseph Baker said it was a one-of-a-kind experience.

“It made the apartment tremble at times,” he said. “It was the loudest thing I've ever heard. The winds were just incredible. It would tear down trees… We would see the roofs of houses just being ripped off. And buildings were collapsing and things like that.”

Baker said he and his companion sheltered in their concrete apartment until the storm passed. He said the devastation was shocking.

"When we traveled up to Canunga it was just, everything was destroyed and barren,” he said. “When we go there it was unrecognizable. I had conducted exchanges before in that area, but once I got there I couldn't recognize anything.”

Baker’s family was in Lewiston, and as communication networks were down they worried for their son.

“After I saw the news and I saw the devastation, I had a really hard time,” Monica Jo Baker said. “I didn't know if my son was alive. I didn't know if he was dead. And if he was, would we be able to find him? And I just had this horrible whirlpool of emotions take place.”

Baker said they helped with cleanup efforts in Manila after the storm.

“All the people that we helped, they were all widows," he said. "The one thing that she said to us was, ‘This is a time to either renew your faith or strengthen it.' From what I could tell, it was absolutely right."

LDS Church officials released Baker and 30 other missionaries who were near the end of their service, while others in the mission were relocated to other areas.

Baker said he cried when he received the letter releasing him, as he said there was still so much work to be done.