On December 5-6, 2013, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) returned to Leyte Province in the Philippines to distribute relief goods among survivors of Typhoon Yolanda, or Haiyan, as the storm is known outside of our country. UMCOR is an agency of the global United Methodist Church and is in charge of relief operations whenever there is a natural or a human-caused calamity.
Super Typhoon Yolanda hit Eastern, Central, and Western Visayas on November 8, 2013. It devastated the entire region. Thousands of lives were lost, and livelihoods were washed away. UMCOR staff and volunteers first came with a relief convoy to the region about a week after the storm.
When they came again in early December, they distributed relief goods in several communities, including where we have local United Methodist churches. UMCOR’s emergency food packages were distributed to many survivors in the communities who were in need. I accompanied the UMCOR staff and volunteers on this visit to Ormoc City, Isabel, and Tacloban City.
The families served by UMCOR on this relief trip expressed gratitude that our United Methodist Church remembered them in times of calamity. We saw an inspiring banner in Ormoc City that read: “Homeless, Roofless, But NOT HOPELESS!”
When I visited Methodist households just before Christmas, I also stopped in to see some of the neighbors who do not belong to the church and who had received UMCOR food packets. Many of them had saved the bright yellow UMCOR bags that had contained rice, beans, and other food items.