Chapter 5: Beginning Years in Japan

Learning Japanese
J. D. Graber Visits Japan (and Rachel is born)
Our First Trip To North Japan
Second Year of Language Study
Another Big Move
Winter Bible School
Philip Enters Kindergarten
Nakamura-Hirayama Wedding
Another New Life
Louella's Surgery

Learning Japanese

Louella had been having her Japanese helper be instructed by Dorothy (who could speak Japanese) when the girl did not understand Louella's English. We were taking a few days to get settled in our house so that we could give ourselves to language study in earnest when we got started. We had a good department store only three stops by train from our nearest train station, which was a three minute walk from our house, and you cannot have it much more convenient than that. The store had most things that one needs to keep house, and groceries could be bought in walking distance, a few minutes from our house.

We planned to begin Language study on the following Monday. As we began, we hoped that we would be able to stay longer here than we had in China. I had studied Greek, German, and Chinese, and I was hopeful that I would not get them all mixed up with Japanese. I could soon see that Japanese would be my biggest challenge yet. It looked totally impossible from where we were then, but with God's help, we believed we could conquer this task. We decided that I would study forenoon's, and that Louella would study on afternoons. This way, I could take care of Philip while she studied. If Philip did not sleep much in the day time, then we could both do our homework at night, that was, if we could keep awake.

One day, soon after we arrived in Tokyo, Dorothy took Louella by train to the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, and introduced her to Dr. Woods. Louella was several months pregnant, and needed to be seeing a doctor, so they did some lab work for her, and put her on a schedule for seeing the doctor regularly. This meant that Louella's language study was going to have to lapse at times.

Saturdays were often good times for taking the children on excursions. Not too long after we were in Tokyo, we took the children to the Tokyo Zoo. This zoo was a good one, and the children enjoyed going there. Julia and Philip got along very well, but they were skilled at being mischievous at times, so we needed to be alert to what they were doing all the time.

A few believers (along with Louella & Philip) gather in Tokyo.

Sunday was a welcome time to relate to Japanese friends and to other people at church. Missionaries usually took turns giving the message and conducting the worship services. My turn came after we had been there a while. The Japanese hymnals conveniently had the titles of the hymns listed in English, as well as in Japanese. This was great, I thought, and I found quite a few familiar hymns in the Hymn Book, and selected as many as I needed. But, on Sunday morning when I led the worship service and announced the first song, Ruth Bean, the song leader that day, turned to me and said, "This sounds like a familiar song, but the tune is different. I can't lead this one." So, I learned the hard way that familiar songs do not always have familiar tunes. How embarrassing! Consequently, I began taking the music of the familiar hymns more seriously, and after that, things went a little more smoothly.

Also, we discovered there was an English Service on Sunday Afternoons at the Tokyo Union Church. This was a blessed experience, for us first year language school students who were not able to get much out of a Japanese service, other than tunes of hymns we knew. This service was also attended by many Japanese who knew English, so we were able also to have fellowship with Japanese people who knew English. We considered this a real blessing for we could get to know and have good fellowship with the Japanese in their own cultural setting, and this helped us to understand them a little better.

Louella one day wrote in her diary, "I will praise the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth." She continued saying, "We are indeed most grateful to be in Japan, and to be learning the Japanese language." From that I knew she was keeping her spirits up, and that she was not discouraged with her lot of carrying a baby, while simultaneously struggling with the study of a new language. I really appreciated her spirit and attitude, for language-study was to be our task for a long time yet.

One day, Philip was playing where there was a little water on the ground, and he was very troubled. As he persistently pulled a stick through the water he said, "Why can't I make a path through the water?" Louella then carefully explained to him that water just naturally runs back together by itself. Then, Philip replied, "But, Moses did!" Later, that same day, Philip said, "Jesus really doesn't understand Japanese, does He?" "Yes, of course he does," Louella replied. "But there are no Japanese in heaven, are there?" Philip asked. That idea must, we concluded, have come from our explanation that we came to Japan to teach them about the Gospel of Jesus so that they could go to heaven, too. We determined that we needed to do some more teaching about our situation to Philip. In his mind, the coming of missionaries to Japan was just starting, and he apparently assumed that not many knew anything about Jesus.

On October 20th, 1953, letters came from Iowa telling us that Louella's sister, Esther, had passed away of Tetanus. Louella entered in her diary, "I am quite sorrowful to think that Esther is gone. Then, I think of her many frustrations, disappointments, suffering and pain, so I can't help but praise the Lord for His Mercy in releasing her from her life of misery. I do so pity my dear, aging, parents." We wrote to them and to the Irvings that evening. When Louella told Philip about Esther's death, he said, "Then she will say Hello to Jesus." Then, he asked, "Did she die because a car ran over her?" "No," we said. Then, Philip continued, "Then, she will be in Heaven with Jesus, and she won't have any more ouchies."

One day, I was cutting Philip's hair. While cutting his hair, I unintentionally pinched his neck a bit between the handles of the scissors. I asked, "Oh, I'm sorry, did that pinch a little?" He replied, "No, it hurt far and wide!"

Another day, we were shopping in a nearby department store. Philip became engrossed with the display case full of electric toy trains and airplanes. We wanted to go nearby to another area of the store to look a little, but he did not want to be separated from the toys. We asked him, "Will you stay here and not go away?" He promised that he would not go away. So, we went to the place where we wanted to look, but kept a watch on where he was. Suddenly, we noticed that he was gone. We hurried to the place where he had been, but we could see nothing of him. We walked around, looking for him, but without success. We became quite worried. Then, suddenly, we heard his feet going pitter-pat as he came running saying, "Oh mommy, I found you!" He thought that we were lost.

November 23rd was a Japanese Holiday--their Thanksgiving day. I was at home, and decided that this would be a good time to get our Christmas letter started. We always liked to send our letters by sea mail in order to save postage. At that time we were sending several hundred pieces of mail over a small span of time, so this certainly made a difference.

Another thing that happened about mid-November was an earthquake. A few days earlier I had said to Louella, "I haven't felt an earthquake yet, and I would like to feel one once." A few days later, at about 2:45 in the morning when we were sound asleep, we were suddenly awakened, and things were bouncing. Then, the bouncing suddenly changed to a swinging motion from east to west, back and forth. Louella spoke first, saying to me. "Okay, now you better wake up and enjoy your earthquake." We did not have to ask anyone whether or not we were having one, we were certainly sure about that. A sliding door upstairs in Don's apartment banged open or shut. Don and Dorothy suddenly appeared at our bedroom door and said, "Let's get out of here." So, we went outdoors until things quit moving and all was quiet again. Then, we slowly went back in, wondering what would happen now. When we got into our bedroom, a round mirror hanging by one string was swinging back and forth like a pendulum. We have some aftershocks during the next day or two, and I did not ask for any more earthquakes. I was satisfied with that one.

