Last month on the 23rd of December we loaded up a van of three very excited toddlers to go to the airport and pick up our daddy, who had been in the Philippians for almost two weeks. My pictures (taken with my ancient cell phone) do not fully encompass their excitement, nor the extreme adorableness of Fiona walking around the airport holding up this sign.
My husband had warned me that he was very dirty, grungy and had not showered for days. I was imagining him red faced, mud caked, with flies buzzing around his crazy hair. But, as usual, he looked completely GQ when he walked through the jet way doors, clean faced, smelling like essential oils, as always, and smiling like sunshine to see his little family (I wish I had a picture of that, but I was too excited to kiss his face to take a photo).
I really want to post some things in his words and from his perspective, but for now just my own reflections from it all.
Piles and piles of burning garbage. The people now walk a midst the remains of what used to be homes, schools, shops, trees, and everything they knew. The air is heavy with the toxic smoke, making breathing difficult… as if the weight of grief of almost 6,000 lost loved ones was not suffocating enough.
It is hard to imagine what the recovery process will be like there. It seems the people there are still very much in a state of shock, and will be processing the effects and emotions of this events for years to come.
My mind is brought back to Haiti, which was devastated by an earthquake 4 years ago this month. I saw a statistic that today nearly 150,000 people are still displaced with out homes. Events like this do not resolve themselves quickly or easily especially when considering how poor these people are. Plus there are deep emotional wounds that will need to be healed. Yet as the news and press subside about such events for many Americans it will seem like a tragedy of the past, though the daily struggle in the Philippians, Haiti and other disaster torn areas continues on.
Sometimes in my life I hear of great tragedy that to me seems to be completely unbearable. And I look at pictures of people walking through the aftermath and think, “There is a person… alive, in the midst of it all. How will they go on? Will they find happiness in destruction?”
My husbands objective in going to the Philippians was to deliver relief aid good sent over by a charity organization directed towards children in need, from California. Unfortunately when him and his team arrived they found that the relief goods had been seized by the local government, and they would not release them. Unfortunately this kind of corruption happens way too often. There is A TON of money involved in disasters which seems to breed corruption.
But Chuck knew going into this that being able to deliver the cargo was a real possibility, and so with his suitcases full of essential oils and some good working boots he just got to work doing whatever he could.
Most of the essential oils went to these ladies, from Mercy In Action. They are a group of midwives who deliver babies for free. If you want to cry a little bit, just watch the video on their website (and if you have kids think about your first delivery).
I asked them last month what they were using the oils for. They said that the women have literally been smelling death and so they use them often for their aromatic properties, They are also used in massage and for pain relief (oh the wonder of Deep Blue and Peppermint oil). Oils can also be administered to newborn babies to help boost immune function (Frankincense and Myrrh are very powerful for infants)
The remainder just went to people he met on his journeys who had anything from open wounds that needed Melaluca and to people with Polio who were in desperate need of pain relief. It is sad to think that most Filipino people were without proper medical attention before the event due to poverty. Now many of them are in greater need with even less ability to receive it. The lady pictured above actually took Chuck around one town and took him into houses of people who were sick and he gave them oils.
It makes me so happy to look at this lady in her little shack with hundreds of dollars of oils in front of her… something she probably could have never purchased on her own. And then a complete stranger from a foreign land just walked up to her one day and bestowed this gift. That is awesome.
One of the things I love about essential oils is that they let people take their health into their own hands… and you can’t really screw them up (minus getting them in your eye… stings like a beast). They have no side effects.
Chuck was also able to help in some home rebuilding projects, not actually in the physical labor but in the paperwork. There are a lot of dollars tied up in Charity organization and churches that needs to be distributed and used but there is red tape and paperwork… and for some they have no idea how to fill it out.
He also made sure to distribute little bags of candy to kids. Which always gets a smile, plus Fillipino kids love to have their picture taken… it is the cutest.
And of course the little dollies that my kids hugged and kissed to fill with love travel around the globe to be hugged and kissed and loved.
And where you may wonder did he sleep? Well his bed is the blanket on this tile floor, and one of this traveling companions slept across that row of chairs because she was terrified of rats. (As I would have been too… and yes they were running around) This is an LDS church building. They are some of the only buildings still standing because they were really well made structures. There are about 45 buildings on Leyte and Samar and most of them are housing over 100 people (or about 3,000 displaced LDS families).
Very soon after the Tyhoon water purification systems were put in place inside of each of the church units. I must say despite any reservations you may have about Mormons, they sure know how to get organized and get stuff done especially in situations like these.
Chuck told me that out of view in this photo (bottom right corner) was a man taking a bath, he declined to have his photo taken. But you can see how needed purified water is, if this is the bathing conditions for many.
Here is the scene of a food giveaway done by the organization Charity Vision that happened at one of the churches. Chuck said the lines would be incredibly long and some people would wait almost all day to get something to eat.
He was especially touched at one of the giveaways he helped with. They gave out the ingredients for spaghetti diner, which is the equivalent of a Christmas feast for most. He said the people were so happy.
I love now that these images flash my mind every time I eat a bowl of spaghetti. That it is not just the meal we throw together because we are pressed for time or don’t have anything else in the house… but it is a sign of abundance somewhere and celebration.
His last major endeavor was chainsawing this tree down. He joined up with a group called Charity Vision who had the equipment and transportation. Which can you see how big the root structure is compared to the guy standing there! This things was massive and despite a whole day of work they didn’t get it all removed.
Chuck said that guys like these are the real heroes. This group of three friends named themselves Seagull Rescue, a nickname that stems from an old Mormon story. They spend their days going about doing good and looking for ways to rescue people.
Chuck wanted to go to the Philippians because he wanted to help the people Face to Face, I am glad he took lots of pictures for us to see that there is hope for them.
I am having a hard time summing up all of my thoughts. Perhaps I will write some more thoughts in a few weeks.
But for now don’t forget the Filipinos. Pray for them, they are still and will be for some time recovering. May God Bless them and may God show us how we can help.