A month after Typhoon Lando, United Methodist churches are still reeling from the devastation caused by the floods. Two local churches are under rocks and mud.
Twelve families lost their homes. A bridge was cut off, forcing one church to cancel worship.
Pastor Milagros Dela Cruz, whose house is a stone's throw away from her appointment – Labi United Methodist Church – vividly recalled the ordeal as people escaped the floods.
“About 12 families from our church lost their homes,” she said. “We were crying while helping others. Some were asking, ‘Is this the end?’ One would cry to witness the devastation; in a while, houses will be washed out.
The pastor said a few families sought shelter in the church building, but left because rocks and muddy water entering the church made the building too dangerous. “We all went to the evacuation center,” she said.
After the two-day ordeal of nonstop heavy rains, Dela Cruz said, they cancelled worship.
“It was Sunday morning when the bridge was cut off,” she said, “no more chance to go to the church and hold worship. We instead helped people catch their stuff being washed away by the floods.”
Meanwhile, Lusok United Methodist Church was soaked in a muddy, sticky water. Pastor Marlon Guilang, who evacuated to a church member’s house, reported the longs days of cleaning.
“After the typhoon,” he said, “we were shocked to see how all the pews turned upside down inside the church. We had a hard time removing the mud. Inside the church and parsonage, all of our stuff has been under mud, even the musical instruments. Even the hymnals are wet.”
Help from other churches
Dela Cruz said other United Methodists trekked the roads to reach the devastated churches. Members of St. John United Methodist Church, Quezon City, provided relief. They helped 40 families.
Through Facebook posts, Third Millennium United Methodist Church, led by Pastor Arnold Castillo, and Greenfields United Methodist Church responded as well with the presidents of United Methodist Men and United Methodist Women, Diosdado Bonilla and Susan Gawanan.
Dela Cruz expressed thanks to the first responders who provided for their immediate needs and sustenance. “Many thanks to all the help you have extended to us,” she said. “May the Lord bring back to you all the blessings.”
Guilang thanked members of the cabinet of the Middle Philippines Annual Conference led by Bishop Rodolfo Juan.
“We thank Bishop Juan with his cabinet members with our district superintendent, Rev. Noel Santiago. About 140 families were given relief packs,” said Guilang, who mentioned that church members’ rice for meals have been under water.
Knox United Methodist Church in Manila, had a medical mission Nov.19, with young adults who helping 250 families.
More than 50 deaths were attributed to Tyhoon Koppu, known as Lando in the Philippines. The Category 4 storm came ashore Oct. 18 on the northern island of Luzon, crawling across the province of Nueva Ecija. The deadly Category 5 Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 7,000 in 2013.
Continued relief efforts
United Methodist churches and institutions have pooled their resources to help survivors. United Methodist City Temple, Cabanatuan City, led by the Rev. Gilbert Pascua, traveled to Gabaldon and Dingalan. They were reached out to Laur, Gabaldon and Hillside United Methodist churches, to the indigenous people under the Dupinga bridge, and to barangays in Gabaldon. They gave clothing and groceries.
Wesleyan, a United Methodist university, brought relief to devastated communities in Casiguran, Aurora, Dingalan and Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija. It was also a response to the call to mobilize for typhoon relief.
John Wesley Academy collaborated with Wesleyan University United Methodist Church to bring mosquito nets, sleeping mats, blankets and casseroles during the first week of December.
In a conversation with typhoon survivors, Camacho said the floods washed out all of their furniture and kitchen utensils. “What we need right now are mosquito nets, blankets and sleeping mats,” she said.
“We rushed to evacuate, and we were not able to bring anything. We just learned that the water was as high as [a 15-foot] cable.”
Mangiduyos is a correspondent for United Methodist News Service.
News media contact: Vicki Brown, news editor, [email protected] or 615-742-5470.