OKUBO, MITSUNO
My husband, my son, and I were sent to the Santa Anita Assembly Center on April 12, 1942. Many Japanese people were forced to reside temporarily in that center until they could be assigned to one of the other relocation centers. At Santa Anita, I attended an English class and met a keen Christian lady whose name was Mrs. Hide Okada. She taught me about Jesus. Soon, I started to attend a Bible class which was led by one of the Holiness ministers, Rev. Tameichi Okimoto. He gave me a handy Bible in which he wrote the verse from Colossians 2:3, “In Christ are hid the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

I was afraid of evacuation life at first, but I soon found myself happy because of my contact with such nice and friendly people as Mrs. Okada. On October 6, 1942, I finally surrendered to Christ and was baptized by Rev. Sadaichi Kuzuhara. Although I did not know how to verbally express my gratitude, I nevertheless cried tears of joy, knowing that I had become a child of God. On my way home, I even saw every plant I had raised in a new light, filled with the glory of God, and I knew that God Himself had raised me—it was not the result of my own work. That same day, the first chicken dinner ever was served at mess hall; it was as if they were celebrating my baptism day.

Later, I was sent to the Rohwer Relocation Center in Arkansas where I met the Yoshikata Kimura family; they eventually did founding work for the Los Angeles Holiness Church after the war. Rev. Ren Kimura, who was raised in the Rohwer Camp, became one of the first Nisei Holiness ministers. (Ren Kimura was the first Nisei minister in terms of being born and raised in a Holiness church). Because of the Kimura family’s presence and prayers, my faith was sustained and protected. As I remember life at Rohwer, I see now that I was fortunate to have been evacuated there. Had I lived in town, I would have been troubled by those who would have looked upon me as an enemy. As long as we stayed in the camp, we were safe and protected.

There was no designated sanctuary for Christian worship services, but we made it a rule to hold worship services on Sundays in the camp assembly room. No Holiness ministers were living at Rohwer, so I had no chance to meet them. At first, various Sunday schools were held separately at designated locations; towards the end, however, they were jointly held. The prayer meeting I attended was organized by the Holiness church group, although we joined other Christian groups for Sunday worship services. I was not involved in any church activities other than attending services. After our time at Rohwer, my family returned to the Los Angeles Holiness Church which had set up temporary shelters for returning evacuees like ourselves.

Year of Birth: 1903
Place of Birth: Yamaguchi-ken, Japan
Major Occupation: Housewife
Relocation Camp: Rohwer, Arkansas
Date of Interview: June 30, 1989

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