Friday, August 07, 2015

Hiroshima '07 - Solemnity and Faith

This week marked the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.  In observance of this anniversary I humbly offer the experience I had in Hiroshima while touring Japan in February 2007 with my bandmates from Jericho Road

We toured all over Japan for 10 days, visiting Okinawa, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Osaka, Nagoya, Tokyo, and ending in Sendai.  In each city we were hosted by a mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In Hiroshima, we were privileged to be hosted by the very warm and accommodating President Yafuso.
Before our concert in Hiroshima, President Yafuso and Nobuaki Irie took us to see the beautiful Miyajima island with the Itsukushima shrine, complete with wild sacred deer who were quite friendly.
After touring around the island for awhile and taking some amazing photos (and petting the deer), we had some time to tour the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park - the area devastated by the atomic bomb.  We learned that the dome was directly underneath where the bomb exploded - chosen as the target because of the nice "T" the streets made right next to the Genbaku Dome.
After visiting this touching memorial and seeing the heartbreaking pictures and pleas from the Japanese citizens for "No Moer (More) Hiroshima", we had a chance to visit with President Yafuso where he solemnly told us his conversion story in Japanese (translated by Brother Irie).
President Yafuso's father was killed by the Americans in World War II.  As a young boy growing up on the island of Okinawa he told his mom not to cry, assuring her that he would grow up to become a general and exact revenge on the Americans for killing his father.  With this mindset he tried to avoid the American LDS missionaries whenever he would see them in the streets.  On one particular day, he crossed the street back and forth several times to try to avoid the missionaries, who seemed to cross the street exactly every time President Yafuso did.  He met with the missionaries and became converted as a pre-teen.

The missionaries who taught President Yafuso the gospel told him of another investigator they taught who had actually been involved in the attack on Pearl Harbor.  While teaching this man about the role that temples play in our church they showed him a picture of the then-closest temple to Japan - the Laie Hawaii temple.  When they showed him the picture his face turned white when he was the picture of the Hawaiian temple because he recognized the building from the attack at Pearl Harbor as he explained to them:
As a bomber in the attack on Pearl Harbor, he had one bomb left after the attack and was supposed to find a building to destroy.  As the Laie Hawaii temple was directly on the flight path from Japan to Pearl Harbor he saw the temple and decided to drop his bomb on it.  He flew over the temple and attempted to drop his bomb, but it wouldn't drop.  Surprised, he flew a second time over the temple and again tried to drop the bomb, but again it wouldn't drop.  Then he decided to attack the temple with his machine guns, but they wouldn't shoot.  Utterly confused, as he was flying back to the aircraft carrier and, while flying over the ocean, he attempted to drop the bomb one more time - and this time it dropped - directly into the ocean.
I will never forget the solemnity with which President Yafuso told this story, and the spirit that I felt as I heard his words.  I can hear them and see him like it was yesterday.  I know that God is in control of His church, and as the Prophet Joseph Smith declared:

"No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.  God's hand is in this work, and His purposes will not be frustrated.

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Blogger Wendy said...

I am Robert Thomas Stouts daughter. I want to thank you for your sensitive treatment of thus tendar experiance of my fathers. Having heard it directly from him, and having been on thise sacred temple grounds, and having lived in Japan among those dear people. I believe this story to be accurate. And very meaningful. The Hawaiian, Laie temple is truly a house of God.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Karyn said...

Powerful story. I love the deer picture.

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Moana Whaanga said...

Aloha my Dad, Maui Whaanga came home from church one day, we lived on Moana St from 1966-1971. I would have been about 10 years old. When he shared this exact same story, as you have shared, I can still remember the spirit testifying to me that this story was special.
I have always kept it close to my heart, because I love the Hawaiian Temple and Hawaii will always have my heart. We returned to New Zealand soon after, where my Dad taught at Church College of NZ until his passing in 1980.
I have always thought the Japenese bomber pilot had become a member, are you able to confirm whether that was true or not. Thank you for preserving and sharing this story.

1:39 AM  

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