Missionaries Clean Up after Cyclone Evan
By Michelle Garrett, Church News staff writer
On December 15, Latter-day Saint missionaries on the Samoan island of Upolu went to work helping families of all faiths there recover from the destruction left by Cyclone Evan.
President Johnny Leota of the Samoa Apia Mission suspended a planned Christmas missionary conference in Apia and directed his 73 Upolu missionaries to remain in their assigned areas and help the people.
Fourteen new missionaries arrived on Tuesday, December 18, and promptly exchanged their proselyting clothes for work clothes and yellow Mormon Helping Hands vests and went to work.
“They’re all pretty tired, but they don’t complain,” said Elder Curtis Duke, in reference to the new missionaries. “They are excited to go out and serve.”
The missionaries began in the Matautu area of Apia where the Vaisigolo River had overflowed its banks and washed mud, trees, and trash into homes and yards already lashed by high winds, heavy rains, and falling trees.
The Samoa Observer reported that local concerns include shortages of food, clothing, and building supplies, as well as the threat of disease.
The cost of Cyclone Evan’s visit is estimated by the chairman of the Samoan Disaster Advisory Committee to be $200 million for private property, homes, and businesses and another $200 million for the repair of public assets and infrastructure.
Much of Samoa still remains without electricity, and government buildings and schools have been damaged.
The missionaries have helped by dismantling now unstable sections of households, removing debris and trash from properties, removing fallen trees, and doing whatever else they saw necessary.
“I work so hard and feel the Lord’s care,” said Sister Sitoga Taula, one of the new missionaries. “I feel no pain, only good and energetic.”