By Cindy R. Williams
Typhoon Yolanda, which ravaged the Philippines late last year, was one of the strongest typhoons on record. The typhoon made landfall on November 8, 2013, triggering heavy rains resulting in widespread flooding and landslides. Storm surges reached 13 feet, with winds of approximately 175 per hour, according to reports.
The typhoon left in its wake the need for countless volunteers to assist with cleanup efforts. David Carmichael, a counselor in the Arizona Gilbert Greenfield Stake Presidency, and his son, Jace, flew to Philippines at the end of February to help.
President Carmichael says, “I served as an LDS missionary in the Philippines from 1976 to 1978,” and he was happy to be asked to return when his former Mission President contacted him and others with the request to “assist in the rebuilding effort of more than 3000 families,” says Carmichael.
The area where the projects took place was in Tacloban on the island of Leyte, which is where General Douglas MacArthur landed in 1944, fulfilling his promise to return and liberate the Philippines from the Japanese occupation.
During the two weeks they were there, President Carmichael says, “Jace and I joined about 70 other Americans and almost 100 local Filipinos in the effort.”
They worked in teams of eight, and their team built 10 elevated houses. Each house is 12’ x 12’ and has three windows and a door. According to President Carmichael, the building supplies were donated by LDS charities.
“This experience has reminded me that our circumstances, environment and material possession really have little to no effect on our degree of happiness,” he says.
President Carmichael says, “I witnessed, worked and talked with hundreds of Filipinos who have lost all material possessions and even lost family members, yet they are happy to be alive. They greet everyone with a smile and they are eager to share whatever they have with others. They are truly happy, in spite of their circumstances.”
President Carmichael and a friend, Tim Rowland, founded their business, Rowland Carmichael Advisors, with the charge of serving people and “doing the right thing.” They strive to help clients build a legacy to share in order to give back and enrich the lives of others.
“In the Philippines, Jace and I had the chance to ‘walk the talk’ – to truly live out these principles in startling reality. We were humbled and inspired,” says President Carmichael.
“Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, or living a week in someone else’s devastation, changes one’s outlook and perspective,” he says. “Coming back home to family and work, I want to remember to always choose to see the glass half full, count my blessings and work with faith and hope for a better tomorrow.”