Rebekah Price is the information officer for Samaritan’s Purse in the Philippines.
I wish the title were a metaphor, but unfortunately it’s very much reality.
Almost a month after the one-year anniversary of Super Typhoon Haiyan, another typhoon has built up off the coast of the Philippines.
Winds howling, rain coming down so hard it’s painful, debris flying, walls crumbling, structures failing, and water rising—these are just some of the memories that are now haunting the survivors of Yolanda.
It’s not remembering the storm. It’s the memories of losing home and belongings, not knowing if your family is alive, watching those you love get pulled away in a flood, climbing and clinging to higher places, praying that you will be spared, walking through a devastated community, and going hungry for days with only spoiled rice to eat. All of this and more are raising a panic in regions that are still trying to recover from the last hard hit.
Fear is everywhere.
I walked around Tacloban last night looking for coffee. When I came to one of the regular places, it was all closed up. Across the street, the popular bubble tea place was empty, and not just of people—all of the tables, chairs, and couches were gone. On the corner, the café was closed with metal shutters pulled down in front of it.
Coming from North Carolina, I’m familiar with boarding up and battening down the hatches as hurricanes approach. Most people here are the same, but the scars of underestimating a storm are just barely healing. Survivors of the storm rebuilt so quickly that many of them were slow to begin processing and healing emotionally.
My team is here to support the Philippines. We are making preparations, and our staff members have been awesome. But in some ways, I feel helpless to ease the anxiety and panic that is rising. There are some times that only God can bring peace and comfort, and this is one of those times. So I pray, and I ask others to pray as well.
One of our staff members posted this yesterday to Facebook: “My mind gets fogged with all the bitter memories I had of Haiyan. I couldn’t help it. But I cannot succumb to worrying, it does nothing. It does not help one bit. Instead I will pray and prepare. I will be still and know that God is stronger. I will remind myself that I am not helpless. My help comes from the LORD the maker of the heavens and earth.”
This morning while leading staff devotions, one of our ministry team members said, “My Dad told me, ‘Son, we did not survive [Haiyan] because we were good at hiding. We survived because God is a great God.’”
I am so humbled and inspired by the Filipinos that I get to work with. We’re facing a storm together, but they are also facing trauma and painful memories. Through it all though, we rely on the same God, and He is a great God.
Please pray for the Philippines.