What of the
帰還宣教師よりーFrom Returned Missionaries
Dwight Pincock remembers Yamagata
I will try to remember some of the things that may help in your history. Unfortunately, when I transferred from Yamagata to Tokyo North Branch, one of my tea boxes was lost. My journals to that part of my mission was in that tea box. But I remember some things that I will share with you. My first companion in Yamagata was Elder Bruce Campbell. At that time we were meeting in a rented building. Elder Richards was the Branch President at that time. Soon after I arrived there around March of 1963 President Dwayne Andersen sent a fellow to Yamagata to evaluate the possibility of purchasing the old hospital. Of course we had to take him first to fill up on wonderful gyoza at our favorite shokudo (eating place). Then he could make good decisions with Japanese food in his tummy. (Pictured above left to right, Elders Dwight Pincock, Bruce Campbell, Masakazu Watabe, and David Burton)
The old hospital had not been used for a long time. Part of it had been renovated to be used as an apartment building. The Church wasn't so much interested in the building as they were the land. It was a large piece of property. Since the building had been vacant so long , there were many rats. Being young missionaries, we decided to put a couple of cats that just roamed around the area into the building. We provided them with plenty of water and some extra food, but they did a great job of getting rid of the mice and rats. Once that was taken care of, we received permission from Tokyo to remodel the second story of one wing of the building in order to make a place where we could have a reihaido (chapel), baptismal font and class rooms. Since I had been in the U.S. Navy (kaigun) for four years before going on my mission, and had learned to be an electrician, I did the rewiring and the other elders and members tore down walls to make a large open room that was soon converted into a chapel. We painted everything and put new light fixtures and new tatami (straw flooring mats.) It was a special time for the branch to have their own building and place to meet. (Picture just above: Downtown Yamagata today)
During the construction period, the four missionaries assigned there would trade off doing dendo (proselyting) one day while the other set of missionaries would work with the members on the remodel project. Then the next day we would trade positions again. It was a wonderful time to because there wasn't ours and theirs investigators, they were all in one pool and we took turns teaching and nurturing them. During that time we were blessed to have had several convert baptisms. We were anxious to get a baptismal font inside the building so that we didn't have to go to the river any longer. However, the names of those baptized during that time that I wrote in my Book of Mormon, are as follows:
Asai, Yuko shimai (Sister), Okugawa, Michiko shimai ; Nagaoka, Mamoka shimai ; Yotsuji, Kazuko shimai ; Fukase, Chizuko shimai ; Tanaka, Kamezo kyodai (Brother) ; (another Tanaka kyodai, I don't know his first name) ; Fukagawa, Tetsuo kyodai ; Inai, Kazuo Kyodai ; Sato, Michiko shimai ; and Tanno, Tetsuo kyodai. There may have been more, but since my journal was lost in the transfer, I don't have a complete list.
During that time the elders lived in the Dr's quarters on the main floor. We loved it there, and felt blessed that we could live there until a time would come that a new chapel could be built. I have never seen a picture of the chapel that was built there, and would love to have someone send me a copy via e-mail. I remember painting some tsuru ( cranes) on the shoji doors in our apartment . And I remember having a spook alley for Halloween in the old operating room and down stairs where there were still chusha no hari (injection needles) everywhere. I will always remember in those days, when a missionary was transferred, there was always a sobetsu kai (Goodbye Party) the night before. Then, on the day the missionary would depart, all the wonderful members would gather at the eki (train station) and line up along the pier. As the train would pull out, with the windows open, the members would sing " God be with you 'til we meet again ", and as the train moved forward and picked up speed, each member would touch the hand of the missionary. There were many tears shed at the eki in those days. 'Til this day, I have a hard time singing that song without having tears well up in my eyes, because it brings back so many wonderful memories of my beloved Japanese brothers and sisters. (Picture just above: Old narrow gauge steam engine on display in Yamagata. This and cityscape from www.tripwolf.com/en/guide)
I hope this will help.
Ai o komete,