The following biographical sketch is adapted from
the "News of the Church: Elder Sam K. Shimabukuro of the Seventy" published
in the Ensign for September 1991 on the occasion of Elder Shimabukuro's
call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy.
He was a young teenager listening to the radio the first
time he heard the word Mormon.
“I had just graduated from junior high school. I
heard a choir singing a piece our school chorus had sung earlier that year,”
recalls Elder Sam K. Shimabukuro, whose call to the Second Quorum of the
Seventy was announced on July 13. “It really drew my attention. The choir
was wonderful, and the piece was beautiful.”
He listened closely, eager to learn the name of this
marvelous group. When the announcer identified the performers as the Mormon
Tabernacle Choir, he mentally stored the information away.
A year later, a co-worker invited Sam to a Church
activity. “I recognized the name of the Church as the same name of that
choir,” Elder Shimabukuro remembers. Although he was touched by the friendliness
of the people, it was the music—again—that made the greatest impression.
“The hymns were outstanding,” Elder Shimabukuro explains.
“Although I don’t play any musical instrument, I have a great love for
music, and that music—and those words—were very different from other hymns
Although the music fascinated this young teen, he
recognized something even more important in this religion. “From the first
time I attended church, I knew that this was something different. When
the elders gave me a Book of Mormon, I started to read it. The names in
this new book were strange; the only one I recognized was Sam, one of Nephi’s
brothers. But the contents of the Book of Mormon really hit me. I can’t
describe it in words; I just felt it. Of course, now I understand it was
the Spirit telling me that the book I was reading was true and that I should
pursue it. But at the time, I just knew I felt good about what I was doing.”
Sam acted on those feelings. After he had investigated
the Church for six months, the missionaries invited him to be baptized,
and he readily accepted. He became a member of the Church on 25 February
Born in Hawaii on 7 June 1925, Elder Shimabukuro
was the youngest child of Kame and Ushi Nakasone Shimabukuro, migrant laborers
from Okinawa, Japan. At the time of Sam’s baptism, his parents were already
deceased, and he was living with his older brother.
One of the highlights of Elder Shimabukuro’s life
has been his full-time mission to his parents’ homeland. “I served as a
missionary for three years, half of that time in Japan proper, and half
of the time on the island of Okinawa, where I opened up the area. I had
never been there before, and it was a tremendous privilege for me to serve
in the land my parents came from.”
There were other blessings that came from his mission.
It was in Okinawa that this young elder met his future wife, Amy Michiko
Hirose. After finishing his mission, Elder Shimabukuro returned to Okinawa
to court her and then to ask the Hiroses’ approval for their daughter to
return to Hawaii as his wife. “Fortunately, they consented,” says Elder
“She keeps me on the straight and narrow,” says Elder
Shimabukuro of his wife. There are other things she does for him, too.
Sam feels blessed to have had her by his side while he was serving as president
of the Japan Sendai Mission and then as president of the Tokyo Temple.
“She helped me tremendously with the language,” he recalls. “Japanese is
my second language, but it’s her first. She was able to help me communicate.”
The couple has one daughter, Phyllis, who died of
lupus in 1974. “It was a tremendous blow; she was our only child,” Elder
Shimabukuro says. “But we have to take the bitter with the sweet and accept
these experiences with courage and faith.
“In my life I have learned that despite all the opposition
and trials that we face, we must learn to implicitly trust the Lord. It’s
so easy to get off on a tangent whenever things come up, when people don’t
meet our expectations or we’ve been hurt. We
need to learn to trust the Lord all the way, and he will take care
of us. I’m counting on that now with this new calling.”
Elder Shimabukuro fulfilled his five-year call to the
Second Quorum of the Seventy and was honorably released on October 5, 1996.