Love/Family/Friends

Sisters in Christ

Yesterday my dear British friend Susan came over to encourage me, and tonight Bill and Maggie invited George and I for dinner.  Maggie, who is a private school teacher has been praying with her students for me every day, welcomed us cooking Asian food to make me feel at home.  Dina and Cathy who had a Bible study at school together now have been praying and  sending scriptures through e-mail for me.  I am blessed so much!

First Sunday After The Diagnosis

Ma (Mother-in-law) came to sit with me for a Sunday worship service all the way from Temecula driving two hours.

Roy and Soh also showed up at church and surprised me.

Thank you to my family for supporting me!

Ma left without having lunch since she had to visit one more person by the evening telling me, “I LOVE YOU!”

Truly I have received much more love since I was diagnosed with cancer. With George, I now do everything together: playing chess, reading a book, taking a dance class, walking our dog, going to shop, visiting doctors, and more.

I realize again that I am loved and blessed. I am grateful!

Gifts I Cannot Repay

The women’s fellowship at the church gave me a house cleaning service.

They sent me a cleaning lady for a half-year last year, but when they found out that I would be continually on chemo, they generously sent me the same gift this year again.

Although I am on chemo, I don’t have little children, and don’t work any more.  I can still clean the house, but it is always so nice to receive the service.

Last week a team of mother and daughter came over to my house and made my house immaculate.

I have received such kindness from the church since the day George announced my cancer in 2010: Rejoicing or worrying together with me, the congregation has continually supported me.

I have received two big bags of get-well cards, companionships of walking, lunch, or tea, and even deliveries of meals!

My mother in Japan worried how I could thank people for all those kindnesses, but  the Bible calls these undeserved , un-repayable gifts God’s grace, and I have been receiving this grace since the very beginning of my battle against cancer.

Honestly, it is not always easy to publicize how I am doing; it is also difficult to receive the offers of help.  I have to humble myself to receive, which is difficult as well as to give.

As my mother concerns, if I start thinking that I am obligated to return those favors, I would not able to take them because it is just impossible.

In the Bible as Jesus was going to wash the disciples’ dirty feet, for Peter this act looked too good for him and he was afraid of taking it.  Yet Jesus answered, “ But if I don’t wash you, you won’t belong to me.”

If I were too proud  or too afraid of and had declined the gifts of the kindnesses, I would neither have developed the sense of belonging to the family of the church nor had the intimacy with God.

Several years ago, in Japan there was a family, who raised a million dollars worth of funds in just one night through a T.V. show, in order to come to the U.S. for  a heart transplant.  They came to L.A. with the T.V. crew, who made a deal with the family to make an exclusive documentary about their organ transplant.  After the long intense night of the organ transplant surgery, the crew asked the parents for a long interview.  The parents, who stayed up all night and were exhausted, asked if the mother could be excused from the interview, instead of two parents together.  They were told, “ Who you are asking such thing?  You’d better not to forget what you have received from us,” and they could not decline this demand.

I have thought if kindness had a hook, you might be caught for ever.

Yet, the Bible says we have to freely help each other because God first helped us by sacrificing His only son.

Jesus washed his disciples’ dirty feet because he wanted to set a good example for us.

Being thankful as a blessed receiver, I ask God to help me grow so that I can wash someone’s dirty feet just like Jesus’ disciples and give generously like the sisters and brothers in the Neighborhood Church who have reached out to me.

 

 

Looking Forward to Family Trip

The runny nose that I thought finally stopped in summer returned dripping constantly.  As I blow my nose repeatedly, soon I see blood on a tissue.

Since I added Taxol into my regimen, I lost not only hair but also eye brows and eye lashes.  Under my eyes dark patches were developed and now my nose is red and burning.  Pointing to my face like an alien in a mirror, I sang “ Rudolph The Red- Nosed Reindeer.

Last Friday evening and all day Saturday, I was just sleeping,  feeling so lethargic.  My legs are always heavy, weak, and stiff.  Everything is the side effect of Taxol.

I made a plan for a family trip to Idyllwild in the San Jacinto Mountains, which is about a 2.5 hour drive from our house, from this Thursday to celebrate my 3rd birthday since I got cancer, but facing numerous side effects, I was not sure if I could make it.

Idyllwild from California Weekend Gataways

Yesterday at a Ukulele concert at the church, at the beginning I felt so sluggish again – even smiling seemed to be hard work.  Yet, surprisingly while I was singing songs along with the Ukulele group, I slowly gained strength, and by the end of the concert, I was singing at the top of my lungs and  felt so good!

Though I have an infusion on Wednesday, the day before our trip, fortunately this week will be off Taxol and only Herceptin.  My side effects should be minimum.   I don’t know about hiking (there are numerous trails) but at least I will be able to  enjoy cooking at the big nice kitchen at the vacation rental.

I am concerned about the result of the next CT scan, which is scheduled on 10/25, as well, but I decided not to think about it until I get back from the vacation on Monday.   In the beautiful nature, I will enjoy God’s creation with my beloved family!  I am excited!

