From Sheri Holt: "A vast majority of the early members of the Church in Japan were high school and college students. The Church grew very slowly in Kyushu and other outlying areas, partly because these young new members would leave their small branches and go to Kyoto, Osaka, or Tokyo to attend school and work. Many great leaders in the large cities actually had their roots in Kyushu and other more rural areas. The big challenge to early missionaries was to find those first families who would give stability to the tiny branches in the outlying areas.
"In 1971, we taught a 13-year old girl. She was extremely shy. Her family was concerned about her involvement with a strange church, but did not want to speak with the missionaries or come to the church to see for themselves. She persisted with her parents, and finally they sent her college-aged brother to check things out when he was home for winter vacation. He came to the church and was impressed enough to tell the parents to let their daughter continue to attend. That was as far as it went in 1971.
"The effect by 2000? The girl had joined the Church; her brother had joined the Church (he told me personally at the Fukuoka Temple dedication that he 'gained his testimony' that first meeting at the Kumamoto meetinghouse). He married another one of our investigators. They have six children (almost unheard of in Japan!) Their parents had joined the Church, and several others. The brother, President Tashiro, is currently serving as the second Stake President of the Kumamoto Stake, and he and his family and his sister, who started it all, were at the temple dedication.
"In 1971, we started the first Primary in that little Kumamoto Branch. There were two children in a family that had been recently baptized. We had about 18 children total in attendance that first Saturday - the two member children and 16 non-members from the English class we taught. A couple of new members and a couple of sister missionaries tried to run the Primary. At the end of that first meeting, the newly baptized little nine-year-old girl told us she wanted to be a Primary teacher when she grew up. The effect by 2000? From the two members, two children, and two missionaries, there are currently three stake Primary presidents. Yes, that little girl got her wish, and became a Primary teacher and more.
"The day before the dedication, the Fukuoka Stake sponsored a 50th anniversary fireside, and many of the early pioneer members in Kyushu and previous mission presidents attended - President Anderson (1962-65) was the earliest president there, followed by President Watanabe (1970-73) and at least a half dozen others. The history of the piece of land where the temple is now was discussed. How it had been purchased because a fire destroyed the previous building, so a new building needed to be found, and President Duane Anderson (1962-65) pushed for the purchase of the property even though it was expensive. Many of us could remember the house on the property that served the Fukuoka branch that was torn down to make room for the new mission home and mission office (about 1972). Then actual video footage of the demolition of those buildings a couple of years ago and the building of the temple in various stages was shown at the meeting, including the placement of the Angel Moroni on top."