News Story

Tongan Saints on Tongatapu Rush Aid to Outer Islands

Nuku’alofa Latter-day Saints donated tonnes of food, clothes, bedding, fuel and other supplies over the last 48 hours, which was loaded onto a ship on Saturday morning, bound for communities in desperate circumstances on Ha’apai and other outlying islands

A boat carrying supplies and volunteers left from Nuku’alofa Saturday, bound for Tonga’s outer islands.

Church members from congregations on the main island of Tongatapu were asked to donate whatever they could to help families in the Ha’apai area, which was heavily damaged in the tsunami on 15 January.

Because communication was non-existent with the outer islands for a few days, Church leader Elder Inoke Kupu learned of the extremely dire circumstances in Ha’apai only as communication improved and after a Tongan Navy vessel visited there. 

He asked the 15 stakes (Latter-day Saint groups of congregations) to act immediately to gather supplies for the people of Ha’apai.

Members responded quickly, donating clothing, bedding, food and even their crops, to help the people there. "It is the Tongan way," said Elder Ardern of the Pacific Area Presidency. 

The Church, through their Humanitarian Fund, contributed to the hiring of a ship, the Maui, to take the supplies.

Trucks went through the streets of each stake collecting donations from members and then delivered them to the wharf where other volunteers loaded them onto the Maui.

Two volunteers from each stake helped load the boat, and then were asked to go on the ship to travel to Ha’apai to help unload the supplies there.

President Sitiveni Fehoko, from the Tonga Outer Islands Mission, was aboard along with two stake presidents and the 30-40 stake volunteers. No other passengers were aboard. The Maui can hold as many as 100-150 people.

It is expected that some people from Ha’apai may travel to Tongatapu on the return journey, as they no longer have homes. The ship will also bring back missionaries from the outer islands.

The Maui left at 5.00am Saturday and was expected to be on the island of Nomuka by 10.00am, and the other islands in the afternoon.

Lua and Sione Langi are the Church’s communications directors for Tonga and were able to contact the Church‘s Area office via satellite phone.

“We know we have been blessed by our Heavenly Father by many miracles in Tonga during this disaster, and in return everyone is trying to live the law of consecration by giving whatever they can to others.”

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