Member Stories, Vol. I

1.  Suzuki Misako from Kariya, written by Elder Spencer Sarager and Elder Brian Doll 

When Sister Suzuki Misako was 13 years old in her English class at school, the missionaries came to her school.  Since she was a kid, she has been really interest in English.  She asked the missionaries what they do on Sunday, and they said, “We go to church.”  She thought that all Americans go to church on Sundays.  The missionary gave her a flyer and told her to come to church.  She was baptized soon after that.

When she was about 15 years old, she became less active.  She did not go to church for 11 years.  During these 11 years, three sets of missionaries came to her house and asked her to come back to church.  Even though these missionaries who knocked on her door thought they didn’t have any success, it is because of them she came back to church.  She and her kids became active.

Throughout her life, she has always kept in touch with her first missionary, the one she meant at her school.  When her son was about to leave on his mission, that same missionary offered to pay for the portion of the boy’s mission that he didn’t have money for.  Her son said that he was going to work harder, now knowing that it was someone else’s money who was paying for him to be on a mission.

Now Sister Suzuki is an active member of the Church.  She is actually an English teacher as well.  Her son is married in the temple and is an active member as well.  Sister Suzuki is known as the “Missionary Mom” here in Kariya.  She always feeds the missionaries and helps us out.  She always inspires us to work harder and always says, “If you don’t work, then you don’t get fed.”  She is a great member and inspires us to work hard! (Her nickname is Missy.)

2.  Sister Endou, written by Elder Charles Hilton

Endou Shimai is a very strong member and helps out the missionaries so much.  She joined the church around thirty years ago and was one of the first members of the Inuyama Ward.  She is the only active member in her family, but that does not stop her from making the foundation of her home the Gospel or sharing her faith with her family and friends.

Endou Shimai has a dream to one day see a church built near her house and have a strong ward in her area, which is very far from the current Inuyama church building.  She does all she can to make this dream a reality.  Her house is always open for the neighborhood kids and she every month has FHE’s, eikaiwa, and other activities that neighbors, friends and families can come and be with the members and missionaries, and feel the joy of the Gospel.  Her home is always a spiritual environment where people feel the spirit strongly.  She is not hesitant to share the Book of Mormon or introduce people to the missionaries.

Sister Endou with Sister Baird (right)

Endou Shimai is a true example of Jesus Christ.  She has such a giving heart.  It is impossible to leave her house without being given something that she joyfully presents to you with a warm smile.  She will do anything to help others.  She always puts the needs of others before her own.  Her testimony is so powerful and when she shares it with others, they truly can feel the love she has for them and the love Christ has for everyone.  Her faith is evidenced in the sacrifices she makes and the lengths she goes to helping others.

3.  Branch President Aihara, written by Elder Andrew O’Hara

Branch President Aihara is a good man.  He tries his best to fulfill his calling.  He has many responsibilities as branch president, but he works hard to do everything he can.
President Aihara really likes to meet with the missionaries.  He comes to us before we have a chance to go to him.  The times we set don’t always work, but he is willing to sacrifice his time to meet with the missionaries.  President Aihara does whatever he can to help.

President Aihara is a convert to the church.  He met Brother Takagi’s daughter and if she was going to get married it would be in the temple.  Aihara accepted the restored Gospel and he has been growing in faith since then.

4.  Kawamitsu Kumiko, written by Elder Samuel Shimohara and Elder Jarom Roney

Sister Kawamitsu was born and raised in the Church.  When she was in high school, she invited one of her friends to a church party.  Her friend had a good time and agreed to hear the missionary lessons when the missionaries invited her to.  Sister Kawamitsu was a tachiai (member participant) for most of these lessons.  She says that it was a good experience for her to hear the principles of the Gospel explained simply.

During one lesson, she was shocked when her friend said that she had always believed that God existed and that she had been looking for Him.  Shortly after that, Sister Kawamitsu’s friend was baptized.  Her friend even later went on a mission.  One day, Sister Kawamitsu received a letter from her friend explaining the impact that “her missionary” had on her life.  She then said that she considered Sister Kawamitsu “her missionary.”

This experience lead Sister Kawamitsu to go on a mission herself and make the decision to be an “eternal missionary.”  She currently serves as the president of the Primary in Suzuka Branch.  She is married to the Branch President, Brother Kawamitsu, and they have four children.

