Nessa Gardiola (left) is one of the Victory Tacloban discipleship group leaders who were accounted for after typhoon Yolanda. Photo by Kix Javier.

Finding New Strength

nessaNessa Gardiola, an upcoming campus missionary from Leyte, recounts her experience as typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) hit the Visayas region last November 8. Here’s her story of God’s protection and provision.

I was at home with my family when typhoon Yolanda struck Leyte. There were six of us in our house in Palo, one of the Leyte towns battered by this record-breaking typhoon.

We watched in horror as the strong winds blew away our neighbors’ roofs. Seeing what was happening around us, we decided to pray together as a family, pleading for God’s protection as the monster winds howled around us.

Soon, the winds shattered the windows of our house. We sought refuge in my brother’s room, setting up a foam bed to protect us from the shards of broken glass flying in from the damaged window sills.

The aftermath of the storm left us shaken. My father, who was diabetic, had a wound on his foot. My brother also almost had an asthma attack because he couldn’t breathe well. Since there was water inside our house, there were rats and mosquitoes all around us.

Real community Despite these challenges, we were quite grateful for what we had about us. God was faithful to provide for everything that we needed—not just the physical needs, but even emotional and spiritual strength. Thankfully, we lived in a neighborhood where everyone could smile and laugh because of the unity of the people. We all shared our food and water with each other; my siblings had more than enough of what we needed. Our neighbors and other relatives extended help to us, too.

Eventually, for our safety and for my father to receive adequate medical attention, we had to relocate.

My family and I left Palo five days after Yolanda hit the area, pooling what little

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financial resources we had from people who blessed us. We boarded a plane to Cebu, where my family and I are now staying.

We plan to stay here maybe until next year. We’ll wait until everything goes stable in Palo, and wait until we can buy materials to rebuild our old house.

 

Moving forward Kix, one of the leaders in Victory Tacloban, went accounting for members of our church who were affected by typhoon Yolanda. He was able to visit my family and myself a few days after the storm. When he visited us, we talked about our plans in rebuilding the church, as well as rebuilding Every Nation Campus in Tacloban after classes resume.

kix_nessa

This photo was taken after Nessa was accounted for. Photo by Kix Javier.

It gives me joy to know that there were a lot of people who were concerned and praying for me. It gave me hope and a fresh perspective, knowing that my spiritual family was holding the ropes for me in prayer. I got more energized to work again and rebuild what was lost in Tacloban. I’m excited to go back to the campuses and continue encouraging and inspiring students to live lives of faith, holiness, and hope through discipleship.

It was encouraging to hear that none of the members of my discipleship group were in harm’s way during the storm. Some of them, who were students of University of the Philippines-Tacloban, have cross-enrolled to UP Diliman. I’ve connected them to Lourdes, one of the campus missionaries from EN Campus Quezon City.

 

God’s faithfulness endures God’s purposes for my life have never been this clear to me. When He spared my family and provided for us during those times, I was quite sure that God willed it so I can be a blessing to others. I was holding on to Him and His plans for my life as the typhoon raged.

When my family and I survived the worst, I was so excited to share my story because I know that there is a lot to be done and that God will use our city even more to impact lives not only in the region but all over the world.

I’m grateful for His faithfulness. I’m also thankful for each one of you who have prayed and given in every way.

Please continue praying for the Visayas—for everyone’s safety and good health, and for the relief efforts that are ongoing in the area.

I have hope that God has great plans for our nation. I’m looking forward to all that He will do, and will continue to do, through and for each of us.