A Marysville man is sharing his experiences of helping tsunami victims in American Samoa

On his third day in tsunami-battered American Samoa, Tim Serban was so busy, he was still unpacking.

The volunteer chaplain from Marysville traveled to the Pacific island as part of an American Red Cross team to help people recover from the recent natural disaster that killed more than 30 and destroyed hundreds of homes.

At an elementary school, sixth-grade students spoke to him about losing a classmate. Five-year-old children draw pictures of their faces to convey the mood: half happy and half sad. They’re glad their homes are safe, but angry with the ocean.

That is just one of the dispatches Serban has sent home using his iPod.

“People we’ve shared Tim’s e-mails with have been touched by them,” said Chuck Morrison, executive director of the American Red Cross Snohomish County Chapter. “Tim is an amazing human being and it really shows when you take the opportunity to read those e-mails.”

The messages are posted on www.snohomishcounty.redcross.org.

Serban arrived in American Samoa on Oct. 2. The Catholic lay chaplain also works at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

American Samoa is a U.S. territory of 65,000 people about a five-hour plane ride from Hawaii. In addition to the destruction there, the Sept. 29 disaster also killed 136 in Samoa, an independent country, and nine in Tonga.

While Serban provides grief counseling overseas, an Everett pastor originally from American Samoa is planning local events to help survivors.

Kila Leapaga Sr. raised about $400 earlier this month with a spaghetti dinner benefit. On Nov. 7, he and his wife, Irene Leapaga, are planning a lunch fundraiser at A Ray of Hope Mission on Hewitt Avenue near I-5. The $10 lunch lasts from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with half the proceeds going to help members of Leapaga’s church in American Samoa and the other half going toward a community Thanksgiving feast in Everett.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

How to help

To see Marysville chaplain Tim Serban’s dispatches from American Samoa, go to www.snohomishcounty.redcross.org and go to the article “Situation Report: American Samoa” at the bottom of the Web page.

To donate to the American Red Cross, call 800-RED-CROSS (800-733-2767) or go to www.redcross.org.

A Nov. 7 lunch in Everett will raise money, with half of the proceeds going to survivors in American Samoa and half for a Thanksgiving community dinner. It is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at A Ray of Hope Mission, 2914 Hewitt Ave.

The menu features teriyaki chicken and kalbi-style ribs. The suggested donation is $10.

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