Thursday, February 20, 2014


The cyclone hit Ha’api on a Saturday. Early that morning Howard Niu, the Service Center Manager, called Elder Hamblin at the mission office and told him that he needed to get the missionaries off of the outer islands in the Ha’api group and that he only had 6 hours to do it. At that point Cyclone Ian was headed for Vava’u and their outer islands, including Hunga, where Alan served as a young man. It was expected to miss Ha’api altogether. By this time it was too late to get the missionaries off of Hunga, the seas were to rough to send a boat out. There are places to go on Hunga, the worry was for the missionaries on the small, flat islands with no protection. The mission sprang into action and evacuated the missionaries from the Ha’api smaller islands and took them to the main island where they could stay in the church. Gradually Cyclone Ian began to change direction and pick up speed. It missed Vava’u and Hunga but headed straight for Ha’api and those smaller islands. On one of the small islands every house was destroyed except one and the church. All of the missionaries were safe and accounted for because a faithful priesthood leader followed the promptings of the Spirit and got them to safety. There is no doubt that the Lord watches over his faithful missionaries.


One Saturday we purchased 500 loaves of bread along with 3 cases of butter and sent them up to Ha’api on a chartered flight. Later that night I thought about what we had done. Was it really worth the money we spent? It would be gone so fast and it couldn’t be replaced time after time. Why did we do that????

The answers came about a week later when we met with Elder Tukuafu who was at the airport when they unloaded the bread from the plane. The few loaves that we couldn’t get into the boxes and sent up as carry on luggage, were given to the employees of the airport by Elder Tukuafu. He said that they were so thrilled to have their own loaf of bread and the smiles that accompanied their gratitude were a memory to be cherished.

As the bread was given out to the people of the islands, spirits were lifted for the first time since the cyclone. It truly was comfort food. Bread is a familiar food, they love it and they associate it with happier times. It was a gift of love and it brought great comfort and hope to those who have lost so much. The missionaries and church members gave out the bread, strengthening testimonies by confirming that the Lord is aware of his children and he will find ways to strengthen them and let them know of His love. Once again we saw that through inspired priesthood leaders, the Lord had blessed the lives of his children in Ha’api ------ as well as those of us who had the privilege of being instruments in His hands.