Hawaii Samoans still waiting to hear back from relatives back home

Danny Seui Uikirifi
Danny Seui Uikirifi
Pastor Tala Fautanu
Pastor Tala Fautanu
Peletina Peneueta
Peletina Peneueta

By Leland Kim - bio | email

KALIHI VALLEY (KHNL) - It's been nearly a week since an earthquake-generated tsunami hit Samoa. So far 177 have been confirmed dead. And some Samoans in Hawaii are still looking for missing relatives, and they're getting through this tough time together.

Many Samoans are religious, and they turn to God in times of need. Some are still waiting to hear from their families back home, and hope they'll get the call they've been waiting for.

In the heart of Kalihi Valley, parishioners at the Central Samoan Assembly of God Church praise God. This close-knit community has gotten even closer, bonding over what happened to their homeland last Tuesday.

"When I heard about the tsunami, nothing like this, nothing like this was happening," said Danny Seui Uikirifi, one of the parishioners at the church.

Pastor Tala Fautanu leads this congregation. He says seeing the images of the devastation was too much to handle.

"I never wanted to talk about it, whenever we saw the Internet, the TV," he said. "We just wanted to shut it off."

Many parishioners still have not heard from their relatives in American Samoa or Western Samoa.

"Last I heard about them was still trying to find out where they're at," said Uikirifi.

"I haven't gotten any word from them yet," added Peletina Peneueta, another parishioner at the church. "I have no way of communicating with them."

The worst part about being so far away from home, is not knowing.

"What goes through your mind with each day that passes by?" asked KHNL.

"I feel sorry and sad for them," said Peneueta. "I'm very sad. I have no idea if they're okay."

So they get by, in the only way they know how.

"Pray to God so we get blessing and everything we want," said Uikirifi.

"I pray for them at home," said Peneueta. "I feel comfort from God in me when I pray."

Every member of this church knows someone - a family member or a friend - who has been impacted by the tsunami. So they turn to God.

"Pray. Help them out," said Fautanu. "So that we can relay the message. Keep up with faith. God is always alive."

Relief efforts continue in Samoa. Workers and volunteers are busy getting the essentials to survivors. Relief crews expect to be there for at least several more weeks.