I had two bad days of strep throat since my last post. (The new doc I went to said that because I am allergic to penicillin it is very hard to get rid of it – last year I had five bouts. My friend Dr. Sharon thinks I need to get the puppies yanked out. Sounds good to me.)
On Saturday afternoon, I was returning home from the place being prepped for that night’s BBQ when I saw this scene in front of me:
I had noticed the same kind of Buddhist priests in the land down below our home – it seemed to be a large group of them doing some kind of slow walk/processional/pilgrimage through the tsunami-hit regions. Here there was a family right in front of me with a large photo of their deceased son. I realized they were waiting on the corner for the priests to walk by and pray for the souls of their loved ones. I pulled my car over and watched this mother cry as the priest prayed for her little one and the rest of the family stood by.
And then I realized – this was my new friend Yuri who had come to the last Nozomi jewelry gathering! This was her family. I got out of the car, waited for the priests to finish, and went over. There was a man with a huge video camera zooming in on them; several other bystanders; the last of numerous priests had finally passed. When I put my arm on M. (Yuri’s sixth grade daughter) she broke out in a huge smile and said “Sue-san!” I was so happy to see her too. I met Yuri’s husband H. – he was holding their four month old boy while Yuri held the large picture of Kosei.
Yuri hugged me, still wiping away tears, and said it had been a hard few hours. I briefly held their baby; they said they would be at the bbq that evening; I got back in the car and drove home. I felt so sad at this — needing to stand on a street corner in hope of getting a special blessing/prayer that would affect the after-life of your deceased loved one.
That night at the BBQ, our Hawaii team did an awesome job of cooking lots of great food. And it was a good thing, because we had a whole group – about 40 perhaps? — of unexpected, unknown dinner-seekers show up. Apparently they were making the circuit – there were three events that they heard about yesterday, and they hit them all. Ours was last; and as soon as dinner was over, they snuck out. But we were so happy with those who came for the community – about twenty of our Be One friends came, in addition to our team and the volunteers.
Our 87-year old oldest-ever volunteer, Uncle Mamo from Hawaii, gave a short sharing about the three hurricanes he has lived through that have hit Kauai. He shared the love that people of Hawaii feel for those in Ishinomaki. The message was from his heart, and we know people felt that.
Then we broke into small groups for sharing and prayer. I was with Yuri, her daughter M., and three other friends. Yuri ended up sharing the terrible events of 3/11 that led to her little one’s death. A brief account is that she was with him just after the earthquake. Then she left him with her husband to go and check on the senior citizens at her part-time job. When the tsunami started coming she fled to the elementary school where her daughter was. When her husband came and found them at the school, he had a terrible look on his face. Another close family member had come and said he would take the boy to safety. Neither of them made it.
While Yuri was telling this story, M. (her daughter) started crying and said she didn’t want to hear it. I ended up holding her weeping body in my arms. I asked her if she has cried very much since that day, and she said she rarely. I was so sad for this girl who has had to grow up too quickly. I shared the Bible verse of God who stores each of our tears in our bottle. What a precious collection He has for this family!
As I laid in bed that night trying to fall asleep, I kept pictured their sad faces waiting on the road for the prayers of these priests. And how much they need to know of the reality of heaven with a Savior present. And I thought, I wonder what my Mom (who passed away twenty three years ago) would want to tell Yuri and M. about heaven? I heard – I thought — a voice saying, “She’s holding Kohei in her arms right now.”
Really? I couldn’t tell in my tiredness what was me, what I wanted to hear, what was God.
I slept well – I think I dreamed about buying shoes with my mom- but woke up early. I went downstairs, grabbed some coffee and my Bible and current study. The chapter I was in the middle of was on the Holy Spirit. And my verses for that morning were John 14:26: But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled an do not be afraid.
I felt God reminding me of Truth that morning- that He has given us the Holy Spirit to teach and to reveal truth– we are still being taught amazing things about God, about heaven, about truth. And through God’s Spirit we can receive a peace that is far beyond that of this world. God does speak to us and give us amazing insights and glimpses of what is hidden behind the veil of what is seen. The vision from the night before became even more meaningful. He is so awesome!
As I sat with my coffee and read these verses, I wept for the daughter who misses her mom; I wept for the mom who misses her son; I wept for all that it means for a child to be held.