The day a category 5 Super Typhoon was threatening to hit landfall directly on Dededo, Guam where my daughter lived, I was preparing for my third night as a new hire night shift grocery store stocker. It was 10 pm and I was just getting ready to clock in to work on my cell phone. I was in the truck in the parking lot of the big chain store with my employee vest on and name tag. I did one last search on my phone.
I Googled “Guam news” and sorted it by latest date media posts. In the parking lot in the dark, I could see the Vermont mountains in the distance and everything was calm and peaceful here. But in the videos of Guam, I could see palm trees being whipped around in the wind and forced over to almost bending halfway from the pressure. There were a few videos of some crashing waves on the shoreline and one video of some items falling off a building from the wind. The news outlets were saying that the Super Typhoon would be the worst storm in 20 years to hit the tiny island of 150,000 people in the Pacific. They were comparing it to a storm called Typhoon Karen that in the 1960s had devastated the island and destroyed many, many buildings. Fortunately, they said that the buildings had been reconstructed over the years using concrete and would be able to weather this storm better but that there were still major concerns with potential storm surges from the ocean, landslides, flash flooding, and the winds would be expected to be above 140 miles per hour. All residents were advised to stay inside during the storm and shelter in place.
My daughter was living in a one story home in northern Guam in Dededo close to the military base. Her father was former military and lived there and she had come to live there for two years with him, his wife, and their newborn son. The last messages I got from my ex-husband were that the storm was coming soon and that they might lose power and not be able to communicate with us for a while. I texted my daughter and ex-husband back to be safe and that we would be thinking of them and praying for them.
I clocked in to work and crossed the dark parking lot to enter the store. A truck had come that night which meant there were more pallets in my area than usual. I had 7 pallets piled high to unload by 6 am when the store opened for customers and I needed to make sure my area was cleared of all cardboard and pallets after stocking the shelves.
I was tired.
I was transitioning from day to night shift. In addition, my daughter was facing a Super Typhoon in the Pacific. My husband had a medical emergency earlier that week that nearly sent us to the ER. And to top it all off, that night, I had started my period.
It was gonna be a rough night.
From 10 pm to 12 midnight, our department worked fast unloading 27 bins of product onto the shelves. At midnight, I stepped outside for my 15 minute break and headed for the truck. I started up the heat in the truck and dug in my employee vest pocket for my cell phone in the dark. I grabbed a water bottle and drank it while I typed in another Google search and a Facebook search and an YouTube search. I was looking for anything about Guam and the latest videos and stories or news articles I could find.
It didn’t look good. It did not look good at all. I was beginning to get scared.
The winds were picking up. There were a few articles sporadically here and there but they pretty much said the same things that the storm was intense and highly dangerous. The people of Guam were right in its path and there could be flooding, landslides, loss of power and water, and potential mass destruction to the island if the category 5 storm went right over the top of the tiny island.
I checked the storm radar and you could see the storm all in red and yellow with the eye in the center and it was massive. It was still a few hours away from hitting the island.
From midnight to 2 am when I would take lunch for an hour, the work pace at the store was pretty fast. We had to clear at least 2 pallets or maybe even 3 hopefully before 2 am. We were stocking vitamins and shampoos and all sorts of pill bottles. We were ripping open lots of cardboard and putting things on shelves or top stock or sending it back to the spare pallet for overstock to be binned in the back warehouse by 6 am.
As a new hire, my feet were sore. My legs were sore. My lower back was sore and my fingers hurt from pulling apart boxes. I had to get conditioned to the work and was just sore all over by the third day. But I didn’t grumble much or speak of it and just tried to keep a fast pace to prove my worth.
At 2 am, I was out in the truck again for an hour lunch. I dug in my lunchbag and grabbed a soda and popped it open and a twinkie. I then checked online again.
More videos, not alot, just a few that people had taken from hotels in Guam behind windows where you could see the wind was crazy hard on the trees and some trees were breaking. There were a few other videos of things flying off roofs or things breaking off buildings. There was intense heavy rain and the winds were up to 100 mph.
They said the eye of the storm was almost upon them.
It was then that I started to pray. There wasn’t much else I could do as a mother stuck on the other side of the world worried about my kid in the storm on the tiny island. There were a few YouTube videos where I could see comments where folks said that there was some inland flooding too and that some water had gotten into barracks and such and first floors of homes. I knew my kid was in a one story home.
