LDS families finally hearing from missionaries in Japan

Published: Monday, March 14 2011 7:00 p.m. MDT

Mike Taylor said Monday evening that most of the missionaries who had been housed in the Koriyama evacuation center had been allowed to go home, with the Sendai mission president and office staff relocated. However, his son was among the eight who still remained, unable to return to their living quarters as of yet because of quake damage.

Meanwhile, in the wake of last week's devastating combination of earthquake and tsunami that hit northeast Japan, the LDS Church continues to assess its potential involvement in relief efforts and the direct impact to its members.

News reports say the death toll of Friday's earthquake and ensuing tsunami is approaching 3,000 and expected to continue to rise, with most of the casualties expected to be the result of tsunami rather than the quake. The national government is responding to the casualties, the tens of thousands who are homeless and the millions without power by mobilizing troops, plans and ships in major emergency-response efforts.

FIRST PRESIDENCY STATEMENT: The LDS Church's First Presidency issued the following statement: "We express our love and support to the people of Japan as they deal with this terrible tragedy. Our prayers, and the prayers of millions of Latter-day Saints across the world, are with them as they begin to recover from this disaster.

MISSIONARIES: The church reported Saturday that all missionaries serving in the six Japan-based missions are safe and accounted for, and all missionaries are located a safe distance away from Japan's damaged nuclear plants. Mission leaders continue to take precautions that their missionaries remain safe.

CHURCH MEMBERS: While initial reports contain no reported deaths, church leaders say it is likely members have been directly impacted by the earthquake. An estimated 95 percent of the LDS members in the affected areas have been contacted; however, there is limited information on the status of members in the areas most adversely affected.

RELIEF AID: Despite communication and transportation difficulties in the most devastated areas, local LDS leaders are meeting with government and humanitarian organizations to discuss possibilities of providing assistance.

CHURCH BUILDINGS: Church leaders acknowledge some buildings having sustained varying degrees of damage, with local leaders continuing to assess the condition of other church buildings. Reports on the status of the Tokyo Japan Temple said it suffered no significant damage.

e-mail: taylor@desnews.com

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