I have never been this positive in my life, not until the Lord has allowed us to experience the strongest typhoon ever recorded in history – Joverly M. Dave
I don’t have a near death experience to share but I want to tell you a story about how God has taught me to stand still amidst the struggle for recovery after the disastrous Haiyan made its landfall. It was only by God’s grace that I learned to opt for positivity despite the rampant devastation that I witnessed. Humanly speaking, anyone could just breakdown seeing the city on its ground zero state… but faith gave me the conviction that God is in control and in time, everything will fall into its places once again. How I became positive? How I was able to see things in a different light? It was a choice and each day, I find comfort in His words.
Day 1 of the aftermath, it all spread out that there was nothing to buy. Grocery stores and establishments were looted that it justified the scarcity even more in the days to come. I must admit, my biggest worry was for my 2- year -old son who needs most of baby supplies. I don’t care about myself; I know I can get through but what about my son? The milk that we have was only good for week consumption. Admittedly, we didn’t bother to buy groceries hoping that a day or two, everything will get back to normal. But it wasn’t the way as it was expected. Haiyan’s attack was furious that it took many months before we were able to recover from all the damages. My husband had searched all over the downtown area but supplies were to no avail. Now, the worry made me panic and it became fear and then there was anxiety. Those were the times that for a moment, we tend to forget that there is God. Yes, as human those were my initial reactions. The food that we have will not even sustain us after days and with this, I started to feel the hopelessness. As we gather outside our yard with the neighborhood, we all have the same concerns, food and the supplies for our kids.
The following day, Myra Abayon one of our neighbors living just across our house who has a child same old as Dalvinh came knocking at our door with a 1000 grams of Nido 3+ (she knew it was the brand my son is drinking). She said she have been keeping it in their pantry. Akia, her child didn’t like it so she did not continue changing the formula after she consumed a box of Nido 3+ Myra bought together with the can. I said I would want to buy it, yet she insisted it’s free. Thank God! I was definitely relieved. That time, I knew the Lord was speaking unto me and that scenario changed everything from that day, onwards. I was greatly reminded by God and I felt an immense guilt for the worries, the fears and the anxiety that I allowed to take me at my weakest point. That single can of Nido 3+ made me realized how God will provide (Philippians 4:19) for us. If He somehow has allowed us to survive the strongest storm, then He will faithfully sustain us though we felt like we are in the midst of nothing. I certainly ask for His forgiveness… and there, I started to be all positive. It is just so amazing that He immediately used people to provide our needs. Milk which was one of the supplies that caused me the great worry came to my doorstep and with that, I believe God’s message to me was that everything will be provided. I vividly remember telling my husband “I know it’s going to be tough… it will take long, but we will get by. Let us just hold on, trust Him and pray”. It was also during that day when my father, brother and a cousin braved the road from Jaro to Tacloban to check on us and to tell us that they were all safe and sound. Sunday, my brother biked all the way from Jaro to deliver another box of Nido 3+ for Dalvinh. All I can ever do is thank the Lord for the blessings.
My brother also told me that there was no looting incident in Jaro which means grocery stores were intact and the market trade was normal. In fact, there was an immediate response from DPWH Sorsogon for the clearing operation. Jaro, was I guess
among the few towns which got the earliest cleared roads and streets. We decided to move to Jaro and temporarily lived with my parents since there were numbers of dead bodies that have been recovered in our neighboring barangays and we thought, it’s going to be a danger for our son’s health. As we pass from town to another approaching Jaro, the destruction was undeniably massive. It was heart-breaking. It felt like a scene from a movie and it was hardly sinking in that it was real. Anyhow, I thanked God for the safe travel that we had. Despite the rumors circulating regarding NPA, prisoners on the loose and all those “badjao” stories- I trust God’s protection (Psalm 118:6). In spite of the panicking news about crimes (which has no valid sources), NPA attacks, famine predictions, “akyat bahay” and all sorts of morbid stories; I actually felt the peace. I chose not to absorb depressing stories that people have forecasted, the Bible promised a better future. I couldn’t believe myself, but it was all God’s grace that He lets me see things in the brighter perspective. Honestly, it wasn’t the usual me. I cannot dismiss all of these problems confronting us through my own strength. Only from God’s wisdom, I have come to learn to deal with it Biblically not with how I felt and what I feared about. To God be the glory!
In Jaro, God gave us the chance to live the simplest life- no electricity, no internet, no network signal and no TV shows to watch. At 6:00 in the evening when it starts to dark, my husband would grab a guitar and we were singing songs. I had the chance to teach my niece and nephews together with my son Sunday school songs; they were enjoying it. We fetch for drinking water, we lined up for relief distribution, we cooked with firewood, my son gets to play on the street with other kids and walked for distance to get to a hill for an unstable Globe network signal. I figured it as beautiful things that are happening. God’s message this time was contentment and humility. Even with the deprivation typhoon Haiyan has caused, God’s goodness was certain. He has also allowed me to understand His purpose and be able to know the simple and practical lessons that I should learn. If we were all ready for the disastrous typhoon and we knew what kind of situation it will give, perhaps we will not remember God anymore and we will not increase our faith during the hard times.
