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Expo Murals

Tom Sherry Mission Journal | Osaka Expo: Tom Sherry Collection

Feb. 17, 1970

Since my last entry things have changed quite radically. It’s been ages since I’ve written in here and I hope I can get on an organized schedule soon so I can write more often.

Last Thursday I received a call at 6 a.m. from Kobe (from Elders Sudlow and Pyper). They are going home next month and called to say goodbye. Obviously, that seemed quite strange, but they wouldn’t tell me what was up. Then later I got a call from our Zone Leader telling me I had been transferred to Okinawa as the Zone Leader. Then about mid-day I called Kobe to find out some more information and they told me I was leaving at 3 p.m. the next day. Then that evening at 6 p.m. Ueda shimai came. I went in a room with her and told her I was transferred. I don’t think I’ve ever been closer to a member or investigator than I’ve grown to her. She cried and partly because of her I started crying too. We sat there for a long while, then started talking and we talked about her baptism which was scheduled for the following Monday. We changed it to the next morning so I could see it before I left. Later my companion and I and Ueno shimai went over to Ueda’s house and sat with their family and talked and ate. Oh, before that President Okazaki called from Kobe and said to hold on and don’t go anywhere until I heard from him; apparently there were some problems and he asked me to hang tough. Anyway, at 10 p.m. I got a call saying I had been transferred and to pack my bags, but they didn't know where I was going, and they’d call me back the next morning.

That night at 10:30 an investigator, Taharhbaru, came over and we talked for two and a half hours. He wanted to be baptized but wanted to wait until after his tests for college this week. I’m not worried about him in the least, so I didn’t want to push him into baptism only because I was leaving.

The next morning another call came from Kobe saying to go to Okamachi Branch in Osaka, Japan. At 9:30 a.m. we baptized Ueda Yoshiko-- my companion, Elder Nordstrom baptized her and I confirmed her a member and gave her the gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands.

Okamachi- Feb. 18, 1970

Then I spent the day packing and instructing the new District Leader (Elder Sandberg). At 5 p.m. I went with Ueda, Ueno, and Taharabhru to the train station and talked for a while. At 6 a bunch of the members gathered, and I got on the train. I was going down to Fukuoaka and fly up to Osaka. Fukuoka is about an hour from Kita Kyasha. Just before the train pulled out everyone was crying and giving me, things and it was really sad. Then Ueda and Ueno shimai got on the train with me and rode clear down to Fukuoka. It was really great of them and we had lots of time to talk so saying goodbye at Fukuoka wasn’t too hard. I really loved and will always love those wonderful people.

I flew up to Osaka and went to Okamachi Branch. But when I arrived no one was there. It was very late, and I was tired, so I looked around and found an open window, crawled in and went to bed. The next morning, I went to Abeno Branch where the missionaries were meeting in conference. President Brockbank was in attendance and he represents the First Presidency over here and is in complete charge of the Expo Pavilion. We met in conference three days and Sunday I had the privilege of meeting my first baptism-- Shunji Fujiwara.

Monday, I returned to Okamachi Branch with the other Elders and that night we got transfers. The branches all around Osaka and Kobe are going to house the Expo Elders, and I am going to be one of the Zone Leaders in charge of Expo and the Elders working there. My companion is Elder Damian Smith, and Elder I came out with-- both of us being Zone Leaders in charge of Expo. Our branch will really be unique in that we will have four Elders here that all came out in the first group from the L.T.M. in Hawaii. Those Elders are: Heiner (Craig), Doug Berkey, Damian Smith, and myself.

There is a huge transfer in the Mission now and there is definite talk about the Mission splitting sometime next month. That would be monumental.

Feb. 19, 1970

Well, the Mission is split now, but probably not officially until the 15th of March or so. We met today with the President and his wife and the mission assistant for about an hour and he really set the whole Expo deal in our laps. We really have a lot of responsibility.

Feb 20,1970

Last night Elder Smith and I went over to President Brockbank’s apartment. (He represents the Church Presidency at the pavilion and is in complete charge of it.) He bought us dinner and then we went up to his apartment and talked. He’s quite a man and has so many experiences under his belt.

