The signs are everywhere.
Go to high ground.
It can be a bit unsettling.
I cannot even swim.
All of a sudden, on 26 December 2004, over thirty-thousand Sri Lankans lost their lives in a matter of minutes. Many were simply swept out to sea; their bodies never found. Many of the poor who died were buried in mass unmarked graves.
It all happened so quickly. If you can bear it, here is a short (26 second) video from National Geographic that captures just a little of the instant destruction, terror and helplessness:
It is almost unimaginable.
The high ground I am staying on overlooks the small fishing community of Mutwal. The tiny thatch homes there were washed away. All of them.
79% of the fishing boats were lost - their only source of income. Vestiges of that fateful day are still around.
That day, the villagers ran up to our school.
They lived here for a month.
They were afraid to return to low land.
They had nothing to return to.
144 families, over 600 people, ate, slept and prayed at De LaSalle College until their fear subsided enough to move on with their lives.
Sri Lanka is a small nation. For comparison sake, New York State alone is almost 4 times as big as Sri Lanka. But they have had more than their share of heartache.
I am proud of the work the Church is doing here. Brothers of the Christian Schools, like Br. Tarcisius F.S.C. the principal of De LaSalle College, are humbly doing God's work every single day, not just when a disaster strikes. Their level of commitment is extraordinary because to them it is so ordinary.
Young Br. Anton F.S.C., pictured below in his white robe, is a religion teacher at De LaSalle College (what we Americans call "high school"). Many of his students and their families still suffer the material and emotional effects of the 2004 tsunami. Br. Anton and I have had many discussions about religious education; we compare and contrast religious education here and in the USA. He would like to see America. I hope he comes to visit soon!
Say a prayer with me for all the victims of the tsunami...
Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord,
And let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.
Blessings from the now tranquil Indian Ocean,