April, 2015

Crush On Jesus

Being invited by a friend, I went to see Pageant of Our Lord at Rolling Hills Covenant Church. It was a powerful inspiring show of a human size replication of Biblical famous art with human manikins, choirs, full orchestras, and narrations.

I was very moved, and appreciated all presentations, but especially one of music peace called, “ Via Dolorosa” impressed me so much that all night long even after I got home, I listened to it from Youtube over and over meditating about Jesus. The pageant, the song, and many memories of Israel I visited last year made me feel Jesus’ Love so deeply that my heart ached.

No other gods but Jesus is the only one, who chose to suffer and die for me taking away my Sin. He, His father, and Holy Spirit are my beloved God. If I have Jesus, I don’t need anything else. I love Him very much!

Down the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem that day
The soldiers tried to clear the narrow street
But the crowd pressed in to see
A Man condemned to die on Calvary
He was bleeding from a beating, there were stripes upon His back
And He wore a crown of thorns upon His head
And He bore with every step
The scorn of those who cried out for His death

(chorus)
Down the Via Dolorosa called the way of suffering
Like a lamb came the Messiah, Christ the King,
But He chose to walk that road out of His love for you and me.
Down the Via Dolorosa, all the way to Calvary.

Everything Was Good Until I Opened Email

Great Wheelchair Service

In order to minimize my trouble with hand-foot syndrome, which makes my feet so sensitive and easy to get painful, I used a wheelchair service from checking in at LAX to the arrival gate of the destination, Nagoya airport, in Japan.  This was indeed a good idea. The assistants who pushed my wheelchair were so kind that I didn’t need to carry or pick up my heavy luggage or to stand on long lines at all.

George told me later that some cancer woman was kicked off the boarding because she didn’t have a doctor’s note and he was afraid it was me.  Yet, it was not me!

A Surprise Encounter

Another surprise, which made my flight so wonderful, was an encounter with a Japanese woman at LAX.  As I sat at the boarding gate starting emailing, a senior woman who sat next to me asked if I could watch her suitcase while she would go to buy a bottle of water in English.

“Would you like something?  I can get it for you.”

Her kindness and friendliness made me feel open to her, and wondering if she was Japanese, I responded to her in Japanese.  Then Bingo!  We immediately became friends.

Sharing her adventurous life all the way to Japan including her difficult childhood, multiple  vocations such as a  dancer, actress, dealer, and more in Japan as well as in Las Vegas, loss of her husband, breast cancer, and stroke, she said, “I love cooking. I would happy to cook for you.  Why don’t you visit me in Las Vegas sometime?” Then we said, “See you again,” promising to call each other once we get back to the U.S..

It Was Freezing

When I arrived at Narita in Japan, it was only 39F˚.  Looking at cold rain, which was even snow in the morning, from the grass wall of the airport, where I transited to a domestic airline to the last destination, Nagoya, I was concerned about the sandals I was wearing. I had looked for shoes for rainy days, but regular shoes put pressure from all sides on my feet and made them red and burning.  I couldn’t find any comfortable shoes except sandals.  Thankfully rain already stopped when I landed at Nagoya, but probably I have to continue to hunt for shoes for rainy days ahead even in Japan.

 Big Mistake

Everything  was smooth and good until I opened my email at my mom’s house.

“We are waiting for you!”

There were two emails from my friend.

While I was enjoying the conversation with my new friend on the airplane, eight of my elementary friends were waiting for me at a restaurant on the cold rainy day.  I thought our reunion was the 9th, but it was actually the 8th.  We had confirmed several times about the date, but still I wrote down the wrong date in my planner.  At least knowing that they still had a good time without me made me feel better, but it was a horrible mistake and I felt awful.  Becoming worried about other (re)unions with other friends, I checked the dates again.  They were fine; no more mistakes.

Oh Lord, please help me!

 

 

19 Year Old Hero Who Finished The Race

Lauren Hill, who was fighting against brain cancer but said that she might not pass Christmas last year, passed away.

The last her picture in the facebook written by her mom on 4/6 was smiling and waiving on the bed
Even after she was under the care of Hospice in last December, and in a wheelchair, she continued to participate in basketball games as an honorable coach for her collage team, raised more than $2.5 millions through multiple campaigns for brain cancer research just for a few months until her death, and had visited the same brain cancer children as she to encourage them. She was an amazing relentless warrior.

As we face death, we realize what is important in life. Itt could be a family, God, fame, or even one’s own beauty for some people, but for Lauren, those were basketball, family and friends, and to “kick the butt of brain cancer.” She gave her best for these until the very end and that perhaps inspired so many. An article said, “Numbers can’t begin to define a life,” and praised Lauren, who “moved the nation.”

I believe that we are given purposes and tasks to accomplish for God’s Kingdom. I have to live finding my purpose and achieve the tasks like Lauren. She was my hero and a great example to follow. Now her suffering is over and she has received a new body, which never gets sick or dies, although she is missed by so many. Well done Lauren!

