Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cyclone Pam Threatens with Category 5 Power

We are literally sweating as we anticipate the arrival of Cyclone Pam, not just because we’re not sure what to expect, but also because of the heat and humidity that comes with the storm.  It was predicted nearly a week ago that this cyclone would be the most severe hurricane/cyclone of the Pacific.  It didn’t look at first like it would eventuate, but it has moved slowly south from the Solomon Islands and all the conditions have been ripe for it to become more and more serious.  We are watching about 4 or 5 different online weather sites to try to be the most informed about its progress.  The picture above is the forecast track that helps us know where Pam is currently located, the direction it is heading, and when it can be expected. Yesterday and during the night, the cyclone’s progress toward the south pole slowed significantly and it has again intensified.  The cyclone has reached a Category 5 this morning with sustained winds of 115 knots and gusts to 140 knots.  They are predicting that the winds will get even stronger as the central pressure of the cyclone continues to drop.  The weather forecasters are never entirely sure about the track that the cyclone will take, but what is concerning us is that it is aiming to hit us directly or narrowly miss us to the east – either prediction will bring very severe winds that will be very destructive.

We traveled to visit the people in our Nazarene churches yesterday that are living in homes that would never stand up to the winds.  When we arrived at these various places we found people completely unaware of the danger that was approaching!  They had heard rumors that the cyclone had already passed.  We did our best to convince our friends to begin preparing and looking for safe housing.  We are thankful that the Vanuatu army helps to relocate people to schools and safe shelters during situations like this.  The people in Vanuatu are for the most part entirely dependent on the food that they grow in their gardens, most of which are root crops which take 3-6 months to develop.  The winds and heavy rains that come with a cyclone can ruin gardens and the available food supply.

We have never faced a cyclone in our present house since we moved-in 7 years ago, so we aren’t really sure whether our home will stand up to these fierce winds.  David is screwing plywood sheets over our huge windows all around our house today.  It is so hot and humid that closing up the windows sounds terrible, but it looks like the weather will be somewhat calm to handle the big sheets of wood today. 

Sylvia has been teaching an SPNTC class every evening for the last week and a half, and will teach this evening if the winds and rain hold off.  You can’t imagine how hard it is to concentrate on preparations for class and for the students to focus on what she is teaching with a cyclone breathing down our necks!

Please be praying with us for this situation:  
·        We are asking God to do as Jesus did on the sea of Galilee – to block the wind and waves so that people’s lives are spared. 
·        Pray that people will be wise in preparing for the storm even as they pray and trust God for protection. 
·        Pray that we will know what to do and how to help people during this time.

We may very likely lose our internet service and possibly phone service as we move into the thick of the storm on Friday or Saturday (Thursday and Friday in the US), so please know that we will keep you posted as soon as we can.

Thank you for standing with us in the storm.

"The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!"
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.
Luke 8:24

"Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men."
Psalms 107:28-31