Thursday, October 1, 2009

LDS News From Western Samoa

Malaela Village - no more

Malaela Village - an all LDS village

Lalomanu Village - no more. Workers looking for bodies.

Lalomanu Village - completely leveled

LDS church building in Malaela - Samoa (Western)

Malaela - Samoa (Western) LDS village tent set up

Pesenga LDS clothing donations that will be distributed

Pesega Stake helping to collect and distribute donations

Makeshift homes for at Malaela Hill for the LDS members whose village is completely gone

LDS members new living quarters until the re-build

This update is from my relative in Utah, Larissa Tuinei. She is getting LDS updates from her uncle who lives in Samoa (Western):

"Today is hot, hotter than than the first 2 days. We are continuing to haul water to the saints and others. Church members are camping in 5 different areas high up the hills. One is in Saleapaga, one in Lalomanu, 2 in Malaela and one in Leagiagi or Saleaumua. We are now setting up our own control post at the Leagiagi chapel where we are offering counseling services and a control point of distribution of immediate needs for them. Outside help from NZ and Australia are now arriving and hopefully it will be sent to these needed people soon. The Church has now approved a plane load of food (rice, sugar, hygienic etc water..) coming in from SLC hopefully within the next few days as they are negotiating for a plane now. I think once those come in it will greatly ease the suffering physically, but emotionally it will remain with our people for a long long time.

I know American Samoa is going through the same trauma, but they are in good hands with the US extending a big hand to help them. Here in poor Samoa its all depending on the handouts from families and from other governments. The Lalomanu and Malaela are the worst hit area, in fact there is no Malaela standing. The only building standing in the whole village is part of the stake president's home and the damaged chapel. Remember this village has only one religion and that is LDS, so all the casualties in the village are mostly members of the Church if not all and are mostly related to the Purcells. So it is a very devastating effect to the Church and to the saints here.

People are now starting to bury their dead especially those that were found yesterday and today as they are starting to decomposed as our hospitals and government facilities are not adequate to handle these casea. As mentioned earlier, a member of my ward has lost her parents, a newphew whom they are still searching for, and a niece in the disaster. Lena/Vana you know of Segia--Nicholus mom, her mother is one of the victims of the tsunami, in fact in the 2 wards in Malaela there are about 15 deaths as of now and a few others in the other wards of Leagiagi and Vaovai. The total dead as it now stands at 110 but still counting. We are continuing to haul water and food up to the various camps and trying to provide them with some other means to use for sanitation, as well as some hygienic needs. These people only had what they wore on their bodies as they tried to run up to the bushes so it was pleasing to see them use a change of clothes from what we delivered yesterday. I think it will take a while for them to be in camps as the smell is very strong and could cause some health problems.

We are trying to organize a Mormon Helping Hands cleanup project from all the other stakes that were not affected hoping for a good turnout in the 1000. I think it would be great not only for the community but also as a missionary tool for the Church. The mission president is in favor of this too and has offered his missionaries to participate in it so it will be good PR for them too. I think with most of their basic needs such as food, clothing in place we can now move to try and help them rebuilt their lives physically and emotionally so they can move on. It will probably take a while but I know with faith they can do it."

In American Samoa news, we were listening to live Samoan Christian radio the other night before family prayer. Anyone from around the world can call in and let there family members know they are praying for them and thinking about them. My dad doesn't speak or understand Samoan asked, "What are they saying? They must be pretty upset."

Actually, that is never the case with the Samoan people. Every caller first takes time to thank the hosts for the opportunity to speak and then they let their family members know how much they love them and keep them in prayer. Most of the callers are thankful to God for the lives spared and ask that all the Samoans be thankful to the our Heavenly Father for the tragedy as well as the happiness they enjoy, for it is a part of His master plan. It is humbling to know that when most people are asking "Why?" after complete devastation, my Samoan people ask for everyone to "Pray."