5.  Brother Sato, written by Elder Axel Kerksiek

Brother Sato is an amazing member!  His example has helped me with my own pursuit to follow Christ.  Brother Sato was baptized when he was in college.  He was never a full-time missionary, but he served as a stake missionary in his youth.  His life is kind of a sad story, but it is full of hope.

He married a member who was active in the Church and they started a family together.  They had four children.  The sad tale begins with his wife leaving the Church when their family was still young.  As a result, all of the children are inactive.  Sato Kyodai alone has still managed to be completely active in the Church.

His children are married now, to people who aren’t members of the Church.  His only desire is for his family to be together, to receive the blessings of eternity.  However, his family has no interest.

I see faith, hope, and charity in Brother Sato.  He has a calming effect on people.  He never got angry once during the time I was in Suwa.  He is gentle, friendly, and will serve anyone and everyone.  When I was having bad days, he would cheer me up.  He would be a friend.  I am grateful that I was able to know him.  I hope he will be happy all his days.  I will never forget him, and how he helped and showed me how to follow Christ each and every day.

6.  Wakura Kyodai, written by Elder Kyle Macdonald

Wakura Kyodai is an incredible example of a strong father in the church. He currently  lives in Sakahogi with his family who regularly attend the Inuyama Ward.  He frequently has to travel on weekdays for his job and is often away from his family.  However, when he returns home on the weekends, church and family activities are most important.  He has raised a strong family in the Gospel, who are all individually good influences to others.  He was formerly bishop in the Inuyama Ward and has put in countless hours of time helping and strengthening the church and its members.

Wakura Kyodai is a convert to the church, and found the Gospel in his early 20’s.  His friend in college was taking the missionary discussions and referred Wakura Kyodai to them.  Although his friend lost interest, Wakura Kyodai was fascinated by the message and proceeded to be baptized.  This decision surely has and will continue to effect the lives of others in a positive way.

Wakura Kyodai is a good example of a disciple of Christ.  He is extremely humble.  After being released as bishop, he continued to work hard and do all that he could.  It is common to see him filling in and blessing or passing the sacrament with his son on a weekly basis.  He often takes time from his Saturday mornings to clean the church as well.  On one instance, he helped the missionaries drive an investigator to a baptismal service in Gifu.  The drive was about an hour each way and surely it was not his first choice for a Friday night activity after returning home from a business trip.  However, without any complaint, he was accepting of the request and it turned out to be a real faith builder for the investigator.  He exemplifies selflessness and always puts others before himself. 

He never got angry once during the time I was in Suwa.  He is gentle, friendly, and will serve anyone and everyone.  When I was having bad days, he would cheer me up.  He would be a friend.  I am grateful that I was able to know him.  I hope he will be happy all his days.  I will never forget him, and how he helped and showed me how to follow Christ each and every day.

7.  Written by Elder Danilo Duarte

One day in April, 2012, after having lunch, my companion and I went out to proselyte as we usually did.  For some reason, the day before during our planning session, we had felt we should visit this less-active member.  It was unusual for us to go right after lunch, but even though we did not comprehend why we had that impression, we were obedient and followed the promptings we received. 

As we headed to this less-active member’s house, we were stopped at a stop light where we saw a Philippine woman.  We looked at her and then when she realized our presence, she looked back at us and smiled, which for us, was a signal telling us we could open our mouth and start a conversation.  It began with a shy “hello.” Our conversation lasted for about five minutes.  We were able to get her phone number and address.  Unfortunately, she had to return to the Philippines.  But she said she would be back after a month. 

We held on to her contact information, and exactly one month later, we called her up and asked her if she was still interested in meeting with us.  We set an appointment to meet her that same week.  Our first meeting was unforgettable.  We walked in and, as usual, did a small introduction.  For our big surprise, she said she knew about us and about the Church.  That was because she had been baptized ten years ago. Her name is Ella.

She told us that after she moved to Japan she lost contact with the Church, and for that reason, she hadn’t attended meetings.  Here in Japan she married a Japanese man and she had a little girl named Hiromi.  Hiromi was 8 at the time we met her.  Ella san told us of the desire she had to go to church again and have her daughter get baptized!! We were struck after she said that, only nodding back to her.  After that event, we met with them one more time and we were able to set a baptismal date for Hiromi.  Hiromi got baptized one month later.  They have remained active ever since.

