I have been back in the Philippines for all of a week and a half. I was in MN when Typhoon Yolanda tore its path of devastation through this beautiful, but already struggling country. I should not even talk about my fears as I watched the huge swirling mass of red, orange, blue and green hover over the Visayas from the comfort of my sister's sturdy home, thousands of miles away from it all. Those that experienced it are still reeling from the trauma of it all I imagine. Truth be told, I was afraid. I feared for the safety of our children, for the staff, my friends and loved ones here. I was grateful that my family and friends in the US did not have to include me in their prayers for the Philippines, but really I was wishing I was here. To help. To make sure. To comfort. To do something.
Now I am here and I have some observations to share. The part of Cebu where the shelter is located, and where my home is, was not ripped apart, flattened or caked in mud like Tacloban or Ormoc were. I have heard stories of the smell of that mud and my heart goes out to those living in that. You might not even think that the most devastating storm in all of recorded history came through here if you didn't look closely. But things are different.
All of the trees in the front yard of our school were either blown over by the force of the winds or cut down to prevent damage to our buildings. There is no more shade there for our guard and it admittedly looks lonely. There are trees that are missing from the front of one of our houses also. Minor, but different.
There are other things that are different.
The malls are overflowing with people that are homeless, displaced from the areas most damaged. There are always a lot of people around, but now, everywhere, all the time---there are just more people.
And brownouts/blackouts---they are more frequent now. I have heard that areas are going without power to reserve or provide for the areas without.
Traffic is a lot heavier, jeeps are often incredibly full. Last night I saw a group of people start running toward a jeep that was slowing down, the urgency to get a ride was very apparent.
The list of waiting children has grown rapidly as families that were once able to make it on their own have lost homes or family members and can no longer care for their own. CSC's help is in desperate need.
I share these observations for a few reasons. The Philippines still need your prayers! The islands that were decimated are still greatly in need. CSC has created a Relief Committee and as you have read, there have already been two trips to affected areas and CSC will continue to determine how we can reach out. The need is far greater than something we can manage, but the grateful smiles and sighs of relief of those we are able to give food or clothing to are all the encouragement we need to continue helping in whatever way we can.
And though Cebu was not damaged, things in Cebu are different. I cannot begin to explain or understand why we were spared and others not and the effects from the storm for us are nothing to compared to those who lost everything. But I share these so that others may know that life is not back to normal for the Philippines. Prayers are still needed and greatly appreciated.
I know God is at work in this country. And I thank Him for His protection over CSC. Because we were spared, we can help others.
This was a heavier blog than I originally intended when I sat down at my computer. To end things on a lighter note, this is how I spent my morning!