Member Stories, Vol. II

1.  When You Believe, written by Elder Kastle Soliai

On my sixth transfer, I had just become a senior companion for the first time and left my first area, so I was a little nervous.  But I knew if I continued doing what was right, the Lord would guide me.  I got to Tsu and quickly realized the previous missionaries had…well, to be frank, had NOT been working.  Also, my district of 8 was one of the largest, yet I was young and everyone else had followed Tsu’s previous DL’s example and “gone to sleep.”  When I met with each of the branch leaders that week, they seemed “hungry” and EXCITED to finally get the work going and I assured them that this time the missionaries would be on their side fighting just as hard. 

There were only about 20 active members in Tsu Branch each week, so before I went to church the first Sunday, I made sure to memorize them all.  My companion and I prayed that Saturday night and promised the Lord that we would be PERFECTLY obedient in order to achieve our unity goal of one to three baptisms that transfer, even though we had no investigators.  But we believed.

That Sunday I was able to greet 19 members. I realized that there was a lot of work to do to help out the branch and quickly made plans to serve the members.  That evening I called the one person who hadn’t come to church, Zenaida Shimai. Even on the phone I could tell she was struggling spiritually, but that she had a strong testimony and only needed a helping hand.  We made plans to meet. When we went to her home there was also, to our surprise, a former investigator, Mariko Noguchi, who we had been looking for.  We built trust with Zenaida, and she told us she did need help.  We promised to do our best, even though I didn’t know exactly how.

Two weeks later the answer came in the form of her two nieces and nephew: Miko, Krisha, and Klark Mori, who came to visit because their mother had passed away.  That Sunday when they came to church, Zenaida said, “I want you to baptize them.”  I told her, “It may not be that simple, but if you’re willing, we can do a miracle together.”  The next two weeks I saw Tsu Branch light up on fire as members worked in unity with us to teach those children every day, and ensure they were all taken care of to be baptized.  Zenaida stopped a lot of things and began to be committed to everything the kids were.

At the baptism of Mariko Noguchi, Krisha and Klark, I saw a family healed.  Less active Zenaida and Miko were changed for good!  I saw Tsu Branch members cry and hug each other, apologizing for the strife that had been between them.  I saw eight Tsu District missionaries “wake up,” and begin to diligently serve the Lord.

We achieved our goal of three baptisms that transfer, but it was so much more than that.  It was a testimony that God lives and loves us so much, and that through the Gospel all our pains can be taken and healed.  There can be miracles, when you believe.

2.  Brother Kanbe’s conversion story, written by Elder Charles Baker

Before we start into the member conversion story, I want to first write a miracle story in itself of how we met with Brother Kanbe.  Elder Harada and I haven’t been in Fukui very long.  Elder Harada has been here for only two weeks, and I have been here almost one transfer.  Honestly, so far it has been really difficult to make good relationships with these people.  They live far away and go home from church early.  But these last two weeks we have been really trying hard to find one member to tell us their conversion story and really get to know them.

After trying hard to get an appointment set up on Sunday, by the end of the day, we still had none.  We decided we would start calling people later in the week.  That didn’t work either; everyone was busy.  We got discouraged more when no one showed up at our Eikaiwa class.  We sat there for 20 minutes and then, out of nowhere, one of our members popped in his head and then came in and started talking with us.  It truly was a miracle.  We talked for about an hour about him and his conversion story.  We made a really good relationship with him and were so grateful for the wonderful miracle and tender mercy God showed us that day.
From left:  Elder Harada, Bro. Kanabe, and Elder Baker
When Brother Kanbe was young and up until about his late 20’s, he was Buddhist and believed in Buddhist traditions.  One day he had a dream.  In the dream, he was in his house which was very close to a mountain.  When he went to look out the window, he saw that it was raining really hard and that it started to flood enough to cause a river to be coming down the mountain. 

As he looked out the window, he saw a box flowing down the river.  When he saw it, his interest was sparked.  He really wanted to know what was in the box.  He went outside and got the box.  When he looked inside, he saw some Japanese relics:  armor and two guardian dog stones.  He took them out of the box, looked at them, and put them all back in.  After he finished doing that, two people came down the mountain in a truck.  They asked him if he had seen the box and he gave it to them. When they pulled out the things, the two dog relics were gone and nowhere to be found.  At that moment, the dream stopped and he woke up.

