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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Waves of compassion

The ELCA mourns losses, sends relief after the South Asian tsunami

Tamara Mendis and her daughter, Eranthie, 25, were traveling along the Indian Ocean in Sri Lanka to a family celebration in December. That trip turned to tragedy when the deadly earthquake and tsunami struck Sri Lanka and 11 other countries Dec. 26. A 30-foot wave toppled their train, which was carrying hundreds of passengers.

Interviewed by ABC News, Eranthie recalled: "Out the window you could see scenes of houses breaking and people already in the water." A spring graduate of St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn., she said she tried to save her mother, but the force was too great.

Tamara Mendis, 55, was one of thousands who perished in the disaster. Her husband, Eardley Mendis, is pastor of Purna Jiwan South Asian Ministry, part of Norwood Park Lutheran Church on Chicago's Northwest Side. He flew to Sri Lanka for the Dec. 30 funeral. A memorial service was held that day in Chicago.

Friends described Tamara Mendis as gentle, loving and intelligent. She was a passionate gardener and frequently cooked much-loved Sri Lankan meals for students at the University of Chicago Divinity School.


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