Beyond the Storm: Faith
Faith is the reality of what we hope for,
the proof of what we don't see.
I am a mother of a Haiyan typhoon survivor. Actually, I am a mother, an aunt, a sister and a daughter of real people victimized by this Monster Storm. I didn't expect to be one.
Nor do I hope or ever want to be. Or even wish it on anyone.
I was scheduled to leave Russia last November 12 after being there for three months. With my resident visa still under process, I expected to spend time with my family in the Philippines for at least six happy months. I told my mom of my eminent arrival. They were excited to hear the news, especially my five-year old daughter whom I haven't seen for the three months that I was away. I expected a happy reunion, with my daughter hugging me and telling me that I have been missed, while my parents looked on fondly. I can just see their delightful faces as I surprise them with the news of a new grandchild. I am currently pregnant with their eighth.
Then, Haiyan came. My mom kept us posted for the first few hours during the storm. But after a few hours, the line went dead. There was nothing from Tacloban after that.
The place where I come from is usually visited by at least 20 typhoons every year. It's a normal way of life in Leyte and Samar. And this super storm was thought to be just another storm only that it might be stronger in intensity and strength. With communication lines being silent, I hoped for the best for my family but was sure that they will come out of the storm wounded a bit but still unscathed.
You see, my parents had gone through the Ormoc flash flood that killed thousands in 1992 and a fire that burned all that they had just last year. Still, my parents dusted themselves off, and went back to doing God's work in their lives. My parents fear God that they were not easily frightened by anything, even trials and hardships. They have served God for most of their adult lives and knew that just as Christ had endured the cross, they too had to bear His cross.
However, typhoon Haiyan was very strong.
For two long days I didn't hear anything from Tacloban. Then videos of the storm started coming on the web on Sunday. I was totally transfixed on my phone for most of the day as I watched in horror the devastation that Haiyan left on its wake--- flattened homes, broken or uprooted trees, flood, debris all around, washed out towns, and dead bodies. What about my family?
Images of big waves engulfing our home, sweeping away my family and everything inside raced through my mind, competing which one would inflict the gravest pain, the deepest wound.
I received word from a friend that Sunday eve. My parents are missing. I didn't want to believe it. What about my daughter? My nephew? My niece? The grandkids were with my parents during the storm. How come they know my parents are missing and know nothing about the children?
That night, I prayed myself to sleep. And as I prayed, I cried. I also cried myself awake. I prayed through the night as my heart quaked in fear.
Monday came. I started mourning for my parents. I mourned for my daughter, nephew and niece, and my sister who was in a different town near Tacloban during the storm. I cried all around the house while I tried to go through the motions of a normal life at home. Fear engulfed me. What if I will never get to see them again? Oh Lord! Not my daughter, please, I moaned in pain as I pleaded with God. Not my parents, too, I sobbed. I still have plenty of things to tell them, to do for them. And not my nephew, my niece, and my sister! And as I mourn, I sang :
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, It is well with my soul!
By afternoon, I was a nervous wreck, yet surprisingly, peace kept rolling over me. The thought of what my Savior had gone through just to save me gave me strength knowing that He knew what I was going through and that, whatever I was going through cannot be compared to what He has gone through. He. Had. Done. The. Utmost. I still had questions, yet I knew that I will get to know the answer at God's own time. Besides that, I know God loves my family more than I can ever do.
Then a message came on my phone. It went like this: I would like to tell you that your daughter, Angelika, and her two cousins, Lance and Julianna, have survived. But I regret to tell you that your parents are still missing up to now.
Can you imagine what I felt at that moment? It was the craziest moment I've ever had. I cried, howled, laughed, jumped, danced! My daughter is alive! All three kids are alive! Then I went still. I prayed that my parents would make it alive as well as the kids did.
But nothing. Then came messages that their dead bodies were found. But when I had the chance to call somebody from ground zero, it was denied. My parents are still missing as of now. They may be found, alive or dead. Or they may not be found at all, unrecognizable and buried with all the other dead victims of that monstrous storm. Or... I don't know.
I love my parents so much. They were our family's pillar of strength and our source of security. But I believe that God has a higher plan for all of these happenings. I fully understand that He is good though I may not see what good He is doing at the moment. I just simply have to trust His word: "All things work together for the good of them that love God, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). Furthermore, He said, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9).
I know that soon I'm going to see my parents again. With everything that is happening now, Christ is right by the door. He is coming and it won't be long. I will get to tell my parents my wonderful surprise and hug them tightly... just as I have been given the second chance to hug and be a mother to my daughter again. (More of my daughter's survival story next post.)
That storm may have destroyed almost all that was on its way, but it has not destroyed my faith on God's Word and on a God who saves. For I know that though the devil may have broken my parents' bodies, God has them in His hands (Matthew 10:28).
You may also like to read...
Beyond the Storm: Hope
Beyond the Storm: Love
Beyond the Storm: Peace