We were anticipating a fun celebration with over 160 people connected to Rainbow Village's ministry, at our annual RVM Christmas party where families and sponsored students would join us for some food and fun. But... a strong storm interrupted our plans. Instead, we woke up on the day of the party to strong rain and wind, and no power. As the morning progressed, we saw water gathering around our buildings, but we knew it would be much worse in other areas. By the afternoon, we had cancelled the party, but many coming from far away were on their way already. Two of our families were stuck in a no-man's land—in a bus. They couldn't get home because of a washed out bridge, but there was no place to stay and no money to do so anyway. Back to Rainbow they came to stay with us for the night.
We heard that many homes had been destroyed and there was widespread flooding in the mountains above us and near the swollen rivers in our city and surrounding areas. Knowing there were families we knew in the flooded areas spurred us to check on them. It's hard to put into words, and even pictures don't convey how devasting it is to lose everything you own. We know the feeling having survived a major fire at Rainbow in 1997, but this time we were on the other side of the loss.
The damage and loss of life is much worse farther south from our island in northern Mindanao, but even here there is loss of life and many, many homes lost. Of course, surviving it all is great, but during the crisis it's terrifying and unsettling. Many of our friends and extended Rainbow family spent the early morning on their rooftops watching the flood that had woken them up. When a flood comes, it comes fast with little time to do anything but seek higher ground, somewhere safe. After the initial shock, comes the clean up and tedious task of sorting through what's left. What can be salvaged is and what cannot must be accepted.
When you start off with little it may seem small to lose everything, but that's not the case. Many of these same families went through the harrowing experience of a flash flood only 3 years ago. But the hardest thing is the loss of life, especially the little ones. After showing up at Rainbow drenched and cold, one of our staff told of their neighbor's five-month old baby being washed away. Our long-time, faithful cook, Neng, told me of a one-year old baby floating just outside her home. These are the difficult things to handle.
Last night we housed many who were once again at Rainbow, after moving on with their lives and moving out of Rainbow. This morning we had a time of worship, then prayer, then some breakfast. Three of our families were able to return home today, but there are several who will be back at Rainbow tonight, after working to clean up from the flood. Please pray for the many affected by these devasting floods. If you want to help out in some way, please donate through our account (Rainbow- #511) at Shepherd's Staff, put a memo for "RVM Relief Fund".