Friday, October 9, 2009

The Following Typhoon

Last week I was asked to help with a pre-tribal orientation meeting for one of our new missionary teams that is locating among the Gàdang people group. The previous week had been spent working with the typhoon and flood damage in Manila and up until the night before I left, I was still cleaning and repairing a friend’s kitchen appliances which had been damaged by the flood.

It was amazing to leave the brown flood damaged city and, one hour later, to be in the great green north.

As I was waiting in the airport the lady next to me asked where I was going and when I told her I was going north she said, “You can’t go there. There is a typhoon there.” It looked like the storm would be well past where I was going by the time I got there, so I told her that I didn’t think it would be a problem. Little did I know it was to be a following typhoon. You can see from the picture below that this typhoon actually made landfall and passed over northern Luzon three times. That is very unusual.

My trip up went very well. I landed and was able to talk to a small airline owner I needed to contact, then I caught a bus for the town where the Gàdang team is staying. On the last day of the meeting, the team said they would drive me to the town where I was scheduled to fly from the next day. We left early the next morning but didn’t get far before we came to a road block.

It had rained hard in the night and the river was running very high. It had washed out the supports from under the bridge. I asked some soldiers and they said there was a gravel road we could take to get around the bridge. We finally made it to our destination, and I still had plenty of time to catch my flight.

I had hoped to talk to some people in this airport regarding our mission’s future needs for a flight center, so I asked around and was taken up into the control tower. The man on the right was very helpful and I got some of my questions answered. They also told me my flight was likely to be cancelled because visibility was very bad.
This was the beginning of 24 hours of uncertainties. My flight was indeed canceled and the next day’s flight was also in question. I decided to go to the bus station and see if I could get a ride. I bought a ticket for a night bus that would leave in 6 hours and arrive in Manila at dawn. After a few hours of waiting at the terminal, I heard the station employees talking about a problem on the highway. They said that a bridge had failed and that the buses were only getting as far as this side of a mountain pass and everyone headed to Manila would be stranded, halfway to their destination, until it could be repaired.

One hour before my bus was to depart, I was informed that my trip was canceled but I could catch a different bus going that way. It was a hard decision, but I decided not to risk being stranded for a week. Instead, I rode in a motorcycle’s sidecar back to town and booked myself into a motel room.

The next morning I contacted the airline and they said that they were flying but all the seats were full until Sunday. I went back to the bus station thinking the bridge might be fixed. It wasn’t. I went back to the airport and asked to be scheduled for Sunday and put on a standby list for that day. Then I settled down for another day of waiting. I had my laptop so I was able to get some translation work done.

In the afternoon I went back to the counter to ask and they told me to just sit and wait. Some people were praying I would be able to get a flight and after only a few minutes of waiting, the guard came and told me to get in line. So I got in line and I was soon at the counter. They took my papers and I stood there for over an hour. They didn’t say a thing about my ticket the whole time. Other people were being rude to the employees, but I ended up having a good conversation with them and found that one was a Gàdang speaker.

After a long time they gave me a ticket!! I went back to the lobby and sat down very happy. Then the PA system announced that a military exercise was taking place in Manila and that our flight was not being allowed to depart. It seemed like getting a flight was similar to trying to avoid a typhoon. Eventually, the flight departed Manila and arrived an hour later. This is a picture of a very happy Jonathan boarding the flight. (Note the nice blue sky.)

After arriving in Manila I went to the taxi stand and was told they would not let taxis go to where I lived. Funny! I walked out of the airport and was able to catch a taxi on the street. Traffic was bad and the ride took 2 hours. Praise the Lord, I made it home safely and I still had $6 in my pocket.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October 1st.

Heidi and I celebrated our 21th wedding anniversary on Oct. 1st. We had planned to go out for lunch, but with the flood causing problems for so many people we decided to put postpone our lunch date. The kids all reported to clean up crews and spread out helping clean up. I stayed home and worked on appliances which needed to be taken apart and cleaned.

I had to take this stove completely apart and clean everything. I even had to wash out the insulation. Rust was already setting in so several parts needed to be sanded and painted. The most amazing thing happened! I got it back together again. I wonder if all those extra parts I ended up with are important!

We haven’t had running water for almost a week now. We have been able to get drinking water from the local school and water for bathrooms and laundry from the rain, school, and water truck. Twice trucks have come by and filled up our water barrels.

Last night the water started running so I told Heidi that her anniversary gift could be having running water to wash the dishes. You’ll never guess what I got for my anniversary gift… I guess I should have noticed she was holding a frying pan over her head while I was explaining the joys of washing with running water.

Clean Up Time

We have been spending some of our time in a neighborhood close to us that was hard hit by the flood last weekend. Every house has a pile of ruined household items out front. Everything has been covered in a sticky mud.
We went down to help some an SIL missionary clean up her house. You can see the shelf Heidi was working on. Cleaning it wasn’t simply a matter of wiping off the outside. Mud was inside all the metal tubes.

If you look at the wall behind Carrie you can see that the wall is in the process of being washed. The water was up to around 6 feet. The lower part hasn’t been washed yet. An oil refinery nearby lost a lot of oil and some of the houses are having to deal with oil on top of mud. It is a real mess. Imagine your car covered with mud and oil inside and out.

The boys did a lot of scrubbing and helping move furniture. Wooden furniture can be cleaned, but anything with cushions on it is ruined.

I felt a bit like an archeologist. They kept bringing me mud covered items and I would clean them up and discover what they were. At one point I thought I was cleaning a glass lamp shade only to find it was a kitchen appliance.

After dealing with all that mud it is easier to understand why Noah didn’t jump out of his boat the moment it landed. I didn’t see any rainbows yesterday, but I did see this unusual tree trunk with a equally unusual flower growing in front of it and was reminded of the of our faithful and good Creator.