Chaplain Jamie, representing the Sound of Life and her ministry, Compassionate Reach International, will be ministering in the Philippines until mid-January. Her goal is to bring psychological and spiritual care and trauma education to victims and caregivers. We’ll be bringing you her updates as we receive them.
The days are beginning to blend, one into another as the faces of the people at first strangers, daily become a part of my life. I live between two worlds now, as if the one I left behind is another dimension where time moves at a fast pace, but while time here stays in the here and now. Lives hang in the balance daily as midwives, medical missions, mental health workers like myself, local people and foreigners struggle make a mark in an overwhelming situation.
Foreign countries have no idea how huge this disaster is – a 500 mile wide Typhoon that caused a tidal surge as high as “two coconut trees” and as far reaching inland as maybe 2.5 to 3 kilometers. This is worse than the Indonesian Tsunami but because it does not scientifically hold that title, people do not realize the total devastation. They are expecting to continue pulling human remains from the wreckage, between 20 to 30 bodies per day, for the next 90 days or more. That will bring the recognized death total to roughly 8,000, not including the multitude of poor who were never registered to begin with, and are without any records.
Most of the people did not understand what a “tidal surge” was, regretting the government did not use the term Tsunami which would have indicated the need to flee much, much farther inland.
This is now personal to me, just as Haiti became personal to me. I have friends here now, people who I want to see again, people who I want to see have their lives rebuilt, people who I can imagine myself in the same position – home, family, and livelihood taken away in the blink of an eye without any insurance, FEMA, or governmental help to stand in the gap.
There is Narissa who lost her home and the birthing clinic she ran with her mother in law, serving the poor in her community and now living in a tent, thankful that the CR (bathroom) survived the disaster, and at least they have privacy to use the toilet not far from the tent. There is Faye who ran an internet café and lost everything including the house. There are the multitudes who surround this school daily who have elevated blood pressure, and intrusive thoughts every time it rains or the wind blows – living in fear it may happen again. There is the school Superintendent who invited me to train the 250 plus teachers in trauma care for the children, and for each other. She talked about water dripping into buckets and upon hearing the wind blowing again, kicked the buckets in an anger that rose within her without awareness of it being there; the mom with 3 children whose oldest is severely disabled and has no wheelchair, food and a home that is destroyed living under tarps… and on, and on and on…
There is the mom whose baby died in similar circumstances to how my son Micaiah died, and I saw him laid out first in a cardboard box until the simple pine box could be built – the baby laid out and surrounded by adults and children alike, as death is a familiar companion in a place like this even before the Typhoon. Their wood shack had been completely destroyed in the typhoon and they had just rebuilt the one room home, where their little son Angelito will never play.
And there are the workers like me, both foreign and Filippino – especially the medical, and midwives, who fight daily to save the lives that are always hanging in the balance – trusting to save, heal, and deliver in the name of Jesus. Love for the sake of love.
This is where God is in suffering. This is the heart of Jesus from the Garden of Gesthemene to now, until all is restored.