Greetings from Saipan!
One week ago I was sitting in a classroom at the Samaritan’s Purse office in Calgary. I was in the 4th day of a 5 day Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) training course. We were just heading back to our sessions after a late lunch when one of the staff members pulled me aside to ask if I would be willing to participate in a response they were just setting up for Typhoon Yutu that hit Saipan and it’s neighboring island of Tinian. About 2pm, after I called Deanna to discuss with her, I responded that I would be able to go. By 7am the next morning, after my daughter (Autumn) prayed for me, I was boarding the first of many flights to be a part of the first wave of Samaritan’s Purse response to the disaster.
After many long hours on SP’s DC8 plane that was loaded with pallets of tarps, water filters and solar lamps, we arrived on the island of Saipan. As we approached the runway we could see the devastation that littered the island due to the Cat 5 winds that ravaged the defenseless landscape. The naked trees lay scattered on the ground like toothpicks and roofing metal was twisted around all sorts of things in ways you can’t imagine would be possible.
We have just begun distributing some of the items to the people of Saipan after spending a couple of days unloading the plane, repairing the “warehouse” (which is actually just a small 30’x30′ annex of a church that managed to mostly survive), unrolling and cutting tarps to size, and then loading them into vans again.
One of the greatest things we are able to participate in is coming alongside the people of Saipan and not only being able to meet a physical need, but also be able to put an arm of compassion around hurting people and pray with them to show them that they are not forgotten and that God loves them immensely.