Harpan Aziz Ahmad
On the evening of Saturday, 22 December 2018, as widely reported, a Tsunami swept the Sunda Strait area. It left a huge mark on the area not least because it destroyed houses and hotels, killing many, injuring others with people still missing.
A viral video shows a band performing in the area suddenly being struck by a huge wave and everything being wiped off in just a matter of seconds.
We were part of that scene. On 20 December, along with 200 participants, we travelled to Carita beach to hold a sequence of tarbiyat sessions, named Religious Moral Training Course (KPA) for Atfal, Nasirat, Khuddam and Lajna in Wira Carita Hotel to spend their school holidays.
When the Tsunami struck, we were having a “togetherness” event. This event was deliberately arranged on the last night of the programme and became a farewell night for participants, committees and mentors.
Generally, to make it more impressive, this event is usually set outdoors. However, the plans changed at the last minute and the committee chose the hotel hall for that programme.
It was indeed a blessing of Allah that plans changed to hold the event indoors as we would later realise. We can only imagine what would have happened if the programme had been organised outdoors. Even though our hotel was not affected directly by the Tsunami like other hotels, it certainly brought about an extreme panicked situation due to the chaos that ensued that night.
We were, Alhamdolillah, safe and followed the programme quietly and comfortably, at least until our regional missionary whispered, “Call all missionaries to go out, now!”
With a gesture, we called one another and walked out, while asking ourselves what had happened.
“The Anak Krakatau mountain has erupted. The sea water levels are rising and some buildings along the coastline have been damaged. Pray that the Almighty God protects us!”
Having prayed, we immediately went out of the hall and watched the panic; people crying for help, ambulance sirens and vehicles going back and forth honking one another. This created an even more terrifying image of the situation.
Some of us tried to get close to the road to see the condition of the sea with waves being thrown at the stall we visited in the afternoon.
Whether the aftershocks would cause the ocean waves to reach us was what strongly and quickly haunted our thoughts.
We sought to attempt various options like obtaining valid information and finding evacuation routes. Under Allah’s benign protection and care, we were safe that night.
Morning came, but the anxiety still remained.
On the one side, negotiations with bus drivers seemed really long and arduous. There was no chance of evacuating the participants before midday. The roads were blocked off, covered by debris and fallen buildings. Thinking that the aftershocks were yet to come was their reason for not picking us up from the hotel. Alas, we were isolated and misinformed.
However, the Almighty God was always with us. While hoping for any bus or public transportation to come and take us, He came along with His succour.
At 4:35pm, buses from Mobile Brigade Corps (Brimob) came in one-by-one to our hotel. On whose instructions they came, we did not know yet. We evacuated with three bus units to Pandenglang Resort Police Office. Our journey felt very special with patrol cars guarding us.
What is good in our sight is not always good in His Sight. What is easy in our sight is not always easy without His blessed intervention.
Our God always has His own ways.
(Translated by Hafizurrahman, Indonesia Correspondent)