Last November, when disaster struck the Philippines by way of Typhoon Haiyan, New Tribes Missions of the Philippines went straight into relief and recovery mode. If you haven’t already, check out our update in April, Dealing with Disaster, for a closer look at what this looked like. Since then, relief and recovery has continued and assisting the Calamian Tagbanwa with recovery has been a big part of it.
One of the downsides to assisting with relief coordination from a distance is not having a chance to witness first hand the results of your efforts. That took a dramatic turn however in May, six months after Yolanda ripped through the Philippines, when one of our national co-workers asked if I would join him for a relief follow-up visit on the island of Busuanga, the northern most island of Palawan. What I didn’t know then is that this would turn into a total of three separate trips over the next three months.
Exiting the Philippines, typhoon Haiyan struck the town of Coron on the island of Busuanga and the surrounding communities. Among the people affected were the Calamian Tagbanwa, an indigenous people group NTM has served since our earliest days in the Philippines. In partnership with our national co-workers, beyond providing initial relief, four Calamian Tagbanwa communities were identified as needing new housing or repairs to their existing homes. Other needs would also be met as the Lord provided.
The purpose of our initial visit was not only to see how the work had progressed up until that point, but also to encourage the missionaries working there and to determine what more could be done to move the work forward. With just one missionary family assigned to the region and another family assigned temporarily to assist, obviously more help and encouragement from the larger team would be needed.
Having a plan in place to move the work forward, trip number two was more about evaluating other projects we could participate in for longer term relief and recovery. With the assistance of outside help from another organization, a large number of fish nets were purchased and distributed among those communities we have been ministering to. What a blessing to see these people not only provided with new homes but now also with tools necessary for their lively-hood.
Trip number three now rolled around and this time we were in dedication and celebration mode for all the Lord had provided. A number of homes were completed in one community and the people there were anxious to say “THANK-YOU” for all the Lord has provided on their behalf. Another village completed work on repairs to the church building all but destroyed typhoon Haiyan. They too were anxious to say “THANK-YOU” for the Lord’s provision and for all He has accomplished. What a blessing to celebrate with them.
Much work remains but much now has been accomplished. In the early days of relief I have to say, I felt like a young boy from scripture offering a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread to feed thousands. How would any good come of all this? By God’s grace and mercy and that alone, much good has come of it. Praise be to HIM!