J. D. Graber Visits Japan

The day Joe Graber arrived, all the Mennonite missionaries in Tokyo went to the airport to welcome him. He arrived on December the 9th, and all of us were very happy to see him. Louella and I were happy that we had the privilege to care for him in our home.

Louella was becoming more uncomfortable daily from the infant she was carrying. "Her time can't be too far off," I thought. We were wondering if we might have a Christmas present. My younger sister was born on Christmas day, and in Louella's family, her father was born on Christmas. Those days did get a little anxious for her sometimes. Also, I found myself helping more with the house than I had in recent weeks.

On the evening of the 12th of December, Don, Joe Graber, and I went downtown, where the central shopping area is located in Tokyo, to see the Ginza lights. Then, on the following day, we all gathered at the home of Don and Barbara Reber for our morning worship. Joe preached for us that morning, and was interpreted for the Japanese present. He spoke on the subject of, "Fellowship In Christ". Monday evening, Joe Graber left for Hokkaido, the northern Island of Japan. There, he was to meet with and visit the missionaries and the believers of the various churches. The Becks, Buckwalters, and Kanagys were busy there in the work to which God had called them. Louella and her helper were busy getting ready for the new member of our family, who was to arrive soon. They had a crib ready, and clothing for the baby, and a suitcase had been packed and was ready for the dash to the hospital if things began to happen suddenly.

On the 19th of December, we received our first Christmas package from the USA It was from the Roethlisberger family, at whose dairy farm I had worked during my Civilian Public Service days in the State of Wisconsin. Then, on the 20th, Louella and I stayed home from church. In the evening, we listened to records we had of Handel's Messiah. On Monday morning went to see the Doctor at the hospital. He said that the baby could come at any time, and told Louella that she should come to the hospital that evening. So, that evening, we returned to the hospital, taking all the things that she and the baby would need. Louella rested very well that night. The next day, our little daughter, Rachel, arrived. She weighed seven pounds and twelve ounces. Don was with me while waiting for the arrival of the little one. What a little blessing from the Lord, not on Christmas Day, but close enough to bring a lot of joy. Philip and I took Louella and Rachel Ann a dozen red and white carnations, but that did not measure up to what we had received from Louella. On the 23rd of December, Louella wrote in her diary, "My heart overflows with praise to the Lord, my soul is full of joy in God, my Savior." (Mary's Magnificat). How happy we are for the normal, healthy baby to bless our home.

The next evening, high school students from the American School in Japan came and sang in the halls of the hospital. Louella was so thrilled by the singing, and she enjoyed it much. Then, on Christmas day, the nurses on the floor where Louella was sang carols for the patients. It was so beautiful, and such a blessing for them to do that.

On Christmas day, Philip and I went to the hospital with our Christmas mail and gifts. When Philip saw Louella he said, "Oh Mommy, I like you!" Philip got his first look at Rachel in the nursery with all the other babies. Then, he said to Louella, "Are you going to stay here and make them happy?"

Carl Kreider was then, at that time, serving as Dean of the International Christian University. Carl and Evelyn had invited the family of Mennonite Missionaries to their place for Christmas dinner. So, Philip and I went from the hospital to the Kreider home for a Christmas fellowship meal. It was a joyful occasion, and the fellowship was wonderful.

On Monday, the 28th of December, I went to the hospital to bring Louella and Rachel home. I went by train to the hospital, which was some distance from where we lived. Then, we returned by taxi with Louella, the baby, and their things. By then, Louella was feeling much better, and she enjoyed being at home with the family again. That evening, we opened the rest of our Christmas gifts as a family. Philip was so proud of his little sister, as were Louella and myself. We were a happy, proud family.

The next two days saw people arriving from Hokkaido for the meeting of missionaries with Joe Graber, which was to be held at our house. The conference was to last from Thursday evening until the following Saturday evening. On the last evening, Joe Graber led us in a communion and feet-washing service. It proved to be a most meaningful conference that centered around discussion of the work that God had called us to do.

On Monday, January 4th, all of our guests left for Osaka, where they were to gather with all the Mennonites working in Japan. Our home was left in the midst of a great quietness! This was after a couple weeks of great events and activity. We had welcomed a new member to our family, welcomed our Mission Board Secretary, and hosted the Japan Mennonite Missionary Conference. Now, we were lost in the calm of just being a family at home and alone again. At that time, Louella wrote in her diary, "It is so nice to have this short time of being a family alone for a few days before our language school begins again. Rachel is doing so well, and eats and sleeps very well."

A few days later, our classes began again. That evening, Dorothy, Adella Kanagy, and I met as the Mission Budget Committee. None of us could boast any maturity in these matters, for we simply had no experience doing this kind of thing. This proved to be a new education for all of us in learning by doing. Not all missionary work is about saving souls through prayer and church ministry. Life in the field serves other earthly functions as well. I cannot recall what kind of budget we made, which included the work in Hokkaido, which I had not seen, but somehow it survived, and nothing of a drastic nature took place, so maybe it simply was not significant!

In late January, we received a letter from my brother, Dwight, which told of the death of Orval Swartzendruber. Sadly, we learned that he took his own life. Our hearts went out to his two sons, D. Dale and Marlin. It must have been a real blow to everyone. We were praying much for them, that they may know the strength and grace of the Lord through this experience.

Also, in late January, it began to snow one evening, continued to snow that night, and it was still snowing the next day. A total of twelve inches stacked up before it stopped. It was the most snow that Tokyo had seen in that century to date, and it sure brought everything to a standstill. Everything was so quiet. We could not hear the usual sounds of trains, cars, and busses, which were normally constant noises. Don and I went out with Philip and Julia, and we played in the snow, and we made a huge snow man. We had lots of fun, and it was delightful to see the snow man melt down during the next few days.

At about that time, we received a tape on which was told about Esther's passing, and about Lizzy's birthday celebration. Philip enjoyed hearing Grandpa and Grandma's voices, and a song which was sung by Oren and Mary Kate's children. Sharing in such things from home meant so much to us all.

In March, the Language School took a day off and went to visit the Diet (Much like the British Parliament). They were discussing the necessity of the Self Defense Forces. Japan's Constitution forbids them to have an Army, but allows for a Self Defense Force. Some thought that this is the same as having an Army, and opposed it very strongly. We could not understand much, but it was interesting to hear their discussions, for they could get pretty noisy in their heated discussions. The press came by and photographed our group, so we had our pictures in the "Nippon Times."

One evening, we had several members of the Japanese church in Tokyo come to our home for an evening meal. They all talked English pretty well, so we had a very happy time visiting with one another. Later, we worked together at planning services for the next month of Sundays.

On March 27th, our spring break from Language School began, and this was also my birthday. We had planned a trip south to Osaka, where the Ressler sisters lived and were in language study. Ruth and Rhoda met us at the Osaka Station the next morning, and we took the train from there to Kyoto, the former Capital, and the ancient Cultural Center of Japan. They say there are twelve-thousand temples in the city of Kyoto. Many of them are Buddhist Temples, and there are also Shinto Shrines where Japan's Emperor is worshipped. Worship of the Emperor was to be forbidden at the end of World War II, but peoples' faith cannot be changed that easily. There was one that is called the Heian (Peace) Shrine. It is a beautiful Shrine, and the gardens surrounding it are a place for leisurely walk, or for meditation. That night, we entered a Japanese bath for the first time. It was great! The bath is very warm, and the water comes up to your neck and warms you clear to your bones. Then, you stay nice and warm all evening.

