Here in deep South Texas
and across the United States it is almost impossible to
get a true feeling of how devastating the Asian Tsunami
was to the thousands upon thousands of people who were
impacted by that nightmare of nature.
Captain Alfonso Martinez
who commands the Salvation Army in this area has received
an e-mail message from Mattie Lou Brandon, another Army
Sri Lanka. Her letter may make things
a bit clearer to those who read it. At the very
least, it puts a face on what for many in this country
have only been video pictures and the words of the
"Greetings from Sri Lanka",
she writes. "Here in Colombo it is business as
usual. People are busy living their lives and the
quiet hush that once covered this city is nearly
Yet ten miles from here
many are suffering from the loss of loved ones and all
that they possessed. Many had their loved ones
taken from their arms, snatched from their view by
something they loved, by something they found beautiful
and at times calming. Many have worked so long on
the sea for their worldly possessions, and in a few
short minutes it was washed away, taken by something they
trusted and depended upon for their living.
As I write to you so many
are crying and grieving, wondering where to turn and
having no place to go. There are those who don't
have enough to eat, no less a place to lay their heads.
Their lives are a cacophony of confusion. Their
emotions low, but their hearts and minds are in an uproar
and a commotion. Those who are afraid to close
their eyes, for all they can do is relive the nightmare
that has taken control of their lives.
Others can't wait to sleep
for it is the only peace that they have. Many
desire death's sleep as a permanent solution to what has
become a never ending emotional roller coaster.
Some have opted to die instead of living, they have no
hope to cling too. So many stories being relived
again and again. Some stories of how they were
victors over death and how some lost the battle."
She concludes that portion
of her letter saying .... "So many (are) now wondering
aimlessly, void of possessions and loved ones and having
no will or hope to go on."
But, major disasters are
much more than just those who lost loved ones and
livelihood. What nature has hurled upon those
shores strikes every person on the land. Mattie
Brandon gives us a picture of that with these passages.
"As the days pass, there
are many new concerns. Here in Colombo many food
items are becoming harder to purchase. With this
island being surrounded on all sides by water, fish is a
large part of every poor families diet.
It is economical and in
large supply. With the conditions being as they
are, the few fishermen that did not lose their boats
can't fish, because it is not safe to eat it and people
won't buy it ....
Poultry is becoming scarce
and very expensive, as well as mutton. Staples such
as sugar, salt and milk power have all been all purchased
for the disaster victims. The store shelves are
bare. The few shop owners that have food have gone
from the humanitarian mode to the get rich quick mode.
Many items are being flown in for the people in need, but
ships are slow coming in to replenish the store shelves.
Petrol is hard to find.
For the last couple of days the service stations have
been out of diesel and petrol. On the outskirts of
town there are stations that have petrol, but the prices
are very high, and you have to drive quite a way to
She ends her letter with
words about the relief effort. "As you can see
there are many challenges here. But I thank
God for the privilege to be here to experience each
challenge, and I know that He will be by all of our sides
to see us through. I thank God for the many people
who have come to the aid and rescue of the survivors.
So many have opened their hearts and their checkbooks to
help those in need."
Miss Brandon has told a
tale of sadness and great need, not just for those who
faced the huge waves hitting Sri Lanka, but also for
everyone in the country. Far more than our initial
relief efforts will be required .... and regardless of the
aid, comfort and understanding, the world will never be
the same again for the people of that island country.