From that point on, he went on wondering what that dream meant.  He went to many different libraries and prayed a lot about it to receive an answer, but he couldn’t figure out what the meaning of those two dog statues was.  One day, as he went to a mountain to pray for a Buddhist activity, as he was praying he saw the two dog relics.  They were there on the mountain.  From that, he decided that because they were taken out of the box, his religion wasn’t true.  He felt he had to search for the true religion.

A couple of weeks later, he had another dream.  In this dream he was in a dark world and Satan appeared to him and asked him if he believed in God or not.  He thought about it and said, “Yes, I believe in God.”  Just as he said that, three figures appeared to him, bright figures that cleared the darkness away.  Right when that happened, he woke up.

The next couple of weeks he was earnestly praying to find the truth.  Within that week, the missionaries showed up at his door and asked him if he wanted to learn about God, Christ and the Holy Ghost.  In one month, he learned all the lessons and was baptized on Jan. 27, 1998.  He is a strong and active member to this day, and he is so thankful to the missionaries for helping him find his way.

3.  Sister Nozomi Kawabata, written by Elder and Sister Matsuhashi

Sister Nozomi is currently 20 years old, a college student studying to become a nursery teacher.  Everyone in her family is a Church member.

When we first came to Matsumoto, she was not strong in the Church.  She had no interest in Young Single Adult activities.  However, a friend encouraged her to attend a YSA Conference which was going to be held in May this year.  She agreed to attend.

In preparation to the conference, we taught her ball room dancing.  She took it up quickly, showing great talent for a beginner.  She seemed to be fond of dancing; though we only taught her for a brief time, she would take dance steps looking happy.  We think she gained confidence through the lessons.

Sister Nozomi
She went to Nagoya with her sister to attend the three-day conference.  We had a chance to speak with her sister when they were traveling back to Matsumoto.  She said happily, “Nozomi says that she wants to go to the temple!  She’s never said that before!  I’m so excited!!”  Of course, we joined her rejoicing.

Sister Nozomi said in testimony meeting that she had gone to conference “to find friends she could go to the temple with.”  We were touched at the programs held at the conference as well as Sister Nozomi’s attitude in attending it.

There was an obvious change in Sister Nozomi since then.  She would talk more about herself, like: “I’m going to the temple soon,”  I’m going to date a returned missionary who served a mission in Hokkaido,” or “I broke up with my previous boyfriend.”

She once brought a paper-craft dog she made at college, saying she wanted to show it to Sister Matsuhashi.  One Sunday after church, she came over and said, “Look!  My skirt covers my knees!”  (Sister Matsuhashi had once told her that her skirt was nice but needed more length.)

Papercraft by Sister Nozomi
In June, Sister Nozomi was called as assistant to the YSA Leader, and has diligently been fulfilling her calling.  Her efforts are so filled with love.  For example, she says things like:  “How can we help the new family in our ward?” or “How can we help the children progress in the gospel?”  She thinks so much of other people.

Sister Megumi, Sister Nozomi, and Sister Hiromi
She made a surprise birthday card for one of the missionaries and arranged to have other ward members sign it.  When we thanked her for her kindness, she said, “I think the one who is celebrating is happier than the one being celebrated.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity to make the card.”

Sister Nozomi is now enjoying her life of faith filled with charity toward others.

4.  Nakamuda Kyodai, written by Elder Zachary Gish and Elder John Gauthier  

Nakamuda Kyodai was baptized about two years ago.  Before he was baptized, he was involved in very bad things.  He had bad friends that he was with all the time, and into drugs.  He then decided that he wanted to get away from all these bad people and he moved to Nanao.  He then ran into the missionaries outside the store and got baptized.

Nakamuda Kyodai is a very faithful servant of the Lord.  In this short time that I have been in Nanao, he has shown his faith by coming to church and helping out with the priesthood ordinances.  He is also willing to go out and do member lessons with us, and share his testimony of this gospel.  It is so wonderful to see someone like him to have come so far and learn to love everyone just like Christ.  And he is always trying to become more like the Savior.