The next day was a Sunday, so Ruth and Rhoda took us to Kobe City, where we attended a General Conference Mennonite Church. There, we met many of the church people and the two missionaries who lived there, Bernard and Ruby Theiesen. Then, on Sunday evening, we went to the MCC Center in Osaka, and met Jonathan Bartel and his wife, who had served with the Mennonite Brethren Church in China before they had to leave there. We went to church with them and a Japanese minister, Pastor Maekawa, preached. We then returned to stay with Ruth and Rhoda for the night.

The next morning, Ruth and Rhoda needed to go to Language School, so we went for a walk out on the beach nearby. In the afternoon, Ruth and Rhoda took us to see the Osaka Castle. This is a very old building with stones at the base that are thirty-five to forty-five feet long, and twenty-thirty feet high. These huge stones had been moved into place by human labor many years earlier. It is located near a river, and water is diverted from the river through a wide mote surrounding the castle. Ruth and Rhoda had given us much time, so that evening we went to be with Wengerts, who had worked with M.C.C. for many years, and were in charge of M.C.C. work in Japan at that time. We learned much about M.C.C. as we visited with them that evening. The next morning, we returned to Tokyo by train. It was a most beautiful and scenic trip. There were many fields of tea bushes, so neatly trimmed. We also passed quite near Mt. Fuji, a beautiful majestic mountain.

It was great to see Rachel when we returned. We still had a few days of Language School vacation, so we took the children, Philip and Julia, to the nearby department store, where they had a place on the roof for children to play. Philip enjoyed riding the electric horses, which gave the impression of riding a horse, but really did not go anywhere. Another day, we went to see the cherry blossoms in a little park near our house. They were so very beautiful! The Lord has made so many beautiful things for us to see! The children, during those days, took a lot of Louella's time, so she tended to get behind in language study. I tried to take time to be with the children in the afternoons while she studied in Language School, but sometimes it was rather difficult to take the place of a mother.

We were working at getting Louella started on a regular afternoon schedule so that I would be able to take care of the children more, and so that they could not run after her so easily. Her tutor was a big help, but there can be nothing quite like the give-and-take challenge of a class with others.

Our First Trip to North Japan

By early July, our coworkers from the north were urging us to make a first trip to see Hokkaido and the places where the Becks, Buckwalters, and Kanagys were planting Churches, and where Don and Barbara Reber were just getting located in their place of work. In other words, we were to do a little prospecting to see where we might locate in the future.

So, about mid-July, Philip and I left Tokyo for Hokkaido to begin looking around for a while. Louella did not want to spend so much time in Hokkaido, but thought that she could more profitably continue language study with her tutor. Phil and I went to the Kanagys first, where Phil met Lee and Adella's son, Daniel. They seemed to get along well with each other immediately, and they had lots of fun together.

Lee began showing me some of the areas around Nakashibetsu where he thought we might want to begin work. One place was the pioneer farm area that the Government was helping young farmers to started farming. The Lees were living in a Japanese house which they were renting. It was quite small, and they were not sure how long they would be able to live there. He also took me to see a little sea coast town called Nemuro Shebetsu, which was about thirty minutes by train from where the Lees were living. Then, we took a trip to Shebecha, a town we had passed through on our way to see the Lees. Then, it was time for summer camp.

Donald Gingerich, a nephew of Louella's from Parnell, Iowa, had given enough money for the church in Japan to buy two tents which could be put together and used for summer camp. This time, we headed for camp at Kawayu, where there was a lake and a warm springs Hotel. They did not use the Hotel for camp, but set up their tents nearby, so that they could go during the evenings to the Hotel for a hot bath if they wanted to. They had invited a young Pastoral student from Tokyo to come and teach at camp. His name was Matsukuma Sensei, and his ministry among the young people was very good. In the evening, they would usually have a spiritual life meeting around a camp fire. This was a time for challenging young people to receive Christ into their hearts, and to help them to live for Him in their lives. There were usually some decisions to follow Christ, and this made the camp a significant event in the life of the Japanese church. The young people were not only helped by the leader, but they also helped one another to have faith in Jesus. We were at the camp for three days. Then, Lee and Adella took me up to the north side of the Island, by the Sea of Okhotsuk. It was August when we were there, and the sun was shining, but the wind was blowing with a real chill. I asked Lee if they ever had summer there? He replied, "Yes, but it is very short and they must grow things that mature early, both in their gardens, and on their farms."

We met a few people in the town of Shari, but they did not seem to be much excited about having these American people in Japan. From there, we returned to Ashoro, where Lee and Adella took the bus, and returned over the mountains to the east, and back to Nakashibetsu. Philip and I continued on to Hombetsu, where Don and Barbara Reber had just begun the work of planting a church. They were quite excited about the possibilities that the area provided for the building of a new church. They also took us back to Ashoro, the town where we had parted ways with Lee and Adella. Don and Barbara had made some contacts there that they felt were promising, and they believed that work could be established there, as well as in Hombetsu, and their vision was eventually fulfilled.

From there, Philip and I took the train back to Obihiro, where the Becks were located. That was the place where Louella met us. She and Rachel had come alone from Tokyo. They had traveled north by train from Tokyo to the straits between the Islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. There, they took the ferry to cross over to Hokkaido. On the ferry, Louella had met a young Japanese man who introduced himself. He said that he knew Carl Beck, and was now studying at a University in Tokyo. So, she had a guide to help her as she traveled on to Obihiro, where Carl and Esther Beck lived. That young man was later to become an important part of the Church in Hokkaido.

We were with Carl and Esther for several days. They took us to the rural towns of Taiki and Hiroo. The first place, Taiki, was an agricultural town, and the second, Hiroo, was a fishing center. Both were south of Obihiro, on the same rail line, near the south coast of Hokkaido. Taiki was a beautiful little town that was divided by a river. We were to learn later that it was not only a physical divide, but that the people of the town were divided by it more than one would think possible. It served as a reminder so many times of the saying in America, "The people on the other side of the tracks." Both towns were accessible from Obihiro by either train or bus. The train was a little faster, and much more comfortable, because the roads were gravel and so well maintained. We returned that evening to Obihiro.

The next day, Carl and Esther showed us the city where they were working, as well as some of the surrounding area. Obihiro was a very beautiful city on the plateau, just twenty miles east of the Hidaka Mountain range. It was the center for Agriculture and Industry in this large plateau, which was a fine farming area. It seemed to be rapidly developing in many ways, and we were to learn that Obihiro boasted the best climate on the Island.

