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President Hinckley: Years as apostle were preparatory

Then-Elder Hinckley shows Chinese translation of Book of Mormon to President David O. McKay in 1966.
Then-Elder Hinckley shows Chinese translation of Book of Mormon to President David O. McKay in 1966. Photo: Church News file photo

The 23 years that the then-Elder Gordon B. Hinckley served as an Assistant to the Twelve and in the Quorum of the Twelve were filled with great efforts. Now those efforts are showing fruition.

During one of his assignments to Japan on Nov. 20, 1962, he spoke to missionaries in the Fukuoka Branch. Afterwards, he invited the lone Japanese missionary, Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi, to speak. Elder Kikuchi asked to speak in Japanese, but as he began, spoke fluently in English. Most in the room wept, including Elder Hinckley. In 1970 when the Tokyo Stake was created by Elder Ezra Taft Benson, accompanied by Elder Hinckley, the youngest member of the stake presidency was Yoshihiko Kikuchi, then 29. In 1975 when President Spencer W. Kimball announced a temple for Tokyo, the young Japanese leader was in the congregation. "The whole congregation clapped their hands for joy," he said. "They didn't know how else to express their joy."

In 1977, Elder Kikuchi was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy. (From Go Forward with Faith, pp. 251, 312, 343, 375.) And on June 11, 2000, President Hinckley returned to Fukuoka and dedicated Japan's second temple, where 38 years earlier in a fledgling branch, a young Japanese missionary had spoken fluently in English for the first time.

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