We are beginning our fourth week since the earthquakes first hit and confirmed numbers of people killed by the earthquake have exceeded 40,000. There is much mourning in the region and recovery is slow, but the progress of the service and help that is being provided to the people of the region grows. Having primarily helped with the church in Antakya for the last two weeks to provide food, shelter, and basic needs are growing in our service to meet the call for aid in other regions too. This week Ramazan and Özgür will be going to Adıyaman to determine what help we can provide there while others are continuing to be sent out to Antakya.
Many of our second wave helpers have come back from Antioch. Our third wave of helpers will arrive back this evening. A message arrived yesterday showing that the electricity has come back on on the street where the church has set up its tents and soup kitchen. This was the first evening lighting from the city in the last three weeks and many see it as a sign that infrastructure is starting to be repaired. It was a hopeful sign in the night of despair that many are continuing to feel at this time.
The church building has been a buzz with activity. Meals and housing are provided for many who have been displaced. Those who are not able to stay in our church guest facilities are staying in apartments of members of the church. Some families have opened wide their doors to house family and strangers, followers of Christ and many unbelievers. The all encompassing love of God is being reflected through the hearts and actions of the church.
On Friday night, we hosted a meeting on the basic principles of grief and trauma counseling. Because of our daily participation in communication with survivors of the earthquakes, and because Turks are very social people, we have found it helpful to talk about good and bad forms of communication in the midst of trauma. The meeting, which was facilitated by Olive Tree Counseling Center counselors and was hosted during our regular youth group meeting time, was packed to capacity with people representing most of the fellowships in town and many other workers, as well as youth and church leaders who helped facilitate.