Loralee Planos is a nurse who works with Samaritan’s Purse in South Sudan. Currently she is serving people in her home country, the Philippines, after Typhoon Haiyan left much of the country devastated.
“If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in” (Isaiah 58:10-12, ESV).
After being in East Africa for almost four years, it never occurred to me that I would come back to my own country to help and be a part of the Samaritan’s Purse team responding to the disastrous Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). I feel ambivalent. I’m excited that I have a chance and opportunity to serve my countrymen, but I’m wary because I know it will be a great challenge. I don’t know what to feel. There’s a difference in serving other countries and serving your own people. There is no communication barrier, emotional connection is much deeper, building relationships and trust isn’t hard to establish, and there is an at ease feeling in my own country. The downside is that I’m more emotionally drained. Seeing the pains and the hurts in people’s eyes really hit me to the core.
Many lives were lost, some are still missing, countless people were injured, almost all houses were blown away, and several buildings and business establishments were destroyed. The devastation brought about by the typhoon cannot be described by words. It’s beyond comprehension. It’s hard to see my fellow Filipinos suffer through this kind of disaster.
Everyone who survived the disaster has his or her own horrific story. Even our own local staff and volunteers are still having nightmares of what happened. It makes me humble and more compassionate to each individual I encounter on a daily basis. It’s great to be able to touch their lives in many different ways.
I’m blessed and encouraged to see a signage in the street that says, “We are roofless, we are homeless but we are not hopeless.” People are slowly standing up on their feet. A certain pastor said, “We did not invite Yolanda, but Yolanda invited all nations to come and help us.” We acknowledge that we really need a lot of help in order to rebuild this place and the Philippines as a whole. We’re more than thankful to all international and local organizations that came to help.
In the midst of this situation, God is still good, gracious, and compassionate. He is using Samaritan’s Purse as His hands and feet. Many people are touched by the love, kindness, gentleness, and generosity shown by the Samaritan’s Purse team. You bring light to the darkness of suffering in this place. We, Filipinos, acknowledge that you are one of the important pillars that help us stand on our feet. So many people are thankful that Samaritan’s Purse is here and are amazed at why we do what we do here. You shared and showed Christ’s love to us in many different ways. We cannot give something in return, but our heart-felt gratitude will remain in our hearts for a lifetime. Your rewards are stored up in heaven.
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” ― John Holmes
“Even the smallest act of caring for another person is like a drop of water—it will make ripples throughout the entire pond…” ― Jessy and Bryan Matteo