12 Unaccounted Latter-day Saint Missionaries In New Zealand Cyclone
According to a press announcement from the Church Newsroom, four anonymous missionaries who were taking refuge with members in Napier were recently evacuated. In the missions in Wellington and Auckland, every missionary has been located. The Hamilton mission is still looking for two missing missionaries. The family of Elder Williams and Elder Park claims they have not yet received any confirmation.
To make sure other missionaries have supplies, a senior missionary couple in the Napier-Bay Hawe’s region has been paying them frequent visits. According to reports, some meetinghouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have experienced floods and other damages, particularly in the country’s north and Hawke’s Bay.
New Zealand declared a state of emergency this week as Cyclone Gabrielle caused severe flooding, power outages, and landslides. The storm has made it difficult for Latter-day Saint missionaries in the area to contact their mission president to confirm their safety. Late Tuesday evening Sam Penrod, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the Church was aware of 12 missionaries from the North Island region who have not yet been able to make contact.
“The missionaries were aware of the incoming storm,” Penrod said in a statement. “They had enough supplies and are in a community where there is a Latter-day Saint ward with Church members to provide support. As soon as the communication is restored to this area, we are hopeful to get an update to share. I do know the mission president is providing regular updates to parents and family members.”
One Utah family has shared both the anxiety and hope on social media and with local news outlets. Logan Williams, an 18-year-old missionary from Ogden, Utah, was not evacuated from Wairoa, a town ravaged by the cyclone.
Logan was not evacuated before the flooding hit Wairoa, and no one has heard from his companionship in over 30 hours,” his mother Amy Williams shared online on Tuesday evening. “The area is still decimated by water, and with bridges and roads washed out, the only rescue support has been by helicopter. We are holding onto hope that he and his companion made it to high ground. Thank you all for your support, your prayers, calls, texts and visits. He is in the Lord’s hands, and there is no better place he can be.”
The identities of the other missionaries unaccounted for have not been released, or if some have been able to make contact since the Church’s official statement. None of the missionaries are classified as missing at this time. The Williams family requests prayers for their son and the other missionaries in the area.
“We’re just hoping for the best and waiting,” Amy shared. “That’s all we can do is wait.”
New Zealand is the home of just over 100,000 members of the Church, comprising 211 congregations across 30 stakes. There are 3 missions across the islands.