Utah couple called to serve In Tonga mission trying to contact family

Jan 20, 2022, 9:26 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 6:20 pm

A Utah couple that will head to Tonga to serve in a mission president’s office for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is still waiting to hear family members in Tonga are OK.

Rich and Ofa Kaufusi were called to the Tonga Nuku’alofa Mission and are scheduled to arrive in July. They are also both of Tongan descent and have family and friends in the island nation hit by a tsunami last weekend.

They describe Tonga as “paradise, an idyllic setting” and one that is struggling after the natural disaster.

Rich and Ofa Kaufusi's family. Rich and Ofa Kaufusi and family at Lata Ai Beach in Tonga. (Kaufusi family) Rich Kaufusi's uncle Aisake K. Tukuafu currently serves as president of the Nuku'alofa Tonga Temple. Family members at Ofa Kaufusi's sister's wedding in Tonga. Tukuafu family farm land in Fuaʻamotu, Tonga. (Kaufusi family)

“We stayed up late into the evening, watching whatever was coming in,” said Ofa Kaufusi of the weekend. And, with most power still down, they are just now getting bits and pieces of news from their homeland.

“Today we are just getting in limited communication from the main island in Nuku’Alofa,” Kaufusi said. “But nothing from the outer islands from family members.”

Cut off by volcano, Tongans relieved as contact restored

Officials say it could be several more days before communication is restored with the outer islands, which leads to a tough game of patience.

“It’s scary,” said Rich Kaufusi. “It’s the unknown, we wait to hear what to do next.”

The couple has been thinking a lot about Tonga since that call to serve, and they expect much of the work in the months ahead to be focused on helping Tongans get back on their feet.

“You think about crops, about water — this isn’t going to go away — the ocean, the fish,” said the Kaufusis. “So, it’s going to last a year or so.”

Pleasant Grove business owner among those collecting goods and supplies for Tonga

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Utah couple called to serve In Tonga mission trying to contact family