The next day, we took the train to Kushiro from Obihiro, which took two and one half hours. We enjoyed a beautiful ride through the mountains and along the coast, until we reached Kushiro. Ralph and Genny met us at the station, and proceeded to show us around the city. Kushiro was a larger sort of city with a large fishing industry, as well as other developing industries related to fishing and mining. We then visited some of the suburbs where there were possibilities for establishing churches. We certainly did a lot of praying and thinking about all the places that we were shown on our visit to Hokkaido.

It was time, once again, to head back towards Tokyo, and to dedicate our time to zealous language study. We were still so limited in our communication skills. The next evening, we took the express train across to south western Hakkodate to the straits. The ferry brought us across to Honshu Island, and, from Honshu Island, we took the train on to Tokyo. We reached Tokyo the second morning of our traveling, and we were so grateful to be back at home.

Second Year of Language Study

We had hired a lady to look after our house while we were gone to explore Hokkaido. She had cared for things very well, and had even cleaned the house for our return. We were so grateful to her, and very glad to be back in our apartment. Louella and I went to the Intermissions Wholesale Store, where we stocked up on staples and bulk things that we needed. We were able to get a good supply of necessities for the months ahead. It was possible for us to get the daily needed fresh vegetables and minor items locally, but this wholesale store was a much needed place to get the bulk items.

While we had been in Hokkaido, Don and Dorothy had found a house that was for sale at a reasonable price, and in an excellent location. Another mission organization was offering it for sale. It had adequate room for their family on the first floor, and a large room upstairs that looked like it would be adequate for the church for some time. So, while we were away, they had moved to the new location, and were no longer living in the apartment above us. It was not long, however, before a couple from the Baptist Mission moved in upstairs. There names were Jerry and Mary Jean Gano, and they would soon join us in language school.

Philip & Rachel have tea

Soon after arriving back in Tokyo, Louella and I went to the Takashimaya Department store nearby and bought ourselves a high chair for Rachel. We also got a rocking chair so we could rock the baby to sleep. That evening, we had some special guests, Eunice and Norman Wengert, and Orrie Miller, all from M.C.C. Norman was director of MCC in Japan, and Orie was from M.C.C in Akron, Pennsylvania. They, along with Don and Dorothy, came for our evening meal, and the meal turned out to be a picnic on our back patio. The celebration was for Don and Dorothy's ninth wedding anniversary, and it proved to be an enjoyable evening of fellowship. September the 14th was Philip's fourth birthday, and the day when our language school was to begin. Louella and I had been reviewing as much as possible so that we would not feel so dumb when it was time for classes to start. One can get rusty quite fast if one does not keep working at learning a language.

Another day, Philip and I took a new pulpit that I had made for the church over to the McCammons. That evening, we had invited some other language school students to our home for a meal. We had traveled with these fellow students on the same ship coming to Japan, then we had struggled together for a year in language school, so we felt that we had much in common. It turned out to be a great evening of visiting together.

One day, after a typhoon had passed nearby, the rains had cleared the sky, and we noticed Mt. Fuji standing there, clear and beautiful in the distance, and we realized that is really a beautiful mountain. On September 26th, that year, the Toyo Maru Ferry Boat sank in the Hakodate Harbor at the straits between Hokkaido and Honshu. It had just arrived at Hokodate Harbor from Aomori on Honshu, and had entered the harbor with some difficulty, due to the high winds and waves, but it had been able to dock. Then, the winds had calmed, and it seemed that the storm had passed. The ferry was unloaded, cleaned, and loaded again. As they were passing through the harbor and entering the bay, suddenly the winds started up again, the waves became very high, and the ferry overturned. Twelve-hundred people lost their lives in the tragedy, and among them were several missionaries. One missionary, whom I would later become aquainted with, was miraculously saved. He was not able to swim, but the waves seemed to carry him towards the shore until his feel touched ground, and he was able to get to a bus that was taking people to the hospital. The water was so cold that hypothermia set in very quickly, and he needed help to get warmed up. He said that he shivered uncontrollably until they got him into the hospital and wrapped him in warm blankets for a long while. He was, thankfully, able to be released from the hospital the next day.

Another Big Move

In the autumn of 1954 we learned that our Hokkaido missionaries were thinking of the possibility of our moving to Hokkaido soon for the purpose of filling in for Carl Becks and his family while they were away on Furlough. Was that ever a surprise to us! It simply seemed too soon for us to leave language study. We just did not have enough mastery over the language to communicate well in conversation, let alone communicating the Gospel to the Japanese. Then, in October, when we received a letter from Carl and Esther suggesting that we come a few days earlier so they would have time to give us some orientation to the area. They wanted to be certain that we would know where to buy things, and wished to introduce us to some of the people whom we would be working with. So, it was clear that they wanted us to be on the way soon. They also asked us if we would be willing to provide room and board for a Grandpa who would be able to teach us more of the language. These were hard decisions to make from a distance since we did not know the people involved.

On October 23rd, Louella and I began packing some things that would need to be shipped ahead of us. At about the same time we received a letter from Joe and Emma Richards telling us they would be coming to Japan soon, and they would be able to take over some of our furnishings. They said that if there were things that they might use, we would not need to ship these things to Hokkaido. That sounded good to us!

Then, on the 28th of October, a group of Language School students took a tour to Nikko. This was a beautiful tourist area, located north and west of Tokyo, which was famous for its autumn colors. Nikko was an historic town containing many famous temples, and boasting attractions for tourists. We found the place as wonderful as it was described. The fall colors were just as gorgeous as everyone had said, and the red maple leaves were as fantastic. Also, we were able to see the beautiful Kegon Water Falls. They were three-hundred and twenty feet high, and rather narrow, not wide like the Niagara Falls. In one particular temple, Philip saw a box that attracted his interest. It looked to him like a box we had talked about one time. He asked us, "Is that the Ark Of The Covenant?" This was an opportunity to do some teaching about temples that do not honor Jesus. Those times occurred frequently, and they were very fruitful opportunities.

The next morning after we returned, Rachel broke out with the three-day Measles. We had, by then, discontinued language study, and were giving ourselves completely to the move that we had to make. We did need to send a few things ahead, but, fortunately, not as much as we had thought earlier, since Joe and Emma were planning to take some of our heavier furnishings. We did need to clean out our apartment, and to leave it like it was when we came. The 11th of November was our last day in Tokyo. The evening of the 10th, Don and Dorothy took us to a German restaurant called "The Kettle" for our evening meal. This provided a good time for us to fellowship with them both.

On our last day in Tokyo, Louella's helper, Reiko, took the day off to get her things ready to travel to her home and family in Fukushima, which was located north of Tokyo. On our way to Hokkaido, we were to spend the night with her parents. Reiko's father was the manager of the City Newspaper Company, and they gave us such royal treatment.

