We have not done a very good job at sending out updates on our situation here in the Philippines and for that we apologize. Ever since typhoon Haiyan reduced the middle of the Philippines to rubble we’ve been swamped trying to coordinate help for our own missionaries. Once they were all safe and accounted for we turned our attention to what we can do to help those who were most affected by the typhoon.
On Sunday morning this week we were approached by a team with the Philippine Red Cross about the possibility of flying them for aerial surveys and damage assessments so that they could more effectively deploy relief workers into areas damaged by the typhoon. Relief flying isn’t something we’ve ever done before, mostly because we have such a small team (4 families in the Philippines right now) and are already maxed out just trying to keep up with our normal flying schedule. We also haven’t been in the country for a disaster as overwhelming as this one so we haven’t felt this kind of desperation before.
Considering the devastation caused by this Super Typhoon and the desperate situation so many are in, we decided to ask a few of our friends if they knew where we could get plugged into relief effort after the Red Cross flying was finished and just trust the Lord to lead us. We were also trusting the Lord for the finances so that we could commit to helping even though we did not know where the money would come from. We told the Red Cross we would love to help them and three hours later we were deep into planning a second relief effort with the lead Philippine government agency for disaster relief. We also received a financial pledge that was adequate to do the Red Cross flights free of charge as well as a large donation of fuel for our second relief project at “ground zero,” Tacloban City.
It has been a whirlwind for us since then and our phones and email have seen unbelievable traffic! We have been forwarded emails from missionaries trapped on islands, pleading to be evacuated as soon as we can get to them. Not a minute goes by that we don’t feel the desperation that so many thousands of people are feeling right now and our hearts want to help all of them.
We have waited two days to get clearance into the city but have been unable to land there and have been advised that we cannot land in the nearby areas either due to peace and order issues. It really is an unbelievable situation. We had hoped to fly a survey team yesterday who would help setup a communication network and strategy for Samaritan’s Purse to bring aid, but because of yet another big storm, we were grounded again.
We have now changed plans and this morning, Brian and Joel, our other pilot here on Mindanao, flew to a bigger airport outside of the disaster area where they will stay and fly relief flights from. Our helicopter and its pilot are also coming today to meet them. At this point very few foreign aid agencies are able to get in to the disaster area to help. It is our hope that we can help secure the area by providing air support so that the bigger aid agencies can freely move into position and do their work.
Please pray for Brian as he, Joel, Zach and Josh will all be assessing the situation and trying to make decisions about the longer term needs in the area. Pray for wisdom and safety for them. Pray for the wives, Bailey, Missy, Jane, and Candy as they hold down the fort and communicate with their husbands as they fly. Pray mostly, though, for the Filipino nationals here who, no doubt, have the hardest task of all-rebuilding their homes and lives and facing the reality of lost loved ones. Our hearts break for them and those that are still without food and water.
It is a very big task and we are very small, but we know Who is bigger than all of this and we are thankful for His faithfulness and His strength. Thank you for your prayers-we appreciate them now, more than ever.