Relaxing in bed reading, while listening to the sound of rain finally wash the red dust away from Sydney’s streets. Feeling grateful for the water that was falling and for being snuggled up under my blankets.
The red light on my Blackberry phone flashed, indicating that once again I have a new email. My husband knows that I can’t help myself and thus I picked up my mobile to read who the email was from.
“Are you alright”, my husband asked as he watched my face. “No I don’t think so” was my reply.
It was only the night before I watched on the news, the floods that was happening in the Philippines and now I was reading a first hand account of the disaster from old and dear friends. Feelings of peacefulness soon turned to guilt as I knew my good friends Rick and Maria Bell worked as missionaries in the Philippines but it didn’t occur to me until this very moment that they could have been affected.
My thoughts scatter but I quickly realised this was too big for me to handle. What do I do when friends need more help than I can offer?
I want to share an extract of Rick’s email to me:
“Today while spending the first three hours cleaning at home for the sixth day and seeming to get nowhere, I then performed the funeral for a twelve year old girl from our school, Rizza who died in the flood. It was a sad sad moment in my life.
Sarhn this situation is so big here we may not recover for 6 months. The stench is unbelievable. The garbage and people’s belongings are piled in huge piles everywhere. It truly looks like a war zone and the traffic is overwhelming. I have never seen such grief and loss, the hopelessness is often too much to deal with and sickness is now quickly following . We are over exhausted but trust we can continue.
As you saw in our photos we ourselves have lost our lower household of stuff from downstairs including two cars not even 3 years old. They were insured but not when it is an act of God! To find the cash for cars, a fridge, washing machine, stove everything we had in our kitchen, and furniture, plus everything in our office is something I don’t think I am equipped to deal with yet if ever. So we have moved out not only due to having nothing to use but also we have no water, no electricity, no phone and a house full of diesel oil.”
I am wondering if you are thinking the same thing as me? Is it ironic that missionaries lose almost everything they own to what the insurance company calls ‘an act of God’? Rick and Maria Bell have really dedicated their lives to serving others less fortunate than themselves and now I just want to wrap their family & community in my arms and rescue them but I know this is bigger than I can fix on my own.
Can I be totally honest with you? With the floods in the Philippines, earth quake in Indonesia and tsunami in Samoa I am feeling ‘disaster fatigued’. With all that has happened recently I think many Australians are becoming or have become desensitised. Personally I have discovered it is easy to dismiss these ongoing horrors we witness regularly on the evening news.
I share Rick & Maria Bell’s story with you not to make you the reader feel guilty or overwhelmed with hopelessness but to remind myself and you that every disaster is personal.
I have donated money to Rick & Maria before when a cyclone ripped through their community years ago and I will donate to help again. Whatever I give will be needed but it won’t be enough. With that I end asking again “what do I do when friends need more than I can give?” Their children and community need more than I can offer and hence I write this story to share with you.
I will be donating through the World Relief Australia (donations are tax deductible) via the following fund:
Project name and number is ‘0923 Philippines Floods’
Any branch of the Commonwealth Bank or electronically to:
Account name ‘CAMA Services Overseas Aid Fund’
Here are photographs that Rick and Maria took of their home. The Youtube video below has some amazing photographs of the disaster.