Tsunami: Missionaries Return With Stories Of Survival, Miracles - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/31/05-Garden Valley

Tsunami: Missionaries Return With Stories Of Survival, Miracles

A paradise in ruin. Smiles and laughter put on hold, as the people of a southwestern Sri Lankan village mourned the loss of their parents, homes, livelihood.

"One of the most powerful stories I heard there was that the people in the refugee camps said, this is the first time we've heard children's laughter since the tsunami," Chris Lascelles, a YWAM relief worker, said.

Laughter brought out by the smallest gestures from the Youth With A Mission missionaries there to offer a listening ear and practical help. As the missionaries filtered the debris- and germ-infested water, stories of survival and miracles began to flow.

A Sri Lankan pastor told them this one: "There was a Christmas Day service, which was on a Saturday, so they weren't in church on the normal Sunday. Otherwise, him and his whole church would have died," Jay Rhoton, another relief worker, said.

And another man saw a 4-foot wave wash over the first two cars of a train. Then came a second, much larger wave, that killed 1800 people on board.

"Well, this man, he climbed 30 feet up a coconut tree, survived, and then afterwards, came down to try to pull people from this train," Rhoton said.

Then there was a letter, written by a 10-year-old boy to his pastor, two months before the tsunami. The boy had a vision of what would ultimately happen on December 26. But the hope there lies in areas like the medical clinics the doctors set up: no major diseases.

"Evidently, their schooling had taught them that it was dangerous to drink water after such a thing as a tsunami," Dr. Willis Lawton, a YWAM medical relief worker, said.

The hope also lies in people like one man who resourcefully built a temporary house with only a roof.

There are more YWAM missionaries still in Sri Lanka. Some of the ones that have returned will go back to Southeast Asia in the coming months. They say there are years of work left to be done.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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