The next morning, we took another train north to Sendai, where we spent some time with Jim and Mary Ann Melchert. We enjoyed a very good time with them in their cozy little Japanese home. We left at 10:14 that night for Aomori, where we would get on the ferry to cross over to Hokkaido the next morning. When we got on the train, four seats were open, each two facing the other two. So, we put Philip on one pair to sleep, and we sat on the other two, holding Rachel. The next morning, we arrived at the ferry at 11:25, and soon arrived in Hokkaido. We took the train past the Capital, Sapporo, and on to Ebestsu, where we stayed over night with a young missionary lady whom we had known in China, Hazel Rippy. Hokkaido greeted us with cold and snow.

Our stay with Hazel was a wonderful, leisurely, and restful time. She had prepared a very suitable meal for us after such a long night and day on the train. Hazel was busy and happy in her work, but we sensed that she was also lonely as a single person in a strange city.

The following day, we left early for our seven hour train ride to Obihiro. We arrived there at 3:15, after crossing the Hidaka mountains, and we found that it was even colder in Obihiro. When we arrived, Carl, Carol, and some of the Church members were there to welcome us, and everyone welcomed us warmly.

The next evening, the church members had a farewell planned for Carl and his family, and a welcome planned for us. They really made it quite a gala experience. Then, on Friday, the 19th of November, all of the Hokkaido Mennonite Mission Workers got together, and actually made a thanksgiving dinner. Esther had fried some roosters, and other families had brought additional food. So, there was certainly no shortage of things to eat. That night, the Becks, Ruth Bean, and all the men except me went to a hotel to sleep, while the mothers, the children, and I stayed at the house. The next morning, we were all up early, and everyone went to see the Becks off at the station. There was a very large crowd of people there from the churches in town, business men, and many others whom Carl, Esther, and Carol had come to know. It was a very impressive moment for us all, as it provided tremendous evidence of the friends and influence that Carl and his family had made in the few years that they had lived in Obihiro. Everyone present helped to sing the song, "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again." This was the first Mennonite Missionary family to leave Japan on furlough, so it was a very special occasion. Eventually, however, the crowd dispersed, the other missionaries left for their homes, and we were on our own.

Church group in Obihiro, where we served 1 year.

On November 21st, our first Sunday in Obihiro, a retired Pastor was invited to give the message, and we were so thankful. This made it possible for us to observe, and to see what would be expected of us in the weeks and months ahead. Our children were not accustomed to having worship in our home on Sunday mornings, and all the commotion of these activities, with strange people seeming to take over our house, was very distressing to them. Philip was more able to adjust than Rachel, since he was older. For Rachel, the activities did not bother her as much as the amount of attention that the young people gave to her did. She simply did not understand what it was all about. To the Japanese, she was this cute little foreign child, and they all wanted to touch her, hold her, feel her hair, and try to talk to her. She cried a lot, and she could not be comforted.

On Tuesday, Louella did a large washing for ourselves, and one for the Becks, who had left some things to be washed and put in storage. Then, after school was out, there came scores of children, whom we did not know would be coming, to practice Christmas songs with their high school student-teachers. This was all taking place in our house, and, needless to say, the experience proved to be quite frustrating, but we tried to manage. Rachel, however, cried almost endlessly.

One day, I went with a group of young believers from our church to visit a home for senior-citizens. We talked with them about Christmas and its meaning, and tried to encourage them. Then, we went to the prison to sing carols, and to share some of the Scriptures. Following that, we went to the orphanage and shared with them too. They all seemed to appreciate our coming. Later in the evening, we went to the City Hospital to sing carols in the halls for the patients. With all the coming and going, Louella found that the children were getting most irritable, so much so that she had difficulty getting them fed and put to bed. I know that she would have been thrilled to be with us, but she also knew that it needed to be this way now. She was very patient!

Then, came Christmas day, which it was most beautiful, and our family enjoyed it thoroughly. No one bothered us, for a change, and I made a fire in the fireplace, and turned on the Christmas tree lights. We kept the drapes to the windows pulled, and read the Christmas story to the children and sang carols. Then, we opened our Christmas gifts, some of which had come from family and friends in the U. S. After a leisurely breakfast, a few guests began to come. At 10:00 A.M., when the church people had all gathered, we had our Christmas Day Worship. I preached that morning, and in the afternoon, the Sunday School children gave their program, and it was very well done. Then, in the evening, the young people of the church came for their Christmas party. They were in charge, and it was well conducted, plus, they seemed to enjoy being together in such a relaxed setting.

On December the 27th, we, along with Don and Barbara from Hombetsu, went as far as Kushiro, and spent the night with Ralph and Genny. The next morning, we all got on the train and traveled to Nakashibetsu, where Lee, Adella, and there family lived. There, we had our Christmas meal and a wonderful fellowship together. That night, the fellows went to a hotel and stayed, while the women and children stayed at the house. The next morning, after a good breakfast, we all headed back to our respective homes again. We rejoiced in the good fellowship that we could enjoy together as a group of missionaries.

After we returned home from our trip, we told our helper, Mrs. Mitsuka, that she could take a week off for the celebration of the New Year. That is the big holiday of the year in Japan, and all of the business places, factories, and government offices shut down for anywhere from three days to a whole week. People there usually go and buy a lot of food supplies so they can celebrate for a few days, until the stores open, and everything goes back to normal. Trains and buses, however, do run on a limited schedule so that people can get around if necessary. On December 31st, Jim and Mary Ann Melchert arrived at our house for a visit. We had visited them at Sendai, on our way to Hokkaido, in November. They were wonderful guests, and we very much enjoyed their visit with us.

On New Years Day, we did not get going very early, as we had two different Japanese guests to call. On New Years day, calls are formal encounters, complete with formal bowing and the presentation of gifts. Don Orth, a missionary from the United Church of Christ in town, and a friend of ours, came to visit us. We missionaries were not bound by the formalities as the Japanese were, so our greetings were more relaxed. Philip and I went to call on our helper, Mrs. Mitsuka, and presented her with a box of fruit. Then, we went to call on our language teacher, Mr. Takahashi, and gave him a box of fruit also. These were short calls with formal bows, the presentation of our gifts, and the wishing of a good and prosperous year. That evening, those people whom we had visited came to our place and called, also presenting gifts and wishing us a good New Year.

On Sunday, that week, we had a good turn out at our worship service. I preached, and Brother Nemoto interpreted for me. I gave a message related to the New Year. One so often wonders how messages get through to listeners when the messages are interpreted by another person. One simply prays that the Lord will intervene, and that He will enable them to receive a good Gospel message. In spite of language barriers, however, I should note that our fellowship time together after church was always most enjoyable.

That afternoon, the mail brought a package from Oren Yoder and his family. Oren Yoder's son, Darvin, had Philip's name in the Christmas drawing, and he sent Philip a toy cattle truck. Philip said, "If this is a cattle truck, why didn't he send the cattle with it?" Things got a little complicated with Philip sometimes. I received some socks, and Louella was given some dress material and an apron. We were very happy to be the recipients of such generosity.

