Tony and Hazel - stalwart members from the Kansai branch. Tony was branch president when we arrived in Japan 4 years ago. They now split their time between Japan and Utah, so we'll likely see them in the future.
Elder Dos Santos (standing next to Mike) - what a story from this inspiring young man. He joined the church against his father's wishes in Brasil. He wanted to serve a mission, but he received a scholarship to study medicine in Italy. His father said he would not allow him to squander such an opportunity, so he went to Italy and became a doctor. When he finished his residency, at 25 years old, he was allowed to go on his mission. He already spoke Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, English, and I think maybe German, too. But apparently 5 languages wasn't enough! He was called to Japan! And just to add some more to his feel-good story - his parents have both joined the church! He has been so lovely helping translate for Luke in priesthood when Mike isn't around. (I'm sure his companion is great, too, but he only just arrived in Kobe, so we don't know him well yet.)
Sister Lawson and Sister Jo - You might not guess it because of her brown hair, but Sis Lawson's mother is full-blooded Japanese! Her mother joined the church in Japan as a teenager and eventually married her father and they mostly raised their kids in California - with a stint of a few years in Osaka. As a result, Sister Lawson's Japanese is great and she is now the go-to translator in sacrament meeting.
Sister Jo (that's not how her name is spelled, but it's how it's pronounced) is from China. She has been a church member for only about one year. She attended BYU, not as a church member, and joined the church in Provo. Then she went back to China and both of her parents also joined the church. In China you are allowed to become Christian only if a family member has already become Christian outside of China, so Sis Jo was the gateway for her family.
The next few weeks will be quite an emotional roller coaster. Let's hope that I can hang on....!