"Elder Miller Edward Toa, age 20, from Layton, Utah, serving in the Micronesia Guam Mission, died on Thursday, March 13, from injuries resulting from a fall. Elder Toa, who began his missionary service in April 2013, had been serving on the island of Weno. We are saddened at Elder Toa's passing and extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends during this difficult time."
Elder Toa's parents published the following statement:
"It is with much sadness that we let all our family and friends know that our son, Miller Edward Toa, has been called home to Heavenly Father, who needed him more. Our stake president and bishop were here earlier this evening to let us know. We don't have much yet to go on, other than we are waiting for our son be returned home to Utah."
Before the Federated States of Micronesia became independent, the island of Weno used to be known as Moen, and the Chuuk island group was known as Truk. Until the end of World War II, the islands were possessed by Japan; a significant portion of the Japanese fleet was based at Chuuk. In February 1944, Operation Hailstone, one of the most important naval battles of the war, took place at Truk, in which many Japanese support vessels and aircraft were destroyed. As a result, Chuuk is a tourist attraction to divers who enjoy exploring many of the sunken shipwrecks that remain in place.
After the war, Chuuk became part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. All of Micronesia became fully independent on November 3rd, 1986 under a Compact of Free Association with the United States. The Compact of Free Association allows Micronesian citizens to join the U.S. military without having to obtain U.S. permanent residency or citizenship, allows for immigration and employment for Micronesians in the U.S., and establishes economic and technical aid programs. The United States remains completely responsible for Micronesia's external military defense. Mormons are listed as one of the seven most prominent religious groups in Micronesia; there are 4,565 LDS members in residence.
The Micronesia Guam mission not only includes the Federated States of Micronesia, but also the U.S. Territory of Guam, Palau, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Although English is the official and common language, native languages are widely spoken outside the four state capitols of the FSM. Some comments from people who either knew Elder Toa or who previously served in the Micronesia Mission:
Lisa Holbrook Nampa, ID 2:04 p.m. March 13, 2014 (Deseret News):
My heart goes out to the Toa Family. We knew Elder Toa when he was in primary with our kids many years ago. I am saddened by the news but thankful for the blessing of Heavenly Father's plan. Heavenly Father will have a valiant young missionary to serve on the other side.
Sending prayers at this difficult time.
Carriek4 posted 2 hours ago (KSL Channel 5):
My son has been serving with Elder Toa and love him dearly. They are a tight knit group of boys serving together in the Chuuk mission. My thoughts and prayers are with the Toa family.
mcenut posted 1 hour ago (KSL Channel 5):
To Elder Toa's family and friends. I was greatly saddened with this news. My the Lord comfort you in this time of grief. I served in the Micronesia Guam Mission from 1986 and 1988 and have spent several days on Weno (but I knew it as Moen) and know that they are a choice people that Elder Toa was called to serve. In a way he just got transferred to another area. Peace be unto you.