One Family’s story of Tacloban

I love my weekly stop at Starbuck’s, my central air conditioning, and my Yankee candles. I love our fully stocked local library and my hardly used gym membership.

But I struggle!

My eyes have been open. Have yours?


Open to the hurt and pain living amongst the ruins of a Tsunami.

I’ve seen the ache in a child’s eyes as she waits for her forever family.

I’ve heard the stories of children buried under rubble and grandmothers swept out to sea.

I’ve seen the suitcases dug deep into the sands of Thai beaches and boats high up in trees.

And these disasters keep coming. Piling up, one after the other. Leaving death, destruction and a whole lot of despair.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear…” Psalm 46:1-2a

New Orleans, Haiti, Thailand, Indonesia, New York City.

And right now…. Tacloban!

And so I share with you one family’s story so we can be the hands and feet of Christ.

My prayer is that you will allow this one family’s story to remind you of the other countless families living today amongst the ruins of Tacloban, and to act according to God’s leading.

(I met and became friends with Sheila Mendes when our husbands were two of the Chaplains serving  in La Maddalena Italy. This is her family’s account of the super typhoon that hit her hometown of Tacloban.)

“We are a family of 8 children- 2 in the States and 6 in the Philippines. My dad has passed away and my mom lives with us here in CA. Interestingly, my brother, who is a physician in the Philippines, arrived in the States just 2 days before the cyclone. My other brother is in Manila. He is a Lt. Col in the Army and just landed today in Tacloban via military plane to help in the relief efforts but primarily to check on our siblings and our house…..As of this writing, there is a mass burial of 300 plus casualties in the area where my siblings are. I only know of 1 confirmed person among them….a high school teacher. Of my more than 50 remaining high school and college friends in Tacloban, I have only heard one to be a survivor. Their usually busy Facebook accounts are conspicuously quiet.

No life lost amongst my siblings….
1. Nestor and Lorna, child and grandchildren…all alive….house washed out
2. Nemesio and Ning, child and grandchildren….all alive…house washed out
3. Nilda and children and grandchildren…all alive…house washed out
4. Nympha and children…all alive…house sustained much damage
5. Uncle who had 7 children and all their families in the island that submerged completely- all alive! They were able to move to another town right before the cyclone. No survivor is yet reported on that island.
6. 4 cousins all accounted for. One of my cousin’s house was the only one standing in their entire housing community

Help me praise God for His incomprehensible power and unconditional love!

Rainbow over devastated Tacloban

Rainbow over devastated Tacloban

The last eight days since Haiyan have certainly brought me so much sleeplessness from so much difficult news. I learned today that it has already been seven nights that my survivor siblings and their kids have not received any assistance and have been fending for themselves with whatever they could find. When I got to talk directly to my nephew yesterday, I asked if they have blankets. He said no. He asked me if there was a way I could ask for help from somebody to bring them clothes. My siblings are professionals in town- our eldest a 3 time City Councilor, the second one a retired police officer and my 2 sisters are high school teachers. My nephews and nieces also have their own professions and for all of them to be in this situation is hard to take. My brother from Manila has been able to locate them and give them food, water and medicines until some organized relief arrive to them.”

One family’s story. Ultimately a story steeped in praise and protection as no loss of life occurred. But we know this is not the case for most families living in Tacloban today.

And now, how do I go about my weekend nestled under a warm blanket, with homemade soup simmering on the stove? How do I ignore the tug I feel on my heart to help?

We may not be called to help the masses. We may be called to help JUST ONE!!!

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Suggestions from Sheila on how to help:

*Sheila will be personally involved in the Relief Efforts organized by Rick Warren’s  Saddleback Church in California.

• Sheila’s brother, Dr. Jonathan Jadloc is the Chairman of Disaster Preparedness and Health Crisis (leyte-Samar Chapter) with The Philippine College of Physicians (Eastern Visayas chapter). They need funds for much needed medical supplies, water purification, refilling stations and feeding stations.


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