Helping people was always something Josh Taufa liked to do, said his aunt Beti Mo'unga. In the months leading up to his departure for his mission, Taufa became the unofficial "taxi driver" for his elderly grandmother. He was always gentle and kind, happy to take her to a 7 Eleven for a donut and some soda, Mo'unga said.
His grandmother passed away in May while Taufa was on his mission, and now the family has had to endure another loss.
"It's really tough for the family," Mo'unga said.
For as gentle as he could be, Taufa was also an excellent football player, his aunt said. He played for Skyline High School before graduating in 2011. As the time came for him to decide if he wanted to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he had a difficult choice between that and football. Ultimately, his parents left the choice up to him, and he decided on a mission. It was a decision he wouldn't regret, Mo'unga said.
He loved the people in Guatemala, she said.
"All of the Guatemalans loved him because he was tall and big," Mo'unga said. "They called him 'big guy.'"
Mo'unga said that in the past few days, members of the church's leadership have come to the Taufa family's house to offer condolences.
Church Spokeswoman Ruth Todd said Taufa was serving in the church's Guatemala Retalheuleu Mission. He had been serving for 18 months. Male missionaries for the church typically serve for two years.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Elder Taufa's family and friends during this difficult time," Todd said in a statement released to media Friday.
Taufa's parents plan to fly to Guatemala on Saturday to retrieve their son's body. Funeral arrangements have not yet been officially set, but the family has set a tentative funeral date for Thursday.