8.  Hibiki Shuji, written by Elder Kaminishi and Elder Olsen

Brother Hibiki is one of the most diligent Ward Mission Leaders we’ve ever met!  He makes many efforts to be involved in the missionary work we do and the work the ward does.  He magnifies his calling in many ways, organizing our efforts, and helping us work with ward leaders.  He never stops trying, and never complains when things get hard or when we’re unsuccessful.  He can make time, day or night, to talk to us and help us when we ask for it.

Aside from the responsibility of his calling, he still makes personal efforts to do missionary work!  One way he does that is by organizing and putting on special events for the ward to invite their friends to.  One of those is “Minna de Night,” a talent show that is done annually for anyone to participate in.  Brother Hibiki puts a lot of time and effort into organizing the performances, making the programs, and getting it announced.  His sacrifices bring a lot of good in the ward and show a good example of member missionary work to others.

We know that Broth Hibiki makes many sacrifices out of love, not obligation.  He works hard, serves others, and is kind to all of God’s children because he cares about them and truly understands what the pure love of Christ is.  People could say he works so hard because of his calling, but we know that he does all that he does in love and humility.  For all that he does for Ichinomiya, he deserves much more than our thanks.  He is incredible!

9.  Katakura Akiko, written by Elder Samuel Shimohara and Elder Jarom Roney

Katakura Shimai first met the missionaries when she was 19 years old.  She received an Eikaiwa flyer from them.  She had been studying and researching other churches.  When she read the name of the Church on the chirashi, she immediately felt the spirit.

The sister missionaries started teaching her on her twentieth birthday, and she was baptized three weeks later.  She later went on a mission to Sapporo.  She and her husband both currently teach the Suzuka Branch Sunday School.

She is married with two small children, Kou-chan and Mi-chan.  They are two of the most energetic children on the planet, but she works hard to raise them with a love of prayer.  Mi-chan is always quick to volunteer.  Katakura Shimai comes to Eikaiwa almost every week and almost never misses an activity.

10.  Brother Fabio Yukio Korogi’s testimony              Written by Elder Dong Ho Heo

Brother Fabio was baptized on March 22, 2010.  Brother Fabio was searching for real truth.  At that time, missionaries knocked on his door and he learned of our church.

What is real truth?  He thought a lot and asked God.  He struggled to know if the message was true and sought a sign from God.  He read in Alma and came to know that this message was true.  Then he was baptized.

Since then, he spends his time working with and for the missionaries.  When he does missionary work and when he sees miracles, he feels like he did when he was baptized.  He has a strong testimony that the Church is true.  Through receiving ordinances in the temple, he wants to grow closer to God.  He is always trying to be a worthy person.

11.  The Otani Family, written by Elder Zach Gish

The Otani family are amongst the most amazing and faithful members I have met on my mission.  Brother Otani is our Branch President with a loving wife who is the Primary President.  They have four amazing and angelic children, three girls and 1 son.  Nonoku is the oldest, followed by her sister Yuku, then their brother Yuji, and last is Mitca.  These are four of the greatest dendo fire-filled kids! We did FF with them and they have loads of friends they want to reach out to and bring into the Church.

From left:  Elder Kerksiek, Elder Hiruta, Elder Kaminishi , Elder Sambongi, and members of the Otani family.
The Otani family is filled with such charity and love.  They are also super diligent in everything they do.  Every time Yuji gives a talk or bears his testimony, he always opens with, “I love you my brothers and sisters.”  Nonoku and Yuku always went out of their way to befriend our investigator, Yuri.  And they became such great friends ever since!  They even invited  Yuri to come to church.  And she came! 

Brother Otani really loves the people of Tsu.   He really goes out of his way to make sure everyone is well and happy and you can feel his love anywhere you go.  Sister Otani has a ton of dendo fire!  Any time an investigator comes to church, she makes sure they don’t leave without hearing about the Gosepl.  And little Mitka taught beautifully what it means to have faith to Yuri.  I love this family!  This family is strong in the Gospel.  They are united with each other and the Holy Ghost.  They are outstanding followers of Christ and friends.  And they are legendary members here in Tsu. 

