“Letters to Misaki,” New Era, May 2008, 45
When I was a new missionary serving in Kobe, Japan, I noticed an unusual box hanging in the middle of the Church bulletin board.
“What is that?” I asked my companion.
“It’s a mailbox,” she explained. “Our Sunday School teacher Brother Nakatani* has an eight-year-old daughter named Misaki. She was hospitalized a few months ago with cancer.”
We began writing letters every week. Writing in Japanese was difficult for me. But as I wrote, I thought of what I would say to my own little sister, and somehow the words came easily.
One Sunday, Brother Nakatani pulled us aside and told us that Misaki loved our letters and wanted to meet us. He gave us the address of the hospital and told us when to be there. We stood behind a glass wall and spoke to Misaki through a telephone. She wore a little hat to cover her bald head. She looked frail but laughed and talked with us.
Not long afterward I was transferred to another area. I continued to write to Misaki. Sometimes I worried about my Japanese and wondered if the letters were difficult for her to read.
On the last month of my mission I was transferred to a ward in Misaki’s stake. I ran in to the stake president and immediately asked about Misaki.
“A few months ago we almost lost her,” he said. “But now she can go to school again. Her hair is growing back, and she is doing just fine.”
A few days later my companion and I went to church to help with a stake Primary activity. While we were there I saw Brother Nakatani.
“How is she?” I asked.
“She’s here,” he said. “Do you want to see her?”
I recognized her right away. A hat covered her head, but this time I could see dark tufts of newly grown hair underneath.
“Misaki Chan!” I called.
She looked up and smiled as I knelt beside her.
“Do you know who I am?” I asked.
She looked puzzled. I pointed to my nametag.
Misaki’s face brightened, and she clapped her hands with joy. Then, she pulled out the missionary packet that all Primary children had received and asked for my autograph. At that moment, I knew that every letter I had sent to her had been worth it. Each of my letters, imperfect as they were because of grammar and spelling errors, had brought her happiness.
Whenever I hesitate and fear that my kindness to others will be misunderstood, I remember the letters to Misaki. No matter how small or imperfect, kindness is always worth it.