How one Idaho woman spent her vacation in the Philippines helping evacuees

BATANGAS, Philippines — Beth Moore is a magnet for disaster, but it’s not really clear whether she follows it or it follows her. Either way, her default response when disaster strikes is to reach out with love, like a true disciple of Christ.

When Typhoon Yolanda hit Tacloban, Philippines, in 2015, Moore was on vacation in Asia and, rather than continue her recreational trip, she detoured to the Philippines for the last two weeks of her vacation to help with clean-up efforts following the storm. Before she knew it, her planned two weeks had turned into six months of living in the Philippines, making friends with the locals and, of course, continually helping with clean up following the devastating storm.

This year, in early January, Moore returned to the Philippines to visit old friends and explore more of the country. However, while she was there, the Taal Volcano, located just south of the capitol city of Manila, erupted. Spewing steam and ash and ongoing tremors in surrounding areas, the Taal Volcano eruption affected more than 96,000 people who were evacuated from a 14-km danger zone surrounding the volcano. 

Beth Moore chats with Lemery branch leaders at the Batangas Philippines Stake Center on Feb. 6, 2020.
Beth Moore chats with Lemery branch leaders at the Batangas Philippines Stake Center on Feb. 6, 2020. Credit: Noel Maglaque, Philippines Area

Rather than continuing her travels hopping around from island to island, Moore borrowed a car from one of her local friends, found a place to stay in the city of Batangas — where many of the evacuees were being sheltered — and contacted the local stake president, President Jon Reyes, to see how she could help.

For three weeks, Moore spent her days visiting those staying at the Batangas Philippines Stake Center and helping them with whatever needs they had. 

“I just asked what I could do,” she said. And the members and evacuees kept finding ways she could help, “so I just stayed,” she added.

At first, Moore helped with small things like buying some toys and games to keep the children entertained while confined to the small spaces of the stake property. She also purchased a washing machine to help relieve the load of those washing large amounts of clothes by hand in buckets near the outdoor water spout. When a young boy on dialysis needed help getting his medications and getting to his appointments at the hospital, Moore stepped into help again.

And when the evacuation sites began opening temporarily each day to allow people in to collect belongings, begin cleaning out the massive amounts of ash that had fallen and clearing away the debris from structures that had collapsed during the quakes, Moore was there every step of the way.

Evacuees from Lemery City and other areas surrounding the Taal Lake continue to take refuge in the Batangas Philippines Stake Center on Feb. 6, 2020.
Evacuees from Lemery City and other areas surrounding the Taal Lake continue to take refuge in the Batangas Philippines Stake Center on Feb. 6, 2020. Credit: Noel Maglaque, Philippines Area

Joking about how Moore seems to follow disaster, President Reyes said, “Next time you’re planning a vacation to the Philippines, let us know so we can prepare.”

Being with the members there was also a blessing for Moore because she loves serving others. In fact, Moore loves serving others so much that, in recent years, she started a new business back home in Driggs, Idaho, specifically to generate additional income which she uses for charity work around the world. 

“It’s kind of crazy how things work sometimes,” Moore said. “God wanted me here, I have no doubt. And I just love serving the Filipino people.”