Missionaries focus on service in second Maui town hit by wildfires

Aug 16, 2023, 10:47 PM | Updated: Aug 17, 2023, 5:45 am

KULA, Hawaii — The fire in Lahaina is not the only one devastating the island. In upcountry Maui multiple homes were lost to another fire, displacing 19 families and threatening more homes.

In the past week Lahaina fire survivor shelters have been overwhelmed with volunteers, said Brother Nielsen, a senior missionary serving for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“For the first couple of days, we focused on those shelters but they didn’t need us anymore. As we looked for other opportunities, we saw there was less support upcountry,” Brother Nielsen said.

Brother and Sister Nielsen from Alpine, Utah were serving in the Lahaina 1st ward when the fire hit. They were at a zone conference in a neighboring town.

They, along with the eight sisters, 20 elders, and three senior couples, are now focused on clearing debris from powerful winds and wildfires in Kula. The group was connected to a pastor from a different church who needed help in his mountainside community.

“We are clearing debris from some homes, on the side of the street. There’s been some dangerous situations up there and there are power lines down,” said Sister Fuamatua from Sandy, Utah.

Sister Fuamatu said this is an opportunity to serve families that may not expect to see help, with many efforts back in Lahaina.

“When one family is devastated, one community is devastated, everyone is devastated and everyone can feel it,” she said.

Their hope is to help those who are struggling, no matter what part of the island they live on. The missionaries hope to inspire others to serve and donate as the island of Maui heals.

“For those on the outside, the message would be if there’s anything you can do, please do it,” Elder Howells said.

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Missionaries focus on service in second Maui town hit by wildfires