Aimee and her coworkers, Eunice and Ralph, left the ADRA Philippines office at dawn to begin a hard day’s work. Although it was still morning, the tropical sun penetrated Aimee’s skin and made her yearn for a cool bath. But that wasn’t an option. A group of hungry people stood nearby, waiting for their bags of rice.

Two months earlier, the Taal volcano, silent for 43 years, had erupted with a vengeance, blasting poisonous gases, rock, and ash approximately nine miles into the air. Thousands fled their homes, seeking refuge at evacuation centers, where they were stranded for weeks. To help make their stay more comfortable, ADRA provided the evacuees with straw mats, mosquito nets, and bedsheets. They also provided cash assistance to help them rebuild their lives once they were able to leave.

As ADRA’s public relations and marketing officer, Aimee had spent hours with the evacuees. How she pitied the old ones, commonly called Lola and Lolo (Grandmother and Grandfather), who could barely walk yet somehow had fled the falling ash. She had listened to multiple people share their stories of escape and their worries about how they would recover. Those were long days, when sleep only came on the heels of exhaustion.

Then COVID-19 struck!

Aimee on the job
Food items distributed by ADRA and Adventist Community Services to families in the Philippines
The Taal volcano eruption that occurred January 12, 2020

One day while the ADRA team was distributing emergency supplies to those in need, Aimee scanned the crowd for a smiling face—someone who might be willing to do an interview. She noticed two women who seemed calm and happy and decided to approach them.

One of the women, named Elsie, told Aimee that a kind neighbor had brought her and her two children to the evacuation center the day of the eruption. Although she was very frightened, Elsie had had the presence of mind to pack clothes for her children and a Bible. As Elsie shared her experience, Aimee could tell that there was something different about her. Her eyes held no hint of the anxious despair that tortures many during catastrophic events.

“Ma’am, can you share with us how COVID-19 has affected you?” Aimee asked.

Elsie smiled. She was happy to share her faith. “Honestly, if you believe in God,” she said, “you feel relaxed. Even if you can’t work. If you have put your faith in God, your burdens will feel light.”

Others had voiced the opposite opinion. In fact, one woman had told Aimee that COVID-19 was worse than the volcano eruption. At least they could flee the volcanic ash, but now they were on lockdown, unable to go anywhere.

“I also told my children that as long as we cling to the Lord, He won’t allow us to go hungry,” Elsie added. “And the Lord took care of us.”

Aimee couldn’t help but think of all the food that ADRA had provided during the eruption and pandemic. God had impressed people all over the world to donate so that others could eat.

Elsie then shared that there were new believers in her village who couldn’t attend church due to the pandemic. To fill in the gap, she invited them to her house to worship. After the service, she spent time helping the children learn to read and understand the Bible. Aimee noted that instead of ranting about her own hardships, Elsie chose to focus on the salvation of others.

Hearing Elsie’s story suddenly made the world seem like a happier place for Aimee and validated her calling in life. In working for ADRA, she was being the hands and feet of Jesus—feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and giving to the poor.


The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is the global humanitarian organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Through an international network, ADRA delivers relief and development assistance to individuals in more than 118 countries.

ADRA’s response to the volcano eruption and COVID-19 in the Philippines included the distribution of 1,192 bed kits, financial assistance, and 56.2 tons of rice, as well as 2,360 bars of soap, 1,180 liters of disinfectant, and 272 gallons of alcohol to prevent the spread of infection. ADRA gave a triage tent to Adventist Hospital—Santiago City and produced materials to raise awareness about COVID-19. It also assisted Adventist Health in acquiring 11,000 face masks for the six Adventist hospitals in the Philippines.

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Crystal Earnhard is a writer for Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) International.