News Release

Senior Missionaries Serving in Japan: May 2024 

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Elder Philip Reed Lercher and Sister Yukiko Noda Lercher made the decision to serve as senior missionaries before they were even married. The Lerchers, who began their missionary service in November of 2022, served in the Kofu Ward in the Yamanashi area, until their recent return to their home in Seattle, WA (USA). Previously, as young missionaries, they both served in the Tokyo South Mission (‘77-’79).  As Member Leader Support (MLS) missionaries, they had the opportunity to serve in a variety of ways. 

Along with helping ward members with Family Search, they also taught the temple preparation class. A highlight for the Lerchers was helping Sister Fujimoto, a widow who had been away from the church for 30 years, prepare to return to the temple. She had carried her original recommend with her all those years. When Elder and Sister Lercher taught her about the plan of salvation, Sister Fujimoto wanted to be sealed in the temple to her husband. On the day she entered the temple, 32 members of the Kofu Ward (nearly half of the active members) attended the endowment session with her. Following the endowment, Sister Fujimoto was sealed to her late husband and her parents. Of the experience, Sister Fujimoto said, “I felt wrapped in the Spirit.” Speaking of Sister Fujimoto, Sister Lercher said, “She is one who is pure in heart – such a humble sister.” 

Elder and Sister Lercher enjoyed working alongside the young missionaries, supporting their efforts to share the gospel. Elder John McCune challenged the missionaries to pray for miracles. When the Lerchers accepted that challenge, they experienced many tender mercies, which led to the reactivation of a couple who had stopped attending church after being offended several years before. Because of their profound respect for this couple, when they entered the chapel, the whole ward stood to honor them. The Lerchers made sure to help the couple’s ministering brothers and sisters connect with them. 

Some of the Lerchers other experiences included: 

     - Helping with the Food Pantry 

     - Teaching English classes 

     - Serving at the hospital with the newsletter 

     - Supporting ward activities 

     - Speaking in Stake Conference 

     - Serving as temple ordinance workers 

     - Providing transportation for the young missionaries 

“We’ve learned how to serve,” the Lerchers explained. Serving others helped them to get a glimpse of Heavenly Father’s love for them. As they shared their experiences, it was evident that they loved their time as missionaries. They would encourage all members to commit now to serve a mission in the future. For those who are unable to leave their homes to serve full-time, they suggested, “Ask your bishop how you can serve from your home.” 

Senior Missionaries

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