News Release

Couple Serving Together in Japan Again After 40 years 

District Leader marries sister missionary and returns as her companion.

As Sister Yoriko Manabe was preparing to conclude her mission service in the Okayama Mission (now Kobe), she never imagined that someday she would serve again 40 years later, with her (then) District Leader as her companion. Through a series of surprises and tender mercies, Elder Douglas Elsmore, and Sister Yoriko Manabe married several months after their missions were completed. Now, after raising a family of four children in Tuscon, Arizona (USA) and Frisco, Texas, Elder and Sister Elsmore are serving as Office Specialists in the Tokyo South Mission office.  

During their training at the Missionary Training Center in Provo Utah, Elder Elsmore was asked to serve as their District Leader. He likes to joke that he was Sister Elsmore’s last District Leader in her first mission, and her first District Leader in her last mission. 

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Elder Elsmore, who grew up in Southern California, comes from a long line of family members who were early pioneers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His 4th great grandfather, James Allred, served as a bodyguard to the prophet, Joseph Smith.  

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Sister Elsmore, who grew up in Fujisawa, was street contacted by sister missionaries, who invited her to attend free English classes. When she arrived at the church, she felt that she had been there before. Surprisingly, the Elders greeted her, and shared the story of Joseph Smith’s first vision. It was not what she expected for an English class, but everything they taught made sense. She began attending Sunday meetings and studied regularly with the missionaries. She was baptized one year later. 

Both of the Elsmore’s sons were called to serve missions in Japan. Their older son served in Sapporo, and their younger son served in the Tokyo South mission, like his parents are now. While he was in Japan, he had the opportunity to teach the missionary lessons to his maternal grandparents. 

Home for the Elsmores is now in McKinney, Texas, where the family were members of the Stars Figure Skating Club of Texas. Elder Elsmore has even ice skated competitively as an ice dancer! Sister Elsmore is a gifted artist. Along with these talents, the Elsmores have also brought other skills into their missionary service. Sister Elsmore has a wonderful sense of humor, and she connects well with people she meets. Serving in the mission office has helped her to learn more about computers and organization. She is responsible for arranging transportation for transfers, deliveries of bikes, and immigration residence cards. Elder Elsmore, who serves as the mission technology specialist is highly organized. This was especially helpful when they were tasked with reopening the office after COVID. 

Before they were married, the Elsmores decided that they would serve another mission together, hopefully in Japan. When long-term health concerns were discovered for Sister Elsmore, they decided not to wait, and began the process to apply right away. Senior missionaries are given the option to choose from a variety of mission opportunities. Of the eight preferences they selected, six of them were in Japan. They were happy to receive their call to serve in the Tokyo South Mission. 

Sister Elsmore’s health issues continued, and she was advised to return to the United States to receive medical care. Before making her decision, she made an appointment to see a doctor here, and also received a priesthood blessing. She had a dream about meeting the doctor, and when she arrived at the appointment, Sister Elsmore recognized him from her dream. She found out that this doctor was the best in the country for her condition. This experience helped her to know that the Lord wanted them to stay and serve in Japan. Sister Elsmore has found that serving others has taken her focus away from her health problems. The Elsmores are grateful that they have been blessed to be able to stay and complete their missionary service in Japan. 

For more information on how to serve as a senior missionary, please talk to your bishop. You can also explore the senior missionary website

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