Tsune Ishida Nachie

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Tsune Ishida Nachie was born near Tokyo on April 6, 1856. She never went to school, but learned reading and writing from a Buddhist priest. She married Sataro Nachie at the age of 23; he died in 1888, less than ten years after their marriage. They did not have children, but Tsune raised her niece Ei Asano.

She had converted to the Church of England and had worked for many years as a cook in the homes of European businessmen. She enjoyed a good salary, but in 1905, at the age of forty-nine, she accepted the job of housekeeper and cook for the Japanese mission home. The wage was lower, but she was investigating The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After less than one month, she asked one of the missionaries to baptize her. The mission had experienced a poor retention rate, so he suggested she study more about the Church and she was baptized one month later, at her insistence. For eighteen years she was a mother to the missionaries who came to serve in Japan. She often invited her women friends to stay with her for days and arranged for the missionaries to teach them while they were with her.

She reached the age of 70 and the missionaries felt she should retire. In writing to all the former missionaries and telling them her need, they responded with large donations that enabled her to retire and emigrate to Laie, Hawaii, in 1923. There she was endowed and became the first Japanese convert to enter the temple. She stayed in Hawaii and became a self-appointed missionary to the Japanese of Hawaii, thereby missing the earthquake that struck Tokyo in 1924, which closed the mission home and would have left her homeless and jobless. She returned to Japan once to collect genealogical records of other converts’ families for temple work. She was still in Hawaii when the first Japanese branch of the Church was formed in 1934 and when the Japanese mission was created there in 1937. She died in 1938.