“THANK YOU HEAVENLY FATHER FOR YOUR TENDER MERCIES UPON OUR FAMILY”
With a grateful heart we first give thanks to our Father in Heaven for His Tender Mercies given to our family. Gratitude is due also to the many individuals & to the American Samoa & US Federal Government who made it possible for our family to return home on the first repatriation flight to American Samoa from Hawaii while ensuring our comfort & safety throughout the repatriation process.
July of 2020 our Sister Otolose Loto was diagnosed with endometrial cancer & told by LBJ doctors to seek medical help off-island. Alisi also needed to travel to Hawaii for her annual follow-ups after suffering three mini-strokes & undergoing heart bypass surgery. Our family began to pray, fast & work at securing travel to Hawaii. We turned to the LBJ Off-Island Medical Referral Program for help in securing seats on the next medical charter flight to Honolulu, as all regular passenger air travel to American Samoa was on hold. Our daughter Leonia was registered as Otolose’s caregiver & Carl as Alisi’s caregiver. Medical insurance for Otolose to take care of her medical expenses off-island was obtained & verification given to LBJ (LBJ only pays for airfare to Honolulu payment of all medical expenses in Honolulu are the responsibility of the patient).
September 2020 we were notified we had seats to Honolulu on the next medical charter flight. We prepared to hunker down in Honolulu for a long time because we were unsure of when we could return home. Our house in Amaua was secured, we got a family to stay in our second house to take care of our land & dogs. We also prepared for a mandatory 14-day quarantine in Honolulu. Canned food, rice, bottled water & a rice cooker were mailed to Honolulu because upon landing in Honolulu we would not be able to leave our hotel rooms for 14-days. Carl’s FMLA was approved; Leonia’s transcripts obtained to facilitate her transfer to school in Honolulu; Carl & Alisi voted absentee & countless other preparations were made. October 26, 2020, we left American Samoa Hawaii bound. Fortuitously American Samoa is COVID-19 free so Hawaii granted all the passengers on our flight a waiver from quarantine requirements. Upon arrival in Honolulu, we checked into the Pagoda Hotel.
November 7, 2020, we moved into an apartment in Honolulu & enrolled Leonia in Kaimuki High School. November 16, 2020 Otolose underwent surgery at Kaiser Permanente & emerged cancer free. November, December & January were spent going to Doctor’s appointments for all four of us & hoping for a miracle that would allow us to return home. After Christmas break Leonia began to attend Kaimuki High School online instead of in person, January 6, 2021 we received an email from Kaimuki HS saying that a cafeteria worker had tested positive for COVID-19, a blessing Leonia was not on campus at that time. Friday January 15, 2021 at 10:48pm Carl received a phone call asking if we would be ready to enter quarantine on Monday January 18, 2021 & then fly home after a 10-day quarantine. We all jumped for joy then began cleaning, packing up & shipping some items home. Our only break for the next two days was to attend Sacrament meeting on Sunday at the Honolulu Tabernacle.
Monday January 18, 2021, we began our “Long Journey Home”. Finally, we are homeward bound after getting much needed medical care not available in American Samoa. We continue to pray for the many American Samoans still stranded across the fifty United States & other parts of the world. Especially for those who have passed on to the next life before being able to return home.
Thank You Heavenly Father for your tender mercies upon our family & thank you to the following;
Dr. Bethel Muasau-Howard, Dr. Jerry Kena, Lafoaina Allen & staff of the LBJ Off-Island Referral Office & the American Samoa Medicare Office headed by Sandra King Young for our Off-Island Medical Referral;
SamoaNews & Talanei for keeping us informed about happenings at home in American Samoa;
Governor Lemanu & Lt. Governor Ale for making repatriation to American Samoa a reality;
Nikolao Pula of Interior for securing funding;
CDC Foundation & employees Gingerlei Porter, Faauliulito Tuala-Tamaalelagi, Salilo Foifua, Ipo Tuinei-Hemaloto, Leiema Hunt;
Dr. Cecilia Alailima, Dr. Abraham Leiato, Dr. Laititi, Umi Mageo, Rosita, Nu'uao Pelupelu, T.J. Maifea, Tesa
FAX Cargo (Janel & Xavier Faletoi) for your last-minute help in shipping our things home.
My cousin Liza & her family in Honolulu for transportation on the day we entered quarantine & for returning our apartment keys to our landlady.
Our “First Repat Flight Family” too many of you to name in this small space our family has grown by leaps & bounds your kindness is always appreciated.
Please forgive us if we’ve missed or misspelled your name this oversight is not intentional.
With Much Gratitude,
Carl W. & Alisi Iongi Filiaga