He shows how he is living the Gospel values by following all the commandments that the Lord has given us.  Even though they are very difficult to follow, he exercises his faith in Jesus Christ by following all of His commandments.  Also, his love for missionary work is amazing.  He is constantly trying to help the missionaries bring people close to the Savior.

5.  Sister Ito Kiyomi, Shizuoka Ward, written by Sister Mariah Hunt

Kiyomi has been a member of the Church for 12 years.  After she was baptized, she started to pursue a career as an airline stewardess.  She leaned English by going to America and prepared diligently to accomplish her dream. 

When members suggested to her that she might have a problem keeping the Sabbath Day holy, she started to re-think her decision.  At that point, she was going through the end of training and was close to finishing what was a very long and difficult process to become a stewardess, including several years of preparation. 

Finally, when her non-member dad told her that she would often be apart from her family, she decided to drop out of her course and pursue a different career path.  She comes to church every Sunday and teaches the Gospel Principles class.  Because of her decision, she has blessed the members and the Shizuoka Ward since she was baptized.

6.  Sister Mizuguchi Megumi, Takayama Branch, written by Sister Miho Adachi
From left:  Sister Rogers, Sister Mizuguchi Megumi, Sister Adachi
  1.  Faith
Sister Megumi is a second generation member.  She was raised in a wonderful family  within the Church and taught the gospel by her parents.  During elementary school, she received the calling of branch pianist, so she had to come to church every week without taking breaks in between weeks.  But thanks to that, she received a testimony and came to love God.  Then through prayer, she has become a person who has learned to follow the promptings of the spirit without delay.

  1.  Christ-like Attributes
Sister Megumi is a sister full of love and faith.  When you hear her testimony, you will feel the spirit in abundance.  Because Takayama is a small branch, when she was in her youth, she was the only young woman.  But she came to deeply understand the gospel and while practicing great patience, came to rely on the Lord so through experience, she has developed many Christ-like attributes.

  1.  Other
Sister Megumi will marry in the Tokyo Temple on the 24th of November, 2012 and therefore move to the Fukutoku Ward.  Since she is 21 years old, she considered serving a mission.  She had wanted to serve a mission since she was young, so she gave the idea considerable thought.  A mission is an important decision, so even though it is far away, she went to the temple every month.  She came across D&C 6 and therein received an answer from Heavenly Father.  Through that answer, she chose to marry instead of serving a mission.  She often helps the missionaries and does FHE and fun lessons with them.  We’ve been taught a lot by her.  She is a wonderful example.

7.  Koga Shinobu Shimai, from Fukuroi,  written by Elder Brandon Hernandez

After Sister Koga got divorced, she became depressed.  She was depressed for a long while, and after some time, she began to wonder what she should do.  So she pleaded to God for help.  After she asked for help, her depression went away.  She got better from the depression and moved back to her mother’s home in Fukuroi.   A short time later she met the missionaries.  They gave her a Book of Mormon to read. 

One day she had nothing to read nearby, and decided she might as well check out the Book of Mormon.  She found it so interesting that she couldn’t stop reading it.  She finished the entire book in two days.  She was baptized not long after that.

Koga Shimai believes that God and Jesus Christ live, and when she prays she can feel them by her side.  She knows that when we follow the principles of the gospel and the commandments, we are rewarded with good consequences.  When we don’t follow them, we receive bad consequences.  She believes and feels that the commandments are extremely important. 

After joining the Church, she began to pay her tithing.  Then one day her car broke and she fasted because she didn’t have the 70,000 yen needed to repair her car.  After fasting, she looked in one of her dresser drawers and found, inside a small purse at the very back, 70,000 yen exactly.  With that money, she was able to pay for the repairs.  She came to know that when you pay your tithing, God blesses you.

Right now, Koga Shimai is taking care of her mother who has Alzheimer’s disease.  In order to stay home and take care of her, she had to quit her job and move in with her mother to provide home care.  Living at home with her mom, she has the money she needs to survive and sees that as a blessing from God.  She knows that God has been helping and will continue to help her in times of need.  Koga Shimai also does volunteer work (such as weeding and watering the Church’s plants) and is one of the brightest people you will ever meet.