The first Monday of January, we had the Pastor's fellowship at our house. This time, I gave the devotional, which was not very long because of my limited Japanese. Along with our devotional, there was made time for prayer requests, then we prayed together, remembering each other. Louella served the meal as wife of the host pastor, and truly enjoyed having such a friendly group of men as guests in our house.

On January 7th, Louella's helper, Mrs. Mitsuka, came back again. Louella was very happy to have her in our home again. She prepared a special Japanese soup for lunch that we all enjoyed very much. Also, our neighbors, the Bando family, came to see us, they and gave us some bean paste candy which we all liked and enjoyed much.

Winter Bible School

In Japan, public schools are closed the first couple of weeks in January. The Mennonite Church took advantage of this vacation time, and planned a week of Winter Bible School, in order to provide an opportunity for an extended time of Bible teaching for any one who wished to attend. It seemed that the believers were really grateful for this, because many of them attended. This was a time when potential leaders also became evident, or received the conviction that they should do more preparation for service in the church. It also had a strengthening effect on the believers as they acquired increased knowledge of the scriptures, and grew in their Christian life.

That year, our Bible School started out with thirty-seven people in attendance. The Rebers came to help us as hosts to the Bible School. Lee Kanagy came, and brought his son, Daniel, to play with Philip. There were more people than our house was made to accommodate. The first night, we had twelve overnight guests who stayed for breakfast the next morning. They said that the studies were very good, and they enjoyed them very much. Our members were so busy providing places for overnight guests, ordering futons, and having them brought to our place. We had wall to wall guests every night. When it was all over, they reported a very successful Bible School for which we praised the Lord and the good helpfulness of everyone. Louella reported that they had served three-hundred and seventy meals during the course of the Bible School. If we had known before what a task it would be, we might have rebelled. The Lord sure knows how to lead and provide for his people.

As the month of January continued, the weather became increasingly cold. Each night, the temperature went down to minus ten to minus twenty Fahrenheit. The temperature in Hokkaido stays quite constant, and does not fluctuate much from day to day like it does in Iowa. It continues to stay very cold there in winter months.

During the winter months, there were many people in Hokkaido that year who did not have enough food, and some suffered from malnutrition. We were able to get seventy-three food packages from M.C.C, as well as some clothing. Some of us from the church went out and delivered the packages to the needy homes. We found out who were the needy ones by going to the City Office and asking them to give us names of the most needy, and their addresses. It was rather amazing to us how the Japanese kept records of people's conditions and financial status. They were able to give us the names, and did so very readily when they learned that we wanted to give them food. This made it very easy for us to distribute our gifts to those who were most in need.

In early April, we had a missionary meeting at our place for all the Mennonite Missionaries. They included Lee and Adella Kanagy and children, Ralph and Genny Buckwalter and their girls, Ruth Bean, and Don and Barbara Reber and children. Our meeting dealt with budgets, various problems, vision for work, and new people coming to join forces. At that time, Ruth and Rhoda Ressler were in Osaka making plans to come to Kamishihoro in central Hokkaido, which is north of Obihiro. We needed to inform the church of when they would arrive, plan for where they would live, and prepare the place so they would not have all that to do when they arrived in Kanishihoro. People were appointed to complete the tasks, and these people turned out to be Don Reber and me, since we lived in the area.

The next evening, after the missionaries returned to their homes, Louella and I went out with Easter tracts and invitations to our Easter Sunday Services. Also included was an invitation to the Good Friday Service to be held that evening. Seven or eight of those invited came to our Good Friday Service that evening. This was a real encouragement to us. Unfortunately, the one who was to interpret my message for me that evening did not appear. Miss Kitama tried to interpret for me, but found it very difficult. So, we had Miss Kitama read the crucifixion story from the Bible instead. Then, another faithful high school student spoke briefly, explaining simply the meaning and purpose of the suffering and death of our Savior, Jesus. In the end, I think the service turned out to be quite meaningful for those who came, because it was given by such young people, and in terms they could understand very well. The Lord sometimes helps us in very different ways than we would think try to plan by ourselves. On Easter Sunday there was a good crowd present for the service. Many children came to Sunday School, and we were much encouraged at the response of the community to the efforts of the young members of our church. They were very generous with their words of appreciation.

On Monday Don and Barbara came, and Louella and I both went along to Kamishihoro to see what kind of house might be available for Ruth and Rhoda to move into. An earlier promise of some kind had been made that they could move into one of the block houses that the town was planning to build. Japanese houses are very cold in winter, and no one knows better than they do. They lived in them so long before they could build better ones. Anyway, the plan for them to live in a Japanese house until the block houses were built was the best we could expect. There was a house that was available, but it was not in the best condition. They promised, however, to fix it up, and we felt that we could help make it warm enough with some special fixing.

Louella mentioned in her diary a man who was admired all over Japan for his preaching on the trains he took as he traveled all over Japan. His name was Mr. Kyotsuki, and he was then in his seventies. He came to our house one day, and wanted to stay with us for three days to rest. He mentioned that he had stayed with the Becks earlier, and he was such a warm-spirited Christian man that we could not refuse him. We made a place where he could stay and rest from his travels.

Mr. Kyotsuki would stand at the end of the coaches and preach the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ, and he had been doing this for many years already. Officials of the Rail Road Company knew about him and had very much respect for him. He knew the number of seats on the coaches, and he knew about how many people were on each car, so he could determine how many people he had preached to each day. His love for the Lord was real, and his life and presence exuded the love of the Lord. I was always amazed that the was able to use the trains in this way. Usually, in Japan, one is not allowed to preach to a captive audience, but he had been doing this for so long, and people loved him so much, no one seemed willing to stop him. So, he went merrily on his way, sharing the Gospel with the multitudes. He happened to be at our place on a Sunday, so we asked him to preach for us on Sunday morning. The members of our church were happy to have him preach for us, and we were very blest.

During that year, a young man, Mr. Kannari, came from Kushiro to be a teacher at one of the Obihiro schools. He had been a member of the church in Kushiro where Ralph Buckwalter was pastor. He was a very capable person, and known as a fine teacher. This young man often seemed to be busy on Sunday mornings, so we began having him speak to our Sunday evening group quite often. I believe that Mr. Kannari was a person with much leadership potential. However, he hesitated to commit himself to be used on a continuing basis. There seemed to be too many cultural things involved, which I did not fully understand, that kept him from becoming too deeply involved.

Louella and I had birthdays about one month apart, and we had developed a pattern of buying gifts that our family could enjoy as much as we could. That year, I purchased for Louella a classical music record of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony. This was something our whole family loved much.

