“The Note That Changed Me,” Ensign, Apr. 1999, 60–61
I was 40 years old and living with my wife and family in Yamagata in the northern part of Japan. At the time, I did little for my family except provide for them. I often yelled at my children and was very demanding of my wife. We were not a close family.
One day my wife invited missionaries to our home. They arrived with a cake they had baked and seemed friendly and likable. I decided it would be good for my children to associate with them. Because I worked until late and then went out drinking, I was seldom home in the evenings. One night, however, I arrived home early to find the missionaries there talking with my family about God. I became upset and yelled, “You can stop talking like that or you’ll never darken the doorway of my home again!”
They never again mentioned their religion to me. Later, a new elder and his companion came to visit. He was visibly nervous as he asked me if I wanted to learn about the gospel. Apparently he was nervous that he might be thrown out of my house. However, his manner softened my heart, and I agreed to listen. But nothing he said seemed interesting, and soon I quit the lessons.
One night some time later I arrived home, drunk as usual. I came into the yard and started yelling and romping with my pet dog, then went into the house, where I found new missionaries visiting my family. I don’t remember much else, but the next day my wife handed me a card with a note written on the back of it by one of the missionaries. It said:
“I want you to know that I love you very much! You, as a father, have a big responsibility. Also, as a child of God, you also have a big responsibility. Please, please think about what you are doing by drinking. I can see in you a powerful man who could be strong and mighty in the eyes of God.
“Please follow Him. He will lead you to happiness. I love you. Please understand.
His words touched me deeply. I put his card in my wallet and have kept it with me ever since. The missionaries made arrangements for a couple, the Nishiharas, to come and teach me more about the Word of Wisdom, but on the night of our appointment, I went out drinking instead. When I returned, I found a message from them telling me that Brother Nishihara had once had a drinking problem too. I was very impressed to know that someone who was like me could have changed his life and become a missionary. For the first time, I began to have hope that I too could change.
I started studying the gospel and began trying to live the Word of Wisdom. One day the missionaries challenged me to live it fully for a whole week, and I succeeded at last! From that time I became a new man. The missionaries were very pleased, and my family and I were finally baptized. After the service, Elder Rasmussen showed us a picture of a white building. “This is the Tokyo Temple,” he explained. “I sincerely hope you can be sealed as a family for time and eternity a year from now. I will soon finish my mission, but I hope to return to see you in the temple.” I was touched by his words.
A year passed, and with support from our ward members, we were ready to go to the temple. As we walked through the doors of the temple, Elder Rasmussen was waiting to greet us, just as he had promised. With tears in our eyes, we hugged each other. A man stood nearby watching us, and I was finally introduced to Brother Nishihara—the person who had first given me hope that a man like me could change. We were sealed by Brother Nishihara, and it was a glorious moment for all of us.
My wife and I are filled with joy, and now my family has become my treasure. I am grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the changes it has brought into our lives.