Do Not Be Discouraged

“People hate to lose,” said the new friend whom I met at LAX and who used to be a dealer in Las Vegas. “It’s not fun to lose, so the people drink and then pick fights.”

I see.

We envy someone who won something we are not able to, who looks happier, or better than us, and this coveting may turn into bitterness and even into the desire to screw or curse that person.

Now I understand why the Bible says not to covet. Genesis tells that Cain, the first son of Adam and Eve, killed his brother Abel as the first murder in the history, because Cain was jealous of Able, whose offering was favored by God. Not only murder, but gossip, scorn, or harassment also may be often caused by jealousy.

A friend of mine, who returned from the U. S. to Japan, once said that as she was looking for some opportunity for volunteering, the value of which she had learned in the U. S., her friend said, ” Oh, I didn’t know you were such a good girl,” and discouraged her. This “hammering a standing-out nail” is also not unusual.

However Mother Teresa said this:

“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.”
–from Mother Teresa’s Creed

Give Thanks Today Again

” I have to be on chemo for good.”
As I said so, my 87 year-old mother said sadly, ” How come God doesn’t heal you?”
Around her and me are some people who completed the cancer treatments and have enjoyed their good health for many years. I can’t blame her for asking such a question.

However, the Bible tells to be thankful for what we have instead of wanting what we don”t have.

“I can tell you now, but at the beginning a doctor told me ‘three years’. Yet I’ve been surviving for 5 years. This is a miracle.”
I replied.

The cancer diagnosis was a big shock, but during those five years old friendships revived, and many new friendships with the old, young, healthy, and sick were developed. Always there are somebodies who are praying for me, willing to deliver food, sending me encouragements through cards, emails, or face to face, and sharing good times with me. Though I am in crisis losing securities for a so-called a happy life such as health and finance, receiving incredible supports, I could come to Japan, again. If those are not God’s blessings, what were those?

When Saint Paul lost his eyesight and prayed for the healing, God didn’t grant his prayer. Instead, He said His grace was sufficient for Paul. My cancer hasn’t gone away, but I also have received His Grace abundantly.
Not only me, but nobody has a guarantee for tomorrow. If I think that today’s life, food, and a place to sleep are all gifts from God, my gratefulness overflows, and I feel keen affection towards God. No matter what is waiting in the future, He will be beside me and love me tenderly.
My Mom is doing fine and so am I. This is wonderful! I would like to thank God again today with a smile towards Him.

It Was All Done Well

Though almost every day it was raining, finally I saw the blue sky. I didn’t have good luck with the weather, but God truly blessed my Japan trip.

My feet, which were red and painful, were healed gradually as a two week extended break from chemo started on my arrival day in Japan. One of my best friends brought me her shoes as she learned that I had been looking for comfy shoes for the rainy days, and that also helped me greatly.

The elementary friends, whom I screwed-up mistaking the date to meet on the first day in Japan, rescheduled the date for me. I was so thankful.

I saw/met multiple cancer friends including two of my old friends, who were once in the terminal stage of cancer, but miraculously able to suppress cancer. We enjoyed the time being together exchanging cheers, and it was greatly encouraging.

Finally, my second son and his wife arrived on the 18th, and I spent the best finale with my extended family: First at a music concert, in which my cousin, who was my piano teacher, her daughter, and two of my nieces performed singing and playing piano with other students. In the past I saw their performances through Skype, but because I wanted to see the live, I set the trip around the day of concert. I was very impressed with the quality of the concert renewing my respect and appreciation for them.

W: nieces

with my nieces

Afterward, we went to a hotel to celebrate my Mom’s early 88th birthday, which is a very special number in Japan.
After singing “Happy Birthday” with a birthday cake, as I gave her cards, one was from my mother-in-law in the U.S. and the other from the family in Japan collecting the words of thanks for her, she had tears in her eyes. It is so unusual because she is always negative and pleasing her is very difficult.
” I want to take the cards with me. Please put them in my coffin,” said she.

2 B.D
After all, she had a great time, and so did I. Achieving all the goals, and receiving lots of cheer, I am on the way home on an airplane.
Good-bye beloved Japan, and I hope to be able to visit there again next year!

Forgiveness

As Peter, a disciple of Jesus, asked how many times he had to forgive someone who sinned against him, Jesus answered 70 times seven! He explained the reason using a parable as follow.

A Parable of Debtor ( Mathew 18:21-35)

A servant, who was told to sell not only himself but also his wife and children because he could not return his millions of dollar debts, kneeled down and begged the king, whom he owed money, “ Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.” Then, the king felt pity for him and let him go forgiving all his debt. Yet, on the way home, as the servant saw a man who owed the servant a few thousand dollars, he immediately demanded the money to pay back, and as the servant knew the man was not ready to pay back, he had the man arrested to send to a prison though the man begged him to wait for a little more time.
Once the king learned what the servant did, he called back the servant and told him with anger, “ I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?” Then the servant was arrested and tortured until he had paid his entire debt.

The Bible tells that if we refuse to forgive our brothers and sisters from our heart, our heavenly Father will do the same to us.