We see many Christ-like attributes in her.  She has so much faith in God and in Jesus Christ that it is humbling.  She constantly strives to keep the commandments and Word of Wisdom.  She is obedient.  She is neither prideful nor boastful, and when you meet and talk to her, you want to be more like her.  She is humble.  She bears all the trials she is given with a smile, and will seek to help you with your trial instead.  She has love, patience and brotherly kindness.

8.  Hodaka Sakuma, from Numazu, written by Elder Mckay Seipel

Hodaka Sakuma Kyodai is currently serving as the Second Counselor in the Numazu Bishopric.  He is married and has one child.  He is a convert and a returned missionary.

While in college, he was found by missionaries who were housing.  At the first contact he was given a Book of Mormon and asked to read.  He wanted to talk with them then, but the missionaries had to leave.  About 2-3 weeks later, he was baptized.  He refers to himself at the time of this conversion as platimum, rather than golden because he was such a good investigator.

About three months after his conversion, he served a mission in Fukuoka.  He served in many leadership positions including assistant to the president.  From his experience as a  missionary he has become a great help to the missionaries currently serving.  If there is ever an investigator who has doubts about the Church, especially the members, we introduce them to Brother Sakuma.

In the first meeting of F & F (Fulfillment and Follow-up), he and his wife wrote down the names of almost everyone they knew who were not members.  He truly is a platinum member.

9.  Shibahara Hiroyuke Kyodai, written by Sister Chalese West

Brother Shibahara is an amazing person with great faith.  He faced a lot of hardships in his youth before he joined the Church.  When he was in his early teens, his parents divorced and he moved with his mom and brothers to Shizuoka.  It was hard for him to make new friends there, but he was really close to his younger brother, who was his best friend.  His brother had a handicap and had to use a wheelchair, but that didn’t stop them from having fun together.  But when Brother Shibahara was 17 years old, his little brother suddenly passed away.  This was really hard for him and he didn’t know how he would be able to make it through.

A short time later, as he was walking down the street, he was stopped by the missionaries who asked him if he would listen to their message.  He didn’t really like religion or want to have anything to do with it.  But he decided to listen to them.  When he was taught the Plan of Salvation, it brought a lot of hope to him and he knew he would be able to see his brother again.
Kneeling from left:  Zion, Sister Adachi, Sister Shimoji, Sister Saito, Sister Masuda
Boy standing: Isoya
Back:  Atsushi, Takahashi, Shibahara, and member of ward.
He was soon baptized and thought he wanted to be just like the missionaries who helped him, so he prepared to serve a mission.  A little over a year after his conversion, he served as a missionary in Okinawa where he met his future wife.  They now are married and have three amazing daughters and an amazing son as well.

When Brother Shibahara was just 25 years old, a few years after returning from his mission and getting married, he was called to the stake president’s house.  He went in and was surprised to see a member of the 70 there, who extended a call to him to serve as bishop.  Brother Shibahara was extremely shocked and asked if he realized that he was only 25.  The general authority explained to him that Joseph Smith was young when he became the prophet.  But Brother Shibahara thought, “That’s true, but I’m not Joseph Smith.”  But he accepted the call to serve.  He is now on the high council in the Shizuoka Stake. 

I can always feel his love for the Gospel when I talk to him.  And I feel the spirit very strongly as he testifies of his beliefs.  I can also tell he loves his family and that they look up to him.  They are such a sweet family and have really blessed my life.

10.  Sister Tachi Rie, Takayama Branch, written by Sister Miho Adachi

  1. Conversion Story
Sister Rie was converted one year ago.  But she was an investigator for two years.  When she received a big, warm hug from Sister Baird, she felt the spirit very strongly and decided that she wanted to be baptized.  She wanted to become like Sister Baird.  Even though there were many temptations, she did receive baptism , felt the spirit in abundance, and has been very happy ever since.

  1.  Faith/Christ-like Attributes
Her faith is very strong.  Every time we meet her, she expresses how happy she has been since she received baptism and never hesitates to tell her friends, “I am a Mormon.”  She has a lot of Mission Fire.  Not long after Sister Rie received baptism, her sister and friend also received baptism.  The change that the Gospel wrought in her and the happiness she feels, causes her to want her friends to feel the same happiness.  She has the faith to make it happen.  She loves God and is a wonderful daughter of his.

