In the aftermath of an undersea volcanic eruption triggering tsunami waves, flooding and falling ash near the Kingdom of Tonga, a letter of love and encouragement for area members was published Friday by the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“How we love you!” the letter reads. “Your deep and abiding faith in our Heavenly Father and His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, is known and admired the world over.”
The letter conveyed hope and prayers of strength for families and communities and pledged assistance in the recovery and rebuilding efforts in the days ahead. The letter was signed by President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring.
“We are praying that the Lord will pour out blessings on each of you, that your hearts may be calmed and strengthened, that your families and homes may be restored and refreshed, and that your communities may be peaceful and beautiful again,” the letter said.
“We will stand with you over the coming months to assist you as you recover and rebuild with your usual faith in Christ, warm smiles, and neighborly love.”
The latest update in Tonga
Along with the letter, the church’s New Zealand newsroom provided the following updates:
- All members and full-time missionaries have been contacted and all are safe.
- Liahona High school is still being used as an emergency shelter. Initially, it housed 1,250 people but is down to 317 as of Wednesday.
- Water from the high school’s storage tanks will be sent by boat to the islands of Lulunga and Ha’apai where rainwater storage was contaminated after the eruption. Food and other items will also be included in the shipment.
- Voice contact remains difficult and data transmission is weak, but limited communication has been restored.
Church leaders will continue to coordinate assessments and aid delivery with governments and other organizations.
“We are calmly, yet with urgency, working through different options to quickly get needed water and other needs into Tonga,” Elder Ian S. Ardern, a General Authority Seventy, said in the news release. “The food and other supplies for the outer islands will come from the local members. ... It is the Tongan way.”
How can I help the people in Tonga?
Here are three ways to help humanitarian relief efforts, according to the church’s Pacific Area’s Facebook page.
- Fast and pray with friends and families.
- Donate to the Church’s Humanitarian Aid Fund.
- Share a written message and/or draw a picture for the children — and post it to the Pacific Area’s Inspiration Facebook group.
Those notes and images will be printed and delivered with upcoming relief shipments.