They Arrive in the United States
Someone must have known they were coming. They were entertained by an American family. I think they were in L.A. at least a week. The time came for them to leave for Bethany, Oklahoma where they would attend College and study for the ministry. Friends had come to the house where they stayed, to bid farewell. Greetings were given all around. They started to the car that would take them to the Bus Station. As they stood by the car, everyone gave friendly hand waves of good bye. Koichi and Nana came toward them again to see what they wanted? "No, no, we didn't want anything." Koichi and Nana returned to the car. Everyone waved again, and once more Koichi and Nana came forward. Finally someone realized: "In Japan to wave with palm down, the fingers are meaning to Come Here." When everyone understood the proper meaning of hand signals, Koichi and Nana started to the car.
But, Oh, someone wondered, if they had enough money for the Bus trip to the middle of America. Koichi brought out his money. That was not enough. It would take them only about one hundred miles. "Ok, then we will go that far and get off and walk." At that moment the Mail Man came. He ask, "Is anyone here named Koichi Yamamoto?" Koichi took the envelope offered by the Mail Man. It was addressed to this house with Koichi's name. It had no return address. There was no post mark. It contained enough cash money to pay they're whole trip to Bethany.
The same God who leads men through torture and war, who lights temples on fire and guides His people over stormy seas, is surely able to provide their way to the center of America. Dr. and Mrs. Roy Cantrell, president of the College, befriended them when they arrived in Bethany. (Years later, when they received American citizenship, Koichi took the American name of Roy in honor of Dr. Cantrell.) Housing was provided in two upper rooms of the Student Union Building. Mrs. Drewry, the dietitian, lived below them. Koichi was given employment in the College Kitchen. He learned to break two eggs in each hand at the same time. I don't know how many it took to make all the scrambled eggs for breakfast every morning. I do know he could crack all those eggs faster than one can imagine. In Japan this would have been a job WAY BELOW his station. He did the job with grace.
Koichi and Nana's little daughter was born while they were in Bethany. When she was a year old, Nana returned to Japan with her. Koichi had one more year of study. That was the year I started. Most Saturdays we met in the Student Union after supper to talk. He taught me many things Japanese. He was a true teacher. As the end of the School year approached he began selling items they had brought from their home land. A carving of 10 or 12 ivory elephants all in a row, and several other articles I don't remember. One painting of a tiger creeping through bamboo. At that time it was 109 years old. He was asking only $20 for the picture. O my! I wanted it so badly. But I didn't have any money. I worked on campus and all my time was turned in to the financial office. It never occurred to me that I could draw out funds. If I had known, I probably would have it all drawn out. A friend bought it and later sold it to an antique shop and it was soon gone from there.
Koichi and Nana lived in Japan again with their little girl, but the government of Japan wouldn't allow her because she was born in the USA. Eventually they moved to Okinawa where Koichi pastored a Church for a while. Then they were able to return to the States. Koichi had studied veterinary science before the war. In Southern California he doctored animals and pastored a Church for ten years. The next ten years he was director of JEMS, (Japanese Evangelistic Missionary Society). This organization found Japanese speaking pastors who would move to Brazil. Over the years there has been a large migration of Japanese people moving to Brazil.
There is also a large population of Japanese in the United States. Koichi and Nana began a ministry they called The Circuit Rider. Ever three or four months they got in their little pick-up with the camper on the back and headed down the roads of America hunting Japanese people. Some might be just a lonely house wife in a lonely town, others might be several families in a larger city. They were hunting folks with whom they would share the glorious gospel story. The good news that Jesus Christ is come into the world to save sinners. They crisscrossed this country west to east and back. Home for a little while and out again. They heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Go" and they went. He said, "Come" and they came.
Several years ago while passing through our area, we had a wonderful evening together and the next morning fore they hit the trail again. It had been forty years since we had seen each other. It was a grand reunion.
Where there were Japanese needing a pastor, they helped locate one. If there were Believers wanting a Church, they helped to organize it. Koichi and Nana Yamamoto have been servants of God since they were in their teens. Now as they have traveled the highways and byways of the USA and Canada for many years, they've long passed beyond the years of retirement. But now they've made the decision to rest and wait.