 

 

 

Family Trip Accompanying A Cold

Trees were changing colors into yellow and red.  The mountain in front of me was magnificent.

We delayed to arrive in Idyllwild so much more than we had planned, but the log cabin, our stay, was waiting for us  with twinkling orange outer lights and a seasonal wreath at the entrance in the pitch darkness of the forest night as if a picture in a fairy tale.

This is a Finnish log cabin, which has  a cathedral ceiling at least 15 feet high.   Our family time spent in this big beautiful cabin  was so joyful that it didn’t betray my expectation at all.

 

Yet,  a bad cold which started a few days before the trip was with me all the time during the trip, also:

First day I gradually lost my voice followed by a sleepless night with heavily stuffed nose.

Next day  I ran a fever and had to stay at the cabin while others went  hiking.  

The third day my voice came back, so we went to Lake Hemet for fishing.  After we spent more than two hours to get licenses, parking permits, and all equipment, by the time we got the lake, the thick cloud started covering the sky and all of sudden, the temperature dropped.

We were freezing and gave up fishing within an hour without any catch

That night I was attacked by a relentless heavy cough.

Even after I got home, the symptoms have continued and today I had to cancel a chemo infusion including Tykerb, an oral drug, for a week due to a fever.   I did have a flu shot about two  weeks ago though, how come I got sick? I wondered.

Canceling Tuesday night Bible Study and Thursday volunteering at a homeless shelter, I realized that I was a chemo patient whose immune system was weak.  I should not load too much, but I am so thankful that I could make another memorable birthday trip with my beloved family in spite of the cold.

My Valentine

This year’s Valentine’s Day was Thursday when an ESL class was held.

As I asked students who came to the class if they had any special plan that night, Mr. H, a young Korean doctor, answered,

“ I wanted to go somewhere to a nice restaurant with my wife tonight, but she said she wanted me to cook at home because she was too busy to go out working on her doctoral dissertation. But in Korea, Valentine’s Day is a day that men receive gifts from women, so I am a little confused.”

Sounds like Korea has the same custom as Japan where single girls make their confession of their love to men by sending chocolate on Valentine’s day, while here in the U.S., it is a day for couples to express their love regardless of their gender, age, or marriage status.

The origin of St. Valentine’s Day

According to Dan Vraa, George’s friend, St. Valentine was a priest in Rome about in 270 A.D. In those days Romans were worshiping multiple gods including the Roman Emperor and Christians who refused to worship their gods were persecuted. The priest Valentine was not an exception and he was also thrown into a prison.

He had a beautiful flower garden and his neighborhood children sent him  flowers to comfort him through a jailer’s blind girl. While the girl who accepted this role and the priest were developing a friendship, the priest had prayed that God would give her her eyesight.  When the miracle happened and she was healed, she and her family including relatives,44 people accepted Christ as their savior and converted into Christians.  Yet, that made the emperor so mad that he ordered to execute the priest.  Before the priest was beheaded, in his last letter to the girl, he signed as “ from your Valentine”.

The priest Valentine who loved the Heavenly Father, who sent Jesus to suffer for us, and die for us, more than anything and love others more than his own life, was a great follower of Jesus, who taught us,

“ “Greater love has no one then this: that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Giving honor to the priest Valentine, since then Christians signed “ from your Valentine” at the end of their letters in order to show their genuine affection.

 Cancer Cannot Steal Love

After we learned how Jesus taught us to love one another in the class,  Mr. H, whose face changed from uncertain to radiant, said,

“ I am going to cook a great dinner to show my wife how much I love her!”

And I, who was also encouraged to give George the best Valentine’s day, cooked ravioli, his favorite dish, and baked raspberry heart shaped cookies.

Valentine's Day 2013 valentine's day cookies

With nice music, candle lights, flowers sent to me from George, and nice wine, we made a good time to celebrate our Valentine’s day.

Although we are in the midst of the cancer storm, cancer cannot steal love, and I have “ my Valentine” who is willing to walk with me and who is loving me so deeply.

I am blessed.

Even if A Body Decays

Yesterday after George and I had a Mother’s Day lunch with my mother-in –law, we visited my father-in-law  at an assistive care center.

Pa (father-in-law) has many friends there, and one of them is Eva, a  98-year-old lady. Yesterday she was in a red skirt and a red cardigan wearing a big bow in her neatly braded hair, a beautiful necklace, bracelets, rings, and red manicure: Very cute as usual.

As I said, “How are you?” bending myself close to her, who was in a wheelchair, falling her head down without any expression, she said something like growling, which I couldn’t understand at all. Her daughter who was behind of the wheelchair, interpreted, “She said you look good.” Then as my father-in-law held Eva’s hand, she growled again. This time daughter said,“ She is saying ‘George (my father-in-law) is my Prince Charming’,” and we all laughed.

