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World War II Memories – Displaced JapaneseAmericans

Everyone knows about the displaced folks of Japanese descent during World War II. But not everyone has a personal story to tell!

Hundreds, perhaps thousands of Japanese were moved to camps,  filled with rows and rows of barracks which housed the Japanese families, against their wishes.

My dad was the pastor of the  Free Methodist Church in Des Moines. Rev. Aoki was the pastor of a Japanese Free Methodist Church in California! It really doesn’t matter how they met…it does matter that they met!

But, let me try to explain the two men meeting. Dad answered the phone one day, the person on the other end had a Japanese accent! He quickly gave his name and his position in the church. Then he asked if he and his wife could come to our house.

My dad didn’t have any prejudice bones in his body. He explained how they could find our house and that they were welcome.

Somehow Rev and Mrs Aoki had escaped the exodus of Japanese people in California! Somehow they made it all the way to Des Moines, Iowa and called my dad, as another pastor, in the same denomination! With the blessing of my parents, they moved into our upstairs. They were a delightful couple.

There were folks in our church who were not happy! Dad patiently and lovingly gave God’s plan of salvation again and explained God’s love for ALL people. Slowly folks accepted them.  Finally, one Sunday evening, at the request of my dad, Rev. Aoki preached a sermon to the church family! Afterward, he received many warm handshakes and smiles. He and his wife were completely accepted into our church family.

I was too young to understand any of the implications. I only remember a very nice couple coming to live with us. They were very friendly and always smiled at me! In discussing this time of our lives with my older brother and sister, they both used the term, underground railroad! My sister, Lorraine, is gone now so our discussions are over. I called my brother, Richard and he, being four years older than I am, remembers many details and carefully explained it all to me again.

I believe with all my heart that God had a plan for Rev. and Mrs. Aoki and my family was included in that plan! What a privilege!

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