Expo is going to be unbelievably hard on us and all the Elders working there. They will put in about seven hours all together (traveling, cleaning, etc.) at the pavilion plus they are (we are) expected to teach and baptize people. It will be a trying experience.

Feb 25, 1970

We’ve mostly just been proselyting lately, and we’ve been having some success picking up investigators. Nothing much is happening on the fair (Expo ‘70) now except we’ve had some meetings in Kobe with the other Zone Leaders, the mission assistant and President Okazaki. Some have been really long, but we’re making headway. Our biggest problem is how to handle the thousands of referrals that will be coming in daily from people seeing the fair.

We’re going to have the film, “Man’s Search for Happiness” here at the branch from Friday till Sunday. I’ve persuaded and made meetings with lots of people to come see it and I hope they come because the film is fantastic. It’s the one that will be used at the pavilion at Expo about man’s purpose in life and where you came from and are going after death.

Feb. 28, 1970

We got a call yesterday from the President and he kind of chewed us out for not doing more on Expo and proselyting too much in place of it. So, from now on I guess we’ll be proselyting less and working a lot on Expo. We went out to the grounds (Expo) and the fair is simply fantastic. The buildings are “out of sight” -- an architect’s dreamland. Our Press Open House is next Friday and there will be ten of us out there as guides for 200 newspaper and T.V. reporters.

I met a man on the densha (train) the other day and he came for a shokai that night. He’s really tremendous and he has a wife who will have a baby this week. I’m really looking forward to teaching him.

March 1, 1970: Sunday, Okamachi Branch

I got a book in the mail from my big brother, Lee, yesterday. It cost $17.50 and I think it may have been a Christmas present because it came by boat. Really nice of him-- it kind of surprised me.

Yesterday we taught a 1st lesson to a real nice kid and although he had a lot of questions, it went very well. We’ve shown the film, “Man’s Search for Happiness” to a lot of people (the film will be used at Expo) and it’s really impressive. One family man said to us after seeing the film, “I want to know the process of how you believe in this Mormonism.” He has a wife and a five-year-old boy, and they are coming for a lesson today.

Mar. 6, 1970

I’ve intended on writing more often, but we’ve been so terribly busy with Expo 80 that I just haven’t had time. Wednesday, we had our press open house and it was really wild. Two hundred twenty newsmen and T.V. men came. We took them through and showed them the film, “Man’s Search for Happiness.” It seemed to have gone very well, but we’ll have to wait to see the papers before we really know.

Mar. 8, 1970

We've been working a lot at the Pavilion lately, and I mean working! We unloaded 15,000 Books of Mormon the other day and I hauled dirt for a couple of hours today. The Pavilion is shaping up really nice. Friday President Benson, Hinckley and Brown are coming for the opening of the Pavilion. That will be quite a gathering.

We got our driver’s licenses today (Elder Smith and I) so now we will enter into the rat race on the highways.

Mar. 23, 1970

I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to write. I’ve been a failure at keeping this up to date. We are at the Pavilion every morning (leaving at 8 a.m.) and are there till 10 to 11 p.m. every night so we haven’t had time to do much of anything else. We’ve weathered our first week at Expo and it’s been quite an experience. Saturday, we had 43,705 people through our Pavilion and yesterday 33, 000 people came. We’ve had some real exciting experiences, alone of which I want to record. I was in the Book of Mormon and information room through which the people leave the pavilion. A young man about 25 was there and I asked him if he wanted to buy a Book of Mormon. He said, “No, I don’t believe in any of these miracles or anything like that.” I talked to him for quite a while about all kinds of things pertaining to the Gospel, always hitting on proof through the Book of Mormon. Finally, he said, “Okay, I’ll buy your book but only because of you taking all this time to talk to me. You’re a very good salesman even though I don’t want your book.” That was that and he bought it and left. I never thought he’d even open the book.