From 3 am to about 7 am that morning, while I was busy busting open boxes and going from aisle to aisle putting items neatly on shelves, in my head I was saying prayers and asking God to put a hedge of protection around the island like he did Job. I prayed and prayed and prayed a lot. There was nothing else I could do. Their power was out now and the storm was upon them in those hours and all I could do was pray.
All I kept saying in my head was protect Guam, God. Please protect Guam. Put a hedge of protection around the island.
By 7 am, I had done my best at work as a new hire. I still had 1/2 pallet that was undone. I tried hard but couldn’t get it all done. We cleaned up our boxes and mess and pallets and made everything look presentable for the customers and clocked out that morning.
By 7:05 am I was crossing the parking lot at daybreak with my cell phone in hand looking up Guam. When I got in the truck, pretty exhausted, I looked up more news about Guam and what I saw was pretty amazing. I started driving home in the pickup truck and started crying on my way home, worried about my kid overseas and the storm and feeling like there was nothing I could do to help her. And I kept praying to God and asking for his help over and over again with tears streaming down my face and ruining all my makeup.
My husband was up when I got home and he too was watching The Weather Channel for news of Guam. Despite being tired, we stayed in the living room for hours watching anything we could on the news about the tiny island and Super Typhoon Mawar.
Turns out, sometime in the night while I was stocking shelves, sometime after 2 am my time, the storm had started to turn. It turned just north of the island and the eye of the storm passed just north of the island by 15 miles. It missed the island barely and went between Guam and the Marianas.
On top of that, just before it hit the island, the storm miraculously downgraded from a category 5 to a category 4 and no one knew why. The storm was still intense though and videos were coming in here and there of the whipping winds breaking the trees, the lightning in the dark in the storm, of the massive rain pelting the island and more. The power and water were out in Guam and the last text I had gotten from my ex-husband was at 3 am to say that the power was intermittent and that they were alright. After that, there was nothing more from them.
Around 9 am or maybe 10 am, I had screen shot this photo of the path of the storm, Super Typhoon Mawar. I don’t know what website I had found it on. I must have searched at least 200 or more during the night. But here it is.
As you can see from the picture, the path of the storm Mawar had veered hours before just to the right of the island rather than going directly over it. It had also downgraded in intensity before going past the island. No one could explain why.
I looked at the numbers in this screen shot. I looked specifically at the numbers that were associated with the exact position of the storm. Position 13.8 N and 144.7 E. And that’s when my jaw fell open a bit.
The number 13 is usually associated with a bad omen or death or the devil according to the Bible or to Tarot. In Book of Revelations, 13 corresponds to the “beast of the sea.” But the number often associated with Jesus Christ in the Bible is 8. In Matthew 8 specifically Jesus calms the storm. In Book of Revelations, 144 is a special number corresponding to the number of the saved or chosen ones. Meanwhile the number often associated with the Holy Spirit in the Bible is 7. Furthermore, I typed in 144 and 7 in my Google search and put Bible with it.
For the past month or two, I had been doing a Billy Graham Words of Wisdom Psalm and Proverbs reading plan and writing about it online daily. Each day I would read 5 Psalms and 1 Proverb and write thoughts on it and I would ask the Holy Spirit to guide me on what to say.
When I typed in 144 and 7 and Bible in Google, this is the verse that popped up immediately, I screen shot it at that moment.
Tears started to well up in my eyes and I began to cry. Just hours before, a flash flood warning had been issued specifically for Dededo and there was concern about storm surge. My daughter was with her baby brother, father, and mother in a one story home in Dededo.
I honestly don’t think this was just coincidence. I think it was the Holy Spirit’s way of letting me know my daughter was going to be okay…..that she would have nothing to fear from the winds and rains and the potential flash flooding and storm surge that had been expected for the island.
I finally got exhausted and went to sleep and slept for a good 6 hours. We couldn’t get any communication from Guam. The power was down. Later on, I finally heard from my daughter one small text:
They are ok. The whole family is ok.
There is a lot of damage to trees on Guam and some buildings that need repair but the island is ok and I am grateful for that. My ex-husband took his family to his office where they have a generator for power and electricity. In a while, utilities and water will be back up and running for the island.
It was a close call. I don’t know what caused the storm to turn or the intensity to downgrade but I thank God for it.
God is good, all the time.