Yukio and Junko Fujitake: Their Sharp Door Approach
When you think of missionary tools, you may not think of knitting needles, knife-sharpening equipment, or extensive knowledge of Buddhism. For Yukio and Junko Fujitake, however, these are the very tools they use to touch Japanese hearts and bring souls to Christ.
Formerly Buddhists, Yukio Fujitake and his wife, Junko, of Ube, Yamaguchi, Japan, were baptized into the Church in 1973. Since that time, they have served in the Ube Branch and have helped it grow. Brother Fujitake has served there as a branch president, a high councilor, and a counselor in the stake mission presidency. Sister Fujitake has served as Relief Society president, Primary president, and Young Single Adult program chairman.
In July 1987, Brother Fujitake closed his business, and he and Junko entered the Japan Tokyo South Mission, becoming the only native-Japanese couple serving in Japan.
Using their rather unusual approach, the Fujitakes were instrumental in twenty baptisms and the reactivation of twenty other less-active members.
They gained entrance to people’s homes by offering to sharpen the family’s kitchen knives for free. Once he had sharpened their knives and made friends with the family, Brother Fujitake would return to re-sharpen knives or make toys for the children, and Sister Fujitake would knit sweaters for members of the family. As the Fujitakes worked in the homes, they would introduce the gospel to the families.
With this combination of friendship and service, many people have been touched by the Spirit and have learned about the Church. Wherever they were transferred, Elder Fujitake would repair or improve their apartment, mending broken doors or windows or installing shelves, counters, or clothes hangers. Sister Fujitake would provide some kind of service, such as making caramel candies and packaging them cleverly.
Buddhism is the dominant religion in Japan, and because Yukio and Junko knew it well, they were able to understand the people they taught. The Fujitakes also shared their insights and their teaching skills with missionaries in their mission, and were so successful that leaders of all the stakes in the mission desired that they labor in their areas.
Now that they have returned home, they hope to prepare themselves to serve wherever and however the Lord needs them.
Floyd Seager: Care Free
After more than forty years as a physician in Ogden, Utah, Floyd Seager has retired—sort of. The truth is, Dr. Seager doesn’t plan to retire. He will continue to practice the healer’s art, but he will do it for free.
“I love my work,” says the 68-year-old internist, whose specialty is cardiology, or ailments of the heart. “So rather than retire, we have decided to continue to care for people in ways we know best.”
The “we” he is referring to is his wife, Dauna, whom he married after she had become a widow. Dauna brought three of her own children to the marriage, making a total of nine children in the family. She also brought another dimension of professional care to Dr. Seager’s practice. In recent years, the plaque on the door of the office they share in a wing of the McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden has read, “Floyd Seager, M.D., Internal Medicine—Cardiology” and right below it, “Dauna Seager, M.S., Speech, Language, Hearing Specialist.” “Being able to give care to people who need it, regardless of whether they could afford it, and being able to give care without all the red tape, paperwork, and legal hassles—these are dreams many doctors have,” explains Dr. Seager. “That dream has come true for me.”
The dream began to formulate in May 1988, more than a year before his “retirement,” as Dr. Seager was on his way to a professional meeting. He remembers seeing a man fall over onto the sidewalk on a street located on the west side of Ogden. After turning his car around and stopping to see if he could help, Dr. Seager found out that the man was homeless and needed medical attention. It was while seeing to the man’s needs that Brother Seager was overcome with a spirit of love, joy, and compassion, and the idea crystalized in his mind that care for the indigent would become his mission.
And so Brother and Sister Seager began setting up a medical clinic in the Ogden Rescue Mission. Soon, nurses and physicians from many parts of the community began to volunteer their free time at the clinic, in response to a notice Dr. Seager had put on the bulletin board at the hospital. Surplus equipment and unused medical supplies began arriving from both McKay-Dee and St. Benedict’s Hospital. Several drug manufacturers donated large quantities of samples that could be used. Recently, a house next to the Rescue Mission was donated—along with examining tables, medicines, and a dental chair with drills and compressor.
With donated paint, the Young Men of the Ogden Sixty-first Ward, with help from nurses and community volunteers, painted the interior of the house. Retired couples have volunteered to drive patients to and from the clinic or to doctors whose specialties can be provided only in their own highly equipped offices.