Yesterday we were at dinner at the President’s house and a man was there who had been in Kyoto and said that some person had spent all day trying to find the Church there and finally had found it and received a lesson that day and one the next. He (the person in Kyoto) said he had talked to me and he wanted to learn about the Church. After a lesson he had a baptismal date of 4/8/70. This man at the President’s house told me about this happening in Kyoto but I just couldn’t think who it was. Today I received a letter from the person in Kyoto and he thanked me for talking to him in the pavilion and said he thought the Book of Mormon had real value for his life. What a wonderful experience that was for me. The Lord really must have been gracious to him through the Holy Ghost and bore witness to him when he read the Book of Mormon. I hope he is baptized soon.

I’ve had a lot of worries and responsibilities with this job, but already it’s paid off. I’ve taken some American tours through and they’ve been some of the most spiritual experiences I’ve had. I’m sure some of them will be baptized. The Holy Spirit is full in the Pavilion and we’re touching many people.

March 27, 1970

Today I received a letter from my mother for which I’ve fasted and prayed many many times. She said Sister Bennion had asked them out to conference last week and an Apostle had spoken there. She said for the first time in her life she couldn’t wait for next Sunday to come. She said she was going to have someone come and teach them the lessons. I couldn’t help crying when I read it and I will keep and cherish that letter all my life. I pray the Lord will open a way for my father to soften towards the Church and someday be touched by the Spirit enough to investigate the Church. My, how the Lord has been wonderful to me!

March 30, 1970

Today I blundered again on the inventory and we ran out of Joseph Smith pamphlets. I’d figure out enough to last till tomorrow but Saturday and Sunday we used 2000 more a day than I figured so today’s stock was low. Live and learn.

Tuesday, March 31, 1970

Last Sunday I called home on a wireless telephone. Only my Dad was there and needless to say he was quite surprised. There’s a Pavilion here that has a big room and they televise you as you stand on a platform in the middle of a big auditorium. You can call anywhere in the world on this wireless receiver for three minutes. It was quite an experience.

Yesterday Secretary of the Treasury David Kennedy and Senator Bennett (of Utah) came to our pavilion and my companion and I got to take them through. They’re both members of the Church. They had about 4-6 secret service guards around them and I translated for the secret servicemen while Elder Smith translated for Brothers Kennedy and Bennett.

Later, along with Brother and Sister Wheat, we were inhibited to a reception for Secretary Kennedy at the U.S. Pavilion VIP Lounge and it was really fun. A lot of people stood around and had drinks while all the “Brass” (in other words, us Mormons) had 7-up pop and ate all the hors d’oeuvres.

I can’t believe how the scriptures are becoming much more meaningful to me and every time I read them over, I gain so many new things. This time in reading the New Testament the records of the apostles have really been laid open to me like I never understood before. The Scriptures are really great.

April 16, 1970

President Brockbank is back now and things are popping. Elder Smith and I are going to be transferred out. Whether together or into separate branches we don’t know. But we’ll be taking a regular shift like the other Elders. I don’t feel bad about it at all and, as a matter of fact, I’m looking forward to it so I can start proselyting again. There’s a new mission organization and the need of our positions as full time zone leaders out at Expo had deteriorated. Some may think we’re being “canned” when we get transferred but we know what and it doesn’t really make any difference because “It’s how you serve, not where you serve.”

I had a dream last night and I dreamed we were going to have our first boy and my dad said his name should be great and spiritual and as he said it, the name “Matthew” came to me. I’ve never thought of it before, but it sounds good.

April 21, 1970

SInce my last entrance I’ve been transferred and now have a wonderful assignment. They took Okamachi out of Expo and made it an all proselyting branch. I’ve been assigned as District Leader here. We only proselyte now and it’s really great. We do a lot of looking up referrals from Expo. The president really gave me a fair shake on this transfer, and I hope he leaves me here for a little while. My new companion is Elder Darrel Nelson from Alberta, Canada. He’s been out five months. The elders here are my companion and I and Elder Fuji from Hawaii, and Elder Heiner is still here, which is great.

Two more elders cam in the 23rd. They are Elders Hansen and his green bean companion, Kudo, (a Japanese).

