[This report comes from the General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church of the Philippines. This servant-leader has personally traveled to Cebu, Leyte, and other devastated islands to review the establishment of relief and recovery staging areas and assess needs.]
Dear Ministry Partners,
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ! I just arrived from the two of our three staging areas of relief operations of typhoon victims in the Philippines:
- Medellin (Cebu) Staging Area: November 21-22, 3013
We arrived in Medellin, North-eastern part of Cebu on the 21st of November (Thursday). My team mates are: Brett Durbin (Trash Mountain Project Executive Director), Jonathan Demeo (Mission Director of TMP), John Kazaklis (Area Director of TMP), Dr. Melvin Aquino (General Secretary of The Wesleyan Church of the Philippines) and Romulo Agoto Sr. (skilled carpenter from Palawan).
This staging area of relief operations is under the supervision of Rev. Willie Basister (District Superintendent of Visayan District of The Wesleyan Church). Rev. Dante Mamaclay (the Assistant District Superintendent and Pastor of Lawaan Wesleyan Church), Pastor Jommel Amad and seven Bible School students are with him.
Ministries done within two days are: The feeding of more than 200 people, distribution of purified waters, began the rebuilding of collapsed houses (initially 2 houses of 2 widows but many in the list will be next), distribution of pails and basins with washing soaps, repairing and visiting other areas. Prior to our arrival there, relief goods distributions were done twice by the team in this area. The continuing activities are: rebuilding of collapsed houses, dry goods, water and relief distributions
- Tacloban (Leyte) Staging Area: November 23-25, 2013
It was Saturday, November 23 (Saturday) when we arrived in Tacloban airport and the air and site of devastation welcomed us. The leader of this stage area is Dr. Mamerto Acosta with the team from Metro Manila District who came and visited ahead of us, but after 30 minutes they went back to Manila by car: Rev. Mark Papey, Rev. Joel Pascua, Rev. Bayani Gabrillo, Rev. Leandro Vidad, and Rev. Richard delos Reyes. They brought us to the temporary base where we will stay for three days while ministering to the victims in this area.
The temporary base that we are using is a business stall which is located along the way to the airport. The address is Barangay 88, Sto. Nino, Tacloban City and in front of us are houses that were flattened and demolished by the typhoon. The moment we put down our things we gathered together and had a short prayer time whereby Brett Durbin read Psalm 97 and I prayed for God’s guidance, wisdom and protection as we do our ministry here.
After the prayer time, we surveyed the place in front of us because it was one of the thickly populated areas of the city. On our way we met two widows gathering sticks for firewood. Priscilla, who has five children (ranging 5-19) told us that her husband is still missing. She led us to the place where their house was located; it is now totally collapsed. The other widow is Leah, the cousin of Priscilla. She has two children and showed us the location of her collapsed house also.
When I asked them what is their longing and prayer to God, they had the same answer: “That we could live together as family because the typhoon broke our homes and family. Our children are now staying in different evacuation areas while we are here trying to find ways to rebuild our house from the rubble. We are women and cannot do much but pick up pieces of rubble and wet clothes. The owner of the place where we are staying temporarily only gave us four more days, after which we must leave the place.” After hearing what they expressed to us, we told them that they must be thankful to God that their lives were spared and God loves them and has a future for them.
We returned to the place where we were to stay and made plans for the next move. We agreed together that we will survey the whole city before supper and we decided to have a worship service in this place tomorrow before doing help. It was hard to sleep during the night thinking what to do to help the victims and how to reduce the overpowering stench in the air which enveloped the atmosphere.
The next day, Sunday, we had our worship service. The two widows with their invited neighbours came and attended worship. One of the attenders was Ernesto, a man who can hardly walk. When we asked him his longing and prayer, he asked for healing. So, we prayed for his healing and gave him medicine. After the service, we went together as a group to the houses of the two widows which were filled with debris and started the cleaning. Before we left on Monday afternoon, we could erect four corner posts for Leah’s house and Rev. Mamerto Acosta went to purchase materials for houses so that the rebuilding program will continue.
On this survey trip, we are just beginning to help some of the victims. There are many, many things to be done to help the victims recover and stand up again. We hope to multiply these efforts many times over. Thanks for your prayers, financial support and partnership. God bless you all.
[To contribute to the relief and recovery efforts following the disastrous typhoon in the Philippines, go to the Wesleyan Emergency Relief Fund.]