A Chieko Okazaki Sharing Time Lesson

This was originally posted one year ago. It is being re-posted in honor of Sister Okazaki, who passed away this week.

Continuing with the theme of how awesome I am at my callings, I thought I would share one of the more successful Sharing Time lessons I’ve done in my current calling in the Primary presidency.

The theme for Sharing Time was “Family members have important responsibilities” (last year’s program). I was to do a week on mommies’ responsibilities, a week on daddies’ responsibilities, and a week on kids’ responsibilities to the family. Sis. Okazaki gave a great talk about the Japanese word kigatsuku, which means being aware of one’s surroundings and doing good without being asked, which fits perfectly with kids’ responsibilities in the family.

I have loads of Asian type decorations and stuff in my home so I brought a few things and decorated the room. We had all the kids take their shoes off at the door, then they entered a Japanese wonderland. I explained that Chieko grew up in Hawaii, not Japan, but that her family came from Japan.

I sat on the floor in a kimono, beside a folding table laid flat on the floor but covered in a nice white jacquard tablecloth and elegantly set with some Japanese tableware. While I rolled California rolls and gave them tastes of rice and rolls, I told them stories about young Chieko and times she showed kigatsuku.

When I was just a little girl, my mother began teaching me to be kigatsuku. When she swept the floor, she would say, “Chieko, what would a kigatsuku girl do now?” Then I’d run and get the dustpan. I recognized my mother’s teaching when I read that wonderful scripture:

“Verily, I say, [you] should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of [your] own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

“For the power is in [you], wherein [you] are [an agent] unto [yourself].” (D&C 58:27–28.)

I also read a story from that month’s Friend about “Emily” who showed kigatsuku.

Emily was playing with blocks when her dad slowly walked through the front door, dropped his briefcase on the floor, walked up the stairs, and sat on his bed.

Emily knew her dad’s job was hard sometimes. She didn’t want her dad to be unhappy. Because Mom is busy and can’t help Dad right now, I will.

Emily climbed on Dad’s lap and dropped the ring into his hand.

Emily felt warm all over as Dad gave her a big hug. She had helped Dad be happy, and that was worth all the rings in the world.

Then each kid went home with a prepackaged Family Home Evening lesson to share with their families about Sis. Okazaki’s biography and kigatsuku.

It is funny what catches kids’ attention and imagination. They were fighting over those little dixie cups of plain white rice like it was ice cream. Who’d have thought?

I’m very proud about how the lesson turned out and how it was received. When I came home an email was waiting for me from a mom saying that it was all her kids could talk about in the car, and not just the frills but they were telling her all about the word kigatsuku. Score! Over the next few weeks, I got several more comments from happy parents. One mom said her 9-year-old son had been opening doors for her that week.

Credit where credit is due, this all started with the observation by Natalie that she felt Sis. Okazaki may be slipping from our collective consciousness. It was her post, just prior to my Sharing Time, that made me take particular notice of an idea on the ever-useful website for exchanging primary ideas, Sugar Doodle, that mentioned Sis. Okazaki (they have so many dozens of ideas to sift through). It was there that I found a link to this sketch of the kigatsuku lesson concept from an old article in the Friend. To me this is a good example of an idea from the bloggernacle sparking a plan that enriched my “IRL” experience of the gospel and ability to magnify my calling.


  1. Kevin Barney says:

    I well remember this post, which really impressed me, from its first airing. What a great idea to repost it in the wake of her death! Thank you for thinking of this.

  2. This would make a lovely Family Home Evening lesson as well. Thanks for re-posting.

  3. Definitely keeping a closer ear to future references from Sister Okazaki thanks to these articles. Thanks for the hard work.

  4. Agreed, michelle! The Sharing Time schedule is set pretty strictly by the curriculum from Salt Lake, and I don’t see a conveniently well-matching topic in the coming few Sundays. Next month is spreading the gospel to all the world, so I could imagine working in something about Sister Okazaki there, since she was not only so symbolic of church internationalization, but actively instrumental in creating a global mindframe in church members.

    But, regardless of what the Sharing Time topics are, I think it would be so wonderful for families to introduce their children to Sister Okazaki’s teachings in Family Home Evening. If you wanted to go really over the top, you could do a theme tie-in with dinner–serve teriyaki chicken and rice and miso soup, or Udon noodles. Many possibilities in Japanese cuisine and many of them are very kid-friendly tastes.

  5. Cynthia, thank you for re-posting this. We are including it this Sunday in our programme. I too hope Sis. Okazaki does not slip from consciousness.

  6. Thanks Cynthia. Got to use this on my HT families.

  7. michelle says:

    I’m likin’ it, Cynthia. Make it a whole cultural and spiritual experience.

  8. Lovely idea. Thank you for helping another generation learn about this great woman.

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