Operation Blessing Helps Renew Filipinos' Spirit

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PILILLIA VILLAGE, Philippines -- Several days after torrential rains from Typhoon Ketsana drenched the Philippines and submerged the capital in floodwaters, residents are now faced with the task of cleaning up.

In rural areas, the floodwaters have kept relief from reaching people in remote villages -- until now.

A Journey into the Heart of Darkness

Take a three-hour road trip, heading east from Manila and eventually you'll see it -- the lush and scenic Sierra Madre mountain range that runs across much of the region.

It's a popular tourist destination, but at the foothills of the mountain, a very different picture is emerging. It's one of heartache and shattered lives.  

CBN News journeyed with typhoon survivor Arlene Robino to see what was left of her home and village.

"I feel like this is the end of my life," Robino said.

She usually makes the trip on foot or by car, but this time she makes it by boat. Getting there is not the easiest thing in the world. It takes several people to get the boat through all the marsh and debris.  

"That's all that's left of my house," Robino told CBN News. "There is no floor, just the shell of the house."  

On September 26, Typhoon Ketsana's rains poured into the Sierra Madre, turning Robino's village and countless other areas into a swampy mess and leaving the people here in desperate need.  

"I've been praying everyday, 'please somebody come and help us,'" Robino said.  

An Answer to Prayer

Her prayers were answered Monday when an army of volunteers from Operation Blessing Philippines and Christians from area churches joined hands to deliver the much-needed food, water, clothes and medical supplies to Robino's village.  

"Yes, you are all an answer to my prayers!" she said. 

Robino is just one of nearly a hundred thousand people that Operation Blessing has helped since Typhoon Ketsana hit.  
 
Responding to a major disaster like the one in the Philippines takes partnership, something Operation Blessing is very good at.

During one particular relief effort Tuesday, nine different denominations came together to help meet the needs of several thousand in Pilillia Village.  

"We need to thank the Lord for Operation Blessing they see this cooperation that we have right now is really, really important," said village pastor Omega Clyoro.

But Operation Blessing's relief work is about more than just handing out food or meeting the medical needs of the people -- it's about touching lives deep down.  

"Most importantly, we need to address their spiritual and emotional needs as well," said Operation Blessing physician Sheila Aranas.  

For Robino and countless others, Tuesday was about lifting the Filipino spirit. Tomorrow will bring new challenges, but also new hope that there are friends around the world who care enough to give.  

"Operation Blessing gives me the fighting spirit to keep going," Robino said.

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