12.  Sister Kawase in Ogaki, written by Elder Axel Kerksiek

Sister Kawase is the sweetest, shortest member that I have met.  Her faith is unshakable and she has hope that is contagious.  Sometimes she has a little bit of military in her, but that’s what makes her strong.

Only she and her husband are active in the Church.  All of their children have fallen away.  She loves her family so much.  Even though she must be sad, she lives each day with a smile on her face.  She comes to church on Sunday because she wants to be there.  She is happier at church.

Kawase Shimai’s Christ-like example of patience, love, service and faith are some of her brightest qualities.  She brings less-active people’s children to church as well as her own grandson.  She is patient with everyone, even when 10-year-old boys tackle her!
She has hope for her family and she has faith in Christ.  She acts every day to try to make her hope a reality.  That’s what I have learned from her.  Act on our hopes and dreams.  She is an amazing member, mother, wife, and friend to the missionaries!

13.  Iwamoto Family, written by Elder Niklas Metsatahti and Elder Zach Gish

The Iwamoto Family!  They are originally from the Philippines, but they moved to Japan and are working here now.  They speak Tagalog, English, and a little bit of Japanese.  From what I have heard, they have been members all their lives.  Ken Iwamoto served his mission in the Philippines.  And Brother Iwamoto is now a counselor in the branch presidency.

Ken and Shishi met at a single’s ward.  Ken was dating another girl at that time, but his friend told him to date Shishi Shimai.  They got married about four months later.  Sophie is their daughter and she is four years old right now.

The Iwamotos are really an energetic family.  They love to have fun and they love missionaries a great deal.  The Iwamoto’s show love for everyone and they are always ready to help others in need.  Brother and Sister Iwamoto are saving money now so they can move back to the Philippines and help and teach their friends and families back there.

They are members with a lot of faith and strong testimonies.

14.  Saito Kyodai, written by Elder Kyle Macdonald

Saito Kyodai is an amazing member!  He has a very large family of 11 people, who he loves very much.  His occupation is teaching people how to construct aircraft materials, specifically the wings.  Due to his current job, he lives alone in the Inuyama Ward boundaries, while his family remains in Chiba, a town just north of Tokyo.  He does this so that he can support his large family.  In the economy today, good jobs are increasingly scarce, and Saito Kyodai realized that although inconvenient, this move was necessary.

Saito Kyodai was converted to the Gospel in his early 20’s after taking lessons from the missionaries.  He went on to marry in the temple and to raise a large family in the gospel.  Nine children is large for any part of the world, and particularly Japan.  He is very proud of all of his children and wears all of his decisions proudly.  Raising his children in the Gospel can surely lead to countless others being influenced by the Gospel and the blessings that it entails.

Saito Kyodai is always happy and full of energy.  He is currently the ward Young Men’s President and he magnifies his calling.  Although living away from his family is surely difficult, he never lets it show.  He is always willing to help other people in any way he can and help them to smile.  He loves helping the missionaries invite others to receive the same happiness from the Gospel that he received for the first time almost 40 years ago.  He is very active and loves to play soccer, and he is very good at it as well.  He is an awesome example to everyone around him and truly is a follower of Christ.  He exemplifies diligence in all that he does.

15.  Takeno Hisako, written by Elder Jordan Olsen and Elder Shimon Kaminishi

When Takeno Hisako was a girl, she met missionaries that might have been from another church.  She met missionaries from our church two years ago in Niigata.  They were able to talk about church and gave her a Book of Mormon.  After she came back to Ichinomiya, she met the elders again and began taking the lessons.  She would ask for commitments from the missionaries before they could even invite her to do anything!  They couldn’t challenge her to be baptized because she already wanted to.  She was well prepared by the Lord.

She has a great passion for the Temple and Family History work.  After hearing about it in her after-baptism lesson, she immediately began working on her own roots.  Even if she only has a little bit of spare time, she’ll try to work on it, as much as she can.  In August of 2012, just three months after her own baptism at age 72, she went to the temple to do baptisms for others.  She felt then that the spirits of those who passed away were rejoicing with her in the temple.  Because of that, she worked with more vigor on her own family history.  She has a solid testimony of the salvation of the dead.
Above all, she is a very humble, sweet member of the Church. 

She studies often, because she understands that she doesn’t know everything and has a lot to learn.  She rids herself of personal pride and is open to the advice of others.  Even though she has many talents, she will never boast about them.  She goes to church every week, and church activities throughout the week in order to follow God.  She is a wonderful lady and will continue to uplift and inspire others throughout her life.

