Elder Costa Offers Comfort and Relief in Japan
Contributed By Conan Grames, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, ASIA NORTH AREA
Elder Claudio R. M. Costa of the Presidency of the Seventy traveled through Japan recently, offering comfort, direction, and relief to those still recovering from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the country on March 11.
Elder Costa and his wife, Margareth Fernandes Morgado, spoke at a fireside in Sendai, located near the original epicenter of the magnitude-9.0 earthquake, where the worst of the damages occurred.
“In 1832, the Lord . . . knew what was going to happen here,” he said, citing section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants. “He sent us His message to provide peace to our hearts . . . and to know better the God that we worship.”
Elder and Sister Costa traveled with Asia North Area President Gary E. Stevenson and his wife, Lesa, to the small town of Onagawa on the northeast coast of Japan during their visit. The village was washed almost completely away by the tsunami, and 10 percent of the town—approximately 1,000 people—are dead or missing in the wake of this disaster.
They presented the mayor of Onagawa with five vans to be used to transport villagers for shopping, to visit public baths, and to see their doctors.
Elsewhere, Elder Costa visited a large refugee center where nearly 800 people have been living together on the floor of a gymnasium since the disaster struck. Each family had a few square feet on the floor, sectioned off by cardboard, and blankets and clothes received as part of the rescue effort.
Sister Costa and Sister Stevenson visited an elementary school, where they presented the principal with school bags for the children. The bags were handmade by sisters from Church units throughout Japan.
In recent months, the Church has made donations to the Japan Red Cross and to three of the prefectures affected by the crisis. It has also purchased supplies and delivered large amounts of donated goods—in excess of 200 tons (180,000 kg). Approximately 10,000 Church volunteers have donated some 100,000 hours of service. The humanitarian relief provided in the Japan crisis will be one of the largest in Church history. Elder Costa said he would report to the Presiding Bishop that the relief is greatly needed, and the money is being well spent.
“The whole world is praying for you,” he told Church members in Japan. “I can see a bright future here. When we arrived . . . I saw much life and saw people with a strong desire to go forward and to do their best. I am grateful for your desire to serve the Lord, and I am absolutely sure that the Lord will continue to bless you.”