April 28, 1970

For the last week my companion and I have been blessed tremendously. We started out a week ago with two investigators of our own and six that Elder Berkey (the elder I replaced) gave us. The first few days all but one of his investigators were lost-- they just dwindled and never came. But-- as my companion and I looked up Expo referrals and contacted people on the street, we were tremendously blessed to bring many people to the Church for introduction lessons. We got one referral to come and he’s brought two others with him. Sunday a guy walked in and said he’d been to the Expo Mormon Pavilion. So, we got him for an investigator. Anyway, it turns out now we have 21 or 22 investigators. In one week, our number of investigators has tripled. Yesterday we fasted in thanksgiving to the Lord for these many blessings and for his help with our investigators. The time is flying by and everything is fantastic.

June 2, 1970

Today we have four meetings and I’m really baffled on what to teach two of them. Both lacking on faith and as so many of this younger generation, “seeking for a sign”. We are looking for many baptisms this month and I will surely be sorely disappointed if they don’t come through. I pray I may stay worthy before the Lord that I might be an instrument in his hands to bring them unto the Gospel. So many things come up that keep people from baptism--sometimes I wonder why.

Yesterday we had a meeting with a young 22- year old and he is scheduled for baptism the 14th along with five others. He should be baptized Sunday but is going to Tokyo for school tests. I told him he should be baptized at the earliest possible date because he does have a testimony. Because he can’t, I warned him of the temptations which so easily come if one forgets study and prayer. He interrupted me saying, “Oh, don’t worry, I carry the Joseph Smith pamphlet and Book of Mormon wherever I go!” He prayed in closing the meeting that he would have strength to keep the commandments and receive baptism soon. I’m sure he’ll be baptized soon.

Another investigator came over this morning and asked for a baptismal sheet (needed for receiving interviews and signature of parents). He’s a great young kid also and will be baptized this Sunday or next. (Nakakita san)

We’ve been looking up a lot of Expo referrals lately and have had fair success. The Lord is really using the fair to reach many wonderful people. The above-mentioned investigator and all of the six that should be baptized the 14th are from Expo referrals.

We had twelve investigators at church, Sunday which included two families. I want to baptize them so badly -- even though we haven’t taught them a formal lesson yet. We’ve met with them a couple of times and they've come to Church three times. Friday, we have a meeting with them and hopefully, now that we’ve made friends, we can get down to teaching them more seriously.

June 3, 1970

Yesterday we had three cottage meetings, and none went very well, one not so good, and one about medium.

They had a baptismal meeting yesterday and Nakakita san was here. He went right in and sat down and watched it. He’s really a good boy and hopefully will be baptized Sunday.

We went to visit one of our families yesterday-- Nishimaka, only the lady was home and we had a real nice visit with her for a couple of hours. She is really wonderful and hopefully we can teach her the gospel. She gave us food and a couple of fans to send home.

June 13, 1970

Well, last Wednesday we baptized our first young man--Nakakita Akira. He’s a fine guy and we contacted him from an Expo referral.

We had five more scheduled for tomorrow but three are having problems. Two with parents and the other just isn’t quite ready yet. They are all coming fro mensetsu (interviews) tonight so tonight will be the big test.

June 13, 1970

Well here it is Saturday night and our three men received baptismal interviews, two of which flunked. The Branch President said they needed more time to work out their problems of Buddhism in their homes. The Buddhist rituals include all the family and of course a member of the Church can’t participate in that. Anyway, their problems aren’t big and I think we can work them out in a week or so.

June 14, 1970

Nagata Akira was baptized at 3:30 p.m. today.

July 1, 1970

Last Sunday we baptized one man and one boy 17 years old. The man’s name is Shibuya Gozo (31 years old) and the boy’s is Sakai Katsumi. They’re both real fine people. The man has only been taught about four weeks and was an Expo referral. So, we baptized four in June which really makes me happy although that was two less than what we intended on.

Heiner Choro was transferred yesterday to Sakai branch. Kind of sad, kind of sad. Oh, also a girl that we met four weeks ago and referred her to the sister missionaries was baptized Sunday.