Thursday, May 22, 2008

Of cyclones and typhoons

I received two emails lately and I will share them with you. First is an email from a fellow worker whom I had the privilege of meeting here in Mae Sai last year. Here is part of his email.
Greetings from Bangkok, I fly back to Yangon early tomorrow morning for the second time in week. Please pray for me and numerous workers who are feeling a little bit tired from all this. I hope to rent a cell phone when I arrive. It's only $3000 to purchase a sim card there. I know you are, what a deal!! The 86 Nissam Salone [sic] that I rented last year was priced at $18,000. Insanity?! That's life under a military government whose Generals have absolute control over Myanmar's 52 million.

Our friend, home village was destroyed but PTL they are all okay. She was just there two weeks before the Cyclone struck sharing the gospel of Jesus to her friends in the Buddhist monastery. She told us of our there were many crocodile farms down there and now all the crocs are free. Our friend plans to wrestle the crocs to protect his daughter and niece. He's 73 now and still is in good shape!

Even though there is incredibly terrific news coming out of Myanmar in the past few months, it is horrifying to hear that 90% of the 200k that have died were children and elderly. They couldn't swim and the tidal surge was 12 ft high along the coast.

Here is another email I received from my sister who is living in the northern the Philippines.
It was a rainy Saturday morning of May 17. Mar and I, along with a couple we are trying to help workout their marriage, were traveling to Dagupan--I would go to my masteral class and the three to Baguio for the counseling. After sending the couple to the counselor and showing them their housing, Mar immediately returned to Dagupan and texted me in my class that we had to go home because the weather was getting worse. I excused myself from the class at 4 pm and rushed to the terminal where he was waiting. As soon as I arrived, the passenger van went.

And then, happened one of the most terrifying experiences in our lives. We were caught in the middle of a strong storm. Roofs were flying all over, huts and small houses were being carried by the wind, trees were uprooted and electrical posts fell across the street and tricycles blown to the field. I thought, the van we were in will be blown to the cliff. Mar and I were praying. The wind was so low and strong with heavy rains. Then I sang, "I will soar with you above the storm. Father you are king over the floods and I will be still and know you are God."

The usual travel of 4 hours has become 12 long hours of agony in fear. We were stranded at the town before Alaminos. At 2 in the morning, when the rain stopped, we decided to start walking home. I had goose bumps as I saw all the destruction. We had to jump over and crawl under the trees and grope in the dark. But God is so good. Pastor Jay brought his motorcycle and meet us along the way. 3 big persons riding on a small motorcycle. At 5 in the morning, we reached home.

The next morning, we saw the church's school without roof. The library was empty as the young people tried to save some of the books from the rain. The office was wet all over.

It is another experience that calls us to trust in the Lord. In less than 3 weeks the school is about to open. The authorities said it will take about 10 days before the electricity will resume. We need your prayer.

Long silence

I know it has been a while since my last post here. However, many things have been happening to our family and us lately.

Nanay Linda (Narlin’s mom) came about a month ago. It has been a joyous day for us especially to our children. It has been more than two years the last time they saw their Lola (grandmother). We are now enjoying good Filipino foods that taste right. Thai food is great but after a while, you starting to miss the dishes you use to eat. Nanay Linda also bought for us a satellite disk. She was bored watching TV shows that she could not understand. Now we can watch programs from back home also with HBO, ESPN, CNN, among others. I just do not know if it is good or bad in the end. You see, before the satellite, we do not watch TV at all.

We had a one-week English Camp. 32 young people participated from Burma and from here in Thailand. However, a rumor that the Myanmar government would close the border on May 9 because of the plebiscite we ended the camp abruptly on Friday afternoon. The government deliberately sowed confusion and planted fear to the Burmese people living in Mae Sai so that they all should go back to vote in the plebiscite. They eventually did not close the border.

Most of our waking hours are spent in repairing, painting and cleaning the house we are moving to next month. Narlin and I together with our kids and friend have been doing the work of a carpenter, painter, electrician and janitor. The house is in such a bad shape that we have to work in it full time or we might risk moving to the house that is unsafe to live in. Now, this is the reason that my time online has been very limited.

Moreover, we have been affected indirectly with the Cyclone that occurred in Burma. No, we experienced neither physical discomfort or weather disturbance but the emotional and spiritual anguish we feel for the people of Myanmar have been very intense. Some of our friends whom we have been working just few months ago are in Yangon. They went home to take care of some personal concerns. The cyclone caught up with them and they could not come back here sooner. Our Pastor whose family is in Yangon also went there for a relief mission. Many of us desire to go there to help in anyway but were not allowed by the government. Please continue to pray for the Myanmar people.

We are also hearing about the strong typhoon that passed over the northern part of the Philippines. Narlin’s family are directly affected so are mine. Although fewer lives are lost compared to Myanmar, the devastation is almost the same. Houses are destroyed. Properties are lost. Normal lives are disrupted. Love ones are lost.

Regular posting will resume soon.