モルモン

とは?

What of the

Mormons?

帰還宣教師から

From Returned Missionaries

Hooper Knowlton on Yamagata

 

戻る

 

I labored in Yamagata from April 1966 to November 1966. There were only six missionaries in Yamagata at that time. The stalwart in the branch was a Brother in his early twenties, the kid was a rock, as solid a member as I ever met in Japan. We met in a bombed out hospital that had been bought by the Church and reconditioned. We occasionally had rats in the sink in the morning. Had to light a little butane heater to get hot water for a shower, it was very primitive. When President and Sister Komatsu saw the living conditions, they were shocked and gave us permission to put in a new kitchen sink (that would keep the rats out) and get a new heater for the shower. The other one had blown up upon being lit one morning. Talk about waking up the neighborhood, let alone the sleeping missionaries!! It was my first occasion to be a senior companion and Elder James Carbine was my companion. He had probably been in the mission for about six months and was still working on memorizing the discussions. We worked out fool heads off. He was a wonderful companion. (Photo from NFEM website)

There were eight American hakujins in Yamagata in 1966, six Mormon Missionaries and two Catholic Priests. Twenty-one years after the end of WW II, Yamagata with 250,000 people was a small town. Little children would follow myself and Elder Carbine around, and because we were hakujins, they would ask us what we were? We would tell them we were Marsian, and they would run and hide and giggle and point fingers. I well remember there was a six unit apartment across the street and one water spout in front of the sixplex. All cleaning of dishes, bathing of children and gathering of water took place at that water spigot. That setting was an eye-opener for a young missionary from Salt Lake City. The streets were dirt and the street gutters were stone lined and you frequently saw rats running in the gutter. On one occasion we took the train over the mountains to Sendai for a Zone Conference, it was a beautiful train ride and Sendai was a much bigger city than Yamagata.

I remember a young 20 something girl that came to the Branch on the evening or our "P" day. She thought we were the Catholic Priests. She wanted to tell us she was going to commit suicide when she left the Church. Man, did I talk my head off that night. Talking someone out of suicide is a difficult conversation even today in English, let alone in Japanese! That was the first time I realized I could speak Japanese. I could say virtually anything that came to my mind in what was a 2 1/2 hour conversation with this troubled young woman. Obviously, the person who was doing the talking was the Lord, I was just the mouth piece. I had struggled with Japanese for the first year and that evening, with the help of the Lord I recognized the influence of the Spirit and the power of the Lord to have me to communicate in Japanese. That evening I was with the District Leader who was senior to me in the mission field, but he really did not say much during lengthy conversation. The young women decided not to commit suicide that night and came to Church the following Sunday and started taking the lessons. I don't know that she ever joined the Church, but she certainly was touched by the spirit that night and left in a better frame of mind than when she came to the Church, earlier that evening, looking for the Catholic Priests! I left around the first part of November of 1966, just before the snow started, and remember the train ride to Okamachi Branch in Osaka. (seven hours to Tokyo and then the 3 hour ride to Osaka on the Shinkansen) It was during the rice harvest in Japan and you could see all of the men and mostly women working in the rice fields harvesting the rice in the countryside. The Spring, Summer, and Fall of 1966 was a very interesting time in the mission in Yamagata. I don't recall that we ever baptized anyone in Yamagata, but as I said, we worked our fool heads off, and planted some good seeds for future missionaries to harvest.