WAKAMATSU, TETSUKO
I was sixteen years old when I came to the United States. I was already a Christian in Kansas, where I attended Highland College with my sister. After graduation I moved to California in 1923.1 used to live in the Seinan-ku (south-west district) of Los Angeles, where Mrs. Okada was my neighbor. Home meetings had been held in my house for many years. All of a sudden, I received a notice from the FBI prohibiting any “assembly” because the war had broken out. I, however, disregarded the notice and continued to hold home meetings, for I believed that America was founded on Christian values and felt that I should not abandon the meetings regardless of what happened between the United States and Japan.

As I kept holding the home meetings, some other Japanese Christians complained to me, saying: “Why do you, a Holiness church member, continue to hold home meetings in spite of the FBI notice?” Although the FBI once arrived to “investigate” during a home meeting and scared me, I continued to host the meetings until I was sent to the Santa Anita Assembly Center. Another home meeting was being held at Rev. Kuzuhara’s residence and his daughter, Mika, encouraged me to continue holding the meetings at my home. Mr. Nakagawa was saved through the meetings held at Rev. Kuzuhara’s home. Mr. Yoshimoto (later, he became a lay leader and contributed to the founding of the West Los Angeles Holiness Church) and Rev. Kakihara, a Free Methodist church minister, led the home meetings at Rev. Kuzuhara’s residence.

I was first sent to the Santa Anita Assembly Center before being relocated to Rohwer. Whatever happened, I wanted to live with my best friend and neighbor, Hide Okada. In order to remain together with her, I had to live with her family for ten days, as the relocation destinations were assigned by groups. However, we could not go to the same relocation camp; she was sent to Colorado, while I was sent to Arkansas, since my father was already there. The area was so beautiful that I enjoyed living there for three years. One day, when I was on an outing in the mountains, I saw a vine tree shining against the sun. Then I heard the voice of God saying, “Have no other joy than to love your saints.” From that moment I realized the love of God and began to pray for my saints, such as Rev. Kuzuhara, Rev. Yahiro, and Rev. Sakuma.

As I was given two children in the camp, I could not attend the Christian meetings as often as I wished to. And the Christian activities were not as well attended as they should have been. One day I was invited to attend a Christian meeting, and only myself and three ministers were present. During offering in the worship services, we were encouraged to make a “silent offering,” a one-dollar paper offering which would not make any noise while ushers were taking the collection.

Before the families had begun to settle at Rohwer, only Japanese-American men were sent there. Daily life was devastating without wives and children. The men fought all the time, especially when they met at mess hall. Yet, after their families joined them, their lives became peaceful, with no more Fights or quarrels. I later noticed that Rohwer was the best-prepared camp of all the relocation centers in terms of food, natural circumstances, and recreational opportunities. I, however, was very busy with five children, and my husband, a dentist, was so busy that he had to diagnose hundreds of people every day.

As I look back on my life in the camp, I am not appreciative of what the American government did to me. At times, I suffered and was deeply troubled with my five young children.

Year of Birth: 1905
Place of Birth: Oita-ken, Japan
Major Occupation: Nurse, Housewife
Relocation Camp: Rohwer, Arkansas
Date of Interview: July 21, 1989

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