“One such doctor called me at my home one night,” smiles Dr. Seager. “He told me, ‘I haven’t felt this good since I graduated from medical school.’ This is what many of us hoped practicing medicine would be like.”
Protected by the Good Samaritan law, these doctors are now free to practice medicine—the same competent, well-qualified care they have always given paying patients—without concern for whether the patient is insured, can pay the bill, or may decide to sue them. “As long as we are donating our services,” Dr. Seager explains, “we don’t have to worry about any of the red tape problems that complicate our profession in modern society. In fact, the only questions we ask are ‘How old are you?’ (because that sometimes has a bearing on how we treat a problem) and ‘Where does it hurt?’”
Dr. Seager, a devout member of the Church who currently serves as a counselor in the Weber Heights Stake Mission, has succeeded in bringing together members of many Christian denominations and even agnostics and atheists in a truly united Christian activity. These people recognize in Dr. Seager a proponent for Christlike service to the disadvantaged of all religious persuasions. Many Latter-day Saint doctors and nurses are also involved. As Dr. Seager has said, “Those involved represent a melting pot of all faiths working together in a common cause.”
A recent incident shows how those involved are enjoying this opportunity to provide such Christian service. Because of a conflict on a certain day, Dr. Seager was unable to go on duty, so he asked another doctor, who had retired from full-time practice, if he could cover for him. “I offered to exchange days and cover for him one day in return,” Dr. Seager recalls. “But that doctor wasn’t about to give up his own day at the clinic. He told me he would do my day and his day, too. That doctor had been almost miserable in retirement. Now he loves to give time here.”
Sister Seager has added a tender touch at the clinic: small, cuddly stuffed animals for the children treated there. Once the volunteers saw this, they began taking up collections among themselves to buy more little “Bears for Dauna’s Kids.” Now a basketful sits in the office awaiting needy little patients.
Within a year after the clinic opened, the dental chair became operational and seven dentists began donating time and services. Attorneys, a pharmacist, and counselors for alcohol and drug use are also available now. One of the clinic’s most recent additions is prenatal care.
For Brother Seager and his associates, helping people feel worthwhile and cared for is the motivating force behind the clinic. He explains, “Even an agnostic could see the divinity of the human spirit in the gratitude of both the providers and the beneficiaries here at the clinic. They are helping each other in a way that cannot be denied. The dignity that is being restored to these people is far more important than the medicine or the physical treatment they receive.”
To demonstrate the feeling of worth the clinic gives to those who need it, Dr. Seager mentions in his characteristic good humor how one transient brought another into the office, saying rather boldly to the stranger, “So, what do you think of our clinic?”
Because one man cared enough to lift another who had fallen, now many are helping each other rise even further.
Ron Hernandez: New Nation, Same Spirit
Though he is now a bishop in Canada, Ron Hernandez remembers being five years old in Guatemala City, Guatemala, when the missionaries came to his home to teach his father the gospel. Although his father was not baptized at that time, the missionaries left a Book of Mormon with the family and impressed young Ron with their testimonies.
Sixteen years later, missionaries knocked on their door again. Ron says, “When they started to introduce themselves, I said, ‘Wait one minute,’ and I went to a trunk and got our copy of the Book of Mormon. I showed it to them, and they said, ‘Where did you get that book?’ I told them the missionaries had given it to us sixteen years before and that I had been waiting for them to come back. They looked at each other and told me that we were going to be a ‘golden family.’”
Ron started tracting with the missionaries immediately and helped them make contacts. After his baptism, he left his job in the printing trade for a year to serve full time as a stake missionary. Not long after his release, he met Maria Eugenia Ramirez at church, and they were soon married. She had been a member of the Church since childhood.
In 1972, Ron came to Canada on vacation to visit his brother—and decided to stay. It was more than a year later before Maria and their daughter could come, but they are all Canadian citizens now, including the two daughters who have been added to their family since their move to Toronto, Ontario.
Ron now serves as bishop of the Spanish-speaking Lehi Ward in the Toronto Ontario Stake. Maria is a Relief Society teacher. Together, Bishop Hernandez and Maria speak their old language in a new land as they share the message of the gospel—itself old but ever new.