Nina’s account of her trip to Tacloban and Palo:
Glory to God! I believe in miracles and how our Lord Jesus Christ is guiding me in my journey here in Tacloban.
There was [tropical storm alert] signal number 2 here in Samar, but the typhoon instead went western part. It must be the prayers of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco that made the typhoon change its direction.
Today is Sunday, after Fr. Sava (Antiochian Church) blessed 22 people to become Catechumens at the ROCOR Mission chapel of St. Nikolai of Zica in Baranggay Barayong, we went with Nicolas to the store in town proper to buy housing materials for the Orthodox Christians who lost their houses due to Typhoon Yolanda, but all the stores are closed because its Sunday. I told Nicolas to walk around, there may be some store open. God is truly merciful that there was this one store, open! We were able to buy initial housing materials for four houses.
While I was there, I was thinking of buying food for Nicholas to bring home because all they have is rice, I can’t find a store because most of them are closed. But while we were waiting for the housing materials, here comes in front where I was standing, a man on his bicycle selling eggs. We were able to buy 60 pieces to be shared to each family. Good for dinner! God’s miracles are unstoppable!
Today, Fr. Sava and I was supposed to meet Mr. Mel Caspe, a mediaman who wants to cover our mission. Unfortunately, he was not able to come with us to Barangay Barayong because there was a call for him to go to cover another story. Again, while Fr. Sava and I were looking for a ride to go back to the place, as usual because the transportation here is rare and very limited, we waited until we crossed the street. When we crossed the street, we were able to find one. When I am about to board, we were carrying the two miraculous icons that survived typhoon Yolanda. And just right after lifting my feet onto the jeep, I had not taken my seat yet, there was this man tapping me on my shoulder with his voice surprisingly saying “I just went there to Barangay Barayong!” This man was Mr. Mel Caspe who is supposed to be with us this morning to cover our mission.
While writing this message to my brother, Fr.Philip, my tears are falling for gratitude to God who is merciful to us. It’s really very hard to be in this place, limited transportation, no food and the difficulty of going to the mission chapel. This is not yet the end of God’s mercy! This afternoon, when Fr. Sava went home, only Mr. Mel Caspe and I were left, because we have to discuss about the itinerary for tomorrow’s mission in going to Tubabao Island. According to Mr.Caspe, Mr.Leona whom we are suppose to meet is no longer in Tubabao and we cannot find people there.
He said that our time and expenses will not be useful anymore. I told Mr.Caspe that God allowed me and him to meet today and so we will still proceed because it was my mission to visit also the Orthodox Chapel of St. John Maximovitch in Tubabao Island. And so we agreed that he will do the reservation for our trip and that he will call me back. This 6:36PM, he called me that he was able to make reservations for our trip tomorrow. And by St.John’s prayers, he got information that Mr. Cezar Leona of Barangay San Juan, Island of Tubabao, Guiuan, Eastern Samar was there!
It is Mr.Leona who helped Fr. Philip find the church that St. John Maximovitch built in 1949; Fr. Seraphim, Fr.Dcn.Silouan and Fr.Sava celebrated Divine Liturgy there last September 2013. This is unusual for the condition here in Tacloban. For today’s mission work, I can truly say that it’s really not the people who helped us in this mission trip made it possible, but God! With tears in my eyes, truly the prayers of St.Nikolai and St.Justin made everything possible.
I was only able to bring 3 boxes instead of 6, I was so sad when I was in the airport because I have to pay so much for the three boxes, so I left them. I left the toys and slippers, chocolates, other boxes of goods. I was only able to bring the box of sardines, the box of medicines and the other box with the icon of Theotokos. These three boxes were able to suffice not only for the Orthodox families but also for all the Catechumen!
Life here is extremely difficult, no electricity,everything is very expensive. Even if you have money, it’s hard to buy because of the very limited supply. You have to wait for the goods being sold by the government (DTI) but for a limited quantity only and you have to wait and fall in line before you can buy. Even worse for people from far places like Barangay Barayong!
The moment I saw them, I’m so happy, I don’t feel the pain and hardship in going there. I feel happiness for the love of God to these people! Because even if their situation is almost unbearable, they are all very happy to see us, to hear from Fr.Philip, to hear his voice brings happiness to them! To receive the help from Russian Orthodox makes them smile and feel the love of God.
I thank the Lord for this wonderful experience! There is no electricity yet everything glows because God’s love is shining in the hearts of every Orthodox Christians in Palo, Leyte! They may be in a very difficult situation but their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and the prayers of the Mother of God preserve them. The holy icons of St. Nikolai and St. Justin and their holy prayers gave them strength in these challenging times. The prayers, hardships and struggles of the 10 Orthodox Christians in Palo, Leyte bear fruit with the addition of 22 new catechumens in the ROCOR mission chapel of St. Nikolai of Zica.
Now, I deeply understand and appreciate the mission work of my brother, Fr.Philip, who is now in Moscow Theological Academy, for our Orthodox brothers and sisters in Palo, Leyte and Davao del Sur. Truly, this mission work is blessed by God through the holy prayers of St. John Maximovitch! Please continue praying for all Orthodox Christians in Palo, Leyte! I also thank Fr. Sava of the Antiochian Orthodox Church for his prayers, blessing and collaboration.