On a warm, sweaty August 11 Saturday afternoon, my PCCC family went to Brgy. Sta. Lucia to give relief goods and provide trauma debriefing to community residents. There were outpourings of love, concern, generosity, and prayers between our missionaries and our kababayans (fellow men). God’s grace shone through as stories of survival and hope surfaced. Let me tell you three stories…
Sharing a light moment with kids. (Photo from Paps Roxas Archives)
“Hi! Ako si ate Jone. Anong pangalan nyo?” (Hi! I’m big sis Jone. What are your names?)
Christine and Shin smiled shyly at me, clutching tightly to their relief bags, and not really knowing what my time with them was for. After all, they were just 8 and 7 years old. We made small talk, with me mentally checking my vocab and making sure I sounded child-friendly.
“Anong natutunan nyo sa mga pangyayari?” (What have you learned from what happened?)
“Di po dapat magkalat ng basura para di bumaha. At magdasal palagi.” (We should not throw our garbage anywhere so we won’t get flooded. And always pray.)
“Tama!” (That’s right!)
We ended our very light conversation with a heartfelt and simple prayer, with me inwardly melting over the childrens’ joyful countenance and innocent faith.
So refreshing to see people smile in the midst of tragedy!
(Photo from PCCC Archives)
The two mothers before me were very warm and friendly. Rachel and Nanay Edelina were experienced in dealing with floods and evacuating. As they related their stories, I heard the theme of gratitude, especially over the helpfulness of their neighbors in rescuing others from the swiftly rising floods.
Rachel, with a lovely smile on her face, related, “I’m thankful that my husband was home when the flood took place. I’m also thankful that our barangay officials taught and prepared us for calamities like this.”
Wow! Hope floats! I felt so proud of their resilience, thankful attitude and readiness to face the calamity. Kudos to them and their barangay officers!
Fellow worker prayed over a new friend. (Photo from PCCC archives)
My last debriefing was with two pretty teenagers. Their grim faces reflected hesitance and a subtle defiance. As I probed gently into their stories, they slowly revealed their hurt over the total loss of property and the neglect of not having anyone to rely on but themselves to survive. Sarah was left to care for her smaller siblings while Janice lived in a boarding house to work in the city. Apparently, their part of the town was unprepared for the disaster when it swept across their area.
Sarah held back her tears, and Jessica remained stone-faced but a little responsive. We ended our time in prayer and I encouraged them to put their hope in the Lord. As I gave them gospel tracts, I invited them to come back to the small church where our relief operations were held.
I wondered if these teenagers’ shadows would ever darken the doors of the church building again.
God is definitely not yet done with the Filipino people. He continues to call out to us, especially through the calamities and hardships– whether inflicted by men or by nature– that beset our daily lives.
“Lord Jesus, be gracious to us, Filipinos. You remain our beacon of hope through every circumstance and challenge we face as a people. You’ve instilled in us a spirit that sees joy in the midst of tragedy. Given us gratitude for simple comforts and accomplishments. And protected us with unjaded, courageous hearts that move us to reach out to fellow men even when we ourselves have been affected.
Thank You for Filipinos! Thank You for our beloved Philippines!”