International Ministries

No Longer Newsworthy

December 1, 2011 Journal
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The floods of Thailand are no longer making world news. The media has a short attention span and has already moved on to more current breaking news, but unfortunately, crises are not so quickly resolved and do not end when the media has moved on.
 
Here in the dry center of Bangkok, we grew tired of hearing conflicting reports. We quickly tired of watching Google flood maps day after day to determine if we would be hit. It wasn’t intentional, but we too began to shift attention away from the flood and back to what consumes life on a day-by-day basis. Walls and sandbags are coming down and Christmas decorations are going up. It is the season to be jolly after all. The flood crisis is over, we think – or would like to think.

National Disaster Still in the Making

Just a few kilometers from where I sit however, the water still presents a national disaster in the making. There, people gather on both sides of the “big bag” (flood barrier), and debate whether or not they should be removed. It’s been two months and while they have made the best of this underwater world, they have had enough. The government, trying to prevent another political crisis, has begun to pump the water out at a higher velocity. The now contaminated water presents a health threat that no one wants to share. A number of businesses have closed, and several hundred thousand have lost their jobs. Many of these people will not have the privilege of life back to normal because normal has been eroded by the floodwater.

Entering Flood Communities

NightLight had the opportunity to join with ECB, the international church here, in a flood-relief operation. From early morning (4 a.m.), the women began to cook and prepare packaged meals. Two military trucks drove us into flooded areas to distribute supplies. My husband Jeff’s group went to an area behind the “big bags”. They put on waders and made their way through chest-high black and smelly water to hand out food bags, all too aware of the feces that floated around them. People there refused to evacuate from their homes for fear of theft. These are the communities who feel most forgotten and yet have the greatest need.

In the area where my group served,  the water had already receded from 1 meter deep to around 30-50 cm. People were doing their best to carry on  with “normal” in an abnormal setting.  A playground was a gathering place where people sat on the flooded benches and children played on the submerged swings as though nothing had changed. It was sad, it was surreal, and yet their adaptability and cheerfulness was commendable.
 
The flood victims were all grateful and polite. They took only what their family needed. At a meeting point, several hundred waited patiently. The local mall came with big fanfare and publicity. The people stood and waited through the speeches, the photos, and the applause to get their bag of supplies. The pastor of the Thai church in that area has been going out every day since November 1 to check on the people and give out supplies from early morning until night. He took us to the side, and we quietly distributed our supplies and just as quietly left. He had it well-organized, and we were simply supporting what he does daily.

NightLight's Flood Victims

Four of NightLight’s employees have evacuated because their homes are submerged by the floodwater. A few others have evacuated even though their rooms are above the water level because the water kept them stranded and unable to get to work. NightLight’s center has been a shelter for these who have no place to stay.

Relief Still Needed

Once the water has left the area, the clean-up and re-building of homes submerged and marinated in contaminated water for two months is going to be a enormous endeavor of both time and resource. This weekend, Song Sawang (NL’s church) will return to support more flood relief. In two weeks, NightLight and the International church will join with 1000 others from the Bangkok church community for a clean-up day. NL’s Christmas is being planned as a service project. After a day of clean-up, we will gather for a simple Christmas party to have fun and to celebrate the blessings we have. It has been a hard year, but as we enter the Advent season, we are grateful for all the prayers and support that has brought us this far.

Thank you for remembering us in prayer and through your financial support.

Blessings,

Annie Dieselberg
www.nightlightinternational.com