Japan Sendai Missionaries offer 'Mormon Helping Hands' in Japan recovery effort

From the window of a bus, Elder Patrick Hiltbrand recognized the streets and buildings around him. He saw his old apartment, the places he shopped for groceries and the streets where he proselytized as a missionary.

On June 16, three months after being trapped on the second story of a Church meetinghouse while water from a massive tsunami consumed the city below him, Elder Hiltbrand returned with others from the Japan Sendai Mission to help rebuild this community.

"It is a weird feeling to realize the last time I was here cars were piled up on top of each other," said Elder Hiltbrand of Pocatello, Idaho. "It feels good to be able to serve people and help people where I was able to see what happened to them."

The 9.0 magnitude earthquake and powerful tsunami, which struck Japan March 11, left 15,401 dead, displaced thousands and destroyed more than 551,000 homes, according to Japan's National Police Agency. To date, some 8,146 people remain missing.

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