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News inserted on 30/11/2009

Signs of hope and light in a troubled world: Helping after the tsunami in Samoa

SMSM SistersOn 29 September a severe earthquake followed by a tsunami struck American Samoa and Western Samoa and surrounding areas of the Pacific particularly the island of Nuiatoputapu in Tonga. There was extensive damage and loss of life; most families were affected in some way.

SMSM SistersThe Province of the South Pacific sent a “team of six” sisters to Samoa to help as needed for two weeks. Two of the sisters share their experiences:

Sister Etivise: I felt a great sense of ‘being sent’ by the Province and the Congregation when we left for Samoa. There was a great feeling of being in solidarity with our sisters, the families and victims of the tsunami and Samoa as a nation.

Staying in Lalomanu, the worst hit area, and working in the nearby villages was and will always be an unforgettable experience. One could feel the deep loss and the gratitude for all the help and support given. I was part of the global community based near the hospital. Every team worked long hours but there was never a complaint.

SMSM SistersThe most touching and humbling experience was meeting the victims of the tsunami face-to-face. Their stories and the massive injuries were enough to break one’s heart but this was not all. Most of these people have lost many loved ones especially children, parents and grandparents. How can one even try to comfort someone who just lost 13 members of her family? Or a grandfather who has lost all his 6 grandchildren? There were no tears but the facial expressions were enough to convey the deep sorrow and the broken hearts. One can only sit and share the pain then silently pray for comfort and healing, hopefully one day.

Sister Selina: Before I set out on mission for Apia and American Samoa I prayed for the gift of acceptance of the situation I will face in both islands. Our sisters welcomed us, shared tears of joy and relief that we were there to support them.

As we drove around the island I admired the beauty of God’s creation, beautiful trees, and different coloured flowers. But then we approached the coast of Aleipata where the natural disaster had destroyed eight villages.

I did not complain to God for what had happened. I thanked him for a taking a few people and leaving many to continue his work on earth.

The little we have shared with many families in both islands means a lot to them. Listening to the victims sharing and experiencing their pain strengthens my own faith that God is still alive everywhere.

The tsunami brings people and nations of the world together.

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