Why is my grandma getting baptized a testimony of God’s love to me? We read from the Bible in John 3:5 “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Without baptism, we aren't able to achieve our overall objective in this life-to obtain Eternal Life (to better understand our term of Eternal Life, go to www.mormon.org and in the search engine type Eternal Life-you can do this with any word you run across that may be different or hard to understand). Getting baptized may not be a big deal to some, but for my 90 year old grandma it is. Let me share with you some background information.
My grandma lives in Kyoto, Japan. She dropped out of school after the 3rd grade to help support her large family by working at a relative’s paper-box making company. At age 15, she lost her mother and became the mother-figure to her five younger siblings. In her late teenage life, she would face another tragedy-WWII. She would offer her prized lunch box to the young men her age going off to the war that would walk past her work knowing it would be the last time she would see them. She would get married at a later age for women at the time and would have two stillborn daughters before having my mom at the age of 40. She loved my mom very much and gave her everything she could. When my mom turned 16, she was converted by her friend to the LDS church. My grandma had missionaries come for dinner before my mom got baptized and realized these missionaries were far from home for a long period of time. My grandma gave my mom one condition in order for her to get baptized-to not go on a mission and leave her. My mom did everything in her power but when she knew the Lord needed her to serve a full-time mission, she went. My mom later married my dad-an American. Once again, my mom made the difficult decision to leave my grandmother behind in their homeland. My grandma never complained. My grandma is a very strong spirited woman. She has faced many hard trials throughout her life but lives each day with enthusiastic pleasure. But I believe that many of the reasons why she was capable of such strength is because of her strong belief in her past, culture, and tradition-the things that make up who she is.
Japanese people are not very religious but it is an important part of their culture to implement Shintoist beliefs in celebratory ceremonial events and Buddhist beliefs in grievance ceremonial events. I need to also mention that the Japanese culture is not one that is open to change. It is very hard for a Japanese person to be different or to have different lifestyles because their culture encourages conformity. It is extremely rare for an elderly Japanese person to accept any form of change. When children go to their grandparents in America, they expect sweets, warm hugs and kisses, and leniency. In Japan-at least with my grandma-children expect to learn more manners, etiquette, and respect for tradition. If the youth of Japan is more susceptible to change, they generally do not share the changes with the elderly. The youth are expected to mold and behave respectfully by adhering to their ancient culture. My grandma used to have a Buddhist shrine in her humble home with a list of deceased family names. It is very important to her to honor her ancestors by cleaning their graves once a year and offering up a food sacrifice every morning and night to the family shrine. Being Christian, we believe in the ten commandments found in Exodus 20: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth…”. By choosing to be baptized, my grandma is giving up so much of she has ever lived for and believed in. It is a huge step for her-one I don’t think she could have made without the love of God shown to her through the services of hundreds of missionaries that have met her and touched her heart as well as the tender mercies of God in softening her heart and giving her the courage to take her first steps to achieving Eternal Life.
I know our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us-even my 90 year old, sweet but stubborn grandma. Although she has refused to convert and believe in Him for over 50 years, He had never given up hope for her. I strongly believe through Jesus Christ’s example that our Father would leave the 99 sheep to find the lost lamb-because He has done just that for my grandma. Those missionaries could have been inspired by the Lord to go teach and serve someone else, but Heavenly Father knew how much it would mean to my mom to have her mom make her own choice to get baptized. He knew that it is essential for her to be baptized in order to receive Eternal Life. He loved her enough to spend precious time and resources to see that she was touched and converted. This experience has strengthened my testimony of His love for every one of His children. What a perfect Valentine’s Day-to know God loves me.