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Home News-Telegram News Helping Others: Local man involved in Philippines relief efforts

Helping Others: Local man involved in Philippines relief efforts

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When 19-year-old Justin Sanders departed Oct. 14 for Siroaga City in Mindanao, Philippines, to intern with Charlie Sickles at Fruitful Harvest International Ministries, he was prepared to help with a feeding program and help establish an orphanage. 

“He’s been on mission trips several times, so he’s not unfamiliar with what’s going on with Fruitful Harvest. This is the longest he’s been away from the area,” said his Justin’s father, Sulphur Springs Police Capt. Jay Sanders.

Nothing could have fully prepared him for the experiences he’s had, however. Since the Sulphur Springs native arrived, the Philippines has had an earthquake (Oct. 14) and the biggest typhoon on record (Nov. 8).

“We weren’t too concerned. We know God’s in control so we don’t panic,” Capt. Jay Sanders said. 

Justin and his family have exchanged a few calls since he’s been in the Philippines, including after the typhoon, but didn’t exchange a lot of information because its “not real good contact.” Wednesday prior to the typhoon, he told his family the crew was packing and readying to move to higher ground. 

Typhoon Haiyan hit the eastern seaboard of the Philippines on Nov. 8 and quickly barreled across its central islands, packing winds of 147 miles per hour and gusts of up to 170 mph, with a storm surge of 20 feet, the Associated Press reports. Six Philippine islands were hit, cutting off many people’s access to food and medical care, flattening some communities and displacing about 3 million people. More than 5,000 died, more than 1,600 were still missing Friday.

Where Justin was at didn’t get hit as bad as most places.

“During it, they got winds and rain. They are south of where the storm did all the damage. They just got Wi-Fi up,” Jay Sanders noted a few days after the typhoon. 

Already in place, the orphanage became a shelter — offering aid to many since the typhoon. 

Sulphur Springs physician Dr. Darrel Pierce told CBS news in Dallas that Sickles told him in a phone conversation Friday that some 30 families were able to seek shelter within the strong walls of the orphanage, and the orphans, volunteers and church members all rode out the storm safely.”

Initially, Fruitful Harvest’s orphanage became a safe harbor for the mission workers, the five orphans and a several families nearby following the typhoon. By Friday, 30 families sought shelter at the orphanage.

This Wednesday the students who prior to the latest disaster had been getting up at 3 in the morning to prep and do the weekly feeding program were working with Philippines Red Cross to feed at least 150 typhoon victims.

“Students who were getting up on designated days to prep and do feeding program for Fruitful Harvest are now feeding about 150 typhoon victims at the orphanage. It was 142, then more when boats brought more from Cebu Island. Philippines Red Cross is there lending aid. Cebu Island was hit. We sent some relief to Dr. Arlene Diaz,” Justin’s dad explained, noting Diaz is a dentist and works with the government in the Philippines, lending valuable help to the missionaries.

Some of the Sulphur Springs area churches who help support Fruitful Harvest, have already sent some money over to help bolster supplies.

Capt. Sanders said from what they are hearing from the Philippines Justin is in the thick of it, lending aid where needed, helping with recovery and shelter efforts at the orphanage, and really enjoying helping.

Already recovery efforts are under way and most of the people are expected to have established more permanent housing arrangements before Christmas, when Justin is scheduled to return home, according to Capt. Sanders.




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