TONGA UPDATE: As of last night, all Tongan members and missionaries have been contacted and all are safe. The Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple and all Latter-day Saint chapels have been inspected and are without major damage. Other damage assessments and aid delivery efforts are ongoing. We hear that our Tongan members are in good spirits and are busy cleaning, repairing and helping their neighbours. We love them and continue to pray for them. For more updates, follow Pacific Newsroom bit.ly/3Agqsfw
For those who wish to assist our Tongan brothers and sisters now, here are some of ways you can help:
· You can fast and pray with friends and families
· Donate to the Church’s humanitarian fund
· Share a written message and/or draw a picture for the children – and post it to the Pacific Area’s Inspiration Facebook Group bit.ly/3rCQlCs
We will print your letters and pictures and send them on a cargo plane to Tonga next Monday, 24th January 2022, along with fresh water and mask supplies.
According to the Church’s senior ecclesiastical leader in Tonga, Elder Inoke Kupu, local Latter-day Saint leaders continue to assist government and navy personnel in confirming the status of all Tongans across the kingdom, including in outer islands where communication has not yet been re-established.
A Tongan naval vessel left Nuku’alofa on Monday afternoon for the outer islands. Mission president for the Church’s Outer Islands Mission, President Sitiveni Fehoko, will travel with naval personnel on a second ship today. The Church has 135 missionaries in the Outer Islands Mission with whom contact has not yet been made.
A near total communication blackout with Tonga remains. It is now thought that the Southern Cross Cable Network optic communications cable is damaged approximately 30 kilometres off shore, and news reports suggest that it will take a minimum of two weeks to repair.
Tongan Latter-day Saint leaders are identifying individual and family needs and organising accommodation, food, water and other support.
The water tanks at the Church’s Liahona High School are being checked today by government employees to determine if the water is potable.
The school had 1,200 people who stayed on the campus on Sunday evening. Monday evening that number dropped to 850. The people are away from the campus during the day, cleaning and repairing their homes, and return to Liahona at night. A number of Latter-day Saint meetinghouses are also being used for temporary accommodation, as is the Church’s camp site.
Missionaries on Tongatapu are engaged in the clean-up, assisting Church members and the wider community.
Church services this coming Sunday will be home-based and Latter-day Saints will be invited to fast and pray, to give thanks for the many lives which have been preserved, and to plea for a return to normality.
No Latter-day Saint buildings have been structurally damaged, although they will require extensive cleaning from the ash that has fallen. A thick layer of ash remains blanketed over the capital Nuku’alofa.
Elder Ian S. Ardern, Pacific Area President of the Church, is leading the Church’s effort to support Tongan Latter-day Saint leaders, members, missionaries and others in need—in coordination with governments and other groups.
“With our combined faith and prayers, we will work our way through this issue and enjoy a bright future,” he said. “Onward and forward we go.”
Photo caption: President and Sister Fehoko of the Tonga Outer Islands Mission.