  1.  Sacrifice
Sister Rie works at a café in Takayama.  Because of her work position, it can be hard to come to church and partake of the Sacrament.  So she’s doing her best to attend.  When she does take the Sacrament, she feels the spirit and it causes her to feel very happy.  She’s so kind to the missionaries and always helps them. When we enter her café she lets out her “Hoiza Power” and always leaves us feeling re-energized.
From left:  Sister Adachi, Sister Rie, Sister Shaver

11.  Tani Shimai, written by Elder Evan Parry and Elder Yuichiro Kusume  
Tani Shimai with Sister Baird
Matsumoto’s very own Tani Shimai has a voice and laugh that can make anyone’s heart melt.  You would think she was Shirley Temple with that curly hair and that skip to her step.  She is a sweetheart who loves doing whatever she can for the benefit of others. 

When she was younger, she was stopped at the train station by missionaries giving her a hand-out for a free English Class.  First, she had some interest in English.  Second, she was curious why a Nihonjin was teaching English.  With those two interests and a pocket full of sunshine, she went to English class and soon after was taking the lessons from the Elders.  The two things that meant the most to her from the lessons were the Joseph Smith experience and the Plan of Salvation.  Throughout her life, she has felt comfort and peace knowing that death is not the end and that there is more after this life, another chance to live with her loved ones again.

She is a true follower of our Savior, Jesus Christ, in her example of charity, love, and faith.  Her love and giggles are contagious to anyone she associates with.  We love Tani Shimai and all that she does for us, the noticed and the unnoticed.  She is a lover of life and all of God’s children here on Earth.

12.  Nancy and Karen, written by Elder Evan Parry and Elder Yuichiro Kusume

Friends, embrace yourselves. Hailing from the West coast of the USA, is our very own Nancy Coughlin.  She is a tender heart who loves life.  She can be recognized by the yellow Nike shirt and “Nancy-go,” her own language which consists of “Da-lin,” “Carcass,” and a host of others.  She is an outstanding mother, always showing love and putting her children before herself.
Karen and Nancy (right)
Her conversion story is one to remember.  It was winter in Shimane prefecture.  It had been cloudy and snowing for weeks with no sign of the sun.  As she was in her house one day taking care of her young children, struggling with the trials of life, she saw a ray of sunlight shine through the clouds and come in through the front door.  As she saw the light, the doorbell rang.  At the door were two frostbitten missionaries.  She told them to come in immediately, and the rest is history.  In her own words, “I have truly been converted through the blessings in my family, the Elders, and just so many things.  I wish everyone could feel this.  I really do.”  Life has thrown Nancy many curveballs, but she has hit home runs with the help of the “teammates.”  Her love for the Lord and her family, her diligence and patience, has carried her through those slumps of life.

Then there is Karen, or as Nancy calls her, “Little Shuka.”  She is the big dictator in a little body.  She has an angelic face and a not-so-hidden talent for dirty looks.  For every one part of charm she displays there are two parts of sinister plotting.  She’ll get you with those model looks if you aren’t careful.

Like her mother, Karen was heavily influenced by the light of Christ and the love of the Elders.  After trials no one should have to face at a young age like her, she was rescued by the love, friendship, and the help of the Elders.  “The blessings (the Gospel) that have been brought to my family are amazing-- the blessings from the Elders, and the miracles and peace it has brought to me and my mom”  She won’t admit it, but she is loving and a friend like her mother, who has great potential not only as a model, but as a daughter of a loving God.

In the end, they are a sweet little family that love each other and are very blessed.  Even though they are pretty much too cool for all of us, we thank them for allowing us to be a part of their lives.  Carry on Nancy and Karen; we hope you sail with us a long time.

13.  Sister Kiyoko, written by Sister Aoi Yamada and Sister Anna Mari Thayne

Sister Kiyoko is an amazing sister with a great faith.  She used to be a less active member, but with the diligent work of my trainer, Sister Yamada and her former companion, Sister Kiyoko became a very active member last spring.
Sister Yamada, Sister Kiyoko, and Sister Thayne
She is the only member in her family and her husband is not very happy that she is going to the church.  Despite her circumstances, she is always cheerful, happy and she sacrifices a lot of her time for the Lord.  She was a great help at the Relief Society activity.  And she brought one of her friends to Sacrament Meeting one time. Sister Kiyoko started reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning this past summer when missionaries challenged her and she is almost done with it. 

