Some years ago I was in Japan on a two week business trip. After many business meetings and many hard contract negotiations, I was ready to come home. I remember feeling spent spiritually and found myself on my knees praying to Heavenly Father for guidance and assistance. I prayed for an experience that day which would bring the Spirit into my life. I knew I had a long day ahead of traveling and hoped it would be a day of joy and encouragement.
My trip home started by traveling by bus for over an hour from my hotel to the Tokyo Narita Airport. I would then fly from Tokyo to Portland, Oregon, go through customs, and then take a final leg by plane to Salt Lake City, Utah. I boarded the bus and picked out a seat by the window and took from my briefcase my scriptures with the intent of reading them on the way. The bus would make one stop at Shinjuku Station and pick up more passengers before proceeding to the airport. As these passengers boarded the bus, the seat next to me and the seat across the aisle were two of a few seats open. A young teenage girl sat down next to me and an older woman, her mother, sat down across the aisle.
Soon after leaving Shinjuku Station, I fell asleep. Some time later I awoke to the smell of fish and the crinkling sound of newspaper. The young Japanese girl had just finished her lunch of some fish which had been wrapped in newspaper. She then proceeded to take a book out to read. I glanced over and noticed the Kanji characters and marveled on the complexity of the written Japanese Language. She then turned the page and to my amazement I saw a picture that I knew. I instantly recognized the large man of stature standing in water in the act of baptizing another man. It was Alma baptizing in the Waters of Mormon!
With great excitement I pointed to the picture and said “Book of Mormon” in my best English with a Japanese accent. I then pointed to my scriptures and said: “This is my Book of Mormon.” Her eyes grew wide with great excitement and in her personal best English asked if I was a Mormon. I said yes and her excitement grew ever higher. For the next hour we chatted about the gospel and the Book of Mormon. Here was a sixteen year old girl heading to her cousin’s wedding in Hawaii. She had met with missionaries and was reading the Book of Mormon in preparation to being baptized and becoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Upon arriving at the airport we parted ways and said goodbye. I couldn’t help reflect on how the Lord had blessed me with an answer to my prayers by having one person in 50 million sit next to me with a Book of Mormon that contained a picture that I would recognize. What a sweet tender mercy!
I then proceeded to the gate for my flight. I boarded as soon as possible and sat in a window seat preparing to take a long nap as we flew across the ocean to the United States. I was quite tired and i fell asleep soon after sitting down. Some time later I awoke to find a Japanese girl in her early twenties sitting next to me. Not long thereafter she began to read a book and I pulled out my scriptures to read as well. I then noticed as she turned the page a picture of a muscular man in a cave setting holding what appeared to be golden plates. This was the picture of Mormon! She was also reading the Book of Mormon!
Again I pointed to my scriptures and told her I also had a Book of Mormon. I then found out she was going to Utah to live with a sister missionary that taught her the gospel. Her desire was to live with her and prepare to serve a mission a year later. Her English was good. She had studied in the USA and attended a college in St. George, Utah where she met missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They taught her about the gospel of Jesus Christ. She then went back to Japan and looked up the Mormon missionaries, proceeded to learn more and eventually was baptized.
It takes nearly 22 hours to travel from the hotel to my house in Utah. For nearly that whole time the Lord placed in my path two sweet Japanese sisters who had a great love for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. As an answer to prayer, He placed in my path people who lifted my spirit and helped bring His Spirit in to my life. I am so grateful for the tender mercies of God.
By: Kevin Curtis