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A call from Haiti relates tragic loss of a dear friend

As Sue Ann Call listened to her phone messages Saturday afternoon, Jan. 16, she heard the voice of a dear friend. Although the voice was familiar, something was different.

"I've lost Annia," her friend said. "She's gone."

The sound of sadness echoed in his few words.

As Sister Call heard the news she burst out screaming.

"This just can't be happening," she recalled saying, "It just could not be so."

Jony and Annia St. Louis came to Salt Lake City from Haiti in 2005 to be sealed in the Salt Lake Temple. Annia died after injuries sustained from the earthquake in Haiti in Jan. 2010. Dr. Jeffrey G. Randle, right, established a medical clinic in Haiti where Bro. St. Louis worked.  The clinic was destroyed in the earthquake last week.
Jony and Annia St. Louis came to Salt Lake City from Haiti in 2005 to be sealed in the Salt Lake Temple. Annia died after injuries sustained from the earthquake in Haiti in Jan. 2010. Dr. Jeffrey G. Randle, right, established a medical clinic in Haiti where Bro. St. Louis worked. The clinic was destroyed in the earthquake last week. Photo: Photo courtesy of Charlotte Pratt

For some, the earthquake in Haiti is something they read about in the paper or watch on a news channel. But for others — like Sister Call — the large earthquake was an upsetting blow to an area filled with people they love.

"It was devastating to hear his voice," she said.

Jony and Annia St. Louis visit Salt Lake City in 2005 and posed on the roof of Conference Center.
Jony and Annia St. Louis visit Salt Lake City in 2005 and posed on the roof of Conference Center. Photo: Photo courtesy of Charlotte Pratt

With a 4-year-old boy named Sam and a 7-month-old daughter named Shy Ann by his side, the young father, Jony St. Louis, is not left alone. But life for the St. Louis family will never be the same.

During the powerful earthquake that hit the Caribbean island nation of Haiti on Jan. 12, Jony's wife, Annia, was taking a nap in their residence. The family lived on the bottom floor of a two-story home that came down on her during the quake.

It took six hours to get Sister St. Louis out from the rubble. After being trapped, her back, hips and pelvis were injured. She was treated for head injuries, but due to the internal injuries, four days later she died, leaving behind her husband and two children.

Jony and Annia St. Louis visit Utah, their first time visiting the snowy mountains in Utah.
Jony and Annia St. Louis visit Utah, their first time visiting the snowy mountains in Utah. Photo: Photo courtesy of Charlotte Pratt

Sister Call and her husband, Richard, a rheumatologist from Pleasant Grove, Utah, met Jony St. Louis during their travels to Haiti with the organization Healing Hands for Haiti. This organization of volunteers set up a clinic in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1999 to give medical attention to those in need. They met because Jony works at the clinic. Brother and Sister Call have traveled to in Haiti 12 times since 2001. Each time they traveled, they saw Brother St. Louis at the clinic and became good friends.

"We just became like extra parents," Sister Call said. "We were always in contact with each other [through e-mail]. And he would be there at the clinic when we would visit."

Jony joined the Church in his youth and later served a mission to Haiti. While he was a missionary, he served with many companions who spoke English, helping him learn the English language. Because of these abilities, he was able to get a job translating at the clinic. Through his work and also through Church, he has met many visitors from the United States.

Jony and Annia St. Louis visit Salt Lake City in 2005. Cory Bagley is in front of plane with Jony and Annia.  Cory is a volunteer for Healing Hands for Haiti.  He took them flying to see the valley, the mountains and Kennecott Copper Mine. Annia died after injuries sustained from the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010.
Jony and Annia St. Louis visit Salt Lake City in 2005. Cory Bagley is in front of plane with Jony and Annia. Cory is a volunteer for Healing Hands for Haiti. He took them flying to see the valley, the mountains and Kennecott Copper Mine. Annia died after injuries sustained from the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010. Photo: Photo courtesy of Charlotte Pratt

"The first time I met Jony I did not have to be told he is a member of the Church," said Charlotte Pratt, another volunteer who traveled to Haiti. "He talked of hope for his future and optimism for his homeland."

Although opportunities in the past have come, providing a way to move to the United States, both Brother and Sister St. Louis felt they needed to stay in Haiti and help build up the Church, as well as within the community. She had just completed her studies in medical school through the Perpetual Education Fund program.

"Annia was dedicated to get her education so they could stay in Haiti, determined to help their people," Sister Call said. "Their faithfulness was incredible."

But most of all, Annia St. Louis' dream was for her eternal family.

Annia, Jony and their son Sam in March 2009  at the Healing Hands for Haiti compound in Haiti.  Annia is pregnant with her daughter.  The other people in the picture are George Pratt and his two children Elizabeth and Clayton.
Annia, Jony and their son Sam in March 2009 at the Healing Hands for Haiti compound in Haiti. Annia is pregnant with her daughter. The other people in the picture are George Pratt and his two children Elizabeth and Clayton. Photo: Photo courtesy of Charlotte Pratt

"Her dream was always to be sealed in the temple and to have her own baby," Sister Call said. "She got both of her dreams and I guess fulfilled her calling here on earth."

In 2005, Jony and Annia St. Louis traveled from Haiti to the Salt Lake Temple to be sealed (see Mormon Times article, "It's a small Mormon world: Members meet in unexpected places," Nov. 19, 2009). Many friends who had met Brother St. Louis while volunteering in Haiti through the clinic surrounded the couple, making it a memorable day for many.

"When he became engaged there were many of us here in Salt Lake that wanted to be in attendance," Sister Pratt said. "It was cheaper to bring them here than to go there. So we did, and it was a beautiful, beautiful service."

During their 2005 Utah visit, Jony and Annia St. Louis ran into a sister missionary they knew from their ward in Port-au-Prince, who was  serving on Temple Square.
During their 2005 Utah visit, Jony and Annia St. Louis ran into a sister missionary they knew from their ward in Port-au-Prince, who was serving on Temple Square. Photo: Photo courtesy of Charlotte Pratt

Sister Call recalls that day in the temple as a wonderful memory.

"I remember her coming down the stairs," she said. "I thought I was seeing an angel, the most beautiful angel."

Since their sealing, Jony and Annia St. Louis started a family, progressed in their education and continued serving in callings and building the Church in Haiti.

Annia St. Louis was a great example of working hard and living the gospel, Sister Call said.

For friends of Jony and Annia St. Louis, visits to Haiti will not be the same. They are not alone. Although other family members now surround Jony and his two children as they search for food and water and try to recover from the quake, a void is left in their hearts.

And 4-year-old Sam keeps walking from room to room, calling for his mother.

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