Clinging to God

“You have been wounded in many ways. The great challenge is living your wounds through instead of thinking them through. It is better to cry than to worry, better to feel your wounds deeply than to understand them, better to let them enter into your silence than to talk about them. Understanding your wounds can only be healing when that understanding is put at the service of your heart.

“Think of each wound as you would of a child who has been hurt by a friend. As long as that child is ranting and raving, trying to get back at the friend, one wound leads to another. But when the child can experience the consoling embrace of a parent, she or he can live through the pain, return to the friend, forgive, and build up a new relationship. Be gentle with yourself, and let your heart be your loving parent as you live your wounds through.” Henri Nouwen

It has been 20 days since supertyphoon Yolanda (International Name:Haiyan) hit our countrymen in Visayan islands. It silenced me…to the point that for weeks I am not opening or even participating social media sites or even posting here in my blog. I have relatives there and it is such a double whammy as we were just afresh from my relatives also experiencing 7.2 earthquake also in that region. I have recently read an article from our local newspaper and after reading it found myself crying out of anguish; not really understanding also why did God allow it to happen… (sharing the article below; emphasis mine, you may also check out the link http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/534055/leyte-priest-says-victims-must-cling-to-god)

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PALO, Leyte, Philippines—His church lay in ruins, with the rain pouring in after the roof was ripped off by the ferocious winds of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan).

But Fr. Kelvin Apurillo still offered hope for his congregation that was called there on Nov. 17 by the tolling of bells that were not heard of since the typhoon hit nine days earlier.

“It’s a mystery how we lived through the storm. I can’t explain it,” said Apurillo, 37, parish priest of Barangay San Joaquin here.

He said the wind whipped the village even as the water rose fast. In the adjoining building, which served as the quarters for church staff, the water reached the second floor. They got there just in time, although the water rose about four inches more from the floor.

While struggling to withstand the wind that blew off roofs in the village, Apurillo said he saw a boy who was able to climb a tree outside and cling to the branches.

“We saw him there, but there was nothing we could do to help him. But miraculously, he survived,” he said.

Not as lucky

Not everybody was so lucky. After the wind calmed down and the water began to recede, Apurillo said he took a walk around the village.

“Immediately, we saw bodies and we blessed them. We’re used to the strong winds here, but it was really the water that destroyed everything. All of the houses were destroyed. On our way back, we saw more bodies and blessed them, too,” he said.

Apurillo said he was so bothered by the sight of the dead just laying there that he ordered the front yard of the San Joaquin church to be turned into a site for a mass grave.

“At first, we started digging with our hands. But the water rushed in and we could not dig deeper. So we waited for the backhoe to arrive,” he said.

Volunteers then dug three large holes (about seven feet deep) and residents came to lay their dead side by side. Altogether, more than 200 bodies were buried there, but more kept coming.

“We really can’t bring them to the village cemetery because that was also destroyed,” he said.

Raul Cayaco, the outgoing village chair of San Joaquin, said he was informed of the preparations for the mass grave site and sent others to help.

He said he could not stand and walk for days due to injuries he suffered from the typhoon, but asked his relatives to do what they can to help.

Cayaco, whose house was destroyed, said he had made arrangements for his children to move out of Leyte province. However, he said he and his wife would not leave the village “to send a message that we should stay here and rebuild.”

Along the side of the road, residents waited for relief goods, putting up signs asking for help.

 

Family lost 12

In front of the church, the mass grave attracted residents who came to light candles and to offer prayers to their loved ones.

In one area, a sign gave an indication of the horror that this village had endured. The sign said that the Lacandazo family lost at least 12 of its members, children included.

Locals told the Inquirer that the Lacandazos lived in a compound that was submerged by the storm surge. Only two family members survived, they said.

Apurillo reminded his village mates that the mass grave in front of his church was sacred. “This is holy ground; nobody should step on it. We are going to [build a] memorial [here],” he said.

Before the Mass started, Apurillo was unsure whether many residents would go to church. But, for the first time, he ordered the church bell to ring. Many people came, still looking dejected, dazed and lost.

“Now we have lost every material possession, we should realize that it is only God that we really need. No matter what happens, He will take care of us,” he told his village mates.

As he was delivering his homily, rain poured in from the damaged roof, soaking residents who did not seem to mind. Overhead, the roar of helicopters could be heard, offering hope that relief goods are getting to places where they are most needed.

In this village of at least 850 households, only the church of San Joaquin remains as the logistical center of the community. Relief goods were delivered and, in turn, distributed here.

During World War II, the church was used by American soldiers as barracks, Apurillo said. The main building survived Yolanda’s rage, but the extension building were destroyed.

Outside the church, the statues of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and the saints stand as if watching over the rest of the village.

Apurillo said residents were still on edge and traumatized, with many telling him that even the sound of pouring rain has been triggering panic.

“Sometimes, when they see me by the side of the road, they ask, ‘Father, are you going somewhere?’ I have to reassure them that I will stay, that I will never leave them and that God will not do that either,” he said.

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If there is a positive side coming out of this- all the people wanted to help. I too, with my sisters in Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon Makati earned a friend as well in Micah Brul (she is the sweet girl in bright yellow shirt) as for the first time we helped in Villamor Airbase in Paranaque City =)

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We don’t know Lord your plans but we fully entrust to you all our lives and all we have…

“For the vision is a witness for the appointed time, a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.”- Habakkuk 2:2-3

I am praying with my countrymen to start anew through this Superbook multilingual video (bias at 1:55 in our own language Tagalog “Tulungan Mong magsimula muli” which also means “Help us Lord to start anew!”)

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