14.  Takei Kesako, written by Sister Aoi Yamada and Sister Anna Mari Thayne

Sister Takei is always happy and kind to everyone.  We are always glad to see her warm smile at the church.  She visits less active members and potential investigators.  Everybody loves her visits because she always lets people know that she cares.
Takei Kesako and her husband.
15.  Brother Fujii, written by Elder Kevin Baker

As a member of the Toyama Ward today, Brother Fujii is an exemplary example to those around him as to what it truly means to be a Latter-day Saint and an example of the believers.  Since the time of his conversion 35 years ago, he has earnestly striven to fulfill all the callings which he has been given, ranging from a ward missionary to serving several temple missions.  His earnest zeal and enthusiasm for sharing the Gospel make him a great support to both missionaries and ward members alike in their community.

Brother Fujii describes the moment of his conversion as occurring when he was an investigator, during which time he had been assigned to read Alma, Chapter 5.  As he read and pondered the powerful message of Alma’s sermon on repentance in this inspired chapter, he was struck by the Holy Spirit which testified of the truthfulness of its words.  Shortly thereafter, Brother Fujii entered into the waters of baptism and became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  A year later, his wife followed his example and joined her husband in being baptized.

For some, following the commandments of God can seem a daunting and imposing challenge at times, especially after baptism.  However, this remarkable saint has never been deterred by such notions and has energetically endeavored to keep the promises and covenants he has made with the Lord since the time of his baptism.  This can be seen in Brother Fujii’s zealous keeping of the law of tithing (He has stated that on occasion he has actually given twenty percent of his income away!) as well as his tremendous work with less active members in his ward as a result of his time as a ward missionary.  Through Brother Fugii’s example, the Toyama Ward has been given a shining example of what it means to be a true disciple of Christ from which both they and those around them can look to for strength and encouragement.

16.  Teraguchi Kaicho, written by Elder John Gauthier

About 15 years ago, two missionaries were out “housing” (going from house to house, knocking on doors) in the cold and snowy Nanao weather.  Mr. Teraguchi opened the door and from the moment he met them, although he couldn’t always understand their Japanese, he felt the power of the spirit that was with them.  He and his wife were both baptized and even though now it’s only him coming to church, his greatest desire is to go to the temple with his family.

About a year later, he was called as the Nanao Branch President and has been ever since.  That’s almost 14 years!  He has lead the branch through his loving example and solid testimony.  Without his leadership and efforts to reactivate and strengthen members, the Nanao Branch would have closed long ago.  His favorite thing to say in English is “May I help you?”  He lives this all the time.

Teraguchi Kaicho is an amazing example of charity.  He is always working so hard.  He helps us in lessons at least once a week.  Yesterday he told our investigator that if she came to church, she would be friends with all the members and have their support immediately.  He is always smiling and showing love!

17.  Yashima Midori, written by Elder Landon Gibb

Yashima Shimai was born in Nanao and met the missionaries and started to attend Eikaiwa when she was in high school.  One day at the end of Eikaiwa, the elders shared a spiritual message and said the words, “I am not afraid to die because I know I can live with Heavenly Father again.”  She was startled by that.  She thought, “How can he know that?”  Yashima Shimai was always afraid of death and what would happen.  When she was in Junior High School, one of her best friends passed away.  When the elders testified, she felt the spirit and gained interest.

She eventually moved to Kanazawa and took the lessons from the sister missionaries.  She wanted to get baptized but her parents did not want her to.  It took nine months.

She eventually decided she needed to be baptized, so she fasted and prayed and went to ask her parents.  They had totally changed and they told her to do what she wanted.  She was 19.  She was baptized in Kanazawa about 10 years ago.

Yashima is still being an amazingly strong member and actually served as a missionary in the Fukuoka Mission four years ago.  She is always helping the missionaries and loves to share the Gospel.  She has a stake calling and also teaches the early morning seminary class in Kanazawa.  Because of her faith and her love to share the Gospel, her parents, who at first were very hantai, are now investigators and have made great friends with the missionaries. 

