Today we spent time in the morning putting together packages for several people we had visited yesterday in Taro. We were able to give them a lot of things yesterday but several had special requests that we weren’t able to fill on the spot. So we went through our supplies here at base camp and then went shopping for the last few items and some fresh vegetables.
We didn’t get to Taro until about noon but then spent the next several hours visiting those folks again who had given us special requests. When they saw the same volunteers two days in a row they remembered us and almost seemed surprised that we had come back with the things they had requested. We made a point of taking our time and visiting for as long as they wanted at each home. I think there is a natural tendency for people who’ve been through traumatic experiences to want to talk about it and so our team members heard quite a few personal stories. One team member is a barber and he gave an elderly resident a haircut, making for an extended conversation.
The folks we visited are the fortunate ones… they still have their homes in a town where almost all the homes were destroyed. 700 people were squeezed into the evac center for this town while maybe 100 are living in their homes. Many of those 100 have next door neighbors who lost their homes. Of course those who didn’t lose their homes end up feeling guilty. And when they meet neighbors and friends who did lose their homes they often get comments like, “aren’t you lucky!”, or “it must be nice still having a home”, or “what do you have to complain about?”
Several people we spoke with today talked about relational problems with friends and neighbors. People who were close friends until the disaster suddenly feel like strangers. Even when they try to express sympathy they feel like their words get misinterpreted. After sharing her pain with us one woman mused, “Sometimes it almost feels like it would have been better if my home had gotten washed away too”… There aren’t any quick or easy answers to a comment like that! And so we listen, and we pray, and we do what we can with things as basic as bags of groceries or household supplies, and we do it all in the name of Jesus.