This week I spent some time with Elder Tyler Vail who is serving in Boulder right now as a full-time missionary. Elder Vail has about 7 months left to go on his mission and when you meet him he seems like any other missionary but behind the kind smile and the quiet appearance, there is something major going on in Elder Vail’s life right now. Last week his parents, sister, brother, and dog barely escaped the flames that engulfed their home in Paradise California.
Elder Vail is feeling positive and upbeat about the situation. President Savage, his mission president, told me that generally, these kinds of tragedies come to the mission president first who then contacts the missionary to let them know what happened. With the national scope of what is happening in Paradise CA, however, Elder Vail found out from a few local members who asked for his parent’s phone number so they could contact them to see if everything was alright. It wasn’t alright, Elder Vail found out second hand that his parent’s home and his grandmother’s home and the entire town he calls home are all gone.
President Savage says he first found out when Elder Vail called him, not to ask if he could go home or talk to his mother, but to ask President Savage to check on a few other missionaries who are also from parts of California affected by the fires.
Elder Vail is serving in the Young Single Adults ward in the Boulder stake currently and there is an effort among that congregation to raise enough money to pay for the rest of Elder Vail’s mission so he can stay and finish serving his two-year mission.
I was very inspired by Elder Vail and the way he has reacted to this tragedy. The few things he has with him on his mission represent more than 1/2 of his family’s physical possesions at this time but he only sees the positive in this horrific situation. His family is safe, and his dog got out too.