January 31, 2010
Dear Family and Friends,
I have no idea when the last time I wrote, however I know it was some time ago. So here I go again trying to recall things that happened a few months ago. As of today we have been on our mission for seven months. In some ways it seems like we have been here for a long time and at the same time it seems like time has gone by so fast. I will say that we have had so many wonderful experiences that have made the slow times seem so very worth it. (I’m not sure about the grammar on that sentence. I hope you catch my drift). The Lord has been very kind to us and we thank Him daily for His tender mercies to us.
Each day I have things that I deal with that I had no idea I would be dealing with. From opening and closing apartments, to many trips to the airport, train station and bus station. We have spoken or taught more times in the last seven months than we did in the previous 30 years. Each month I have the privilege of interviewing each missionary. I try to be as efficient as possible without having them feel rushed. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get past an average of a half hour per missionary. It is a lot of hours for 104 missionaries. I do enjoy being with them and being able to share in their experiences and challenges. I have been asked if it was OK for one of our missionaries to cut up a deer for one of the members. I gave permission. I have been asked if the missionaries could teach a man that was just released from prison for murder. I gave permission. I have had several calls from family of the missionaries that have experienced deaths in the family. That is the toughest part to make that phone call to the missionaries. I have to encourage them when the language seems so difficult. I do this when inside I’m about on the verge of tears trying to learn it myself. Almost all of my Japanese missionaries write their letters to me each week in English or in a simple form of Japanese called (romaji) that I am able to read. I know this takes them so much longer than to write in the traditional Japanese characters. I appreciate their kindness toward me. I love each of these missionaries so much.
Sherry and I continue to adjust to the food, the Japanese way of life, the traffic and customs. I enjoy going and getting a hair cut every few weeks. Japanese style is the cut, shampoo, rinse, shave if you want it. Then the eyebrows trimmed, ear hairs shaved; a shoulder, neck and head massage. All in all a good experience. We did find a “Hard Rock Café”. It isn’t the most spiritual place to eat, however it is real American food and we treat ourselves once a month. We haven’t been lost for a few months, thanks to an English speaking “GPS” system in our van. (A wonderful $300 investment) We just got the van fixed for $3,000. That was due to a pole that jumped out in front of me going down a parking garage, back in August. The PBO (Presiding Bishopric Office) in Tokyo had me wait for a few months to get it fixed to make sure I didn’t have any more accidents. I think they lack Faith!
In November they closed the Japan Missionary Training Center in Tokyo. Now all missionaries called from Japan that will serve in Japan go to the MTC in Provo for three weeks. We had a sister (Takahama) who was our first missionary to experience going to Utah first come on January 5th. She said she didn’t particularly like the food; however she said she had a wonderful experience. Because she was in the first group to come from Japan, she was featured in the Liahona magazine. There were probably 20 pictures of her experiencing all the things that go on in the Provo MTC. One of the daughters of the mission president (President and Sister McIntyre) in Kobe, Japan will be serving in our mission starting in February.
I wanted to share a wonderful experience that I had recently. When I served as a young missionary back in 1972-1974 in Tokyo I kept a journal of some of my experiences. I also wrote a report and letter to my mission president each week. When we left our mission the missionaries received each of those letters back as a keepsake for our remembrance. In those weekly reports to the mission president we recorded the hours that we worked each week doing the various missionary activities. We also gave an accounting of the money we spent. Also we listed the people we were teaching. In my letters I included the people that I had the privilege of being involved in their decision to join the church. What I didn’t think about as a young missionary was that one day I would and should correspond with these people. So when I wrote the name of these wonderful people I just wrote brother or sister (Tanaka) for example. I just wrote their last name. No first name or address or anything else. So over the past 37 years I have had no contact with any of these wonderful people. For some reason, I’m not sure why, I brought my missionary letters to the president book with me to Japan. It had been in a box in the basement for all these years. I think only once or twice I thumbed through it over the years. (Sorry this is a long story) In November the President of the Japan Mission Training Center (It closed down on November 24th), President McArthur and his wife came to Fukuoka to give a talk to a missionary preparation seminar being held in the Fukuoka Stake. We had them stay at our home because we were out of town at a District Conference. We arrived home on a Sunday evening and they were leaving the next day to go back to Tokyo. We were able to spend a few hours with them that Sunday evening. President and Sister McArthur served as the Mission President in Fukuoka in 1997-2000. They shared many wonderful stories and experiences with us and buoyed us up. I happen to mention to him that as a young missionary I hadn’t kept track of the people I worked with. He told me that if I made a list of those people with all the information I had, that perhaps the records department in Tokyo might research those names. A few days later I went through my book and recorded the last names and the date of baptism of the people that I had taught in 1972-1974. I also listed the place that they were baptized. On December 1st I flew to Tokyo for a meeting with the Area Presidency. I took my list with me and gave it to a Sister Yamashita who is the secretary of the Area Presidency whom Sherry and I met in Korea at the Mission Presidents Seminar in August. Her brother happens to be a missionary in our mission. She translated my English list into Japanese and when I left later that day gave me the list back with 5 addresses out of the 10 that I had given her. At some point in the next few months I plan on writing a letter and reestablishing contact with these wonderful people that 30 plus years ago were very close to me. The very first name on the list was a sister by the name of Chigira. That was one of the names on my list that I did not have an address. She was probably in her 20’s when she was baptized so I assume that she had married and moved and there would never be anyway to find her. All I had was her maiden name. Well, on January the 5th I received a post card in the mission office address to the mission president. It was all in Kanji (Japanese writing), so I couldn’t read it. I had one of the office Japanese Elders read it to me. As you might have guessed it was from sister Chigira (now sister Takatsu). She was wondering if I was the Elder Margetts that baptized her on December 30, 1972. She had seen our picture in the Liahona (International Ensign) serving in the Japan Fukuoka Mission. Her post card said that she had moved to a city near where she was baptized and had married in the Tokyo Temple and was the mom of seven children. (Almost unheard of in Japan). You can’t imagine what a wonderful treasured gift that was for me. By the way, she left her phone number and I waited for a couple of weeks to get up the courage to call and speak to her in Japanese. We were able to talk and now I have her email address and we hope to someday meet before we come home. Truly a tender mercy for me.
I’m sorry for the long personal story. Sherry and I love all of you and appreciate all of our dear friends and loved ones wherever you might be. Thank you for your support and prayers. We will keep doing our best and we pray for each of you. Have a wonderful new year.
Sherm and Sherry