Thursday, December 26, 2013

Surviving the Super-Typhoon! (OJT Report, part 2a)

“The storm that hit the island made a wave for Jesus and filled the whole church!”

That was a song that one of our students created to fit with the words of a Scripture song to fitly describe their experience during the time when the super typhoon hit their island. They were located on a small island off the coast of Cebu – one of the islands in central Philippines and directly in the path of the terrible typhoon and what experiences they had!

Both ladies wrote down their stories and since both of their names start with J, you will read from J1 and J2.

J2 says, “Thinking back over this week, so much has happened! Yet every time I pause for a moment, I am in continuous awe with God’s way and how He reveals His love for us while we take part in His work! Sometimes we humans cannot see beyond what is before us (like the big typhoon) to the blessings that God is giving us. God revealed to us through the challenges that He loves us! I can’t believe how close we were to being one of the victims and losing our own lives, but God planted in our hearts the greatest peace and joy while it [the super-typhoon] was happening.”

Before we go on and learn what happened to them, J1 says:

“From the very first day we got to our site and even before we got there, my partner and I really prayed that the Lord will prepare the way for His work. We prayed that the Lord will shake the island and bring His people back to Him, but when we prayed this, we never thought that He would literally answer it! When we arrived here in our site the first day, we noticed that it was a very noisy place because of all the videokes [a small TV with speakers and a microphone where someone sings to the accompanying music; it’s usually very loud with rock music!] around here and there. But after the storm hit and the power went off, the whole island was silenced and hushed.”

On the morning of November 8 at 7:00 am, I received this text from the two students:

“Teresa, please pray for us because the storm is really bad and it’s only just starting! Roofs are flying off all around us, but we ourselves are safe.” Needless to say, after that, I was concerned for the safety of our 2 students on that tiny island!

J1 reported: “Early in the morning of November 8, super typhoon Yolanda hit the northern part of Cebu, including the island where we were to have our evangelistic meetings. At our site, the strength was signal #4.  [This is almost the strongest level of typhoon there is.] We were staying in a small native hut [made out of bamboo, palm branches, etc] near our host’s gate. When the storm hit, we were in their concrete house having breakfast. After we finished eating, the winds were blowing stronger and stronger and we were worried about our things inside the small native hut.

“We wanted to go out and get our things and bring them inside our host’s house, but they forbade us because of the mightiest winds we’d ever seen. Roofs were flying off and the wind was blowing rain and sand from the nearby seashore with it. So we waited inside our host’s house and earnestly prayed that God would cover our small hut and keep it safe from the storm. Soon we began wiping up the water which was coming into the house and continually prayed that God would protect our little hut with all our things inside.”

J2 adds: “I really thought it would be just some strong winds and that’s it, but as our neighbor’s roofs went flying off and the walls of their houses began crumbling around us, we realized we were in a very serious situation! Yet during that time, I feel more at peace in my heart than during the times there was no storm raging around us. Only God could give me peace like that! Our week really started out with some major challenges, but God had His ways of answering our prayers!”

J1 continued the story: “God really kept us safe in our host’s house! After the typhoon passed over, we went out and saw the devastation and destruction everywhere. Almost all the houses went down, even the strong concrete ones. We went to our nearby hut and saw that God had really placed His hands over that little hut! It was still there and even the roof was still on! Though all our things were totally soaked, all were there, unlike many of the neighbors who had theirs blown away. We praise God for His protection and presence!”

As the song says, “The Lord is our rock, in Him we hide – a shelter in the time of storm”!

J2 added, “How grateful we were that no one on our island (except one) was killed in the storm, though most (including us) were living on the seashore. All the electrical posts were down and fallen trees blocked all the roads. And we were supposed to start our meetings that night! But because all our handouts, crafts, laptops, clothes and everything else were totally soaked, we had to think quickly and make other plans.”

What were they going to do? Check back tomorrow for the rest of the story!