I have now been on the ground, back and forth in the hardest hit areas for a week. While the mile after mile of complete destruction is overwhelming, I am continually blessed by the resiliency and faith of the Filipino people.
Yesterday I observed people who have lost almost every earthly possession, praising God through song in their worship service. The church building was destroyed, but the “Church” remains strong. Yesterday in Ormoc, I observed more than 200 children being ministered to at our Nazarene “Child Safe Zone” a place where traumatized children can come, play, sing, be counseled, and loved.
We have now delivered relief food supplies to many communities where we have churches. Doctors are on the ground from our Nazarene Church and Heart to Heart International. There is excitement in the air as our blue vested Nazarene Disaster Response personnel are being seen in and throughout the villages, at organizational meetings, and as last night , driving trucks of supplies through the night. After two flat tires (from debris scattered everywhere on the roads) one of our teams, unwavering, reached an isolated village with much needed food.
Your continued prayers are so vital. Team leaders are fatigued as for some of them, this is now their third month of disaster response in the Philippines, with this latest, Yolanda, bringing a level of destruction not seen before. Pray for Field Strategy Coordinator Stephen Gualberto as he seeks to make the greatest impact with the limited resources. Pray for the District Superintendents and pastors who are ministering to their people, while having themselves, faced the same trauma. Pray for the medical teams arriving and their transport as fuel has become a most valuable resource. We now are buying fuel from street venders, by the liter bottle, paying as much as $18 per gallon. People are lining up for as long as 27 hours, camping on the road, to purchase what fuel is available.
We continue to give God the glory for daily miracles.
From Ormoc and Tacloban,
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Update from Todd Aebischer in Eastern Samar, Central Philippines:
We spent the day traveling up the coast of Eastern Samar, conducting assessments in many communities who have not yet been reached. The scene was the same for mile after mile, buildings leveled, debris strewn everywhere 3-4 feet high. No power, very limited food supplies, people walking around picking through debris trying to figure out where to even begin in the process of starting over.
But, in the midst of this, we have found our church members reaching out to others. Our young college student stress counselors are leading the program in Tacloban. Also in Tacloban, our church has become a community location for delivering potable water, and a refuge for several families who are sleeping in pews. The children play in the church, hang on our arms, and are safe. What is amazing is the faith that we have observed. Written in paint across the only wall standing of a house were these words, “keep praying… we are down but we are not out!”
Our relief supplies are on the ground, another truck arrived today. The first wave of Nazarene doctors will be arriving tomorrow, and this is just the beginning.
I have seen tears on many occasions as I have shared that Nazarene brothers and sisters around the world are praying and partnering. We are all amazed as we see thousands reading the updates and sharing. As soon as I get back to the area in the world where I can upload my pictures of the last three days, be prepared to have your hearts torn and touched all at the same time. God is pulling people together and receiving praise and glory through it all.
Yours and His,
From Eastern Samar, Central Philippines
[flex_slider][slide source=’https://asiapacificnazarene.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/greg1-005.jpg’ caption=’Dulag Church of the Nazarene’][slide source=’https://asiapacificnazarene.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/20131114_091549.jpg’ caption=’Church in IloIlo area’][slide source=’https://asiapacificnazarene.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/greg1-001.jpg’ caption=’Aerial view of the devastation’][slide source=’https://asiapacificnazarene.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/greg1-002.jpg’ caption=’Aerial view of the devastation’][/flex_slider]