Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mission President's Note

Here's more info on the Tokyo Japan missionaries for anyone who is interested. The mission president wrote this.

Now that things have settled down a little, I wanted to write each

of you and provide an update on the earthquake, our mission and your

missionary. As you know, the 9.0 earthquake hit Japan at 2:46 p.m.

last Friday. At the time, we had 60 missionaries in the church next

to the mission home for training. Fortunately, the missionaries from

the areas of our mission that were were at most risk because of the

Tsunami (Urayasu and the Chiba Zone) were all here for that training.

It became obvious very quickly that this was a major quake. We had

just finished the training and were saying good bye to each other when

it hit. There is a field of grass next to the church without any

overhead wires and so I had all missionaries go outside and stand in

that field. The major quake lasted a long time--probably a couple of

minutes. It was followed by numerous aftershocks, which are still

happening today and may continue for some time, but the aftershocks

are smaller and becoming more infrequent and probably won't cause any

serious damage.

Because of the size of the quake, the trains all stopped running.

Fortunately, we have a lot of extra beds, futons, and blankets in the

mission home and so we prepared for a big camp out that night.

Immediately after the quake, our attention turned to making sure that

all the missionaries in our mission were safe. We couldn't reach them

by telephone because the phone lines, while working, were jammed. A

few months ago, all our missionaries received new telephones with

email capability. The email provided a lifeline to allow us to reach

all our missionaries. By 7 p.m. that night, we had contacted all our

missionaries and knew they were safe. We told them to stay close to

their apartments and away from the ocean and bays. For the two

companionships we couldn't reach directly, we had the bishops check on

and report that they were safe. Immediately after the earthquake, the

Presiding Bishopric's Office started contacting us every hour to see

how our missionaries were. As soon as we knew everyone was safe, we

notified the Presiding Bishopric's Office and then started putting an

email list of parents together so we could let you all know your

missionary was safe. You should all have received an email from us

the evening of the earthquake.

The next morning, I sent an early email to every missionary in our

mission (which they received on their telephones) telling them to (1)

buy a week's worth of groceries and water for their apartments, (2)

stay away from the ocean and bays, (3) email their parents that day

and let you all know they were okay--I'm sure it is comforting to hear

from your missionary directly, (4) stay away from any downed wires (if

there were any) or broken glass, etc. and (5) let us know of any

damage to their apartments or the church.

As you all know from watching the news, almost all of the damage is

north of Tokyo in the Sendai Mission. Our mission goes north of Tokyo

but not into the major disaster zone. There are 4 sets of

missionaries who were relatively close (approximately 81 miles/130

kilometers) to the failed reactors in Fukushima and, just to be safe,

I have moved all four sets into apartments with other missionaries

further away. The destruction from the earthquake and tsunami in

Tokyo was quite minor. There was an oil refinery that caught on fire,

there was significant liquefaction from the tsunami in one area of our

mission and a few cracks in the walls of some buildings. But,

miraculously, there wasn't any significant damage to any of our

missionary apartments (two microwaves fell off the counters and

broke). Our missionaries are back to doing missionary work and

providing service wherever they can. The biggest service project is

helping people clean up their yards and get their cars out in the

Urayasu Area where the liquefaction occurred.

While I am sure the news you are seeing on television is scary,

especially about the nuclear reactors, Tokyo is quite safe. With

regard to the reactors, on Sunday I was in a church meeting with two

people who are very knowledgeable about the nuclear situation in

Japan. One is a lawyer who defends the nuclear industry in Japan and

the other is a person associated with the U.S. Air Force security and

safety in the Far East. Both of them told me that, while the risk of

radiation problems in Tokyo is not absolutely zero, it is as close to

zero as you can get. They both said that because of the directions of

the prevailing winds, there is probably more radiation risk to Seattle

(although probably not much) than there is to Tokyo. Tokyo is south

of the reactors and the prevailing winds blow east and north, out to


Last night I personally called every missionary companionship in

the mission (right now we have 74 companionships) and made sure they

were all doing well and were safe. I told them for the next month or

so to always keep a week's worth of water and food in their

apartments. They are all happy, content and working hard. They are

even getting used to the aftershocks. The biggest problem we have is

that most of the grocery stores in Japan only carry enough food

supplies for a half a day and are restocked twice a day. Our

missionaries have all been able to get plenty of food but at certain

times of the day there might not be any bread or milk on the shelves.

This problem will correct itself soon. Gasoline is also a little

harder to get but that isn't a problem for the missionaries because

they all ride bikes. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) was

supposed to be starting rolling blackout yesterday for 3 hours a day

in each area of Tokyo but that didn't happen yesterday and we are not

sure when, if at all, the blackouts will begin. With several of the

reactors knocked out, there will probably be some power shortages.

But, we are prepared for that and it shouldn't be a problem.

Overall, the Japan Tokyo missionaries are all happy, safe,

working hard and having a great experience. We are constantly praying

for the missionaries, members and people north of us. There is much

disaster and sadness up there but it all occurred 150 to 300 miles

north of us. I'm sure the news makes it look like all of Japan is

affected (and maybe of you probably think of Japan as a relatively

small island) but we are actually quite far from the destruction and

are safe and doing well.

We continue to monitor the situation very carefully. You can rest

assured that the church would not do anything to jeopardize the safety

of its missionaries. As your son or daughter's mission president, I

will do all I can to make sure the Tokyo missionaries are safe,

comfortable and continue to have a great experience. The missionaries

in the Tokyo Mission are absolutely wonderful and it's an honor to

serve with them. Thank you for preparing and sending them to our

mission. This is a time to pray for those in the Sendai Mission area

of Japan, especially those who have lost loved ones. I'm sure we will

see continuous miracles both in the safety and the hearts of the

people as the events unfold.

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