Pray for the relief workers. That is one of the most important things needed at any time of great disaster.

In the aftermath of the December 26 tsunami, this realization came to me strongly when I heard that one of my colleagues, taking a vanload of things to north Sri Lanka last night, fell asleep at the wheel.

After some anxious moments, the van traveled about 100 yards off the road. But it ended up back on the road, spun around from its original direction. Miraculously, the only damage was two flat tires. Two other aid workers who were traveling east at the time stopped and went to his aid.

During times of disaster, we push ourselves beyond what is healthy for us. That is inevitable. But there is a limit to what our bodies and minds can tolerate. We need to take care and don't neglect the basics of life, physical or spiritual.

Let me mention a few specific matters as priorities during this crisis:


However much we think we can survive on less sleep, sooner or later we must stop to "catch up." Sleep is a basic human need, and if we deprive ourselves of it for too long there will be serious long-term consequences. Driving accidents, careless errors in performing our job, temper tantrums, and burnout are four consequences that come to mind.


During emergency times, how easy it is to neglect our families. It must not be done for too long. Family ties are such that they need constant nurture. They must never be taken for granted. It is no secret that a high percentage of married emergency aid workers have (or had) stormy marriages.

This is a discipline to cultivate: To be busy, but never to give our families the hint that they are not important to us. Families need to meet and talk about the challenges they face. Frequent ...

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