On a Tuesday morning in May we set out for Sapporo, where there was to be a gathering of all the missionaries on the Island of Hokkaido. This meeting was held once a year, and a special speaker was always invited to speak. Often, it was an executive from one of the Mission Boards who was visiting Japan, and could give some time for this. They were usually glad to do it, and had good things to share with the missionaries. Don and Dorothy McCammon, and Joe and Emma Richards, our Mennonite missionaries in Tokyo, came for the meeting also. It was the first time that most of us had met Joe, but we all had known Emma from our years in Goshen College in Indiana. We found that fellowship with the broader missionary community was very good for us, as we found that we all have the same problems, and the solution for one might be the same for all. So, we had much to share meaningfully with each other. We experienced many spiritual blessings as we shared from the scriptures the good things of the Lord. It turned out that we had much more in common than we had ever guessed. As we returned to Eastern Hokkaido by train, we had an opportunity to visit with Joe and Emma Richards, and with Don and Barbara Reber. They all stopped with us for the night. Don Orth, a missionary with the United Church of Christ in Japan came for the evening meal and to stay all night. It was his last night before leaving on furlough, he had all of his belongs packed up, and he needed a place to stay. This provided us an opportunity for some good fellowship with a brother missionary.

Then, on Sunday the McCammons, from Tokyo, were with us. Don preached for us on Sunday, and there were about fifty people present that day, which was more than usual. This was, perhaps, the result of some beautiful spring weather. It gave us all a big lift to find so many present for worship.

The following day, Ruth and Rhoda Ressler, and Don and Barbara Reber came, and we went to Kamishihoro to see how preparation of the house was coming. We found that things were not being done very well, and all concerned expressed resignation with what was happening. We knew that surely the Lord was with us, and we all returned to Obihiro for the night.

The following day, Ruth and Rhoda packed their things stored in Obihiro, and left for Kamishihoro on the noon train. They seem satisfied with the arrangements, and things are not always seen through the eyes of others. There is always the possibility that we will accept things for others more readily than we will for ourselves, so we need to be careful what we accept for others. On Thursday of that week I went to Kamishihoro to help Ruth and Rhoda with some of the process of settling into the Japanese house. It was new for them, but far from new in reality. So, I proceeded to fix some doors that did not fit the way they should, and I straightened the clay chimney tile, and stabilized it better than it was. I also helped with other things to make the house a little more useable for them, and they were very appreciative.

I remember that there was a Canadian missionary couple of another Mission group in Japan driving through Obihiro one day, and they heard that foreigners lived there. So, they decided to come see who we were. It was very near noon, so we invited them to have lunch with us, and they accepted our invitation. We soon learned each other's names, and we had a very enjoyable visit over lunch. Later, Mrs. Mitsuka, Louella's helper, asked, "How long have you known that couple?" We said, "This is the first time we have met." Her mouth dropped open with astonishment, for she could not conceive how complete strangers could possibly talk together so freely the first time they met. She had supposed that we had been old friends for many years. Our cultures are so unbelievably different!

On May 19th Louella wrote in her diary, "Spirea, Jonquils, and Hyacinth are all blooming." These flowers blossom later in Hokkaido than they do in Iowa. In fact, Spring is rather disappointing in Hokkaido. May sometimes is rather spring-like, but June and July can be, and usually were, so very drippy, chilly, foggy, cold, and quite uncomfortable. So much so that one missionary, Don Orth, often said that Hokkaido has two seasons, Winter and August! That was a rather drastic statement, but August was often the only summer-like month of the year.

One Sunday evening, a young girl named Miss Shinohara decided to commit her life to the Lord. She had become a friend of ours earlier in the summer. Her parents lived just north of Obihiro, and she had been in school at Matsuda College in Tokyo. She came to see us when she heard that foreigners lived in Obihiro. She came to our door, and when Louella appeared she spoke in English, introducing herself, and asking if there was anything she could help with. Louella was so happy that she knew English so well, because this was someone with whom she could communicate easily. Even more importantly, she desired to know more about Christ and the church. So, she and Louella had a wonderful time together. It seemed they were both very delighted over their new found friendship. Miss Shinoharabegan coming to church, and became a real help to us in many ways. Also, when she returned from college on vacations, she would find time to be of help to us. Her coming to know the Lord that summer gave us reason to give much praise to our God.

Philip off to kindergarten.

Philip Enters Kindergarten

On August 18th, we took Philip to see the Kindergarten at the Episcopal Church, and to meet Pastor Kuzue, who was the principal of the Kindergarten. Philip was quite impressed at the sight of so many toys. Pastor Kizue was a very gentle, caring person, so he and Philip got along from the start. We expressed our hope that Philip might be able to enter Kindergarten when it opened in the fall. On August 24th Kindergarten opened, and Pastor Kizue said that Philip could come. I took him the first morning, and when Philip saw the crowd of children, and heard the noise they made, Philip had to cry a little. Then, Pastor Kizue took Philip and went to where all the other children were. I stayed as much out of sight as possible until Philip found some children who would play with him. As soon as he seemed a bit more sure of himself, I left. When I picked him up at the end of the day, Philip came home happy, and seemed to have enjoyed it very much. The next morning, Philip got up, and was ready to go to Kindergarten again, which was a real encouragement to us.

Nakamura-Hirayama Wedding

October 7th was the day for the marriage ceremony of Mr. Nakamura and Miss Hirayama. It was my responsibility to conduct the service, and to see that all went as it should. A quartet sang for the occasion, and there were about thirty guests present. Louella had prepared a wedding cake along with some other cakes and, of course, tea. Miss Nomura, a member of the church who worked at a flower shop, brought suitable flowers for the occasion, which were very beautiful. Louella watched very closely to see responses, and she felt that everything went very well, and the guests seemed pleased with it all. Although we had misgivings about such a wedding, we felt in our hearts an awareness of God's presence and guidance in the way it was planned, participated in, and conducted.

Another New Life

The next day, we had a telegram from Lee Kanagy that Louella should come to their place as soon as possible. This was an expected announcement, for Adella was expecting a new member of their family and we were anticipating this call. So, Louella left on the train that evening. She needed to stay in Shebecha that night with Mrs. Oshigiri, who was the midwife appointed to help Adella. The next morning, they left on the first train to go there.

There was no evidence that the birth would take place soon, so Mrs. Oshigiri returned to her home again. Louella went to worship service that evening with Lee. The next day, Louella baked a cherry pie for the family, and there still was no evidence of a birth taking place.

Lee and the church were in the process of building a Kindergarten building which would also be used as a church building. Louella helped to make curtains for the building while they were waiting for the birth to take place. The next day, she made some clothes for Ruth's dolls. Finally, it seemed that things were beginning to happen, so they called Mrs. Oshigiri, and she came at 12:50. By 3:45, a bouncing ten pound, ten ounce David Joseph Kanagy was born. Both Adella and David were doing just fine. Louella stayed with them until the second day, and then left on the 3:12 P.M. train to return home. She arrived at Obihiro by about 10:00 P.M., and I managed to have some rolls and coffee waiting for her.


After the Christmas and New Year celebrations were over that year, we took time for a much needed vacation away from our work. We left on the late night train called the "Marimo." Rachel, unfortunately, was starting with the chicken pox, but we had wanted a break for so long that we felt that we had to go anyway. Leaving on the late night train got us to Tokyo by 10:15 of our second day of travel. Don McCammon met us, and took us to his home. We spent the night there, and then Don and I left for South Japan, where we were to attend the all Japan Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Missionary Fellowship Meeting to be held in Miyazaki, on the Island of Kyushu.

