Dear Wesley Ohana Sisters and Brothers:
It is in the sanctuary of God’s peace and comfort we find our refuge and strength, especially in the valleys of chaos and destruction, and dark shadows of pain and death. We have heard and watched on television the horrific devastation of the Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai Volcano eruption, and ensuing tsunami and volcanic ash throughout the atmosphere. We have waited in prayer, hoping for word of survival and safety of our families and loved ones in Tonga.
As communication is slowly being restored, and we learn of the magnitude of the eruption and reassured of our families’ safety and well-being, much confusion and sadness remain. Yet, we rise! We rise with joy and gratitude for the miracle of life! The Tonga Volcano eruption blast, according to a NASA scientist, was “500 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, equivalent to about 10 million tons” (James Garvin). A fraction of such magnitude would be more than enough to obliterate the Tongan islands into extinction. Yet, the island nation of Tonga remains standing! With a total of three fatalities.
Tonga has survived, and now faces the awesome task of recovery and restoration not only of property, shelter, infrastructure and economy, but also healing of lives and communities.
I am part of our newly-formed California-Pacific Conference’s “Tongan Relief Task Force,” charged with the responsibility to guide, plan, and coordinate a collaborative and concerted Tongan Relief effort, with support and donations from local congregations in our Conference.
Financial contributions will be directed to the Conference “Tongan Relief Fund”. For our Wesley members and friends, please write out your check-donations to “Wesley UMC”, and designate, “Tongan Relief Fund”. We will record your giving and send your contribution to the Conference “Tongan Relief Fund.”
The most urgent need in Tonga presently is water and canned/packaged foods. The Task Force is moving immediately to purchase a shipping container of water in New Zealand, through the “Aotearoa Tonga Relief Committee”, a non-profit relief organization, with systems of shipping and distribution in place. Donations of water
and other perishables shipped by individuals often end up sitting on the docks for weeks and months. We wanted to partner with a reputable relief organization who will ship and disperse water quickly. Also, we are insisting on the largest containers of water, instead of the usual size water bottles that would be discarded and contribute to the floating mount of plastic garbage that harm the ocean environment.
Once communication and connection is restored with the Methodist Church in Tonga, namely, the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, then all future relief will be shipped and directed there for distribution among all Tongans.
So please donate by giving through:
- 1) A financial donation to the “Conference Tonga Relief Fund” – make out your checkto “Wesley UMC” and earmark, “Tonga Relief Fund”. Send it to Wesley: 1350 Hunakai Street, Honolulu, HI 96816, and we will forward your check to the Conference.
- 2) Begin saving and setting aside household items to donate to Tonga: clothing (clean and bagged), bedding; new personal hygiene toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo; furniture in good condition; working appliances, etc. We have no storage space at church, so please keep them at home. Once we secure a container on the church parking lot, we will inform of when to bring your items to church for loading.
- 3) Further along, upon request and invitation from Tonga, we will mobilize work teams from our Conference to travel to Tonga and assist with the rebuilding of homes, shelters, church and community facilities. Relief will include donations toward building materials and supplies.
In fullness of God’s love, we are one body, and we belong in community with one another. I thank you for your generosity and expressions of love toward our family in dire need of all that we can give and provide. In behalf of our Tongan sisters and brothers who are part of our Wesley Ohana, and our Extended Familia in Tonga:
MALO AUPITO! ‘OFA ATU!
Manuia! Blessings always,
Pastor Piula Alailima