Small Group Witnesses Okinawa Temple Groundbreaking: Viewers Join Virtual Fireside

Elder Takashi Wada Dedicates Sacred Okinawa Temple Site

Elder Takashi Wada, Asia North Area president, presided over and offered the dedicatory prayer at the temple groundbreaking event in Okinawa, Japan, on Saturday, December 5, 2020.© 2020 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.



December 5, 2020 – Okinawa City, Japan. On an uncharacteristically cold and windy December day under the threat of rain showers, a small group of saints were still warmed by the beautiful ground-breaking ceremony for the Okinawa Temple. The event was a step in the culmination of the life-long dreams of many valiant members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have lived on the tropical Japanese island. Due to government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions, only 30 guests were invited to attend the dedication, held in the chapel of Japan Okinawa Military District Center and Okinawa Ward.

 In the dedicatory prayer, Elder Takashi Wada expressed thanks to God that the saints in Okinawa have been blessed with prosperity, freedom, and safety, which has allowed them to be involved in temple work and live as the Savior has asked. In particular, he thanked God for the legacy of faith left by the faithful saints that prepared the way for this event.

“Please watch over the people on this island; may all be inspired by Thy spirit and recognize the eternal significance of this sacred project. We pray that we, and all those who pass near this site, will feel Thy presence.”

He pledged that the saints would “let today be the day of our groundbreaking in our lives. Please bless us with a refreshed commitment to Thy gospel. Bless our children and youth with a desire and determination to be worthy to enter the temple and participate in the sacred ordinances and cherish this holy house. Let us all be or become temple worthy.”

Afterwards, the group walked outside around the chapel to the temple site, a half-acre parcel adjacent to the Japan Okinawa Military District Center and Okinawa Ward Building. The white sand was first turned using golden bladed shovels by two-sets of five Japanese Church leaders, ten in total, including: Elder and Sister Naomi Wada, President Yoza and Sister Takako Yoza, Fukuoka Mission President Spencer F. Mack and Sister Jane Mack, President Francis and Sister Nettie Francis, Area Seventy Elder Yutaka Nagatomo, and Okinawa Temple Ground-breaking Coordinator Brother Yoshiharu Miyagi. After the ceremony, President Mack asked four full-time missionaries assisting with the event to also turn the soil. Everyone loved seeing the missionaries with the shovels.

The Okinawa, Japan temple was first announced at General Conference on April 7, 2019. The two-story, 10,000 square-foot building will be constructed on a half-acre parking lot adjacent to an existing meetinghouse, which will be remodeled to include a patron waiting area. It will be the fourth temple built in Japan, joining the Tokyo, Fukuoka, and Sapporo temples.

Okinawa Temple Ground-breaking Fireside

December 6, 2020 – In a special online fireside, over 375 Okinawan households tuned in to celebrate the ground-breaking event. Speakers included Sister Katsumi Hanshiro, Okinawa Stake Primary President, and two youth speakers, Brother Seita Yoshimura and Sister Isabel Garcia.

Okinawa Stake President Yoza expressed his gratitude for the faithful saints who diligently established the kingdom of Jesus Christ on the islands of Okinawa. He feels that those who have passed on keep constant watch over the members and await the time they may receive their ordinances. He encouraged all, including the youth, to maintain a current temple recommend. He also related the following experience.

President Yoza spoke about the history of the church in Okinawa and Japan. In tracing the history of the Church on the island, he noted that servicemen first established a meeting group shortly after the conclusion of World War II, in 1945. The first baptisms, Nobu Nakamura and her daughter Ayako and Kuniko Tamanaka were taught and baptized by serviceman Ralph Bird in the East China Sea in 1955. Full-time missionaries were assigned a year later. President Yoza spoke about the history of temples in Japan, leading to the ground-breaking ceremony of the Okinawa Temple, yesterday. He admonished members to be anxiously engaged in the gathering of Israel on both sides of the veil. Members should do all they can to prepare themselves to enter the temple and research the names of their ancestors in order to do their work. In the battle of Okinawa, many thousands of God’s children were sent to an early grave. We need to do all we can to do their ordinances, so they can also enter into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Sister Nettie Francis is a member of the Okinawa Temple Ground-breaking Committee and a former missionary in Japan. She spoke about the history of cooperation between the military district and the native Japanese saints. “The history of the Church in Okinawa begins in 1945 with the end of World War II—a tragic time when good people from both sides fought here.” In spite of those differences, servicemen helped establish the Church, baptized the first converts, and have supported local members ever since. She noted that although members of the military district come and go frequently, most Japanese members have lived on the island their entire lives, yet, they have found ways to help each other, by rebuilding homes, buildings, and farms. “But, during that same time, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have worked to build this island from the inside out, through declaring the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Elder James A. McCune spoke about an exchange of letters with his friend in the US military. “Trials allow us to seriously consider our mortal probation. Sacred ordinances we receive in the temple give us the power to stay on the covenant path (D&C 84:19-23).” He reminded us that God always keeps His promises. It is the ordinances that will give us the power to endure to the end.

