This Story was Submitted by Jodie Ager ('98)
March 7, 2003
Blessed Not Cursed
I have always been a bit of a klutz and unfortunately this pathetic trait was not left behind when I arrived in Japan. I had a few unfortunate bike accidents, which ended up with me having a particularly ridiculous wreck. The result? A rather painful, broken collar bone. What started out as a traumatic experience ended up being one of the most profound experiences I was blessed with on my mission.
It was the love and simple gestures of the missionaries that I was serving with that made it wonderful. After returning from a day at the hospital and some time at the honbu, I was stunned to find a small stuffed koala stuffed under the front door handle of our apartment, the note that accompanied it was simple, "Sister Ager, we love you", that was from our DL and his companion. This beautiful gesture was followed by the amazing service of my companion Sister Gull. This incredible woman made me special breakfasts, rolled up my futon for me, helped me dress and never once complained when we had to walk everywhere for 5 weeks. She even maintained her patience when my fear of riding my bike meant that I walked up hills, walked down hills and started crying whenever I looked at the horrible piece of metal.
The primary point of this is that the worst experiences can become the best. I was blessed to serve with such amazing, loving people. May everyone who serves a mission, be blessed with companions and leaders who had the hearts that I saw. I will love these people always.
This Story was Submitted by Ken Richmond ('78-'80) may 3, 2001
I'm sure, (I hope), that I'm not the only one this has happened to, but one of my first experiences "in country" was when the AP's, or as we used to call them, MA's, put me on the train at the Fukuoka Eki to go to my first area. I was going to Yahata, which really isn't that far away, but they put me on a futsuu, so we stopped at every station, and it left at 6:30 in the morning, which is rush hour for students. By the time my luggage and I got to the Yahata Eki, I had been pushed so far back, I could barely see the door, let alone get to it! And at that time of the morning, they didn't stay in the station for very long. As the train started to pull out of the station, and I was wondering, what to do next, I looked out the window, and there on the platform, was my doryo, and everyone else in the district, including the ZL's, shrugging their shoulders, and laughing! To top it all off, I couldn't get off at the next stop either! Thank goodness, the line I was on only went one more stop. As everyone got off the train, a very kind conductor saw my confused look, and heard my very poor Japanese as I was trying to find out how to get back. He very kindly told me which train was going back, and even helped me with my bags. It was a terrifying, embarrassing, and wonderful experience. When I finally got back to Yahata, everyone was scattered across the station trying to figure out how to find me. When we all got together, everyone wanted to know how a "Green Bean" managed to get out of that mess so quickly. It was an early testament of how wonderful and caring the Japanese people treated me the whole time I was there.
This Story was Submitted by Paul Bowler ('72-'74) May 2, 2001
Breakfast of Champions
While serving in Nobeoka in the summer/fall of 1973, there were four of us, Elder Tippetts, my companion, Elder Konishi, the DL and Elder Neeley, we decided to make breakfast a little more exciting. The idea was quite simple, win you eat, lose you don't. Breakfast usually consisted of toast, hard boiled eggs and milk. Once everything was prepared, placed on the table and prayer had been given, we proceeded to play Jung-ken-poi for each item on the table. There were mornings when some got very little to eat and some got more than they should be eating. It certainly made breakfast time more exciting and improved our jung-ken skills.
This Story was Submitted by Paul Bowler ('72-'74)
English Speaking Branch 1980-1983
Upon graduation from BYU, my wife, Christyn and our 13 month old son Colin, took off to Japan. Since returning from my mission, I had always wanted to go back. The English teaching opportunity came along and we decided to take it. It was a way back. While living in Chofu-shi, suburb of Shinjuku, we attended church in the old church distribution center. In a short time I was called to served in the Branch Presidency with a counselor, an old friend from high school, Kent Holt, who had also served in Japan as a missionary. The Branch President was Ned Christensen.
This is a story from Steve Neeley, who served from 1973 to 1975...
I was very young back then -- I shook it off and went on. But, now; now that I am older, I sometimes think of that old grandma. Would I have been any different had I been in her shoes? Could I have contained that atomic sun of hate, let time heal my wounds, and learned to forgive? I hope so, but I'm not so self-sure now. Life does that to you I guess.
This is from Steve Neeley, who served from 1973 to 1975...
I can still see the look of utter disbelief on our investigator's faces as we showed up in the middle of a typhoon (in Kagoshima) for our appointment. "You came out in this!?," they said. Yup. And we just about got nailed by flying debris as we made our way to the bus stop afterwards . . . at least the bus driver was kind enough to drop us off, between stops, very near the branch. I remember the sorrowful faces at a Buddhist funeral -- I went to two during my mission -- and the eerie sound of the bells and also the chants and burning incense -- it still sends shivers up my spine. But there were happy faces too. The other Choros helped me squeeze my massive body into a Santa Claus suit , made for the occasion by the shimai's of the Nobeoka Branch one Christmas, applied cotton balls to my face, and we bounced off the children's ward at the Hospital (just up the street) to hand out candy. The look on those kids faces . . . I bet they still haven't figured out what was going on there, and why that big red guy kept saying Ho, Ho Ho! And, finally, not a New Year goes by without my mind's eye seeing the Nobeoka member's smiling, joyous, faces as we climbed the mountain
(Hageyama I believe it was
This is from Steve Neeley, who served from 1973 to 1975...
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