Three days after Taal volcano blanketed the campus and the surrounding areas with ash on January, 12, 2020, residents of the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) came together for a cleanup drive.
AIIAS distributed eight hundred of the requisite N95 face masks at the start of the first day of cleanup. More were expected to arrive in the coming week.
“We are grateful to the donors who have provided additional face masks,” said AIIAS president Ginger Ketting-Weller. “Because the primary threat was long-term respiratory damage from ash inhalation, it was crucial to wait until everybody received the recommended N95 masks.”
Volunteers and staff began the cleanup in academic, administrative, and student residence areas. An outside company was hired for ash removal.
Water on campus was tested and ruled for drinking. Nevertheless, a local company brought their water filtering services, provided free of charge.
Week of Prayer meetings scheduled with speaker Elizabeth Talbot from the Jesus 101 Biblical Institute, a North America Division supporting ministry, commenced less than 24 hours after active ash fall ceased. Talbot had been at a viewpoint restaurant from which she had been able to observe the beginning of the powerful eruption taking place, and she chose to stay and minister to the campus. “The safest place for me is where Jesus wants me to be,” Talbot said.
Attendees of the Week of Prayer meetings expressed that they had been immensely blessed by Talbot’s timely and encouraging gospel messages.
In the city of Silang, a few embassies evacuated their citizens within 24 hours of the start of the volcano eruption. Most students who were temporarily evacuated are returning to the campus. Some students have chosen not to remain enrolled during this school term. Other students have sent family members back to their home countries temporarily.
Offices at AIIAS reopened on January 16, while classes remained suspended until Monday, January 20, pending confirmation from the provincial government. The faculty met to discuss ways to be flexible in teaching and supporting students during the shortened term, including providing options for blended online learning and holding additional class sessions.
Service and mission outreach emerged early in the week following the eruption. Despite the challenges on campus, students and faculty donated money, clothing, and relief supplies for the evacuees of the severely affected areas near the volcano. Others took water to villages that had lost access. Still others joined the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in their relief operations.
Campus chaplains visited students and their families throughout the week to pray and listen. Counseling services were made available to those needing support. Additionally, the celebration of the worldwide “10 Days of Prayer” program on campus added time for community building and bonding.
Ketting-Weller offered thanks on behalf of AIIAS to those who have been supporting the institution in a variety of ways. “We are grateful to God for His protection and for all who have been praying for us around the world.”
The Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) in its report for Friday, January 17, stated, “The activity in the Main Crater in the past 24 hours has been characterized by steady steam emission and occasional weak explosions. There has been a continuous seismic activity that may lead to further eruptive activity. Alert Level 4 remains in effect for possible hazardous eruptive activity.”
AIIAS is a graduate-level institution operated by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists located in Silang, Cavite, Philippines. The school prepares leaders in areas of business, education, public health, and religion through distinctively Seventh-day Adventist graduate education, excelling in spirituality, scholarship, and service.
The original version of this story was posted by the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies.