‘Maui Strong’: A General Conference special preview

Apr 4, 2024, 10:33 PM

LAHAINA, Hawaii — It’s been an emotional journey for the Catugal family. They lost everything in the Lahaina wildfire on Maui.

The couple is working through the healing process by tapping into the Ohana spirit. Caring for neighbors who share the same trauma and working together to eventually rebuild.

Driving through what’s left of his Lahaina neighborhood, Raymond Catugal’s thoughts drift to that fateful day in August.

“The wind was 80 miles per hour this way, so when you opened the front door, the smoke embers and rocks were blowing sideways,” he said.

Entire homes burned to the ground. Including the one where he and his wife Lilly raised their girls.

“This was a ten-bedroom house. Three families lived there,” Catugall said. “It’s just like the devastation. It’s hard to wrap your head around it sometimes.

Pieces of their past are gone forever.

“I think the hardest thing for me as a mom was I didn’t have a place for my children to come home to,”  Catugall said.

Over the years, they housed missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“This is where the missionaries stayed in for five years with us, sisters and elders,”Catugall said.

Lilli Catugall was grateful there were no missionaries living with them at the time.

“The Lord knew what was going to happen before we did.”

The tender mercy shaped Lili Catugall’s perspective. She offered support to neighbors who lost loved ones.

“So we have what my oldest daughter described as trauma bonding, that we have the understanding, and without saying too many words, we can, you know, share our feelings with one another.”

Members of Lili’s ward face immense challenges — housing, rebuilding, and starting over. Yet, they count their blessings and find strength through one another.

“I was grateful for all those hands that reached out to us, and just helped us in our at our darkest hours,” Lilli Catugall said. “We have not gone without anything, we really haven’t. And Heavenly Father, I think has provided all of that.”

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‘Maui Strong’: A General Conference special preview