Atami, Japan, is an attractive city located on the east coast of Honshu, about 100 kilometers south of Tokyo. It is a famous vacation resort with comfortable hot springs, splendid sunsets, and high cliffs overlooking the sea.
The main attraction of the cliffs of Atami is the beautiful view, but they also attract people for a different reason: from their edge, many have plunged to their death.
On a May evening in 1987, I was driving toward Atami. I couldn’t stop crying, and I didn’t want to see the sunset. As I drove, the memories of the past few years ached inside me.
I had worked hard while I was serving in the Japan Sapporo Mission, on the northernmost island of Japan, with its cold, snowy winters. I felt that the Lord accepted my service, but I did not anticipate what awaited me when I returned home. I didn’t understand why, after all the hard work, there didn’t seem to be any rewards.
Specifically, I felt unfulfilled in my search for an eternal companion. I had found few opportunities to date, while others seemed to be finding eternal happiness easily. Any relationship that I thought might be lasting ended. Though my family was worried about my depressed state, I received strength from my Heavenly Father, which helped me through this difficult time.
Then questions began to arise. Why did I have to suffer so much? Did Heavenly Father still love me? As a returned missionary, I could not deny that the Lord lived or that his Church was true, but I began to question his love for me. Then, one night, thinking that I would never have the opportunity to get married, I lost all hope, and Satan took control. I decided to take my own life rather than face any more heart-breaking experiences. I wrote a farewell note to my parents and began driving to Atami.
Then, two miracles happened. First, as I got closer to the coastline, prepared to drive my car off the cliffs into the ocean, I noticed that a wall had been built to prevent cars from going over the edge. Second, the Lord cleared my mind long enough so that I could stop the car and think about my actions. I realized I could never take my life.
Sobered and much calmer, I drove home to find my bishop at home with my parents. They are not members of the Church, but they knew they could trust Bishop Kashikura. He gave me a blessing, and it seemed the nightmare was finally over.
But a week later, I again had second thoughts about my purpose in life. I didn’t know what to do. On that same day, I received a letter.
The letter was mailed from the United States, which was no unusual because I have friends there. But this letter was different—there was no return name or address. All I knew was that it was mailed from Flushing, New York, the day after I had driven to Atami to try to end my life. However, I did not know anyone from Flushing, New York.
When I opened the letter I found, “To You!” written at the top. Enclosed was a copy of the song “Going Home,” written in both Japanese and English. As I read the words, tears filled my eyes. The words told me that when I found myself alone, my memories could keep me strong. With those memories, I could never forget there is a place where I still belong, a place I can always turn to for comfort: “Home.”
I cried and cried and finally felt assured that Heavenly Father does watch over me. He loves me! Until I had this experience, I thought heaven was very far away, but the song helped me understand that God is very near. When we are faithful, we are already in our heavenly home here on earth.
That was the first and last time I ever heard from Flushing, New York. Perhaps I will never know who sent me those words. The experience reminded me of something President Spencer W. Kimball said, “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs” (Ensign, October 1985, page 3). I am eternally grateful for the person who had ears to hear and acted upon the prompting from the still, small voice from heaven.
I will never forget this experience, and, no matter how great the trials I shall have, I will never forget the place where I want to be—home, my heavenly home.