Bakersfield woman shares tale of sister's mission work in typhoon-hit Philippines

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, communication is difficult.

It took a full day for Bakersfield resident Carol Allumbaugh to hear from her brother-in-law and sister Paul and Margie Varberg, who are missionaries in Tacloban.

"It was a lot more like 24 hours before we heard anything about him," said Allumbaugh. "It was really hard, especially for my sister, not knowing if she was dead or alive."

Before the storm hit, Margie Varberg was away at a conference in Manila, but Paul Varberg stayed behind.

Conditions at the church and school where they're stationed have been difficult.

"They're trying to stay in any kind of shelter they can find, but when it rains it just comes down the stairs," said Allembaugh.

The roof was torn from the school and staff apartments.

A gymnasium under construction sustained severe damage.

Paul Varberg said it was built to sustain a super typhoon, but Haiyan reduced it to a pile of twisted metal.

"They need food and water first, and then after that, he's going to contact other people to see if they can come and help rebuild," said Allumbaugh.

Still, in Manila days ago, Margie Varberg was eager to get word from her husband.

When a letter arrived, it was Paul Varberg asking for her support.

"He wrote her a letter," relayed Allumbaugh, "and said to her, 'Will you stand with me? We're sleeping in the living room, and the water is raining down on us. There's really no food, no water, but we're going to rebuild.' And, she said 'Yes, yes I'll stay with you.'"

In the midst of the devastation, with little food and water, Paul Varberg's faith remains strong.

In his latest email, he wrote, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, but we bless the Lord for his continued kindness and love."

Donations to the Varbers can be made online.