The Newsroom Blog

Previously-Unaccounted-for Sister Missionaries Assisted in Tsunami Relief Effort

Two female missionaries of the Church who were previously unaccounted for on the island of Niuatoputapu are now confirmed safe. The following narrative was provided by Church officials in the area impacted by the tsunami:

Among the many stories of faith, courage and love coming to light is that of Sisters Siale Totau and Fortunata Tohi, two Latter-day Saint missionaries who were living on Niuatoputapu at the time of the disaster -- and who were unaccounted for initially.
Having received warning of the impending tsunami, the missionaries, along with many others, hurried to higher ground to avoid the deluge. From this vantage point, they watched as the waves destroyed the village below. After the waves receded and they were sure of their safety, they returned down into the desolation below to help wherever they could.
The little Latter-day Saint chapel in the village of Hihifo, situated just beyond the reach of the waves, had been spared, along with the little missionary house next to it. These were quickly converted into a makeshift refuge for the homeless and injured.
One couple, Paea and 'Ofa Kuma, described in some detail the tireless efforts of these sisters as they helped the local people. Paea had tried to flee from the wave in a vehicle, but could not escape. He jumped out of his car only moments before the wave hit, only to have the wave roll the car on top of him, crushing and pinning him to the ground under its weight. The second wave knocked the car off, but he was seriously injured and only survived the third wave by clinging to the sturdy leaves of nearby plants, by which he was able to pull himself up and save his life.
'Ofa frantically searched for him and, finding him, helped him to the little chapel, where the sisters were aiding everyone. Paea and 'Ofa expressed how touched they were as they saw these sister missionaries assisting with the dead, caring for the wounded, assisting the nurses, cooking food, running errands for those in need and comforting the sad and discouraged. "[The sisters] brought great comfort," 'Ofa Kuma stated. "The help they rendered was not small; it was truly great."

Browse the Blog

About: This blog is managed and written by staff of the Public Affairs Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to provide journalists, bloggers, and the public with additional context and information regarding public issues involving the Church. For official news releases and statements from the Church, please also visit the home page.

Style Guide Note: When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.