News Release

Senior Missionaries Serving Across Japan: December 2023

© 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

In the Saturday afternoon session of the October 2023 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the increasing need for more missionaries to help with the gathering of Israel. He said, “Today I am speaking to the many seasoned seniors in the church who could serve as missionaries. The Lord needs you. We need you in New York and Chicago, Australia and Africa, Thailand, and Mexico, and everywhere in between.” President Nelson has encouraged Church members to “get on their knees and ask Heavenly Father if the time is right for them to serve a mission.”

Some senior missionaries leave their homes and families to travel across the world and heed the call of the prophet. Others, like Sister Sanae Isobe from the Shimonoseki Branch of the Yamaguchi Japan District, find opportunities to serve right in their own communities.

For many reasons, if someone had told Sister Isobe a few years ago that she would be a Senior Service Missionary today, she would not believe them. After being offended by church members, she was away from the church for nearly 30 years. Although it took 10 years of effort, there were several things which helped bring her back fully to the Church.

Sister Isobe has a great love for the temple and for her ancestors. When her parents both passed away, she had a fervent desire for them to receive their temple ordinances vicariously by proxy, but she wanted to do it herself. It was very painful to know that she could not.

© 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Sister Isobe also loves her dog, Daifuku (大福), who brings her a lot of peace and happiness. He is particularly sensitive to Sister Isobe’s emotions, so he helps her to calm down as she gently pets and soothes him. As she does so, she is reminded of Heavenly Father’s love for her, and how He can comfort her and bring her peace. Every time she walks Diafuku, Sister Isobe discovers all the Lord’s beautiful creations. One day, this reminded her of the temple endowment. She longed to return.

Another reason Sister Isobe would not have expected to be able to serve as a missionary is because of her extreme health problems. She had serious surgeries, one right after another, due to her illness and accident, since returning to the church. After enduring 15 different operations, and extended hospitalizations, where she almost died, Sister Isobe was gradually able to pray, and to read the Book of Mormon.

Sister Isobe began to have a desire to serve, but worried that her continued physical challenges would get in the way. Both of her hands were severely crippled. She has not been able to pick up even the sacrament cup anymore. As she fervently prayed, she received an answer, “It’s okay, I can use you.” She felt prompted by the Spirit to volunteer as a senior service missionary, but after submitting her papers, she waited 8 long months before receiving her call.

While she waited, Sister Isobe found ways to work as the Lord’s instrument. Because of the many years she was away from the Church, she had a special connection with others who once accepted the gospel but had left for various reasons. “I know the same pain,” she said, “I can be a bridge for them and help lead them to the Lord.”

Since receiving her mission call, Sister Isobe has found many more opportunities to serve. Through helping with the monthly Family Search class, she has been able to develop relationships with less active members. She calls these her “forever friends.” One thing she especially enjoys is helping others to feel Heavenly Father’s love. She reaches out to members in each of the branches. Despite her difficulty, she takes great effort and time to write letters of encouragement and to share her love of the gospel and Jesus Christ.

About her mission assignment, Sister Isobe says she just “follows her heart.” She does not serve out of an obligation or duty, but because of the great joy it brings her. Through her service, she wants to become more Christ-like.

Her schedule includes studying “Preach My Gospel,” the scriptures, and the missionary guidelines 2-4 hours each day. Along with her family history work, she also meets regularly with her district, which includes the young full-time missionaries. Although her schedule as a senior service missionary is more flexible, her heart is always in the work.

Serving others takes Sister Isobe’s mind off her own challenges. She recommends, “Do not focus on your trials. Focus on Heavenly Father, and what you can do.” When her friends express concerns about serving a mission, Sister Isobe says, “Be a service missionary – it's easy and it’s joyful!”

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