18.  Yosushi Tokuzawa, written by Elder Tyler Wakamatsu
Tokuzowa Bishop is the bishop of the Kanazawa Ward.  He has a wonderful family.  He has one son and two daughters, and his wife (Yuki) is great.

Tokuzawa Bishop has so much dendo fire!  He is a great member missionary.  He served a mission, and his wife also. 

He is a long time member.  He has great faith.  He works hard and he is a very diligent person. 

19.  Sokomoto, Carles Kyodai, written by Elder Dimas deOliveira

When I read the mail asking us to write about members who had changed our mission “life,” I thought of this member, Sokomoto Kiyodai.
Sakamoto, Charles Kyodai and Elder deOliveira
He was baptized 9 years ago and has a different conversion story and an awesome experience.  Some years ago, Sokomoto met Rose Shimai.  At that time she was just a friend.  She was already a member of the church and they talked about the church sometimes.

Though Sokomoto is Brazilian, he did not follow any Christian church but had Buddhism as a religion or philosophy of life.  One day he had a dream about his relatives.  They were in a beautiful garden and one of them came to him and showed him a very shiny tree with small lights on it and said, “You cannot allow those light to turn off.” 

Perplexed, he woke up without any meaning of the dream.  He asked his recent new friend, Rose, what she had to say about it.  She invited him to go to Church and to meet the missionaries.

And so he did.  A few weeks later, he got baptized and later married Rose Shimai.  Nowadays he serves as the institute teach for Brazilians and has the goal to marry in the temple.  He loves the idea of one day having an eternal family.

Why did he stand out to me?  Because since he was baptized, he has been working with the missionaries and always gives his best to follow what he learns at church.

20.  Jin Oouchi, by Elder Tyler Wakamatsu

Oouchi Kaicho is the Suwa Branch President.  He has a wonderful family.  It is large for a Japanese family, with five children. 
President Oouchi with Elder Wakamatsu
He met the missionaries and he had a lot of questions and doubts.  A year later, he got baptized.  He then got married in the temple.

He has a lot of faith.  He works hard as a branch president.  He is a humble man.  He is a very loving man, too.  He is a very nice and polite person.  He has helped me to be a more polite missionary.

21.  Brother Satomi, written by Elder Ryuga Nakanishi

He was baptized when he was 21 years old.  Before then he had many questions about life. For example, why are we here, what happens after we die, and what is the purpose of life.  He passed an anxious night.  Then he prayed with shouts and crying.

The next day at Sakae, he was in an unplanned meeting with a missionary.  The missionary told him about the Plan of Salvation.  He was really surprised because that was his answer!  He simply could not work out a solution, but the missionaries told him the answers.  He thought they were ambassadors of God.  He went to church and was baptized in two weeks.
From left:  Sister and Brother Satomi, Elder Nakanishi and Elder Matsunaga
He always follows the leaders’ statements.  When he listens to the prophet’s testimony, he feels the spirit strongly.  He also feels the spirit when he meets with the missionaries.

22.  Ayako Nakata, from Takayama Branch, written by Sister Jolea Ann Rogers and Sister Miho Adachi

Ayako Nakata Shimai goes by the name of Aya chan.  She is in her late 20’s and lives by herself in a small apartment in Takayama.  This young lady drives trucks from one side of Takayama to the other, delivering items of value to various people and companies.
On right standing, Sister Adachi
On right seated, Sister Rogers
Takayama is a small branch, so members usually have to hold more than one calling to keep the branch running.  Aya chan has been called as the branch Seminary teacher and therefore wakes up early five days a week, to teach the small handful of youth more about the Gospel.  Not only this, but she stands as the Young Single Adult Representative and therefore attends meetings a long distance away as a representative of the Takayama Branch.

Aya chan is a very bright light to all those around her.  She knows and understands the Gospel and lives it daily.  Despite growing up in a branch with very few members of the same age, she hasn’t once wavered in her faith.  Her example is one to be followed.

