What of the
帰還宣教師よりーFrom Returned Missionaries
Editor's Note: We are grateful that Norman Shumway who has written an autobiography has kindly agreed to share the chapter about his first mission along with pictures for a nine-part series which will run every other week. This is the second segment..
Since his first mission, Norman and wonderful wife, Luana, have served in Japan two more times. From 1996-99, Norman was president of the Okayama Mission for two years and the Hiroshima Mission for one when the Okayama Mission was closed. They have also served as the public affairs missionaries in Japan. Recently they completed another public affairs mission at the United Nations.
Memories of my First Mission
Norman Shumway Part 6
TOKYO MISSION HOME
President Andrus had called me to be the Mission Auxiliary and Publications Supervisor. I had a desk in the mission office and slept upstairs in the tatami room reserved for elders. My companions were the two counselors in the mission presidency, Elders Ben Oniki and Don C. Lundberg, and the mission secretary, Elder Jack C. Morgan. Two sisters, Nancy Kochi and Peggy Katsuda, were also assigned to the mission home. Nine Japanese employees, including a cook, maids and a gardener, completed the work force. (Picture above is of Tokyo Mission Home located where the Tokyo Temple now stands.)
My job was to select the lessons to be used in the Sunday School, Primary and MIA organizations, arrange for their translation, and then have them printed, bound and shipped out. Each month I wrote and compiled messages for bulletins known as the Sunday School Guide and the MIA Leader. I also prepared roll books and made out a monthly report for the auxiliaries. I authored study guides for the Primary, and served as the managing editor for The Grapevine, a monthly newsletter for missionaries, and The Messenger, a newsletter for members. The latter publication was replaced by Seito no Michi during my term as editor. (The picture above right shows the cover of first Seito no Michi published in June of 1957) As an ad hoc assignment, I was asked to develop a new MIA song book, working with Toshiko Yanagida. (See picture of Brother and Sister Yanagida below left.)
I coordinated all of this work with two typists using awkward Japanese typesetting machines, and three translators. While all of this kept me busy, I was also expected to be the companion for the mission secretary when he had to go downtown to conduct business at the bank, or for either of the other elders when they had outside chores to perform. It was a busy assignment, but I worked with good people in very comfortable surroundings.
In the “MIA Executive Manual” which I put together for use in 1957-1958, I wrote (and signed my name to) the following as part of an introduction:
Dear Fellow Workers:
Mere words cannot adequately describe our love and appreciation for you. We feel it an honor to be working with you, and are thankful for the cooperation and help which you have given us. Your ambitious efforts demonstrate well your desires to serve our Father in Heaven.
As officers of the Mutual Improvement Association, you have great responsibilities. It is your duty to guide the youth unto an understanding and a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, you must strive to satisfy the needs of the youth by providing “spiritualized recreation” in your Mutual organization. Such is the purpose of the great MIA program.
This manual has been prepared to help you in accomplishing your work as an MIA officer. We hope that you will read it, and make use of the suggestions presented herein.
President Andrus asked me to obtain a Japanese driver’s license (see upper right picture) so that I could operate the mission vehicle, a monstrous (by local standards) 1955 Pontiac station wagon. The test was rigorous. It required that I read many Japanese characters and perform feats such as backing up and parallel parking on a hill. Although I had not driven for almost two years and had no practice in driving on the left-hand side of the street, I passed the test. I was thereafter regularly dispatched to Yokohama to meet incoming missionaries or to take returning missionaries to the ship. I also frequently transported President Andrus and others to and from Haneda Airport. (Upper right picture shows Haneda Airport in 1959)
I was able to travel all over Japan, making several visits to some places. When I remembered that most missionaries were seldom able to see more than the five or six areas to which they had been assigned, I realized that I was fortunate. In addition to the usual museums, parks and monuments, we visited many very interesting locations. For example, in Okinawa we toured the premises of a leper colony; in Hokkaido, in the dead of winter, we stayed and bathed at a beautiful onsen (hot spring spa) and sampled some of the best aspects of Japanese living; in Kyoto we were sightseers at the most famous shrines and temples of Japan; in Okayama and Kanazawa we were awed by the exquisite Koraku-en and Kenroku-en gardens, and in Hiroshima we walked around the poignant Peace Memorial Park and were stirred by its vestiges of the 1945 atomic bomb blast. (Upper right picture is from HiroshimaPeace Park)
One downside to travel was riding on smoky trains. To demonstrate our unhappiness at breathing someone else’s tobacco smoke, Elder Morgan (pictured to the left with me) bought a little squeeze bottle that emitted a dust designed to get rid of insect pests. The dust had a telltale odor which was very unpleasant. When someone near us lighted up, Elder Morgan brought out his device and began to spray it into the air. The smoker, after wrinkling his nose and uttering something like “Kusai, na!” (It stinks!), usually got the message very quickly and either put out his cigarette or left to smoke in the company of less adversarial passengers. Sometimes a conversation resulted, and we were able to teach the Word of Wisdom.
Another dividend occurred just once, but proved to be interesting. An American elder working in Niigata broke his leg, and President Andrus asked me to go there to replace him while he received medical attention in Tokyo. I spent almost a month in that city, working with a Japanese companion. While there, a member of the branch was scheduled to be married and wanted an LDS service. I hastily wrote out a ceremony of sorts, and as the branch president pro tem, performed my first marriage. My companion was amused but commended my effort.
While I suppose it was a promotion of sorts to be assigned to the mission home, I was quite unhappy there. I repeatedly wrote in my journal about my desire to be out among the people, proselyting and baptizing - as I had done during the first eighteen months of my mission. I referred to my mission home tenure as if I were in a prison, looking forward to eventually being paroled. I knew that I was serving in a special way to help in the work, but I yearned for a different role. Other than the brief Niigata experience, I had still not yet had the chance to act as a senior companion.
I later came to realize that I had the privilege of being on center stage during a very auspicious time for the Church in Japan. The Book of Mormon had been retranslated and was in preparation for publication; the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price were about to appear in print for the first time, and the mission was soon to standardize its teaching program for missionaries. I was to have a significant role in the latter effort to develop a uniform proselyting plan. (Pictured at the right is the cover of a pre-1995 Book of Mormon, the translation completed in 1957 by Brother Tatsui Sato.)