In other words, the Bible is telling that we have to forgive each other because God forgave our Sin of disowning God, the penalty of which was death, by Jesus’ Cross.

It’s Difficult But With God It’s Possible

We are so quick to notice someone’s faults and easy to get angry or hateful, forgetting our own sins.
I have struggled with the hate, which was evoked by someone who has hurt my loved ones for many years. The feeling was so strong that I have had nightmares many times, which woke me up in the middle of nights. Each time I see that person and the evil spirit, my anger grows quickly and even after I become alone, it is so difficult to control myself not to scream. Although I try to focus on the good part of the person, the pitch-dark ugliness becomes so huge that I am simply not able to.

In the shower, I prayed,

“ Oh God, I am sorry but I can’t forgive X. Please cleanse my anger and hate, and soften my heart. “

As I prayed, I recalled the above Bible story, and thought; I’ve also hurt and made many cried. I also owe apologies for some people, but Jesus died for me and X, as well.

Then my fire of hate was extinguishing.

“ God, please wash away X’s anger, greed, and evil spirit. Please give X a new heart.”

Instead of opening my mouth and sinning again by attacking X, I could pray for the person.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”- John 15:5

It is so true.

Good-Bye Neighborhood Church

NC

Yesterday was the last Sunday for me at Neighborhood Church. George’s last day as a pastor at Neighborhood Church was extended to the end of this month, yet we are still not quite sure where he will land. In the midst of such a transition, the congregation made a special time to show their appreciation for us yesterday.

It was about twenty years ago I first attended Neighborhood Church, which stands right on the ocean looking at Santa Monica and Malibu on the other shore. That time, I was not Christian yet, but following George I attended Sunday services.  Since the English sermon was way over my head, and being bored, I would watch the ocean through the sanctuary window.

Concerned about me, George encouraged me to look for a Japanese church, and in 1998, a little after we moved to a Japanese small church, being influenced by George, being helped by a Bible study, and through the unexpected experience of the international organ transplant patients support, which happened out of blue, I was touched by the love of Jesus and accepted Him as my Lord.

baptism

Dec. 1998 my baptism

 

God also had touched the heart of George, who was an English teacher and a part-time minister, and he wanted and did become a full time minister as he was before I met him. It was about 10 years ago, and seven years ago, he was called to be an associate minister at Neighborhood Church.

To be honest, I was at first reluctant because I didn’t believe that I was suitable as a minister’s wife, and remembered the boring experience at the church. Yet, because George said without my support it would be impossible to be a minister and I saw his passion to become a minister, I said, “ Yes.”

For the first two years at Neighborhood Church, my involvement was minimal because I was working for a school district, but once I got cancer, all of sudden the church became a very important place as my 2nd family: Learning of my cancer, the congregation immediately reached out to me sending cards and emails, and praying for George and me. Every person I saw sincerely has cared and has been concerned about my health. As I quit the job and the more I gave my time to the church, the stronger my bonds with the people became – up till today. I believe I am still here because so many of them have prayed for me.

As I thanked the congregation, I became emotional and felt a knot in my throat. I saw some eyes of the people were blurred as well.
“ Hope to see you again,” saying so, still it was a hard and bitter moment and it became harder as I thought they were truly missing us.

Some people want to follow George to continue to study the Bible together with him. And he wants to continually care for such people, who look at him as a spiritual leader including old people who don’t have many choices any more, as well as supporting local ministries such as volunteering at a homeless shelter.

No Objection!

A shepherd may not abandon his sheep.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”- Matthew 6:33

With God, who has been always with us, we will now depart.

Reducing Dose of Xeloda

It has been a month to see the oncologist today.

“ How was the trip?”

In the clinic, which started with the question, I told her that I had used a wheelchair at the airport due to the hand-foot syndrome, tears and running nose were constant, and tingling and numbness were irritating most of the time. Then she told me to reduce the dose of Xeloda.

Xeloda is an oral chemo, which I was taking 3 tablets X 2 every day, but now I will take two in the morning and three or even two in the evening depending on how helpful it will be.

Reducing the dose of chemo is always welcome, though I am also anxious about the effect of chemo. As the doctor ordered a CT scan to see it, I expect the phone call is coming for the appointment in a few days.

Then I lied down on the exam table. “Have you noticed any tumor or bumps?” asked the doctor touching my body. “ No,” I said, but honestly I haven’t checked for a while by myself. Becoming conscious, I examined myself after the doctor left the room.

I felt many bumps under the left arm and chest, where I had surgeries to remove cancer. If they are cancerous tumors, I have many. Yet I might be touching bones. Since the doctor, who touched there, didn’t say anything about them, and I will have a CT soon anyway, I should not worry. If cancer is progressing, I will go to Dr. Slamon at UCLA and get his opinion to change the regimen, as usual.

The fact is that because I have used so many good chemo drugs for the past five years, I may not have many choices left. If possible, I would like to stay with the current regimen as long as possible in spite of the nasty side effects. Yet concerning about it is like opening Pandora’s box. It’s a hazard! I should not go that way, instead I should hope that the side effects will be improved by reducing the dose of Xeloda.