By Lauren Hengtgen
In August 2010, just a few months after graduating from the University of Michigan, I moved to Palo, Leyte, Philippines to begin my Peace Corps Training. My Filipino host family for those first three months was so generous to open their home and make me an honorary family member. They took me to church, they cooked me traditional dishes, they gave me my own room while they all shared a room, and they helped me learn the local dialect.
After training, I moved to an island east of Leyte, Northern Samar, to begin my two-year teaching assignment. I was blessed with another splendid host family, worked with supportive coworkers and adorable students, and met my Filipino boyfriend who is still living there in Northern Samar.
As I am sure you all saw in the news lately, there was a devastating typhoon that hit the Philippines on November 8. The worst hit provinces: Leyte and Samar. Many of the places I used to spend my time-MacArthur Park, the pier, and the local mall- are completely ruined.
Filipinos experience several typhoons each year, so many people stayed home to wait out the storm. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a typical typhoon, and it took the lives of thousands and homes of thousands more. Thankfully, my host family in Leyte is safe, but many of my fellow Peace Corps volunteers lost host family members.
The Filipinos of Leyte and Samar are in desperate need of assistance, and we as Lutherans can join together to be a part of the relief process through prayers and monetary donations. I encourage you to visit the Common Cup on Saturday, December 14 between 2-4 p.m. to support the Filipino survivors.
We will be having two musical guests, serving Filipino treats, enjoying coffee, and most importantly, collecting donations to send to Lutheran World Relief who is providing shelter repair kits, removing debris, sending school items, and providing water filters for safe drinking.
Please check out the Lutheran World Relief’s website where you can donate online or through the mail. Or come to the Common Cup on December 14, where we will be collecting checks or cash and have laptops set up for donating online. Thanks to everybody who already donated and who is keeping the Philippines and the relief workers in their prayers.