“To Japan with Aloha,” Ensign, Jan. 1999, 68
More than 20 years ago, when Joe and Janice Ahuna of Kaneohe, Hawaii, were newlyweds, they dreamed of traveling to Japan to perform missionary work through music and dance. The country had been close to Joe’s heart since he had worked there as a young man and later served in the Japan Sapporo Mission.
That dream came true last summer when the Ahunas traveled with their six children to perform 18 variety shows and 3 Church firesides throughout the country—all without compensation. “We wanted to show the Church in action, how it can strengthen the family,” says Joe. “The gospel teaches us to have aloha, or love, for others. We based our theme on that idea.”
The family performed music and dances from Hawaii, New Zealand, Samoa, and Tahiti, as well as the Navajo 22-hoop dance. Performances were held in concert halls, stake centers, hospitals, orphanages, schools, a Buddhist shrine, and at Tokyo Disneyland. At the firesides the Ahunas shared their beliefs about the family and how the Church helps its members to be better parents, brothers, and sisters.
It was difficult not knowing Japanese, Janice says. However, “I learned that even without verbal communication, there is communication through the heart. The Spirit speaks stronger than words.”
Joe agrees. “While our show was not by any means a professional show, afterward people would tell us of the happy, warm feeling they felt and of their increased belief in families.”
Nineteen-year-old Joseph returned to Japan in October to serve in the Japan Tokyo North Mission—a call he received after the family had already made plans for their trip.