Vanuatu cyclone victims blessed by Church container prepared ahead of time

A 40-foot container behind a Church meetinghouse contained emergency supplies before cyclones hit the South Pacific

In the back corner of the grounds of a meetinghouse in Port Vila, Vanuatu, stands a 40-foot container filled with emergency supplies — carefully and prayerfully organized while following the principles of emergency preparedness from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

When two cyclones hit the islands of Vanuatu in the South Pacific in March, the Church was ready to help because of that container. 

Impossible-to-find items such as chainsaws, generators, portable water containers, wheelbarrows, hammers, nails, ladders and machetes were ready to share with those needing ways to clear debris and rebuild their homes and lives, explained a report from the Church’s Pacific Newsroom.

The container also has portable generators and a water tank that holds 1,000 liters (about 264 gallons) to distribute water. And after the cyclones, 650 hygiene kits from the container with toothpaste, soap, shampoo and other necessities were given to those in need. 

Sister Teresa Goodin shows a portable generator inside a 40-foot Church-owned container stocked with supplies to help after emergencies. Much of Efate Island in Vanuatu was without power after cyclones in March 2023. Portable generators provided by the Church helped many to recharge phones and communication devices. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In fact, 24 emergency containers are currently filled and standing ready throughout the South Pacific — and when disasters come, the Church is able to share emergency supplies immediately.

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Senior missionary couples keep the containers organized and stocked with what will be most beneficial to local needs. Elder Mike Goodin and Sister Teresa Goodin are humanitarian services missionaries in Vanuatu. 

When the Goodins arrived in the country, the container needed to be cleaned and filled. So they spoke with local residents about what would be most useful and learned about what was inside other containers in the Pacific before they ordered supplies. 

They felt impressed to double the normal amount of tarps in the container. Then, just weeks later, the cyclones hit — destroying roughly a third of the homes on Efate Island alone. The tarps were used on roofs and as makeshift shelters to keep people dry.

Vanuatu Port Vila Mission President Mark J. Messick said: “Everything we wished we had, we found stocked in the container. We would say, ‘We need tarps’ or ‘we wish we had garbage bags,’ and there they were ready to go.”

Often, the tarps were part of a kit that also included nails, a shovel, handsaw, hammer, rope and tie wire. When the missionaries delivered these kits to families, they were able to repair their homes and leave the evacuation shelters quickly. 

Displaced families stand with kits they were given to help rebuild homes in Port Vila, Vanuatu, in March 2023.
Displaced families stand with kits they were given from a container stocked by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help rebuild homes in Port Vila, Vanuatu, in March 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Sister Goodin said she became emotional seeing the impact these kits and tools had for the people.

“We gave them a way to replace their houses,” she said. “They had no way of going to the store to make a purchase. They have very little money, and the store shelves were bare. It gave them the capability to take care of their families. It gave them back the pride we feel when we can take care of ourselves. It gave them that ability.”

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The Pacific Newsroom report also noted the generosity the Vanuatu people showed toward each other. One member of the Church borrowed a chainsaw to help with the recovery. When it was time to return it, he asked if he could keep it just a little longer to clean up his own property. He had used the chainsaw for several days to take care of all of his neighbors in his community first.

Sister Teresa Goodin holds a hammer like those given to families in emergency shelters in Port Vila, Efate, Vanuatu. April 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Members of the Church are encouraged to be as self-reliant as possible and be prepared for any kind of emergency. The Church has many temporal preparedness resources listed online, including tips for food storage, making an emergency plan, and being financially prepared and emotionally prepared for whatever life brings. 

A stake and ward Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide can be found at with steps, worksheets and other information. Downloadable guides are available by local Church areas.

The Church also provides emergency help to people everywhere regardless of their political, cultural or religious backgrounds.

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (Matthew 25:35-36).

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