News Release

President Thomas S. Monson: “Our Hearts and Our Help Have Gone Out to Japan” 

President Thomas S. Monson told Latter-day Saints gathered for the 181st Annual General Conference Saturday that the Church continues to provide humanitarian aid in times of disaster.

“Our hearts and our help have gone out to Japan,” he said, noting that 70 tons of life-saving aid has already been distributed to ravaged parts of that country where suffering is the greatest since a powerful earthquake and tsunami hit on 11 March 2011.

Like thousands living near Sendai, the Onuma family has endured the catastrophic effects of the quake and tsunami that left their house and lives in shambles. “We haven’t been able to get our house in order yet,” said Mitsuko Onuma. “We’re all pretty tired, but everyone is staying cheerful and our hearts are happy.”

Before seeing to their personal needs, the Onumas had a greater desire — to first help others in their community. They joined with fellow Latter-day Saints to deliver tons of humanitarian supplies provided by the Church, such as food, clothing and blankets, to relieve the suffering from the effects of the devastation.   

“The relief shelter was really cold and people didn’t have anything to keep them warm, so blankets would really help keep them warm,” recalled Mitsuko.

The Church has a long history of responding to disasters and those in need all over the world. The Onuma family’s efforts are part of those of more than 4,000 members of the Church who’ve already served over 40,000 hours to bring relief to their neighbors of all faiths.

The Church leader assigned to Japan, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, said, “This is such an efficient and direct way to provide help immediately to areas on a local basis that get to the people that need the help most urgently, and this has been a wonderful resource that we’ve been able to witness.”

The blankets were purchased by a Utah-based company, and distributed through the efforts of the Church’s Humanitarian Services. The bulk of the blankets and supplies were delivered to shelters that more than 180,000 people now call home. 

“All of these supplies are going to both members and those in evacuation centers and other places in the devastated locales to provide assistance for them,” said Elder Stevenson.

The Asano family was one of the first families to receive urgently needed aid by the Church after the tsunami swallowed up their town, their home and their belongings. “More than pain and suffering, all I feel is gratitude,” said Hiroyuki Asano.

She added that the help has given comfort and a more optimistic outlook to her family after a very terrifying experience. “I feel, even though there has been a disaster here, I can be happy each day,” she said.

Hundreds of Mormon congregations in Japan plan to assemble 30,000 hygiene and cleaning kits in the coming days, with more service projects planned over the next few weeks. The hygiene kits include basic supplies such as soap, towels, combs, toothpaste and toothbrushes, and the cleaning kits contain sponges, rubber gloves, brushes, rags and cleaners packed in a reusable bucket.

The Church has provided scooters for volunteer members to deliver aid in areas too difficult to reach by car, and it has also donated 10,000 liters of fuel, which is great demand.

In addition, the Church has given a substantial monetary donation to the Japanese Red Cross,and more humanitarian aid is slated for delivery to the Japanese people in the coming weeks.


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