Typhoon Yolanda as known in the States or Typhoon Haiyan as known in The Philippines hit land fall on November 8 2013 early in the morning. This was the largest ever recorded storm to hit landfall. When a satellite image of the storm was superimposed over the United States it covered about 1/3 of the country, this may give you some idea of the magnitude of this storm.
Needless to say we watched as the Typhoon approached, at first without much thought. Elder Hansen has all ready been through several Typhoons since being in the Philippines. They just stay indoors and no big deal, so I wasn't very worried. However, as news was released we realized that this was not an ordinary storm. A typhoon is just another name for a Hurricane. The force of this storm was in line with Hurricane Katrina only much, much larger. We prayed and watched the news footage anxiously as the carnage became clear to the world. We were told via Church news reports that the missionaries had all been moved to safety a few days in advance, however, several of the missionaries from the Tacloban mission were unaccounted for. The death toll was enormous there and we watched and cried and prayed while waiting to hear of their fate. We knew our son Riley was accounted for again through church broadcast, but we had not heard from him and did not know what kind of condition he or his surroundings were left in. The wait was excruciating. Luckily and really Miraculously all of the over 200 missionaries were found and returned to Manila for reassignment. Our son Riley was not one of them, he was safe in Urdaneta and it turned out that they just had rain and some wind. They had heard about the missing missionaries and the devastation, and were very concerned for all of the people and very sad. But, I don't think they quite grasped the horrendous condition and death etc... as they are not able to see tv or hear radio or read the news. All of their information came from their Mission Presidents or talk around the towns. I was thankful that Elder Hansen and his area was spared, I am extremely grateful for that blessing. At the same time I am so torn up and saddened by the plight of the Philippine people in the affected areas. There was a massive loss of life and injury. Whole cities were destroyed. I am also very grateful for the missionaries all being saved. After hearing several of their stories, it is nothing short of a miracle that they all survived. I am also sad for the horrific images they will carry with them and for the fear and physical and emotional toll it took on them. Riley has one personal friend that was one of the rescued Missionaries who was injured and will need to come home and have surgery. Elder Hansen is quite concerned for him. Our prayers and well wishes are with him and his family.
After all of that, the broad concern of the missionaries in the hard hit areas was having to leave the people they love behind. Realizing that many people they knew were killed or had loved ones missing. That said, I want to follow up with what is being done to help. Many missionaries were on sight helping with supplies and comfort from the beginning. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints were there almost immediately trying to set up communications, shelter, supplies and love. There are several other wonderful countries and organizations who are helping in the effort. This is a time when we see how Christ uses his people as his hands. People come together in love from all walks of life. This is when we see goodness in the face of tragedy. This is when we realize that we are all brothers and sisters in this world, and it is so important to "Love One Another" as the commandment states. "Out of trials our strengths are shown to us" (Unknown) My love and prayers go out to the Philippine people.
***If you would like to help with the Philippine Relief there are several ways. There are many well known and reputable organizations that would love your help. The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints has a humanitarian aid fund that anyone can donate to. Prayers are continuously needed!