Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Here is our latest news from the Philippines. Please pray for Scott, his family and ministry to the people there.

Dear Friends,
Just a short letter to bring you up-to-date on what it happening here, and to ask for your prayers.
About two weeks ago, a powerful typhoon passed to the North of us, displacing over 1 million people and causing around 300 deaths. We received only slight damage here at our base, and after three days were able to get things cleaned up in time to host a group of 130 people at our camp ministry. Despite the president declaring the entire country a disaster area, everyone had a good time.
We spent the next two days, celebrating the eighth anniversary of the founding of our Youth Center. About 200 people participated, and we had a fine time of worship, fellowship, eating, and sports. The Batak from Riyan Dakan, came down from our tribal village to join in the festivities. As the celebration was concluding, a young Batak mother brought her four year old child to our medical clinic. It quickly became apparent that the child was extremely ill, and needed to be hospitalized. Unfortunately, it was late in the day, heavy rains had begun to fall from yet another typhoon, and we felt it wasn’t safe to start out for the city. We decided to leave for the hospital early the next morning, and the Batak would spend the night in the lowland village of Maoyon .
Early the next morning, we were shocked to discover that flooding the night before had caused major damage to our Dakuton Base. Leaving for the village of Maoyon, we were amazed to see that the flooding had caused three rivers to overflow their banks, and merge into one huge torrent. The only two access roads into the village were deep under water. Over 2000 people were trapped inside surrounded by rising flood waters! We were the first on the scene of this impending disaster and at a loss as to what to do. We decided to return to our base and try to get help using our two-way radio.
We soon learned that help was already on the way to the village and also that a landslide had occurred to the North of us. The heavy rains had caused the side of a mountain to come down, killing six nurses working at a rural health clinic. In addition, we received word that flooding was also threatening our Youth Center . Fortunately, we were able to round up a number of volunteers, fill a bunch of sandbags, and prevent any water from reaching the inside the Center. Next, it was back to Maoyon to help in the rescue/relief effort. Thankfully, the floodwaters began to recede, and we were the first vehicle into the village. About 100 families had been displaced, but there were no deaths, and only minor injuries. The Batak were actually having a great time. They had just finished being interviewed at length by a T.V. news reporter (he had reached the village by boat). During the interview, they had complained about the quality of the rescue effort, and were assured that plenty of relief goods were on the way. The Batak ended up having a full two minutes on the evening news! We left medicine with the sick child and promised to try again to make the trip to the city, the following day.
Back at The Youth Center, the waters had also receded, and damage was limited to the basketball and volleyball courts. At our Dakuton Base, the floodwaters continued to rage across our property. A place where campers had played kickball the week before was now a kilometer wide spot of muddy water out in the Sulu Sea. Left, was a gaping hole that was rapidly getting larger. We watched in amazement as our seawall, which had withstood two previous, powerful typhoons, started breaking apart, and was carried away. Our neighbors arrived after evacuating their flooded house, and asked if they could move into one of our cottages. The their ten year old daughter was carrying all of her early possessions in a small, plastic bag.
The next day, we were finally able to get the Batak child to the hospital. He was found to have pneumonia and confined for five days. At the same time the death toll from the most recent typhoon surpassed 300. The area of devastation was so large, U.S. marines were called in to help with the rescue and relief efforts.
Back at our Dakuton Base, we began the process of repairing the damage caused by the typhoon. We had an extreme sense of urgency because another very powerful typhoon was already moving towards the Philippines. As Red Cross and military vehicles sped past our Base, we were once again able to mobilize a large group of volunteers. Using mostly women and children and without the aid of heavy equipment, we moved tons of earth and rock and placed it in the hole left by the flooding. It was backbreaking work but was completed in six days. We were also able to rebuild the seawall in two days. We had an added time of excitement when a big water spout touched down not far from where we were working.
Please pray that the Philippines will be spared from the effects of this new typhoon. The country has already suffered over 600 dead in the past two weeks. Also pray for us. We are just now entering into the peak typhoon season and have suffered major damage the previous two Novembers. We will be sending out a newsletter soon

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