YATO, CHIE
I was a third-generation Christian in Japan and came to the United States when I was nine years old. I later married a Christian man who lived in San Diego. We were sent to Manzanar Relocation Center on April 28, 1942. My aunt’s husband was a Methodist minister, and they and their daughter were already voluntarily working at Manzanar. Also, as my aunt’s grandchildren were not strong enough to live easily in a relocation camp like Manzanar, they urgently wanted me to go there to help with the family. My husband and I naturally went, and began to attend their Christian meetings. Although I had no previous experience, I taught children’s Sunday school. I used to go to the Union Church in Pasadena before the war, because my uncle was the minister of that church. Our family left all our belongings to that church while we were in the camp.

Rev. Herbert Nicholson often visited our camp and encouraged us. He also helped to bring our sewing machine and bicycle from the church to the camp. Dr. Stanley Jones, who led a few Christian missions, rendered tremendous service to us through his messages and encouragement at Manzanar. Yet, I do not remember any drastic movement toward salvation by the people in the camp. I later noticed that there had often been troubles in the camp, such as shootings and fighting, but I did not take much notice of them at the time simply because I lived among Christian friends and was protected by them.

In Manzanar, I enjoyed clean, ever-fresh water from the Sierra mountains in spite of the hot summer weather. My husband helped cook with the Americans in the mess hall and was satisfied with his work. Yet, some kept grumbling all the time. As for me, as long as church activities, food, and living quarters were secured, I had no complaint whatsoever. Rather, I was happy to be there. My uncle, minister of the Union Church, lived in another relocation center and later moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where an American friend had invited him to stay. My husband and I, with our two children, joined my uncle in Cleveland after one-and-one-half years in Manzanar. During my stay in Cleveland, I had no chance to go to church because I worked at a country club throughout the week. I was so spiritually thirsty that I wanted to move somewhere where I could attend church services.

Soon we moved to Chicago, where my father had already settled. We arrived there on the eighteenth of December and moved into my cousin’s house, as it was very hard to find any rental homes in Chicago at that time. I looked and looked. At last, I found something suitable and we settled into the second floor of a rented house.

Fortunately, I could attend Rev. Kuzuhara’s meetings from there. The meeting was held in a room rented from the Moody Church. Sunday worship services began at two o’clock in the afternoon and were held there for three years. After that, we returned to California. Although my uncle was a Methodist minister, I began to attend the Los Angeles Holiness Church since my whole family had made many Holiness church friends when we were in Chicago. My father was not against us attending the Holiness church either; rather, he recommended that we attend the church. He was a broad-minded Christian and always gave me wise guidance.

Year of Birth: 1901
Place of Birth: Tochigi-ken, Japan
Major Occupation: Factory Worker
Relocation Camp: Manzanar, California
Date of Interview: July 21, 1989

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