Hiltbrand_Patrick

Kari Huuis, an MSNBC.com senior reporter has filed a story on a young LDS missionary serving in Japan, the second story in as many days.  Elder Patrick Hiltbrand from Pocatello, Idaho is serving near Sendai, Japan and the reporter noted:

It was faith that landed Patrick Hiltbrand in the path of a tsunami last week, but arguably it was also his faith that got him out —as he survived the deluge in the upper floor of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the small town of Tagajo.  Despite the ordeal he has survived, he so far has no intention of leaving Japan soon, and that too has to do with his religious convictions.

Elder Hiltbrand and his companion were teaching the gospel to Japanese when the temblor began, and earthquakes are so common in the area, at first he didn’t think anything of it.  When they realized the severity of the quake, first the missionaries took shelter under a table, and then they decided to run outside where everything was loud and cars were rocking on the street. Huus wrote:

When it stopped, the two missionaries jumped on their bikes and rode to check on their apartment, then headed to the Mormon church in Tagajo, dodging newly created crevices and open manholes.

Along the way, Hiltbrand registered the shock and fear on faces all around him, wracking his brain for the right course of action.

“As we started toward the church I turned to my companion and said ‘our job today is to help people be happy as we can,’” said Hiltbrand. “I tried to smile and say hi to everyone.”

Then things got worse.

Any illusion that the disaster was over quickly passed as traffic built—with cars heading inland toward Sendai. Then police and fire vehicle sirens began blaring tsunami warnings.

Hiltbrand and Aiura climbed to the second story of the church, a building that is raised 4 to 5 feet off the ground.

The watched out the window as the water level rose rapidly, aided by the river that wraps around the town—and sucked their bicycles into a torrent, along with cars and debris.

Water began pouring through the church’s mail slot in the door of the first floor.

“From the second floor it sounded like a waterfall,” said Hiltbrand. “I went downstairs, and as I watched it coming in … the glass on the door shattered and water came pouring in.”

Read the entire story here.