LDS church was an awesome experience in Japan! We were able to attend services in both Hiroshima and Kyoto and the ward members went out of their way to make us feel welcome and members of their congregation. We sang in English, and everyone else sang in Japanese! We were provided personal translators, and the whole experience felt very familiar. We loved attending LDS church in Japan, and despite the small numbers, the spirit was strong.
Hiroshima Hikari Ward
In Hiroshima we took the electric railway to the main Hiroshima station, and it was a short walk from there. We were a little late because we got turned around and couldn’t figure out how to cross the elaborate skybridge. Despite entering in the middle of Sacrament one of the brethren brought in all the translation equipment and one of the sister’s translated the entire Sacrament service. It was quite disruptive because it took a good 15 minutes to get everything up and running and working, but no one seemed to mind at all. We wore earbuds while one of the members a few rows up translated quietly into a microphone.
I specifically remember one phrase that was spoken in Sacrament: “Adam and Eve also failed, but they turned their weaknesses into strengths.” I’d never heard it put into such blunt terms before, and it truly resonated with me. I am so thankful to have had this experience.
The LDS church in Japan in the Hiroshima Hikari Ward had about 50 members in their branch. We sat next to the Sister Missionaries who were from the states, and found out one of the Sister Missionaries was half Japanese! It was really exciting for her to come to Japan and see where her mother was born and learn more about her heritage.
The primary was quite small with only a handful of children, and no nursery. Our 3 children were grouped together in the same class with one other little boy. The Sister Missionary we met in Sacrament accompanied our children to primary as their personal translator, and the entire lesson was taught in both Japanese and in English! (I attended the primary class as well because our 2 year old was feeling a little shy). It was such a special experience to be so well considered and cared for as guests.
When it came to Sunday School, the twins went to Primary and were asked to share about their lives in the United States. They had a great time hamming it up, as usual. I took Miss Eclair out to the hall because it was her naptime and she was having a hard time being reasonable.
Gabriel attended the missionary prep class, and mostly watched the missionaries speak Japanese to each other. In turn, they would translate for him. It was entertaining. He followed the missionaries out of class and met me in the hall. We continued visiting with the Elders and chatted about service in Japan. It’s obviously a very difficult mission and the boys here had nothing but positive things to share. They were stalwart.
The day we attended the Hiroshima Hikari Ward it was Mother’s Day! In Sunday School the children made adorable Mother’s Day cards with flowers, and we brought them home. They put a lot of time and attention in them, and they mean that much more to me having been made during our travels in Japan and in a Japanese Primary.
Kyoto Fushimi Ward
We literally had to walk over the river and through the woods to get to the LDS church in Japan to attend the Kyoto Fushimi Ward in Kyoto. Google maps was having a joke at our expense taking us around the city with our luggage which we were sure was going to break by the time we arrived.
We made up ¼ of the congregation in this branch. We were once again offered translation services in this ward but we refused them because we were so late to the service and didn’t want to inconvenience them. It was fun to listen to the talks and decipher what we could. The spirit was definitely strong, even though we couldn’t understand specifically what was being said.
Despite being smaller than the Hiroshima Hikari Ward, the Kyoto Fushimi Ward had both a primary and a nursery. Our baby attended nursery with another young boy, and though it was small, there were plenty of toys to keep her occupied. That is, until she escaped and refused to come back.
Our twins had a translator accompany them to Primary in this ward as well. It was a father with young girls the same age. He spoke excellent English. During Sunday School one of the members of the Bishopric dressed up in full regalia as King Benjamin and delivered his famous speech from the Book of Mormon to the primary kids. He even did a Q&A! Later in class, they played a follow the iron rod game in Primary and had to answer the correct answers in both English and Japanese in order to progress along the path. They loved both of these learning experiences.
Attending LDS Church in Japan was one of our favorite experiences! It brought a piece of home into our lives in a foreign country and helped us connect with people of the same faith in a different culture.