'Are you okay? Is your family safe?

This is how my Monday often begins, checking in on our team — I start or finish my day like this, at least 1-2 times a week.

Today's context

Yesterday a church service at a local university in Mindanao was bombed, killing four people and wounding 40 others. The congregation were celebrating the beginning of Advent and welcoming in the Christmas season.

The island was then also hit by a magnitude 6.8 earthquake early this morning.

Thankfully, the whole Mindanao team is safe.

Life can change in an instant and for our teams it does, all the time.

As I connected with our team member in Mindanao this morning, I thought about how many of these messages I'd sent in the last 2mths. A lot.

I decided to copy and paste a few, just to get a bigger picture and then encourage the team by acknowledging their super hero powers. I thought I'd share it with you too as I personally found it very confronting but also inspiring and humbling.

Every day, I get to witness the effect of your gift and the unfathomable weight and sacrifice our programme teams endure to make hope and change happen. You will rarely see these places in the headlines, but all over the world, there is help and hope being delivered and it is truly, extraordinary.

Checking in texts...

Mindanao, Philippines — Are you okay, re earthquake. Is your family ok?

San Pedro Sula, Honduras — Oh my goodness, they burnt them. The violence will keep escalating. Stay home!

Herat, Afghanistan — Do you think it is safe to go to the border? Will the defacto allow it? BE SAFE!

Puntland, Somalia — How are you feeling? Let's pause the schedule, have a cuppa and talk through options.

San Pedro Sula, Honduras — Are you safe, I believe the floods are very close? Pivot story, do what you need.

Goma, DRC — Can you let me know everyone is okay? I see the rebels closed the road again :(

Tripoli, Lebanon — What's the pulse check, re southern border, is it wise to collect the stories this week?

Herat, Afghanistan — Is everyone in your family alive? Are you okay (enough)? Let me know if you need to chat.

Mindanao, Philippines — Please confirm you and family are safe? An attack on a church after 'Peace' week :(

Djenné Cercle, Mali — If you sense it's not safe, DO NOT pursue the story. We'll find another way to tell it!

Goma, DRC — Are you emotionally okay to go? If security clears you to go, please say if it's too much.

Herat, Afghanistan — If they make you delete the memory cards, just do it. You did your absolute best.

Puntland, Somalia — Just saw elections are stirring up conflict already, do we need to pause, do you feel okay?

In Somalia (top image) security details, large guns, bullet proof vehicles and weeks of security planning mapping alternate routes and engaging local community is a normal part of work. In many of our locations, when disaster occurs we are at the site within hours partnering with local groups to assess and adapt. Bottom image is recent destruction caused by fires in Mindanao, Philippines.

A headline doesn't define the depth of a tragedy or disaster.

We all live in communities and we know how quickly life can change in an instant, wherever we live.

This year the team has constantly reminded me that in the midst of difficulties I can not actually comprehend, a simple and small 'check in' has often bought so much encouragement.

It's amazing how a small gift or a small text can truly make an impact.

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