Elder Nattress and Tongan prime minister discuss collaboration in humanitarian work, education

Elder K. Brett Nattress, president of the Church’s Pacific Area, met with Tongan Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni in the country’s capital.

Elder K. Brett Nattress, president of the Pacific Area, met with Tongan Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni on Thursday, Sept. 2, in the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa.

The two leaders discussed collaboration in future humanitarian work and in the education of young Tongans, reported the Church’s Pacific Newsroom.

Elder Nattress expressed gratitude to the prime minister for his leadership during a worldwide pandemic and following the January 2022 volcanic eruption and tsunami.

Tonga includes 36 populated islands and roughly 60% of residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Following the disaster last January, the Church sent an air cargo shipment with clean drinking water, face masks to protect against volcanic ash inhalation, and satellite phones to help Church leaders and government officials expand communication.

Later members from 15 stakes sent 60 tons of food, clothing, bedding and other supplies to islands heavily impacted by the volcanic eruption and tsunami. The Church’s Liahona High School campus and other meetinghouses also served as shelters.

Elder Nattress expressed his gratitude to the royal family, the prime minister and the government. “This is a special place — with people who love God, who strive to follow Jesus Christ, who seek to be good parents, neighbors and citizens,” Elder Nattress said. 

The Church leader also thanked the prime minister for attending the funeral service for Elder Inoke Kupu, a beloved Tongan Area Seventy who passed away in August from cancer. 

“We will continue to work with the government and our friends of other faiths to lift lives, fortify families and create caring, Christ-centered communities,” Elder Nattress said.

The meeting with Elder Nattress is not the first time Church leaders have met with leaders of Tonga. During his Pacific Ministry Tour in 2019, President Russell M. Nelson and Sister Wendy W. Nelson and Elder Gerrit W. Gong, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Sister Susan Gong met His Majesty King Tupou VI and Her Majesty Queen Nanasipau’u in the Royal Palace. It marked the first time in a century that anyone not of royal blood has been given permission to be interviewed inside the gates.

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