“Killer Typhoon,” Friend, June 1983, 37
Dark, threatening clouds rolled over Davao, the Philippines, one Sunday evening. The misty gloom of that fast-falling night haloed the lights from the island homes that bordered the gulf and dotted the hillsides. Suddenly a stiff wind arose, and gulls cried as they wheeled through the air to more sheltered spots among the rocky cliffs along the shore. The wind increased, and the lights along the shore went out. The waves crashed thunderously and shot spray high into the air. Back in the hills and valleys frightened carabao (water buffalo) bawled, pigs squealed, and chickens squawked, their cries whipped away by the wind.
The wind rose to a shriek as it bore down mercilessly with its knifelike rain, bending coconut palms to the ground and trying to push everything, even houses, out of its path. Some trees yielded to the force of the wind and toppled to the ground, their roots seeming to claw the air.
Then the storm reached the house of the Lopez family. It pushed against the doors and rattled the windows where Anita and her sister Sabina were sleeping on their mats.
A lone palm leaf slapped across the window, and Anita sat up with a jerk. Her eyes grew round. What had awakened her? Prickles went up and down her back as she reached over and shook her sister. “Sabina! Wake up!”
“Huh?” Sabina asked as she rolled over.
“Sabina, listen! That’s not the river making all that noise! It’s a storm, and I—I’m scared!”
Sabina sat up and took her sister’s hand in her own. “It is a storm! A bad one! Maybe it’s a typhoon!” Sabina gasped as the two girls hugged each other tightly.
A sudden blast drove what seemed like a riverful of water through the cracks of the walls and around the closed window. Everything was drenched. The house lurched and swayed like a cradle rocked by a giant’s hand.
“Mama! Daddy!” screamed Sabina. “Come quick!”
Even as Sabina cried out, Mama and Daddy rushed in and hurried the girls to a safer part of the house.
After a while, Daddy called out above the noise of the storm, “I believe it will be safe if we stand to the side of the small window that overlooks the river. I’d like to be where we can see how fast the water is rising. Typhoons have caused disastrous floods here in the past.”
Anita clutched Mama’s hand as the family moved next to the window. When they looked out at the river, Anita’s eyes grew rounder than ever, and she held her mother’s hand more tightly. The river had already flooded over its banks, and their home was surrounded by water! The house next door was half submerged and bobbing up and down as it was driven downriver. Were their neighbors still in it? As they watched, another house went by, then another, and another. Some were smashed to bits. Some still had people in them who shouted from the windows, “Help! Save us! Save us!” One house that swept by had a yelping dog clinging to the ridge of the roof that was barely above-water. A loud crash behind their home meant that another neighbor’s house had collapsed.
Anita began to cry out loud. Daddy picked her up and held her tightly. Then he called out above the sound of the storm, “We must pray to the true God of whom we have just learned!”
They all bowed their heads as Daddy prayed.
“Heavenly Father, we are grateful that now we know of Thee and can talk to Thee. Please deliver us from this flood! Save us, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
It was the Lopez family’s first prayer since listening to the missionaries the night before.
Anita looked out the window. Two big logs loomed out of the black waters and shot straight toward their house! Then the logs suddenly turned sideways and caught on something. It was as if they were being set in place by a giant hand. The onrushing floodwaters were turned aside by the two huge logs, and the house stood fast!
All night long Anita and her parents and sister watched the miracle of the logs and praised the God of heaven and earth for His goodness in answering their prayer.
Early the next morning as the storm wore itself out, the Lopez family cautiously went outside. Nothing looked the same. Palm trees, their branches ripped off, were strewn all over. Broken bits of houses were tangled with underbrush and mud. Dead chickens, cats, and dogs were scattered here and there. Sad-faced people pulled at piles of debris, looking for missing loved ones.
Sabina looked up at Daddy and said, “I’m glad that we learned about Heavenly Father and about how to pray to Him and that He helped us when we asked Him to.”
“I wish everyone knew about Him,” Anita added, squeezing her father’s hand.
Daddy said, “I know that I don’t ever want to be without Him again. Even if our house had been destroyed, talking to Him brought me peace. I hope that the young men who told us about Him will come back very soon and tell us more.”