My contact with the Catholic Church began when I was twenty years and I started working at Takaoka Catholic kindergarten. I knew nothing about Christianity and for this reason I decided to find a job in a Catholic organization and so to know personally and closely this mysterious and fascinating world at the same time. After some time, the Franciscan father, director of the school, asked me to become the leader of the ‘guides’, the female branch of the scouts, of his parish and, through participation in the activities of this group, I met Sr. Vincenza Camplani. During a summer camp, since I was tired, after lunch I went for a rest in the tent, which was slightly open, and while I was resting, I looked out casually. At a certain point, I saw Sr. Vincenza carrying a heavy bucket filled with water. It was a scorching summer day and the sister, all smiling, was spontaneously doing a job that no one would have desired nor even wanted to do. This act of hers, immediately made me reflect on my lifestyle. I thought, perhaps if there was someone looking at me, I would have done it… while Sr. Vincenza, without anyone observing her, gave her service with joy. This way of her acting has made me perceive how my life was superficial and not very authentic. At the same time I felt a strong desire to become like her, to imitate her spontaneity and inner freedom in serving, in fulfilling my duty, regardless of being seen or not. This I think was one of the reasons, among others, that led me to ask for Baptism.

After the scout camp I tried to keep in touch with Sr. Vincenza. Mine is a family of farmers, therefore, in my free time I too helped in the farm work and Sr. Vincenza, in order to talk to me, came to give us a helping hand during the harvesting of rice. My parents, looking at her cheerful character, her simple and friendly behaviour, little by little changed their opinion on the sisters. In fact, the region in which I was brought up is predominantly Buddhist, with strong prejudices against Christianity, both towards the Catholic and protestant Church, and so also towards the religious. But after meeting Sr. Vincenza, my parents even began to talk with the neighbours about what they understood about Christianity. Sr. Vincenza taught me that mission is something that one lives and transmits through life rather than words. Both when I received Baptism as well as when I entered the convent, my parents respected my choice, thanks to the testimony of Sr. Vincenza. And if now I am a sister of charity, I owe it to the meeting with her.  I understood that the relationship with people is a gift from God, so I wish that through my mediation others also might meet the Lord.

Sr. Junko Okubo

Cf. NSDU 2019/1, 106-108