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The Storm Experience

May 17 (Saturday) – It started raining today but I didn’t give it much attention. Fact is, I wasn’t aware that we had a typhoon. I just kept surfing the net and playing some games until we had a power interruption. In the afternoon, the winds started to blow harder. I got bored with the black out and the bad weather that I decided to go get some sleep. When I woke up in the evening, the winds were so strong that it was starting to shake our little home so bad. It even sounded like somebody was pounding our roof. My mom started to panic but I stayed calm. I then removed my pc’s keyboard, mouse, cords, AVR, and others so I could place it somewhere to prevent it from getting wet. All of a sudden, my brother found out that the wind has blown away part of our roof. By the looks of it, it seems like the winds and the rain doesn’t have plans of slowing down any time soon. Mama panicked some more and I tried even harder to remain cool in the middle of it all. We decided to leave our home and move to our neighbor for safety. I grabbed some clothes and put it on my backpack so we’d have something to wear when we got there. As I envisioned, we were all wet when we arrived at our neighbor’s home that a change of outfit was really necessary. It’s really a good thing that I did bring some shirts and pants – for them! As it turned out, the clothes I got where just for my mom and brother. I didn’t get any for me. I don’t know why. Maybe, because it was dark. Or maybe I did panic, after all.

May 18 (Sunday) – Went back to our home in the morning (around 5 am) to check out what happened. Everything was a mess and everything was wet but that isn’t very important to me anymore. I’m just happy that we were all safe and that’s what matters most. We started cleaning up and by 9 am, I left for church. We didn’t have our usual church services, though (9:30-12:30) but we had a meeting with our stake presidency. They gathered us – priesthood leaders – and instructed us to visit other members and check their conditions. As we went around the city and visited different families, I saw a lot of homes that were in worse conditions than ours. My heart melted for them. By 3 pm, we all went back to the chapel for a special sacrament meeting. All 5 wards were combined and President Andaya, our stake president, presided. 4 Filipino missionaries were tasked to pass the sacrament. I smiled as I looked at them and had my dose of some MTC flashback. While I was looking at them, one of our leaders signaled me to assist these 4 elders. It was a large congregation and I was more than happy to help. In fact, I consider it as a blessing and an honor. Elder Ratana, a missionary from New Zealand, and President Arafiles spoke comforting words to the members while President Andaya expounded the Beatitudes. Raymond also played the piano while Armabelle and Elder Ratana sang a beautiful rendition of “I Know that My Redeemer Lives.” After that very spiritual church service, we gathered for another short meeting. This time, leaders reported the members’ conditions. After everything, we were instructed to visit families in our areas again and to distribute goods this time around. The plastic bag contained rice, noodles, milk, canned goods, biscuits, etc.

All in all, I think that this is really a memorable experience for all of us. Each of us had our own stories to share and I was really inspired by my friends’ examples. Wendelle and Paolo rescued the blind persons and the children that lived in their neighborhood. Raymond donated some purified water for the chapel-turned-evacuation-center. Rowel and Jay-Ar were also constantly in action in assisting other church leaders in visiting fellow members. Personally, I think I gained a deeper appreciation and bigger respect for my friends and leaders because of the experiences we’ve had. They’re simply not the type of people who would stay at home and listen to the news – they really go out and seek to give help to those who need it.

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