An emotional vigil was held Saturday at an Edmonton church to pray for victims and loved ones affected by last week’s typhoon in the Philippines.
The storm killed an estimated 3,600 people and left nearly two million others homeless.
The congregation of Edmonton’s Seventh Day Adventist Church, lead by Pastor Ron Yabut, gathered in a special service to commemorate the victims of Typhoon Haiyan and to gather donations to assist in recovery efforts.
“It’s a way of saying that we are all in this together. Let us come together and support one another,” said Yabut. “Even though we are thousands of miles away from the Philippines to here, we want to be closer to them in thoughts and in prayers today.”
Several member of the congregation have family who have lost their homes in the Philippines. Others had to wait days before hearing news of loved ones back in the island nation.
Joane Villa said it took five days to confirm her three children – aged six, eight and ten – were safe in Roxas City.
“I [couldn't] eat. I [couldn't] sleep because I don't have an idea about my children.”
Villa later found out her home was flattened by the storm but that her children made it out safely with the help of her neighbours.
She teared up describing how hard it was to be so far from her children in the aftermath of the storm.
Lyn Alarpa also has family in the affected area. She said the family of six lost their home, leaving them without shelter.
Alarpa broke down into tears describing how her cousins lost their baby while trying to help others in the midst of the typhoon. Note: the video may be disturbing to some viewers.
Alarpa said having the support of her congregation was crucial throughout the past week while waiting for news from her family.
“It gives us encouragement and prayers for our family, and also a little help [for] them,” she said. “Inspiration to live on, and have hope that these things will pass by. We will get by from this tragedy.”
And, she said, she will be forever thankful for those who are on the ground in the Philippines helping.
“It’s like I cannot even express my feeling – how thankful we are for those people who are not minding themselves, their safety because they were trying to help other people.”
Click the links below to learn what you can do to help survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.