Dear Family and Friends,
Looking below at town after town completely destroyed by winds and flooding makes us shake our heads in disbelief. We follow the path of the storm in our mission plane, documenting each area with pictures and videos. It looks like a giant 20-mile tornado path. Trees are stripped of leaves and coconut trees are uprooted and laying around like matchsticks. Every big and little village and town we see below is devastated. Anything that is not a solid cement structure is completely destroyed. Even most of the cement structures have lost their roofs. Other towns are completely underwater. It’s incomprehensible how many people are suffering right now and I feel so helpless and a bit guilty at the same time. We are snapping pictures and videos from above with food in our tummies, fresh water and a warm place to stay each night.
It’s eerie that we haven’t seen many people around at all on our surveys. We hope it’s not a bad sign. It looks so peaceful and quiet from above—like a bad dream or movie with no sound. We can’t sense the hurt or chaos from our height.
We chose Iloilo as our base where we have friends with HCBN (He’s Coming Broadcasting Network) who are hosting us and coordinating things. Our aim was to get here as soon as possible after the storm and do aerial surveys to share with others to help speed the relief work. The first two days we were able to do two aerial surveys of some areas that weren’t getting any news coverage. We also did several supply transports for the government to one of the affected cities until the roads became passable again. We called our other pilot, Sean from Palawan to come over with the Cessna and help.
Sometimes the work is exciting and we feel like we’re really making at least a small difference, and other times it seems so slow and like such a drop in the bucket. We have had various minor delays with airplane trouble, weather issues, poor Internet connections, and taking time to get organized with the different people involved. Today we finally got the compiled and labeled footage and details out that we had hoped to share a couple days ago. We hope it will be useful to someone.
We continue to hear stories trickle in from family members and friends of the volunteers and church members here in Iloilo and around the country. When we arrived, 4 of the HCBN volunteers had not yet heard from their family members since the storm. As I write this, 3 of them have heard from their families that at least their parents are alive but they don’t know anything else. One volunteer still had not heard anything until today when he heard that a body was identified with his family name in a nearby town to his clan’s island, which was directly in the path of the storm. He is on his way there now to see what he can find out.
Some areas are still completely out of touch and no one knows what’s going on there yet. Other areas are starting to get road access or cell signal restored. We have heard that tarps are a big need in many areas, aside from food and water. At least they could be sheltered from the weather that way.
The government agencies keep asking if we have helicopters. Those seem to be the most useful tools in disasters like this—that and float planes . . .
Someday . . .
We planned to go to one small island that has a grass airstrip to see how we could help, but we heard that a military helicopter already tried to go there and they were met with armed locals ready to be the first to take the food and supplies. The helicopter immediately flew away for safety reasons without delivering any goods.
We have mostly been working here on Panay island since it seems most of the aid organizations and efforts are focusing on the bigger need areas like Tacloban, but there are many other areas that will no doubt be neglected for quite awhile.
Another tropical storm is passing by now and the rains have already started, so our air support is on standby for the moment. We’ll see how the plans progress. In the meantime, we pray for the victims who will face the next day or two of rain without shelter.
Here are a couple videos if you’d like to see what’s been going on:
This video shows our first couple days of helping transport supplies in our airplanes and a little of the aerial shots:
This video is mostly of the aerial surveys we did of north Panay:
You can see more updates on facebook.
We’ll try to keep in touch as we have internet. Thanks for your prayers and faithful support!
Dwayne and Wendy
Philippine Adventist Medical Aviation Services (PAMAS)
If you’d like to help,
Make checks payable to: Gospel Ministries International
Send checks to:GMI (Gospel Ministries International) P O Box 506, Collegedale, TN 37315
(Be sure to specify donation is for “PAMAS”)
Or call the GMI office: 423-473-1841
(be sure to specify donation is for “PAMAS”)
–Bibles and sharing materials– Thank you! Some received.
–Medical supplies–Thank you for recent donation from GVM!
–Jeleta and Cabulnucan people to surrender all to Jesus and be free from demon attacks!
–God’s provisions for helicopters for Palawan and Luzon
–More dedicated, local missionary volunteers
–Leaders who are qualified to start more medical missionary training schools
–Continued guidance and open doors for expansion work into Mindanao
PAMAS is a faith-based, volunteer organization which aids the Adventist church in it’s mission to carry the Gospel to the world through the use of aviation and medical ministry.