16.  Kato Family, written by Elder Jack Koch

Basically, the Kato family loves missionary work.  When they began their marriage, neither were members.  Even when Sister Kato was baptized in her 30’s, Bro. Kato remained fairly opposed to the Church.  Around 20 years later, at age 52, Brother Kato was also baptized.  With their newfound unity, they spent the next decades working miracles and spreading the gospel.

Shortly after Brother Kato’s baptism, they decided to serve a mission together.  Under then-Mission President Stevenson (now Bishop Stevenson) the Kato couple served in the Japan Nagoya Mission as service missionaries.  Once they were released from that calling, they moved on to being temple workers in the Tokyo Japan Temple.

Now the Kato couple have invited the missionaries to have FHE at their house with any investigators every week!  They love to help and are very involved when they are here.  Unfortunately they spend half of the year on the plantation they own in Hawaii with their daughter’s family (who are sealed in the temple.)  We love, them, and feel their love for us.  They rock!

17.  Odani Kumi, written by Elder Naohiro Hiruta

Odani Shimai is now the Relief Society President.  She has five people in her family.  One of her children is a member as well, but the others are not. 

She met the sister missionaries about 1984.  Before this she had been interested in religions a little bit, but every religion didn’t fit for her idea.  When she was afflicted, sister missionaries appeared and she learned about the Gospel.  She still remembers the words of sister missionaries that first time they talked with her.  They said, “We came here because we felt we should come here.” 

Odani Shimai had been investigating the Church for over four years because her husband was adverse to her joining our church.  But the true reason was she wanted to grow her faith more.

On October 2, 1988, she was baptized in the Church.  She wanted to bring up her children to be able to have faith and to live in the Gospel.  After all, one of her sons was baptized and went on a mission.  His name is Satoshi and he is now one of the greatest ward missionaries ever. 

Odani Shimai is always kind and  helps the missionaries a lot.  Her strong faith makes us stronger.

18.  Itakura Kyodia, written by Elder Thomas Petersen

Itakura kyodai is a farmer who lives in the mountains.  He loves working with the missionaries and really cares for his wife.  He teaches Sunday School for the young men and young women of the ward.  He also teaches a cooking class near his home.

Itakura Kyodai was converted on the Island of Okinawa.  He was baptized at the age of thirty-seven on May 15, 1976.  When he attended university he studied to be a brewer.  However, he hasn’t touched alcohol since he was baptized.  His wife was the first to be baptized, about three years earlier.  His heart softened towards the missionaries and the Church after driving his wife to church for a while.  He is now one of the most active members in the Yokkaichi Ward.

Itakura kyodai has some of the strongest faith ever.  Whenever he works with the missionaries he has faith that the best things will happen.  His faith leads him to act, and he is an awesome member missionary because of it.  He also loves everyone and can always find the good in people.  He has a strong testimony of the Gospel and the changes that can happen in people’s lives when they accept it.  

19.  Brother Kotetsu Jo, written by Elder Shun Sambongi

Brother Jo is a member from Taiwan.  He is 26 years old and is studying Japanese.  His whole family was converted in Taiwan.  He has a father, a mother, a brother and a sister who all are members as well.  Right now he is living in the dorms of the college he is studying at.

Brother Jo was converted when he was a teenager.  The missionaries first came in contact with his father.  His father quit smoking and drinking and was baptized.  There was quite a different atmosphere in the home.  Then, Brother Jo’s brother and sister were converted.  Three or four years later, he and his mother were also baptized.  They really felt a difference in their lives and the Gospel really brought the Jo family together.

Right now, Brother Jo is serving as a ward missionary in the Gokiso Ward.  Although he does not speak or understand Japanese well, he works hard.  In the past, he also had the opportunity to work as a part-time missionary in Taiwan.  During that time, he did what he calls “Dan Jones Dendo,” at the super market.  He has strong faith, is enthusiastic toward missionary work, and is the nicest person ever.

(Note:  Dan Jones was an early church missionary who served in the British Isles.  He would stand on something high, and preach to people as they came by.  He may be the person who has personally baptized more people than anyone else in this dispensation.)

