Southern Baptist missionaries and volunteers finally distributed relief goods in Ishinomaki, Japan, this week after two weeks of attempting to gain access to the quake-stricken areas. Power outages, gas rationing, an escalating nuclear crisis and relocation of International Mission Board personnel hampered earlier attempts.

Ishinomaki — a small city of around 120,000 people — was devastated March 11 by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami. Officials estimate that more than 18,000 people died and thousands more are missing along Japan’s northeastern coast.

The 11-member team spent two days distributing relief goods at multiple locations throughout the city, including an apartment complex, a nursing home and a bus station. Everywhere they went, they found grateful Japanese, eager for someone to listen to their stories.

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