Student to Reunite with Parents, Help after Typhoon Haiyan

Student to Reunite with Parents, Help after Typhoon Haiyan

November 20, 2013

As many individuals are making plans to gather with relatives, enjoy fellowship, and give thanks, Sioux Falls Seminary Master of Divinity student Pastor Jeff Lathrop is planning a family reunion of a different kind.  By November 30, he and his wife will be leaving for a 15-day trip to the Philippine Islands to assist his parents and other family members who lost everything when Typhoon Haiyan made landfall on November 8.

Lathrop called his parents just days before November 8.  They made no mention of an impending tropical storm.  He only began to worry after hearing The Weather Channel’s report that the massive typhoon’s devastating winds could eclipse those of Hurricane Katrina.

Through the Grace and Power of God
The days between when the storm hit his parents’ city of Tacloban and when he received a call from them were filled with work obligations--youth group preparation, a funeral, and worship services in both Plankinton and White Lake, SD.  Lathrop recalls his emotions on Saturday evening, November 9, after printing bulletins. 

“I walked into the sanctuary, knelt down, and prayed in front of the altar. I cried a lot and had a candid conversation with God--even about the possibility of the worst case scenario.  The most powerful part, for me, came once I was done talking and crying.  In the silence, a sense of calm and peace fell upon me.  With tears still coming down, I got up and walked out of the sanctuary ready to finish my work.”

Through what he attributes to the grace and power of God, Lathrop finished his work and even led two worship services the next day. 
Then, in the early morning hours of Monday, November 11, he received a call from his parents, who had ridden out the storm in their home.  Reports in Tacloban indicated Haiyan was merely a tropical storm.  Obviously shaken by the traumatic ordeal, his parents shared that they had lost everything.  Feeling the storm’s force, his mother, father, and two cousins had all said their good-byes and were prepared to see each other in Heaven.

Now safe and recovering in Manila, his parents are still waiting to hear from and reunite with other relatives.  Spread out in the heavily-impacted areas of Cebu, Samar, and Guiuan, not all of his mother’s 11 siblings, their children, and their grandchildren have been accounted for.  

Plans for Reunion and Relief
Lathrop’s plans to reunite with his family came after his District Superintendent, SFS alum Roy Caudill, challenged the Plankinton congregation to send Lathrop and his wife to the Philippines.  Ever since, gifts and words of encouragement have been coming in to support the endeavor.  Funds raised above what’s needed for the Lathrop’s travel expenses will be given to directly help his family meet their basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter as they discern whether to rebuild or relocate.

Learn more about Lathrop’s story and trip plans at his blog:

Additional Links:
Dakotas UMC Report
Mitchell Daily Republic Article
Plankinton UMC Facebook Page