Elder James R. Rasband felt that yesterday’s ground-breaking for the Okinawa Temple was a beautiful ray of sunshine shining through cloudy, rain-soaked skies. He stressed the importance for us to focus on the temple during these troubled times, and do as President Nelson advised us, to avoid being myopic and lift our sight to focus on eternal things. Elder Rasband spoke of the joy that Joseph Smith felt as he received the revelations in Doctrine and Covenants section 128 that explained that all may receive saving ordinances through performing proxy ordinances in the temple.

In his remarks, Elder Wada stated that despite the small gathering, they were extremely grateful to dedicate the Okinawa temple site for the building of a holy temple. He praised the commitment to God and Jesus Christ of members on the island that “lived before us.” He added, “When we prepared for the ground-breaking ceremony, we hoped that as many children and youth as possible could participate. However, we were advised by the brethren that it was more important for the youth to feel connected to the ordinances performed in the temple, not the construction of the temple itself. With that admonition in mind, I have prepared this message especially for the younger members and their families. This will be an opportunity for you to deepen your commitment to become a disciple of Jesus Christ.”

Elder Wada shared the experiences of two apostles who were stationed in Okinawa when they were also young men, hoping that they too may understand these experiences from a young person’s perspective. “Elder Maxwell shared an experience during a fierce battle on Okinawa. Young Neal’s mortar position was under fire. Three shells in a row had exploded, each closer to his foxhole than the previous one. He realized the Japanese army had determined his position. The next shell would land on top of him. He talked about offering ‘one of those selfish, honest prayers,’ asking for protection from the next bomb. In his pocket, he had a copy of his patriarchal blessing which promised that his life would not be shortened and that he would not be deprived of fulfilling every assignment that was given to him in the pre-mortal existence. As his life was spared that night, he sensed ‘the Lord had some things for him to do,’ and he prayed to God and expressed his commitment to serve Him for the rest of his life. So, for Elder Maxwell, there is a sacred spot in Okinawa.”

Elder Boyd K. Packer also had a life-changing experience while stationed in Okinawa. “While struggling with doubt and uncertainty, young Boyd prayed one sleepless night, wanting a personal testimony of the gospel. He left his tent, looked into the star-filled night, and knelt to pray. In a very private and individual manifestation, he knew that the gospel was true. On another night, he wondered what he should do with his life after the war if he was fortunate enough to survive. That night he realized what he wanted to do and how to devote his life.”

Speaking to the youth, Elder Wada said, “These Apostles were young men and, like you and me, wondered how to live their lives and whether God would really answer their prayers. Many of you are obedient and willing to do whatever your parents and leaders have taught you. But one day, you will need to stand on your own two feet and ‘do many good things of your own free will.’”

Elder Wada challenged the youth to follow President Nelson’s guidance to seek personal revelation and find their own spiritual mandate, to understand how they can help gather Israel and further the work of the Lord. “President Nelson has said that nothing is more important than the gathering of Israel. If you have a desire and choose to help, you can play a critical role.”

Speaking about the important decisions that the youth must make after high school, such as what subject to major in at which university, and what profession to pursue, Elder Wada promised them that they will find the answers. “The Savior has promised, ’Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you (3 Nephi 13:33)’.”

If the youth are excited to join in the gathering of Israel, Elder Wada invited them to set goals in four areas: spiritual, intellectual, physical, and social. Doing this will help them feel the Spirit and lead them in the right direction. Setting goals through prayer will provide the opportunity to set life’s priorities and fully live the commandments of God.

In conclusion, Elder Wada challenged all members in Okinawa. “I want to share a similar sentiment and impression I have had whenever I come to Okinawa and spend time with the inspiring saints like you. Okinawa is a special and sacred place. I pray with all my heart that you and I will find our own divine purpose. That is to prepare our hearts to become deeply committed to be His disciples and gather the elect before the coming of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The temple is the place to realize our divine potential and purpose.”

書式ガイドの注釈:末日聖徒イエス・キリスト教会に関する記事で,教会の名称を最初に引用する際には,正式名称を使うようお願いいたします。教会の名称の引用に関する詳しい情報は,こちらへ: 書式ガイド書式ガイド.