My family lives in Tokyo. We live next door to a factory. That is a good thing because that way we can practice our music without disturbing anyone. And we are always practicing. At 18, I’m the oldest of four sisters. From the time we were tiny children, we have all loved to sing. Our parents thought that singing would be a good way for us to make friends and a good way to share the gospel. We started organizing singing groups at the ward and presenting programs. At first it was scary, especially when we invited nonmember friends to come sing with us. But soon we learned that they were having fun too. Through our programs at the chapel, ten of our friends have become interested in the gospel and have joined the Church. They’re all still active.
In Japan, Christianity seemed to give the impression that it was very rigid and did not have much to do with Japanese people. But now we have a way to help change that image. We can help our friends see the Church as a live, fun, friendly place. I believe that ever since the time of Adam and Eve, God has provided for people a way to express feelings of joy, whenever they feel happiness in their heart. One of these ways is through music.
My family’s name is Matsushita. That means “under the pine tree.” So when we formed a family group to perform for some of the other wards and branches in our area, we decided to call ourselves the Merry Pines. We were invited to sing in many places and spent a lot of time driving. Even though it was crowded in the car, we learned to keep in mind the missionary purpose of our singing and not to argue (well, not too much anyway). We think music is a good missionary tool, because good music never hurts anybody’s feelings. When we convey our feelings to others through songs, the person can remember the message as a melody in his heart. We sing a lot about family love.
My father is the second counselor in the Tokyo Temple presidency. My mother is Relief Society president in our ward. They have taught all of us to accept Church callings. I am a Primary teacher and a ward pianist. Shiruka, 17, is a chorister. Manami, 15, is a Primary teacher. And Miyabi, 14, is on the public relations committee.
Our parents have given us all wonderful names. My name means “beautiful dove.” Shiruka means “silk” and “the one and only, the original.” Manami and Miyabi were born after the rest of us were sealed in the temple, and so their names are religious. Manami is a combination of “manna” and “fruit.” Miyabi means “grace” or “beautiful temple.”
Finding time for practicing our music, doing church work, and studying takes some organization. We have a set of headphones so that we can watch television or listen to the radio while someone else is practicing. We have schedules to follow so we can fit everything in.
When I was little, I did not want to mention that I was a Latter-day Saint because Christianity was not well accepted in my country. However, now there are many more Christians, and I have learned to be proud to be LDS. Among the old Japanese customs, there are many things similar to the teachings of the Church. I enjoy being a member of the Church so much I want others to know about it too.
At school I try to be friendly to everyone and keep smiling. When my friends ask me questions, I try to be helpful. When I see a sad person, I try to cheer her up. I want to show I’m a happy person. Whenever I tell others about my family, I tell them about family home evening and the other happy things we do together. I also talk about the activities at the ward: youth program, Young Women activities, seminary, and all the things Church members do that make me happy.
There are many people in Japan who are the only members of the Church in their family. There are others who are outcasts from their friends because they believe in the Church. I am very fortunate to belong to a family where we are all members. Thanks to my dad and mom and sisters, I have learned to share the gospel with everyone.
My father talks to us a lot about the temple. He tells us what a holy place it is. I was there when our family was sealed, and I have been baptized for the dead in the temple. I love to be there. In the future, I want to be married in the temple and to have a family just like ours.
These are the words to a song I wrote that our family sings together. They talk about our feelings of love for each other. (We sing the song in Japanese, but in English the words would be something like this.)
Let us go on a journey together
To seek a far and bright place,
To keep and to live the truth we have found,
To help you find the truth for yourself.
Let us start walking to find
The strait and narrow way.
Though you may not feel able to walk it alone,
Everyone’s love is here to help you.
Ahead: both afflictions and joy;
But even though the world may sometimes be dark,
Let us not look down, let us not pause.
Seek the joy; we have happiness.
Whenever you walk, as long as you go forth
Toward that sparkling star,
Happiness is the answer;
Happiness is in our home.