20.  Sakura Hojo, written by Sister Nishimuro and Sister Ishihara

Sister Sakura Hojo got baptized in 2010.  Her father was an investigator.  At first, she didn’t have interest in the message from missionaries, but when she listened to spiritual music such as hymns or primary songs, she felt the spirit. 

From left, Sister Ishihara, Sister Hall (with her daughter Sarah-Mei in front),
Sakura, and Sister Nishimuro

She decided she wanted to become a missionary.  She wants to feel the joy from missionary work and to know how great the joy can be through doing it full time.  Now she is preparing for a mission.  She goes to Eikaiwa and Institute.  She is doing missionary work with the missionaries, such as housing or tachiai.  She is a hard worker and diligent.  She is positive.  Recently she brought her sister to a church activity and FHE at a member’s home.

21.  Kazaki Yuki, written by Elder Peter Farnsworth

Kazaki Yuki is a young woman of great faith.  At the moment, she is the only active child in her family.  She attends church every Sunday with her parents and actively participates in seminary and other church activities.

Even though Yuki’s schedule is pretty crazy with her school, work and a part-time job, she still makes time for her family and church responsibilities.  It is normal to see her helping people out with a big smile and kind words.

Yuki loves the Gospel and isn’t afraid to share it.  She has been a good influence for her friends and family.  She’s always looking for ways to reactivate the less active youth in the ward along with her family members.

22.  Oscar Inoue, written by Elder Thomas Petersen

Oscar is a seventeen year old who loves performing magic.  His mom is Peruvian and his dad is Iranian.  He is bilingual, speaking Spanish and Portuguese.  He has lived in Japan most of his life.
Oscar’s faith is rock strong.  He blesses the sacrament almost every week at church and is also in charge of assigning the people that will bless and pass the sacrament.  He has also helped missionaries work with Peruvians and other Spanish speakers in Yokkaichi.  He also actively participates in his Sunday School class.

Because of his mother’s health, Oscar attends church by himself.  Right now he sacrifices his time and energy, and his high school education so that he can work full time in order to earn money for his mom and himself.  However, he is still active in the Church and is planning on serving a mission in a couple of years.

23.  The Yuda Family, written by Elder Peter Farnsworth

The Yuda Family is a really special family with incredible faith.  Even through challenging circumstances they have chosen to continue on in faith, patience and hope.  Even more than saying they love the Savior, they show it in their actions.  Sister Yuda is actually the only baptized member in her family.  Her two children, due to some challenges concerning permission, have not yet been baptized.  But that doesn’t stop Kenta or Karin from doing all they can to follow our Savior Jesus Christ.

Kenta and Karin have been going to church with their mother since they were born.  Now 16 and 12 years old, Kenta and Karin are still actively participating in church and seminary.

Kenta and Karin also love finding ways to serve others.  Kenta finds great ways to serve others as he comes early to church every week to set up chairs in the classrooms and sacrament room, then stands by the front door to greet people as they come in.  Karin, with her sweet and loving personality, has found ways to serve by helping the parents in the ward keep their children reverent and happy, as she works and plays with them.  She also has a smile to give to everyone.

Though not even baptized yet, the Yuda kids are a great example to anyone who sees them.  They work diligently, keeping the faith that one day they will be able to be baptized, as well as their father.  They want to become a family blessed by the everlasting gospel.  With faith as strong as theirs, it is only a matter of time.

24.  Sister Satomi of Takabata Ward, written by Elder Ryuga Nakanishi

She was baptized when she was 21 years old.  One day sister Satomi was consulted from a friend.  It was a human relationship problem.  Then she thought about it so much after that, she talked with a company colleague.   The colleague introduced a missionary to them.

Elder Nakanishi and Elder Matsunaga on right
A few days later, they met with the missionaries.  They were talking about the problem.  They couldn’t get an answer.  But Sister Satomi felt motivated to listen to the Gospel.  She had made a good relationship with the missionaries and was thinking about God,  Jesus Christ, and her love for her parents.  She listened to more discussions, and after one month, she was baptized and confirmed. 

She always sincerely prays and through the whole experience, she has grown up in her faith  in Jesus Christ, becoming very strong.  She also learned from many people’s good examples and is obedient.  She knows if we trust God and sincerely pray, God will bless us.

