Tsunami Madness

Hi, Everyone my friend Elliott from TN is serving in Samoa on his mission right now. This is the account of him during the tsunami. The first letter his mom put out to reassure everyone of his safety, the second one I have on here is from a senior couple that was forwarded to Elliott's mom. Please pray for the people over in the Pacific Isles.
Friends and family, Elliott just called from Samoa still in shock but safe. He relayed what just took place during the tsunami and I wanted to pass the info along while it is fresh. I am still in shock and am trying to focus. I will send out an email and post this info on Facebook so you may get a duplicate.I was just at a meeting when my cell phone rang. I didn't recognize the number so I almost didn't pick it up. But the ladies in my meeting encouraged me to so I did. It was Elliott calling from Samoa sounding a little in shock and raspy. Here is what happened and I'm still reeling from relief and gratitude. Yesterday morning at 6:48 Elliott was in the shower when the 8.3 quake hit. He said it was strong but not destructive. He and his companion got a laugh at the thought of him in the shower during an earthquake. They were staying in the home of another family in the village of Malaela on the southeast coast of Upolu. Just as he was drying off and getting his underwear on a family member from the house was up working on a hill and called down that a tsunami was coming. Elliott didn't think it was serious but threw on some shorts and his white mission shirt. He went outside to see what was going on and saw people running and screaming toward the forest. He grabbed some sneakers and started running too. He picked up some kids and started running with them. His companion turned around and the water was right behind them. There was no high ground to go to so they ran to some trees and climbed them. As he got up in the tree the water hit the tree and started rising quickly. He said the water came up about 5 feet and started pulling on the tree. He was afraid the tree would be pulled out and taken out to sea. Pretty soon the water receded and they got down from the tree and ran deeper into the woods. His companion thought they should stay in the woods through the day and not go down to the beach which made Elliott mad. He thought they should go into the village and try to help. Finally later in the afternoon they went down to their village and the whole village including their home (which was made of cynder block and wood) and all their belongings were swept out to sea. They did the best they could to try and find debree and other things but did not find anything. There were people in the distance picking up dead bodies. Around 4:00 2 other missionaries happened to be going by and saw Elliott and his companion. They were able to help some and then took Elliott and his companion to Apia to the mission home which is where he is now. They were able to shower and eat and he is borrowing some clothing. He is still getting transfered in 2 days to Pago Pago as was planned. The day of the quake was transfer day meaning missionaries change locations and companions. His friend Elder Larsen was coming in on a ferry from Western Samoa during the quake and when the ferry got to the port they saw the water emptying out and the ferry was able to back out and avoid the shore. Elliott said from the time of the quake until the tsunami hit was 6 minutes. The patriarch and his wife perished in the tsunami. The temple was not damaged but the trumpet fell off of the angel Moroni. Elliott noted that had the man on the hill not called to warn them or had the earthquake been in the middle of the night the situation would have been much different for him.During the drive to Apia another alarm went off and people were running and screaming so they floored the car to get out of the area but it was a false alarm.
He is sunburned and tired. He's lost his clothing, camera, journal, scriptures, notes, study material, toletries and travel documents.He wanted to know if it was on the news here and I told him it was and that friends and family have been calling from all over to make sure he was ok. I told him to be strong and that we love him and and for him to help in the recovery. I can't believe how close we came to losing him. I wasn't worried when I heard about the quake but then when I heard about the tsunami and knowing that his last location had been on the southeast coast I was very very scared. He said he and his companion got the worst of it but noted another set of missionaries were driving and a wave hit their car and tossed them but they are fine.
He said he figured I was worried and I said it wasn't like he had a cold or something. I told him that Sage was warning me throughout the day that he would be mad if he knew I was worrying. Sage said she now understands why we pray every day and that it does help. Thanking you all for your nice words of comfort and love. I'll let you know if anything new comes of Elliott's life changing experience. Angie
Here's the Sr. couple's letter that has a bit about Elliott @ the end as well:
A friend of mine just forwarded this letter from a missionary couple in Samoa. At the bottom of their letter they tell of Elliott's experience. I am trying to document all of this information so Elliott has it when he gets home. We just wanted to up date all of you on our day. After getting back to our home, that was undamaged thank goodness. We had breakfast and then decided to check out the rest of the island to see if there was any bad damage that the Church needed to help with. The news here was terrible and we didn't know much of anything. We left around 1pm and drove to the other side of the island where the wave would hit first. At first we weren't seeing anything but the further along that side we went the more damage we found. We eventually came upon a village that was mostly wiped out. Then another and the further down the island we got, the worse it became. as we got closer to the end of the island a big trunk passed up with with people standing in the back in hospital gowns. As it went by we realized that if had dead bodies laying in the back. This sent a chill up our spines. As we went further the devastation was total. Every village was gone. Not a wall or stick left standing. Most of the beach areas were gone and the ocean was a sea of debris with everything from peoples lives scattered across the waves. Cars were on the beach, up in trees and piled on top of each other. The people of the village were searching through the debris or the standing water looking for loved ones or remnants of their lives. The look on their faces was one of shock with many just staring off into the distance. Much of the road was gone and we had to drive into what was left of villages to keep going. Eventually we came to the LDS Chapel that we knew was there. Much to our sadness it too was destroyed. This entire area was one that we had visited many times so we knew all too well what had been there just hours before. As evening was approaching, we drove back to Apia mostly in silence, wondering what these poor people would do tonight and tomorrow and until more help arrives. Virtually every thing they own including many of their loved ones is gone. As we drove along the north side of the island which was untouched, we noticed that the people seem in some urgent almost panic situation. We couldn't understand this as they were safe and the tsunami had missed them. They were carrying their belongings along the road and some were piled in pickup trucks. As we came into Apia the police were blocking the intersections and told us we had to get to higher ground. We asked them why and were told that another earth quake had hit and they feared another tsunami was on the way. Once again the streets were filled with people carrying emergency supplies and heading for higher ground. It was like a scene from a horror movie. We were out of gas and the gauge was flashing its warning. All the stations were long since closed and we had no option but to get as far inland as we could. I really didn't think that anything was coming our way because the first one was on the other side of the island and I was sure that this one would be the same. We felt so bad for those poor people who were still in shock from the first one and now perhaps another was coming their way. And it was getting dark. Can you even imagine, sitting on the bare ground, where your home used to be, its getting dark, you have nothing for warmth or protection and the tsunami sirens start wailing again. Lucky for all of us, it was a false alarm and nothing came. We returned to our home and started calling other senior missionaries. The stories they had to tell would scare you to death. Two of our missionaries were just getting dressed when they heard a horn blowing. Someone yelled that a tsunami was coming and they ran outside to see in coming right at their front door. They took off running with the water lapping at their heals. They caught up with three little kids running for their lives and scooped them up and kept running. Just was the water was over taking them they came to a tree and swung the kids and themselves into the branches. As the water rose they climbed higher praying all the way. When they could go no further they closed their eyes and prayed even harder. As they opened them they saw the water stop just at their feet and start to recede. They had made it but their home was totally destroyed. Just two more minutes and they both would have died in their home. Two other missionaries on the other island Savaii got a call from the mission office and ran out to their van just in time for the wave to hit them. It carried them inland for a hundred yards or so and set them back down. The Van was totaled but they both walked away safe and sound. All our missionaries are safe but unfortunately many others died today including many of our members. American Samoa is all but destroyed. Much of Samoa, both islands, are seriously damaged with considerable loss of life. We also just heard that Tonga was also hit and people have died there as well. Please remember the people of the pacific islands in your prayers. This has been one tough day. Love you all.
Elliott (and I guess some other members) in the debris outside the demolished chapel.
Okay, Rachel back, please remember these people in your prayers.


  1. I just am so sad for everyone there yet, I feel so relieved too for those young missionaries so far away from their families. We will be praying for their comfort and peace at such a time as this. Hopefully, all members will also help with their funds, their physical help, and prayers to give them a headstart in the recovery work ahead. Thanks for sharing this, Rachel! I appreciated getting the first hand news.

  2. Wow, that's just...intense. My Mom and I were just talking about how many members of the Church there are out there in Samoa. It's so scary to hear such a personal account! I am glad your friend is ok, Rachel!!

  3. wow. thanks for posting this! i can't imagine. i'll be keeping them in my prayers for sure! xoxo


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