In the News

“In the News,” Liahona, Mar. 2005, N6–N7

In the News

Church Opens First Bishops’ Storehouses in Central America

In August 2004, the Church opened Central America’s first bishops’ storehouses, with facilities in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to help bishops and branch presidents provide food for those in need.

The storehouses will make available basic commodities such as beans, corn flour, wheat flour, oats, oil, powdered milk, rice, salt, sugar, and soy protein. They will be operated completely by volunteers.

The storehouses, requested by the Area Presidency, will help reduce the cost of meeting welfare needs in the area because commodities can now be bought in bulk.

Leaders emphasized at an open house that the welfare program is to support life, not a lifestyle. Those receiving help will do so under conditions set by the bishop or branch president, who asks the member to provide service in return whenever possible.

Deadly Typhoon Affects Church Members in Japan

Last year’s typhoon season proved deadly for Japan. Typhoon Tokage, which means lizard in Japanese, was the tenth this year. Usually only three storms make landfall in a typhoon season. Tokage, the last storm to hit, was the worst single storm since 1979. The death toll reached 78, more than a dozen others were reported missing, and hundreds more were injured. In total about 170 people were killed during the 2004 typhoon season.

Typhoon Tokage hit Japan on October 20, 2004, unleashing high winds and heavy rains that created monstrous waves and hundreds of mudslides in the country. It struck all three of Japan’s main islands before moving east into the Pacific Ocean, where it was downgraded to a tropical storm.

Much of Japan was shut down in time to prepare for the storm. Some workers were sent home early, public schools were closed, and local bus, train, and air transportation stopped. More than 927 flights were canceled, 265,000 homes were without power, and almost 10,000 people had to evacuate their homes.

Members of the Toyooka Branch, Fukuchiyama Japan District, were severely affected by the typhoon. It flooded the homes of 32 members, the missionaries’ residence, and also the branch’s meetinghouse. Members from around the area traveled many hours over flooded, damaged roads to provide humanitarian aid to Church members, their friends, and other neighbors.

More than 40,000 homes were flooded by Tokage, and more than 2,706 were seriously damaged or destroyed, according to Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency. The number of deaths and homes destroyed by landslides is high because mountains cover more than 70 percent of Japan. Many homes are built at the bottom of steep slopes.

On the following Sunday, members of the Toyooka Branch gathered in the upper story of the meetinghouse for sacrament meeting. “Truly, our bodies were tired and worn, but through that one-hour, irregular meeting, each member received spiritual nourishment,” branch president Yoshihiro Furutani said. On that day attendance was high and has continued to climb ever since.

Church News contributed to this article.

Japanese members helping to clean up in the wake of Typhoon Tokage are identified by their “Helping Hands” vests. (Photograph courtesy of Church News.)