OpinionsBow and ArrowGood neighborly relations

Good neighborly relations

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Nasunog inyong balay!”

At about 2:30 pm on Jan. 14, my wife Emy and I were in the midst of the Couples for Christ bi-monthly gathering. It was the First Fruit Offering celebration, and we had just dropped our offering and returned to our seats on the first row when my wife felt her phone vibrating inside her bag. So as not to disturb the flow of the activity, she initially disregarded the call, but it did not stop. Disturbed by the continued vibration, she slowly peeped into her bag. The text message from our neighbor that she quickly read gave us the scare of our lives: “Nasunog inyong balay!”

That Sunday started normally. We woke up early for church, then took our two grandkids (who sleep with us on weekends) back to their parents since we had a scheduled CFC meeting in the afternoon. We left home at about 1:30pm for the activity.

The distress call came at the time when some members of our CFC community started sharing about their respective relationship with the Lord, a prelude to the talk of one brother on shepherding.

Emy immediately showed the text message to me. My initial understanding of the text was “Your house burned down!” (not that it was on fire).

She ran outside to make a call on our neighbors’ Group Chat on Messenger. I followed her outside, and went straight to the car. I couldn’t completely comprehend Emy’s conversation because the five members on the call were frantically talking at the same time. I heard Emy pleading, “Lord, please help us! Please save Apol, and spare him from the fire.”

Apol is our son-in-law who has been bedridden for some time now after a road accident. They live in our house at Silliman Heights.

I immediately started the car but couldn’t leave the parking area because a number of cars were blocking the way. I went back inside the YMCA function hall to ask for assistance from the drivers of the cars.

After we left the congregation, I was told that the sharing was cut short, and that they prayed for deliverance from the fire, and to keep us safe, as we rushed home travelling like an ambulance with no siren or flashing lights.

Nobody was home when it happened. A motorcycle rider who was passing by Silliman Heights discovered the smoke and fire coming from the frontage of a building (which used to be a sari-sari store) fronting our house.  He stopped at the lottery outlet beside our house, and informed the tiketera, who immediately alerted our nearest neighbor, who also alerted a few others.

Our neighbors jumped out of their homes to put out the fire using rain water collected (for plants) in a big container beside our house. Aida Fe & Albert, neighbors across the road, used their water hose in an effort to help put off the fire. Then she ran into Silliman Heights to inform our daughter of the incident.

Our daughter and her son brought their fire extinguisher to join our neighbors courageously fighting the fire. Another neighbor also brought his own portable fire extinguisher, and joined the heroic firefighting attempt. Our next door neighbor Edison and other neighbors practically carried our Volkswagen which was locked. They also saved our two dachshunds who were inside the doghouse.

With our daughter’s go signal, our neighbors destroyed a door leading to a room to prevent the fire from spreading to the rest of the house.

Halfway on our way back home, Emy got a call from another old neighbor to assuage our fear and anxiety.  Our house was saved!

Arriving at the scene, we saw firetrucks and firemen, an ambulance, curious passers-by, the Good Samaritan neighbors who braved the fire and risked their own safety to save the entire house from burning.Teary-eyed, I hugged them as a simple expression of gratitude.

 

Lessons learned

Have your electrical wirings checked regularly.

Exercise caution in using old appliances.

We don’t need much; just the basics.

Have fire extinguishers within easy reach at home.

Keep a drum of [rain] water in the yard.

We can do without many of the meaningless things we hold on to.

Always have your phone with you; and pick up when it rings/vibrates incessantly. You never know when it’s a matter of life and death.

A GC is truly a network for fast-sharing of urgent information.

Maintaining harmonious relationships with the neighbors is invaluable.

The resolution of the fire incident was truly God’s miracle. There is power in prayer.

 ____________________________

Author’s email: [email protected]

 

 

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