A second life: Hubert Moes' story

Published: Tuesday, July 5 2011 5:30 a.m. MDT

That hatred took him into a world of heavy drinking and smoking that lasted through much of his service with the Dutch air force. In April 1960, while stationed in the Netherlands, he collapsed. The doctor found spots in Hubert's lungs, and his liver was almost completely gone. He was given six to eight months to live.

“I got shocked,” he said. “I got scared.”

He started to clean up his act, and soon a young naval officer asked Hubert if he could give her a ride to church. It was an LDS Church. Hubert was baptized Aug. 5, 1960.

“And by the way,” Hubert said, leaning forward and lowering his voice a bit, “the young ladies were so pretty in church, and I was single,” he laughed as Carmen sighed.

Shortly after Hubert joined, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints needed some people who could build chapels. Hubert had his visa ready to go to the United States. But in an experience he said was “like Samuel,” he was awakened in the middle of the night and told to stay and serve. His service helped him in more ways than one.

“That was simply something that I had to do … to get rid of the urge.” His more structured life during his 2 1/2 years of service helped him resist the need to smoke or stop in the bar on the corner.

Not changed enough

Although he had quit drinking and smoking and had joined the church, Hubert still struggled for about 45 years. He suffered from chronic migraines and nightmares.

“I’d see the bayonets still coming, and the Samurai still coming, and the beheadings,” he said of his nightmares.

Two marriages failed because he was just too hard to live with. His 40-year marriage to Carmen hasn’t been without struggles, either. Ten years into their marriage, Carmen took the kids and left temporarily.

Carmen said he was so messed up that "there wasn’t even a profile for him." But he sought help, and Carmen came back.

“She worked real hard and used her skills to make me change and think differently,” Hubert said of his wife.

He remembers talking years ago to former fellow ward member and Japanese internment camp survivor Gene Jacobsen, author of “We Refused to Die.”

“I remember the cigarette burns on my body and the stabbing with the bayonet. I said, ‘I cannot forget that.'" Jacobsen told him to forgive the Japanese because it would change Hubert's life as it did his.

“He was able to refine himself and get over it, and I didn’t,” Hubert said. “I had to carry it with me.”

Hubert's final turning point happened just more than 10 years ago when James Matsumori, the current president of the Washington D.C. North Mission and husband of former general Primary presidency member Vicki Matsumori, was called as the stake president over Hubert's old stake in Murray, Utah.

“It felt like I was kicked real hard in the butt,” he said of finding out about the calling. At the time, he was serving as the stake’s satellite specialist. In the years Hubert worked with Matsumori, he grew to love and respect him.

“He is the most wonderful man that I’ve ever run into,” Hubert said. His relationship with Matsumori helped change his view of all Japanese people.

”They had a conversation and big hug where everything just kind of melted away,” Carmen said, describing a particular Sunday morning that found the two men setting up for a broadcast.

“We were just bawling like little kids,” Hubert said. “That was the point that I — sorry, I may get a little emotional — that was the point that made … the change in me. … It was the bottom line and the best thing that ever happened to me in my life.”

A second life

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