In the 3 weeks time that we have stayed in my hometown, we had frequent visits to Tacloban and the first time we drove back, it was a delight to see electric cooperatives from different provinces that have extended help in order to rehabilitate the power lines. This reminded me of a Filipino tradition called “bayanihan”. It was an embodiment of unity and enthusiasm to lend a helping hand. We also have discovered that International NGOs and foreign volunteers especially for medical assistance have already flocked in Tacloban. The help we are getting was already overwhelming. Though the way the media has projected the Haiyan after math in an alarming way that it has caused too much worry for viewers outside Eastern Visayas and abroad; still, I would reply to those who would ask me on how everything was going “everyday, there is hope. It wasn’t stagnant. International help has reached us and it continues to overflow. We thank God” . I usually gave them the good news in the middle of the chaotic response of our government that the media has sensationalized. After all, we can only depend on God’s grace and provision while they are still figuring out who is to blame. It is the Lord that controls the reality, and what is real is what God has said in the Bible.
It wasn’t all smooth, though. Just like everyone else, we also had our share of struggles. My son became sickly. Even if we were struggling against his asthma, I still thank the Lord that He has continually provided and guided us all throughout. He had never ceased to make use of people in sustaining what we needed. When it seems that local Doctors (especially in Tacloban) in the hospitals have flew to the other parts of the country to seek refuge, there’s this one Doctor in our town who preferred to stay in order to help his fellows. The typhoon has caused so much damage to his pharmacy and clinic yet the make shift clinic in his yard was such a blessing. I thank the Lord for giving him a heart willing to respond and attend to the medical needs of the people in Jaro. Dr. Glen Elises gave Dalvinh a week medication and thank God he was able to cope up. When everything seems to be fine already, my son suddenly got an intermittent high grade fever and we couldn’t figure out the large rashes he had on his head. There was also part of his head which was swollen that it has caused him so much headache. It was during that time when we have to drive all the way to Tacloban at 3am having no idea if there are functioning hospitals in the City. We couldn’t thank God enough for the Korea Field Hospital that took over the Divine Word Hospital for free Medical assistance. Yes, we had first-hand experience of the Korean’s compassion. Everything was free: Doctors, nurses, medicines, surgeries, child delivery and all those state of the art medical facilities transported all the way from Korea that were intended to help the typhoon victims. I glorify God for leading us to the right people and the right places where we can be rescued.
When everything else was taken, it was God’s way of pouring His Abundant grace. A couple of week, the company where my husband is connected with started its operation. December 3, our office re-opened. It was an opportunity to witness the city strived hard to get back on its feet and it is an overwhelming experience. Everyday that I have to walk long distance to get transportation in going home from the office, I saw the progress. From the mountainous garbage piled all over the streets; improvements have been made daily. It was a long process but I feel delighted that things weren’t dormant. Gradually grocery stores, drugstores and other establishments were opened and restaurants have become available until finally, electricity was restored. Our church received wonderful blessings. Aids were from all over the world, from different churches, various organizations and even from grade school pupils sending relief goods with touching hand-written notes inserted in the plastic bag. People came to help in the cleaning and rebuilding of the church structure and our missionaries went home to personally deliver the basic needs for church members. My son was blessed with portable electric fan, emergency lamp and a handy nebulizer that we don’t have to go to a charging station anymore in order to have him nebulized. Indeed, every single need was met. All because of God’s sufficient grace.
I am sharing this to everyone because this is my way of declaring God’s genuine compassion for His people who has remained clinging on His will no matter what. Until now, every time I hear Haiyan survival stories, it still pricks my heart… but God’s sovereignty all throughout is more amazing. God who is with us was greater than the ordeals Haiyan has left us. I believe that the aftermath experience were the difficult times but in contrary to that, it was those moments when the Lord made us feel that we are most loved, cared and privileged from people that sometimes we don’t even know. It took a strong faith to perceive things from the way God sees it and that ability that He granted me is way beyond my own strength, the wisdom was all coming from Him. If I relied on my own will, maybe I have persuaded my husband and decided to move to Luzon or Cebu where everyone else are going and consider we will be provided there. The Lord gave us the heart to stay in Leyte believing in the peace He has promised (Philippians 4:7). No matter how He allowed that detrimental storm surge to take place that took away thousands of lives and properties in a split second, He was in control. He was unfailingly, faithful.