23.  Author Unknown
  1. A family invites us to dinner every Sunday night if we have no appointment.  And they give us much love and power through great advice and delicious food.
  2. We visited the Bishop’s house in order to give a blessing through prayer. The Bishop’s daughter was sick, so we wanted to do that.  After the prayer, Bishop and his wife gave us lots of food.  After all, we received a big blessing!
  3. Sometimes our mission leader brings many vegetables and when we aren’t in our apartment, he hangs the bag on doorknob like Santa Claus.
  4. After all, we receive so much LOVE from members!

24.  Arisawa Kyodai, by Elder Tyler Hooten             March 7, 2011

When I was in Takaoka, Arisawa Kyodai would always help us find the addresses of people we were looking for and he would always make sure we were well fed and had everything we needed.

When I was in Fukui and I broke two of my ribs, Brother Jotoku took me to the hospital and waited there with us until everything was okay.  He also paid for the bills until I was able to receive the money to pay for them.  He is always willing to feed us and help whenever we need a member for a lesson.

25.  Acts of Kindness, by Chalet Amanda Severson
Well, this has actually been hard!  I don’t know how to choose just one story and there is no time for them all.  But I decided that it was better to tell a little bit about each act of kindness instead of just one long story.

First is Christmas.  Sister Ashikawa had all of us missionaries over for Christmas dinner, so we weren’t away from home on the holidays.  She said that night her home was our home, so we were able to be home and with family (ward family) for Christmas.

Second is New Year’s.  Same situation, but this was with more than one family in the ward.  We had two dinner appointments lined up for five days.  We ate so much it literally made me sick.  The dendo shunin (ward mission leader) had a schedule on the board and members were so excited to sign up.  We didn’t ask for this or anything.  It was all done and organized by the members.  So much food!

Third.  There are two ladies in Gifu, Watanabe Shimai and Furukawa Shimai.  They are truly amazing!  There isn’t anything in Gifu that I haven’t done because Watanabe Shimai wanted to make sure I had a great mission and that it was fun, too.  So every P-day she would take us and Furukawa Shimai somewhere.  Then she would pay for it all.  This was way expensive, but it was the way she took care of us.  She was always taking us out to eat and treating us like her own kids.  She’s so cute.  Every time she saw us she had something to give.  Even now she sends chocolates.

Last, there is a little chiropractor in Okazaki.  He is in his 80s, I think, and every week he spends his time working on the ward members for free.  Every new missionary that comes, he will tell stories of how he went to school in America.  He says that God has given him a gift and he is going to use it to fix God’s ward members.  He loves working on the missionaries because we are the Lord’s missionaries.  He has even worked on you, Sister Baird, and always asks about you and how your neck is doing.  He wants to see you again. 

26.  Sister Mado Kumagai, author unknown

I want to share experiences about acts of kindness from members.

The best of AOK for me was from the Yutaka Family.  They took an investigator to and from the church (Meitou) for baptismal interview.  They waited two hours until she finished her baptismal interview.  And they took her to and from the church the baptismal day.  Yutaka Kyodai also performed her baptism.  They became really good fellowshippers for her.  I‘m thankful about these things very much.

27.  Birthday Happiness, by Sister Mari Mimaki

Feb. 12 was my birthday.  On that day a lot of members celebrated my birthday.  One investigator, Yuichi Kazumi, made a cake for me.  They celebrated me as a surprise and I was so happy.  A lot of members always gave love for me.  And when I got love, my heart was filled by love. 

28.  Kurokawa Kazoku, written by Elder Joshua Jones, Takaoka

I love this family!  The very first FHE was at their house.  I was very new to the area at the time, but they spared no expense when it came to making me feel welcome.  One of my fondest memories of this family is watching Kurokawa Shimai beat Iwata Choro’s time in the cups and balloon game.  It was hilarious!
From left: Elder deOliveira, four members of Kurokawa family.
From front right: Elder Correia, Elder Iwata, and Elder Jones
29.  Tsukiyama Gen Kyodai, written by Elder Joshua Jones

Gen-Kun is a wonderful person.  For the time I spent in Kariya, I couldn’t count the many times he would help fellowship our investigators.  He would always ask if I was genki and then even after I would say that I was, he would jokingly ask a second time.  There were also plenty of times where he could come and play basketball with us, but he would never forget to bring a friend!

From left: Elder Ikeda, Tsukiyama GenKyodai, Elder Jones, and friend.

No comments:

Post a Comment