on Monsoon Weather at Laitkynsew
Page: 194 – 196
The rain plagues the whole region from March to October, sometimes even for a fortnight at a stretch. And what rain! It is a real deluge and no umbrella, any raincoat or waterproof boots are of any use. Our new church is covered with galvanized corrugated iron sheets. Every little opening in the roof is carefully plugged. Doors and windows are closed hermetically but to no avail! Twice a day we must bail out the water, which covers the cement floor. Whatever is pasted together comes apart on account of the dampness and falls to pieces. Books fall to pieces and writing fades away and shoes are covered with mildew. The rain turns roads into streams and gardens into lakes. Repairs to the church and the residence were soon necessary. These were in a state of decay even before a decade passed. The spring of 1908 brought fresh trials for the mission. Let us hear the Superior of the station, Fr. Dominic Daunderer, who reported on the state of the mission:
The last day of March and the first day of April were days of bitter trial for the mission of Laitkynsew. First, cholera broke out, brought on by a long period of heat and drought. Then followed terrible thunderstorms, which shook the buildings violently. The mission chapel was very badly damaged; the wooden posts and the walls of bamboos plastered with mud, which had been attacked by white ants and had rotted in the dampness, were destroyed by the wind especially on the southeastern side. On April 4th, shortly after noon, there was a severe earthquake in which the sacristy collapsed like a house of cards. The whole rear wall of the church crumbled. The other buildings of the mission lay in ruins. The sight was enough to make even the stoutest hearts lose courage. But worse events were in store. On 7th April, towards evening, I heard a terrible rumbling from the plains, from the southeast, drawing steadily nearer. Then the horizon was overcast by a thick pall of cloud. It rose higher and higher and spread out, to the left and to the right like a huge net thrown in the air. Flashes of lightning rent the clouds, and then suddenly the storm erupted with unbelievable fury that I could hardly breathe. The air was filled with sand, which was blown over the corrugated iron sheets of the roof. It was impossible to remain outside. I crept into the house as darkness fell. The house was trembling and cracking! A beam of roof was torn off and the corrugated iron sheets made a deafening noise. I thought the whole roof would soon be blown off. Gradually the fury of the storm subsided and the rain came pouring down. It came in torrents, a real deluge from the clouds! Flash after flash of lightning followed and at times the whole sky looked like a sea of fire! The unceasing rumbling of thunder was mingled with the noise of the water. After an hour and a half the worst was over. I took out my lantern and went out to see what destruction the storm had caused. The wall behind the confessional had collapsed. In another corner the wall of the orphanage had been ripped open. Inside the church, parts of the wall, some pictures of the Stations of the Cross and leaves of prayer books lay scattered around. In front of the altar there was a small lake! The sight of the destruction was enough to fill my heart with grief. What was I to do now?
The church and residence, where the wooden beams, posts and bamboos, eaten by white ants, and rotted by humidity could not resist the combined fury of the storm and the earthquakes, were reduced to ruins