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From Returned Missionaries

Paul Holbrook

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The Ryo Okamoto Story 

My wife and I were called to serve as missionaries in the Tokyo Japan Temple.  In our first week, one of the temple workers read my name badge and asked if I had been a missionary in Japan.  I said I had served a mission in Okinawa and the Okamachi branch in Osaka, Japan 50 years ago.  He introduced himself as Brother Okamoto and he said that I had taught him the gospel.  He said a lot of other things but I had forgotten just about all of my Japanese so that is about all I could understand of the conversation.

Two months later, I was sitting at the recommend desk when Brother Okamota(o) came in.  I asked him if he could tell me more about his conversion.  He said he had graduated from high school and had taken the entrance examination for the Osaka University, but failed. He studied hard one more year and took the entrance exam for the Kyoto University.  After the examination in Kyoto, he came down to Osaka and stayed at his auntfs home near Okamachi. During his stay, he was informed late one evening that he had passed the entrance examination. The next morning he was very happy and basking in the sun on the porch. He looked outside and saw 2 foreigners going door to door.

Elder Curtis Kanekoa, and I walked up to him and he invited us in. He said Elder Kanekoa was new and didn't speak any Japanese but we gave him a lesson on the Plan of Salvation which he thought was very interesting. He belonged to the Seventh Day Adventist Church and the doctrine seemed so different. We made an appointment with him to come to the church for the next lesson. When he came for the appointment for some reason we were not there, so he returned back home and then a couple days later, returned to Kyoto for school.

Two years later, he was riding on the streetcar and 2 missionaries sat down next to him, one on each side. They invited to him to come to church and he accepted the invitation. They also gave him their name cards. When he got home he compared the name cards with the ones Elder Kanekoa and I had given him 2 years before and discovered Elder Kanekoa's card matched. He hadn't recognized Elder Kanekoa because his Japanese was very fluent and his appearance was totally changed after two years of missionary life. The elders taught and baptized Brother Ryo Okamoto on April 14, 1963, one month after the streetcar contact. He remembers his baptism date as easily as most people remember their birthday.  

Brother Okamoto is married, has 4 children and 11 grand children. All of his children were married in the temple and they are all active in the Church. He has had many church callings including bishop, stake president, mission president, regional representative, Japanese MTC president, and local unit area auditor/trainer. He and his wife currently serve in the Tokyo Temple every Tuesday evening.

Brother Okamoto met his future wife at the same Kyoto Branch where he was baptized. She was baptized 2 months later in June of 1963. She has served as ward and stake primary, relief society, young women presidency and teacher. The highlight of their lives was serving as a senior missionary couple in Osaka from 2004~2006.

Brother Okamoto's baptism and life bring joy to the heart of a missionary.

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