News Release

Four on Four

How one Japanese family gave “all” to serve the Lord

Having one full-time missionary serving from a family is wonderful—but imagine four siblings in the mission field at the same time!  This inspiring scenario occurred with the Nakagawa Family from the Hyogo prefecture in Japan.

All four of their children—Shuto, Ranna, Maiki, and Koto—served missions in Japan.  The Nakagawa family didn’t initially anticipate that all four children would be on missions together.  However, they did grow up loving missionary work, since both Brother Nobuyuki and Sister Toshie Nakagawa served missions.  Brother Nakagawa served in the Japan Okayama Mission and Sister Nakagawa served in the Japan Osaka Mission.

“My wife and I were each missionaries, so we are familiar with the blessings and joys of missionary work, as well as the challenges,” shared Brother Nakagawa, “I always wanted all my children to serve a mission if they had the opportunity.  Of course, we also knew that when children are second generation church members and have been raised in the gospel, it is necessary for them to obtain a testimony for themselves.”

Brother and Sister Nakagawa explained their children’s paths this way, “Our oldest son helped with the family business and wasn’t able to go on a mission until he was 25 years old.  Then, two months after he left, our second son went on a mission, then the eldest daughter one month later, and then the second daughter.  We were delighted!”

Shuto, the oldest, served from May 2019 through June 2021 in the Japan Sapporo Mission.  He credits his Church institute experience for inspiring him to go.  “I also wanted to set an example for my younger siblings,” Shuto said.

Ranna, the second oldest, didn’t initially plan on serving a mission.  However, as a young single adult, she began to understand the many blessings she had growing up in the Church.  “I saw young people the same age as me, in difficult situations because they didn’t have the gospel, so I decided to serve a mission to help more people find joy.”

Ranna also heard her siblings discussing their plans to serve missions. “It made me think that perhaps I should go, too,” she shared, “My original assignment was the Salt Lake City Utah Mission, but I couldn't go because of Covid-19.  I served in the Tokyo North Mission while waiting for my visa, and then I was reassigned to the Japan Fukuoka Mission.”

Maiki, the third child and second daughter, said, “I grew up in a family that had been members of the Church since my grandparents’ conversion.  However, I did not attend church for seven years, because I played basketball from elementary school to high school.  After I stopped playing, I decided to attend church again.  I will never forget how I felt when I walked into the chapel and was greeted by kind people.  I felt so much love!  I also remembered that in the gospel of Jesus Christ, God promises that he will bless us when we follow the commandments.  I knew I had not been following all the commandments.  I had not been praying, studying scriptures, and attending church.  However, He still gave me opportunities to grow.”

Maiki gained her own testimony and eventually decided to serve a mission.  She was originally called to the Phoenix Arizona Mission.  While waiting for her visa, she was assigned to the Tokyo South Mission and later reassigned to the Japan Fukuoka Mission—just like her sister, Ranna.

Ranna and Maiki finished their service in the same mission on the same day!  They traveled home just a few weeks after Shuto returned from Sapporo.

Koto, the youngest sibling, will return home from his mission this August.  He was originally serving in the Canada Vancouver Mission but was reassigned to the Japan Nagoya Mission once the pandemic started.

The four siblings gained strength from one another while serving in Japan.

“I really looked forward to our weekly calls,” shared Ranna. “It was so helpful to talk to my brothers and sister and learn from their experiences.  We all encouraged each other and shared the miracles we had and the lessons we learned.”

Koto said, “Serving at the same time as my siblings has helped me to stay focused on my purpose as a missionary.  Also, it’s been good to hear different ways to find people to teach and to learn about other mission cultures.”

Maiki recalled, “The most wonderful experience on my mission was being a companion with my sister, Ranna, several times for exchanges.  In those moments we were real sister missionaries.  Together we taught lessons.  They were awesome! I felt like we were truly able to ‘be one’ as companions.”

One fun aspect of serving as missionaries was the Nakagawa siblings’ names. Brother Nakagawa, loves basketball, hence the themed names:  Shuto  “Shoot,” Ranna “Runner,” Maiki “Mikey,” after Michael Jordan, and Koto “Court.”  He remembered, “I loved playing and watching basketball in school, so I named my children after basketball.  During their missions, the children were able to use the names when introducing themselves and sharing about our family.  Their names are a topic they can smile and laugh about and share with others.”

Of course, sending four children into the mission field at the same time requires faith.

“At first, my husband was worried about supporting four missionaries at the same time, but we pressed forward in faith,” said Sister Nakagawa.  “Initially, we used the money the kids had saved.  However, soon our money started to run out.”

"That’s when Corona hit,” explained Brother Nakagawa.  “I knew our income would be reduced, but my wife kept telling me to have faith.  She told me the Lord wouldn’t call four missionaries at the same time if it wasn’t going to work out.  Somehow, we were able to keep living and paying for four missionaries.  It was a miracle.”

One scripture that increased the family’s faith was Malachi 3:10, “…prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing….”  “Certainly, this verse has been fulfilled for our family,” added Brother Nakagawa.

As their missions end, the four siblings have varied plans for the future.  However, they will always treasure the time they were all on an “…errand from the Lord” (Jacob 1:17).  Despite the fact that Covid-19 altered their mission plans, the siblings saw blessings in the changes.

Ranna concluded, “Wherever I was called to serve, I found people I needed to meet.  I never made it to Salt Lake City, but in Tokyo and Fukuoka, God always led me to the right people.  This is truly His work!”

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