Life of silent darkness is made brighter by testimony of gospel

SENDAI, Japan — At every opportunity, Ototaro Matsukawa takes great joy in sharing his testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. To do so is a particular challenge because he has been deaf and blind since he was a boy.

As a 9-year-old, Brother Matsukawa, now a member of the Nagamachi Ward, Sendai Japan Stake, was stricken with encephalitis which took from him his sight and hearing. Suddenly handicapped, he fell into deep despair. He was left totally reliant on others for his routine care.

For more than 30 years his younger sister, Satuki, became his primary support, helping him in his difficulties as they made do in a family suffering from poverty. They learned how to use Braille, through her patient efforts, so that he could expand his horizons by gaining knowledge by reading many books in a library for the blind.

As he read and studied in Braille, Brother Matsukawa's interests expanded to include Christianity. He was encouraged in that area by a friend, Hiroshi Musashino of Yokohama, a member of the Church who was also blind. Brother Matsukawa responded to his friend's encouragement; he had a strong belief that a true Church of Jesus Christ should include the ordinance of baptism by immersion. The Church seemed true to him, but he didn't have access to it where he lived.

The closest branch was in Sendai, a three-hour journey by train and bus. The branch president, Yorio Abe, with persistent encouragement from Brother Musashino and promptings by the Spirit, went to visit Brother Matsukawa. But on the visit, the family refused to receive their visitor, not wanting their miserable and handicapped son to be seen by others.

After much faith and many prayers of the members of the Sendai Branch, President Abe was finally given permission to meet with Brother Matsukawa, and on Sept. 22, 1968, at age 40, he was baptized.

A while later, he was blessed again when Brother Musashino and his wife, Nobuko, introduced him to Toshiko Sasaki, a returned missionary. They were married in 1976, and then were sealed in the temple in 1981, shortly after the dedication of the Tokyo Japan Temple.

Brother Matsukawa learned the Japanese language Kanji before losing his sight and hearing, so one of the ways he and his wife are able to communicate is for her to write Kanji letters with her finger in his hand.

Brother Matsukawa enjoys making crafts, such as wooden spoons and fishing tackle, and loves delivering them to his friends.

And through the blessing of his wife, he continues to do what brings him the most joy — bearing his testimony. His speech is unclear because of the decades he has spent in a silent, dark world. But his wife understands him and brightly translates his words for all to hear.

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