“Once we knew the elders in Guiuan had been found, it was a wonderful feeling of gratitude to know that all 204 missionaries had made it safely through the storm,” said Elder Nielson.
The following day, Marlin and Disbarro joined 13 other missionaries in their zone and began a rough journey by truck along damaged roads. The group would also travel by boat before flying from Legaspi to Manila.
After Typhoon Haiyan, all the Tacloban missionaries were evacuated to Manila so church leaders could concentrate on the needs of local members and because they didn’t want the missionaries to be a draw on severely limited local resources.
Marlin understood that he needed to leave the disaster zone.
By the time help arrived, he and his companion were almost out of food. A day earlier they had eaten with members and agonized over ingesting extremely limited food supplies.
Yet leaving was not easy.
“Before I left the branch mission leader told me, ‘Don’t forget about us Elder Marlin. We need you here.’ ”
Now Marlin hopes he will get the chance to visit Guiuan again.
That may not be a possibility — even though he has returned to the Tacloban mission. Missionaries are not yet serving in all the areas severely damaged by the disaster, said Elder Nielson.
“They are on the island of Samar and in Southern Leyte,” he said, noting the area presidency wants to ensure there is electric power and water available before missionaries return to an area.
Church leaders — including Elder Ben B. Banks, an emeritus general authority who served in the Philippines — are currently traveling through the mission, identifying places the missionaries can safely live and teach.
No one could be more happy about the missionaries returning than Philippines Tacloban Mission President Jose V. Andaya.
“We will build the Tacloban mission again,” he said.
When the last of his missionaries return, he said, there will be much work to do. Many in the area are now looking to the LDS Church. “They feel they want to be taught because of how the members are being taken care of.”
President Andaya said sacrament meeting attendance is increasing across the disaster zone. “It is a good thing — there are plenty of investigators.”
This is the “turning point” in the lives of many, said Yolanda Andaya, President Andaya’s wife.
“We try to look on the positive side,” she said. “Many miracles happened.”
The results of Typhoon Haiyan will linger in Tacloban for a long time, she said. Many will now “open the door to these missionaries,” added President Andaya.
Marlin, now serving in Southern Leyte, said going back to the mission was "the best feeling."
The "mission is going to come back to life, it is going to rise up,” he said. “It is going to be back to what it used to be. It is a great place.”
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