25.  Brother Hayashi of Okazaki Ward, written by Elder Shimizu

Always Brother Hayashi is smiling because he recognizes the blessing that God has given him.  And he greets everyone with an attitude like Christ.

Brother Hayashi comes to Eikaiwa every week.  This makes everyone who comes to Eikaiwa feel relieved.  Everyone who comes to Eikaiwa knows Hayashi Kyodai, unless it is their first time.

He has charity and love.  No one can feel uncomfortable when they meet him.  He loves everyone and everyone loves him.  He creates an atmosphere of peace.  His love makes investigators feel that it is easy to go to church again. 

26.  Kato Hironori from Nakatsugawa Branch, written by Elder Mark Gillespie

Brother Kato is a recent convert to the church.  He came to the free Eikaiwa class offered by the missionaries, then began listening to the message of the Gospel.  He was baptized on September 25, 2011, in the Nakatsu River.  He is 26 years old (as of Fall, 2012). 

Brother Kato overcame many challenges on the road to conversion.  He quit smoking and committed to stop other habits in order to obey the Word of Wisdom.  He also faced the daunting task of explaining his choice to join the Church to his family.  But because of his great faith, he was able to succeed despite the difficulties along the way.

Brother Kato is one of the most enthusiastic members of the branch when it comes to missionary work!  He frequently gives the missionaries help (especially in helping to teach lessons, where he shares his experience in becoming converted).  He has also put in his own mission papers and received a mission call of his own.  Brother Kato, soon to be Elder Kato, leaves at the end of October 2012 to begin a two-year term of service in the Japan Kobe Mission.  His faith, diligence, and enthusiasm will make him an exceptional missionary—just as they have made him an exceptional member.

27.  Branch President Jindo Yutaka from Nakatsugawa, written by Elder Ian Sanderson

President Jindo has been branch president for a year here in Nakatsugawa.  He is working hard to turn Nakatsugawa Branch into a ward.  He works with less-active members a lot and accompanies missionaries to teach lessons very frequently.  He is the epitome of Dendo Fire in Nakatsugawa.
President Jindo lives in the mountains of Nakatsugawa with his wife, mother-in-law, and his son.  He lives in a large, American-style home that he built by himself.  He has lived there for about ten years.  President Jindo is sixty-four years old and lived in Pleasant Grove, Utah about thirty years ago.

President Jindo is a convert to the Church.  He sells insurance for Aflac by occupation.  President Jindo loves to study the Gospel and is very skilled at English.  He is very supportive of and nice to the missionaries.

28.  Brother Colqui in Ogaki, written by Elder Axel Kerksiek

I have never met anyone like Brother Colqui before.  I think there is only one like him in Japan, or in the world.  As he would say, he “does not mess around!”

Colqui Kyodia is a comedian on the outside, but he has a powerful testimony and conviction about the Gospel.  I think the best lesson that I have learned from him so far is about reality--how to apply the Gospel realistically every day of our lives.  I can see that it is part of who he is, not just what he does or what he says.

Colqui has an interesting background.  He is from Delta, Utah.  His father is from Peru.  He went on his mission to Panama, and then came to Japan and has been here ever since.  And sometimes he speaks in a British accent.

Colqui Kyodai has a great sense of humor and can easily make friends.  He is a beast of a missionary.  His example of diligence, hard work, obedience, and love all help me to understand how to become more like Christ.

Colqui Kyodai knows that the Gospel was made for him, not that he was made for the Gospel.  With that lesson, he has been able to develop his unique personality, while becoming Christ-like.  He is someone that I can honestly say I will never forget!

29.  Sister Hiroe, written by Elder Aisaku Takabori

Sister Hiroe is the BEST.  She is always trying to improve.  She has strong faith and is one of the nicest people I have met in Japan yet.  But this doesn’t mean she has it easy.  Her husband is less-active.  Her son (Takuto) also has Aspergers Syndrome, which can be hard for her sometimes.  Even though she has all these trials, she is still pressing on.

Currently she is serving as the Primary President.  Lately she has also started having missionaries over for FHE, where many of Takuto’s friends come too.  Her home is always open for the neighborhood kids to come and play.  Those kids can be a little rambunctious too, but she is always smiling and laughing her way through the day.

She travels every month to find help coping with the trials in her life.  She goes to seminary as far as Tokyo with her son to be able to overcome her human nature.  What a shining example she is.  She is always looking to improve.

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