News Release

Missionaries and Youth Host Game Night

Youth from Iwakuni and Yanai, along with missionaries welcome local students for night of fun interactions.

The youth from Iwakuni Military Branch had a fun time hosting a game night to meet students from a local tutoring center, along with their teacher, Junya Tanimitsu. Youth from the Yanai Ward were also invited. The evening began with everyone introducing themselves by telling where they are from, putting a star on a map, and sharing what they like to eat. Iwakuni Branch youth are from California, Utah, Washington, and Idaho (USA). They love tacos, gyozas, steak and mashed potatoes, katsu, orange chicken, fried rice, ramen, and ice cream. Introducing themselves was a great opportunity for the Japanese students to practice their English. 

Let the games begin! Three groups were arranged into “human knots,” which they had to unravel. Then they all participated in “Minute-to-Win-It" activities, involving eating Oreo cookies without hands, ping pong ball toss, balloon juggling, and stacking mini-marshmallows with chop sticks. They ended the fun with root beer floats and American candy for the winners. 

Tanimitsu Sensei offers free tutoring 3 days a week in a rented facility, serving between 15 and 20 students. He welcomed the opportunity for his students to interact and practice their English skills. 

Also in attendance was Mr. Tenryu Okazaki, a retired principal, who currently volunteers as the Vice President of the Japanese/American Society on the base, supporting cultural interaction. Kumi Fowler, from the Iwakuni Branch was on hand to help with translation. 

Along with the young missionaries, Elder Nagao and Elder Johnson, the event was orchestrated by Elder and Sister Pickup, who are serving as Military Relations Missionaries. The Pickups are the parents of 5 children and 21 grandchildren; they raised their family in Texas (USA). Although surprised to receive a call to serve in Japan, they have loved their time here so far. Elder Pickup enjoys golfing, fishing, and watching sporting events. He and Sister Pickup love supporting the young athletes on the base. Sister Pickup misses her family back home, but she has found plenty of people to “mother” in Japan; missionaries, ward members, and neighbors have enjoyed her kind acts of service, and her delicious cinnamon rolls. Of her experience here she says, “The country is beautiful, with both seasides and mountains. The people are so lovely and sweet- such reverence and respect from them always.” 

Some of the youth at the activity were nervous or unsure at first, but they were surprised and happy to find the students “friendly, funny, and easy to talk to.” They could also tell that the students enjoyed it, as they were happy and laughing. Mr. Okazaki sent a message, saying, “Thank you for accepting us with open hearts! We had a great time.” 

The leaders of the Branch were pleased with how the activity turned out; they plan to do another one this summer. They mentioned that it was great to invite community friends into the church building, having the opportunity to share the beautiful paintings of Christ on the chapel walls. What a wonderful way to love, share, and invite! 

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