For the first time in my whole life, the only time I cried over the news on TV was on the huge devastation and inconceivable effect left by typhoon Yolanda to the people of Visayas. As a Christian, I was deeply moved that I have prayed to God that He give me an opportunity to take my part and do it for the affected people. Thus, when ATS announced that teams would be sent to do stress debriefing to our brothers and sisters in some parts of the region I instantly signed up. I just knew that this was the chance the Lord has given me and I have to go. With my professor and eight other team members, whom mostly I have just met, I went prepared for anything.
The day came and I was still bothered with the possibilities of discomfort I might experience, working with people I was not close to, and fear of being not able to provide the help. Nonetheless, I was more excited for this trip as I surrendered all of these worries to the Lord. To be able to sleep in a barangay hall instead in a tent and use a clean toilet and bath in a neighborhood church, which the Pastor one of the team members befriended with just a few hours when we arrived, was an answered prayer already. After meeting Pastor Paul, we learned that it seems impossible to visit the places that were planned prior to the arrival so we just prayed and let the hands of God lead us to maximize our stay. On our first day, we got invited to join the Dawn Watch Prayer by the pastors. From there, we were able to talk to pastors from different churches and all of a sudden our second day was already filled up. And then, I believe the Lord has brought the team to minister to this neighbor church and they were all blessed and grateful after the debriefing process. We wrapped up our first day by ministering to the barangay Purok leaders and evening devotion. The second and last day was spent with seven different churches were the team spread out to preach for the Sunday service for most of us, followed by the PSP. It was only perfect to end this trip with the sharing of all our striking experiences on our last evening that have truly blessed each and every members of the team.
As we listened to the prayers of pastors in Dawn Watch, I have learned that they view this calamity as God’s punishment to our sinfulness that I think was strongly influenced by this particular prophecy they kept mentioning for this region. In response, I have introduced to the people I talked to the God who revealed Himself to me as a loving and compassionate God in the midst of a life disaster, which I personally experienced. I have learned that to feel doubt about our God and the words we preach is a normal reaction in times like this. But irrefutably, I was greatly encouraged and touched by their faith despite of the losses they have experienced in which I have seen as their way of protecting themselves from deep pain and more questions. Hence, I helped people to lament and pour out to God what they truly feel with the disaster through this PSP. The result was astoundingly indeed a blessing for all of us that their hope to spring back was intensified and they have wished that we would come back for others. Also in the midst of a blow, I cannot ignore the fact that natural evilness of human can also maneuvered the situation such as politicking a simple relief-goods giving and that really infuriated me quietly. Largely, I was truly amazed by the faith and hope of the survivors to hold on and very strong will shown by the smiles on their lips to have their life back.
One of the utmost impact on me was the decision made by this pastor, whom his church I was assigned to minister, that in spite of his option to leave the city he opted not to but stayed to attend to his members even he and his own family experienced the same losses. Truly, obeying to God’s calling to us brings real joy and meaning to life in which not only brought me out of my comfort zone but also made me do things I thought could not do such as preaching and living in discomfort through taking part in a portion of suffering of my fellow countrymen. Indeed we are at our happiest when we serve Him at the right place and at the right time.