Japan is a very beautiful country, and we enjoyed watching the countryside go by as we passed through the southern part of Japan, which we had not seen much of before. As we passed through the Osaka and Kobe Stations, several more Mennonite missionaries boarded the train. After the others boarded, we talked some about Hiroshima, and about the possibility of stopping off to look around for a short while. By checking the train schedules, we found that it would be possible to be there for a couple of hours, and could then get another express train that would still get us to our destination in adequate time.

When we arrived at Hiroshima we hired a taxi to take us on a tour of the city, which the taxi driver was very willing to do. This was in early 1956, a little over ten years since Hiroshima had been bombed. There had only been sporadic attempts at rebuilding, for there had been so much fear of atomic radiation. There appeared to have been some obvious effort to do some real planning, for a new city had already been organized. The complete devastation of the city was still so evident that it made one feel sick to think of the suffering that must have been experienced by the people who had lived there. After seeing most of the city, we returned to the station to continue our journey. Soon, the next express train arrived, and we were on our way again. Since we were going to Miyazaki, it would be early the next morning before we would arrive. That was a long trip for me, having traveled most of four days already.

Louella's Surgery

On Sunday, February 4th I gave the message for the Mennonites gathered in Tokyo for morning worship. That afternoon, Louella and I went to the Tokyo Union Church English worship. Bishop Lilje from Hanover, Germany spoke on "The Four Soils," and his message was a great inspiration to us. That evening, four of us Mennonite couples went to a nearby Chinese restaurant for a meal. Louella and I thought there was no better food than Chinese food, but some people thought we were just biased.

At 9:30 that evening, Louella had a gall bladder attack that was quite severe. Luckily, we had scheduled physicals the next day at the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital. We both seemed to be in very good health, but Dr. Woods recommended that Louella have her gall bladder removed, the children also had their necessary shots, which they never enjoyed.

Two days later, Louella entered the hospital for surgery at 9:30 A.M. Before the doctor gave her the anesthetic, he prayed with Louella that all would go well with the surgery, and Louella appreciated that so very much. She was out all day, and totally unaware that I was there at all. The doctor found that she had many small gall stones, and was not sure that he should remove her gall bladder. While he thought about that, he removed her appendix. And, finally, he concluded that she would probably get along better without her gall bladder.

On the evening of the 14th the children and I got on the train to go back to Hokkaido. Louella was doing well, and she would follow us as soon as she was able to travel. The children and I got along fine, and we arrived at home on the second morning. Louella had many visits from friends in the Tokyo area, including missionaries we had become aquainted with in Language School. When Philip and I visited, Louella presented him with some chocolate "gold" coins, and Philip was delighted. He thought that going to the hospital to visit was a special treat! On the19th, after spending eleven days in the hospital, Louella went to stay with the McCammons. The next evening, she went with the McCammons to hear Billy Graham, who was holding a series of meetings in Tokyo at that time.

In Hokkaido, the children and I had Mrs. Mitsuka come and cook for us, because their dad was not a very good cook. The children would certainly vouch for that! We got along very well with Mrs. Mitsuka doing the cooking, but I had to spend a lot of time with the children because they missed their mother so very much--poor motherless children!

One day, Mr. Inomata and another student from Obihiro, who was a good friend of ours, came to talk to Louella. They read and talked about many things from the Bible, and Louella felt very blessed with this opportunity to witness to the Grace of God in Christ. While they were talking, Mr. Inomata received Christ as his Savior. "Alleluia! What Joy!" Louella said.

The next day, Louella flew to Sapporo Airport, and took the train from there back to Obihiro. She arrived late that night, and I was there at the station to welcome her home again. The next morning, Rachel would have nothing to do with Louella, which was rather hard to accept, but that is a very common thing with children when they are so young.


In early March Don Reber came and went with me to Taiki to see if we could find a house that we could rent when we moved there later that month. We looked at a number of places which were simply shells and would have almost needed rebuilding, and we were disappointed at the lack of possibilities that were presented to us. We simply did not know what to think.

Finally, the head of the City Office introduced us to the head of the Forestry Department of the local government. They sent a man with us to show us an old, empty hospital building, and he told us that we could rent several rooms there as a place to live temporarily, but that, within a year, they had plans to tear it down.

Grandpa & fellow missionary Don Reber aboard an old train. Note the pot-bellied stove to keep warm. (Some of these train cars are in the museum in Sapporo, Hokkaido which Grandma Elsie saw when they visited Japan in 1985).

This was an old building, but it was livable, so we rented four rooms there to be our home for the first months of our time in Taiki. As we continued to try and find something more permanent, we concluded that there was nothing available to rent. We talked with the other missionaries of our mission, and concluded that it would be best for us to build a house during the Spring and Summer of 1956.

Our days were becoming very busy as we planned our move to Taiki. At such times of heavy activity, our children seemed to sense our tenseness, and they often became very quarrelsome. Finally, we completed our packing one night at about 11:00 P.M., and we had expected a truck to come for our things the next day, but no truck came. We called and asked when the truck would come, and we learned that another truck had to be sent for our things, because the roads were so bad that the first truck could not get through. Alas, there was nothing we could do but wait!

That same evening, Mr. Uehira, a young man who had recently become a believer, came to visit us. He was working at a local furniture factory at the time, and was quite a laid-back sort of person. Talking to him helped us to calm down and take a new perspective of what was going on.

On March 23 there was a commencement held at Philip's kindergarten, and he was one of the ones would be graduating with an honorable mention. They also mentioned that Philip would be moving to Taiki in March, and that he would begin first grade there. Commencement exercises for Kindergarten children in March may sound strange to people from America, but in Japan the Fiscal Year begins on April 1st for most everything. For that reason, the end of March is the time when all schools, government agencies, businesses, railroads, and factories make personnel changes. It is when new people are hired, and older personnel are moved to higher positions, so it is also the time when kindergarten students move on to different schools.

Eventually, the second truck did find its way too us, and we were finally on our way to our new home and to the next stage in our lives. Our train ride to Taiki was uneventful. The day after we arrived at our new home, the Ressler sisters came and hung curtains for Louella. The curtains were to cover only the lower half of the windows, which is normally fine. However, the snow had slid off the roof and piled up along the side of the house, and had not all melted. In fact, enough snow was left for the community children to line up on top of, and proceed to look over the curtains to see what these foreigners were doing as they were getting settled in. As Louella said, "we had a great cloud of witnesses!"

We found ourselves living in a Japanese-style house with a little coal-burning stove constructed of sheet metal, and made to burn from the top and down. The chimney, or stove pipe, came out of the side of the stove near the bottom, and the stove was filled with coal, leaving just enough space at the top for a bit of kindling and a little paper to start the fire. It was rather amazing how easy it was to start a fire in them. The draft was controlled by a small sliding draft opening near the top of the stove, and they worked very efficiently.