While many missionaries never know in mortality the outcome of seeds they sow, Sister Arlene May considers it a blessing that she has been able to witness the flourishing of one of the seeds she planted as a young sister missionary.
Shortly after beginning service with her husband, Curtis, as a senior missionary couple in the Tokyo Japan Temple a year ago, Sister May was doing ordinance work in the temple one day. She looked up and there stood Rumiko Fujimura, whom she had taught the gospel as a missionary in Yokohama, Japan, more than four decades earlier.
Later, Sister Fujimura's husband, Yasuo, was called to be a counselor in the temple presidency and now the two sisters work side-by-side almost daily. During a break in their duties, the two shared their feelings with the Church News in the meetinghouse adjacent to the temple.
Then known by her maiden name, Sister Maughan was called to serve in the Northern Far East Mission in the early 1960s. Originally from Ogden, Utah, she was called from Cedar City, Utah, where she was teaching school. Her mission covered Japan and Korea, and Sister Maughan was assigned to Japan. There was no formal language training at that time, she said. On top of that, the age for sisters to serve missions was lowered from 23 to 21 shortly after she arrived in Japan, resulting in an increase of sisters in the mission from five to 30. So about five months into her mission and still struggling with the language herself, she became the senior companion to two other sisters in a threesome.
"Thank heavens for good investigators and good members," she said. She knew enough of the language to know when a question was asked, and said, "Into my mind would come the words I needed to say."
Japanese people flocked to the humble sister missionaries. Sister May said they were flooded with people to teach and there were baptisms every week.
A single sister who arrived at the Church to be taught was Rumiko Hoshi, now Sister Fujimura. In the Church News interview, she was eager to share her conversion experience. To help with translation, Sister Fujimura sent for the secretary to the temple presidency, Sister Yumiko Iwanaga, a lifelong Japanese member who served a mission in Arizona.
Through Sister Iwanaga, Sister Fujimura told of her upbringing in a Christian home. Her father, she said, came to believe in God through some experiences he had in World War II. He and his wife taught Christian values in the home. Rumiko and her older brother attended a Christian church. But when its minister left, they were no longer able to attend and began looking for a new church.
About that time, Rumiko was handed a tract by LDS missionaries. The address on the tract was too far away for her to visit, but she kept the piece of paper. Two years later, she received another tract from missionaries in Yokohama, this time with an address close by. She went there and met Sister Maughan and her companions, was taught and then baptized on Dec. 31, 1961.
Sister Fujimura praises her parents for the way they raised her. Through Sister Iwanaga, she said it is wonderful the gospel was restored, giving her the assurance that she can meet her parents again and live together eternally as a family.
The sisters shared with the Church News another connection between the three. Sister Iwanaga's mother, who was a co-worker of Yasuo Fujimura's when they were young, shared the gospel with him, leading to his conversion. That brought him and Rumiko Hoshi together in the same Yokohama branch and, with her serving as Relief Society president and he as branch clerk, a romance was sparked leading to their marriage.
"The world is small and Heavenly Father has His eye on all of us," Sister May told the Church News.
Continuing the story, Sister May said she was Relief Society president in her Vernal, Utah, ward in 1970 and traveled to Salt Lake City to a Relief Society conference. She also attended her missionary reunion where it was announced that a group from Japan was in the city to do missionary work. Sister Fujimura was among them and the two were ecstatic when they came across each other on Temple Square. Sister May said she was thrilled to see that her friend remained faithful and was grateful to accompany her Japanese friend on her first temple visit.
And now she is thrilled again to be serving faithfully with Sister Fujimura. After a proselyting mission in London as a senior couple, Elder and Sister May returned home for a while and then decided to see if they could return to serve as temple missionaries in the Preston England Temple where a friend from their earlier mission was president. They were told that missionaries weren't needed there, but were needed at places such as Tokyo and Seoul, Korea. Sister May revealed she had been a missionary in Japan and their current call followed.
"I just can't keep from smiling all the time," Sister May said about her current service, expressing faith and testimony that have borne the delicious fruit of the gospel throughout her life.
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