She can’t walk, dress, or even eat by herself any more.  Her life being just in the wheelchair all day long seems not fun at all, but she still knows how to please people saying something nice. I thought again that being happy or not is not based on our circumstances but it’s our choice.

People would come and surround a person like Eva, who is always pleasant, positive, and kind, even if she or he becomes blind, deaf, or loses speech or memory.  Cancer or aging, regardless of the cause, when death gets close to us, our bodies deteriorate.   Yet, eva encouraged that  I can keep smiling, be thankful, and keep praying for someone else until the end even if in a wheelchair or death bed.

Last Saturday our kids and two international students came over to BBQ to celebrate Mother’s Day for me.  Feeling great joy, I wanted to never forget the most important thing I have learned in the U.S.: Expressing thanks in words and actions all the time to people and God, just like Eva.

母の日2013

My Home Sweet Home

Every year on the 4th of July I enjoy the patriotic songs and fireworks.  In a big park covered  by a big crowd, as I watch the red, blue, white fireworks imaging the national flag in the night sky, I appreciate this country that has been kind and reliable since I moved here.

Honoring the Independence Day, we sang “God Bless America” at the church worship service last Sunday.

“God bless America, Land that I love.

Stand beside her, and guide her, thru the night with a light from above.

From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam,

God bless America, my home sweet home.

Singing the song, I thought; indeed I love this country.  I felt the strong affection to this country more than ever.   Probably it is not because I have lived here for long, but because I have many dear people I can call family members or friends here in the U.S..

“ How are you doing?” “I think about you and pray for you,” they have said to me each time they have seen me since I got cancer.  When I received bad news, they put their hands on my shoulder and prayed for me.  When I was in bed because of chemo, they brought food or sent a cleaning lady.  When I received good news, they gave me big hugs saying, “ I am so happy for you!”

As I step into the church that is surrounded by countless trees and flowers and the grand ocean, over which schools of birds glide peacefully, people welcome me with big smiles.  My heart is filled with joy, peace, and comfort immediately.  I came back to a God’s House—I feel so.

I am blessed to have families and friends in both Japan and the U.S..  Yet, I am greatly thankful that I could even find God behind those beloved people.  Since then, either for good times or bad times, I can leap into His big arms.  For me the sweet home is where I can find such a church.

The land of Japan where I grew up, the land of the U.S. where I have been accepted, protected, and loved are precious to me, but most of all I love my Lord who has orchestrated everything because He loves me so tenderly.

Retreat In Green Valley Lake

In the morning after the three-day weekend, George and I packed our car with lots of stuff, and headed to Green Valley Lake, which is located between Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear about two hours drive in-land from our home. The purpose of this trip is for a retreat; restoring our souls.

The FW 405 was smooth with no traffic after the crazy three day weekend.
As we parted from Torrance, a beach city where the temperature is always mild and I seldom get sweaty, the thermometer of the car went up gradually; 82℉, 90℉, and then 95℉ though it was still in the morning.
Pretty soon, brown mountains with white huge thunderhead clouds behind them were approaching in front of us. As the road got narrower and uphill, now the temperature was dropping, and finally we got to the destination a cabin 7000 feet up where the sky was clear and the air was cool with 76℉.
George and I will stay here for 3 nights.  In the serenity of deep green, unloading the burdens, detaching from all concerns, absorbing God’s Word from the Bible, and deepening the relationship with George and God, I want to recharge myself for tomorrow.
May our time with God be fruitful and intimate!
Green Valley Lake which is 5 minutes drive from the cabin we are staying

Green Valley Lake which is 5 minutes drive from the cabin we are staying

The view from the top of the mountain where the cabin is.

The view from the top of the mountain where the cabin is.

George 5th Vocal Cords Procedure

It has been almost 3 years since George’s vocal cords were paralyzed. On Friday we made a three hour round trip to Fontana Kaiser for his 5th procedure.  Last year He tried three  same procedures, in which a substance was injected into the affected vocal cord, but the results were not so satisfactory.  In August this year, George tried the procedure once again, but  with  a different doctor, who injected the substance into a little different location of his vocal cord.  It was so successful that his voice was stronger.

Since the substance is absorbed by the surrounding tissue eventually, he has to repeat this procedure periodically and now it was the time to redo the procedure.  This time the dose was increased so that the substance would last about 6 months.  Probably because of that reason, it took more than two hours for him to come back to the waiting room after he walked into the clinic.   He was not supposed to talk for 24 hours, so he whispered briefly, ” It was harder than before.”  Yet it seems like everything was done well.

Once we got home, he enjoyed pizza for lunch, and went to bed because of a narcotic he took during the procedure.  Meanwhile I e-mailed friends and family, who were praying for him, to inform his status.

As a pastor, Sunday is a work day. Yet because the senior paster kindly told him to rest this weekend, he decided to relax at home.  It will take about two weeks for him to restore the good strong voice according to the doctor.  Hopefully we can see the complete success!

I’m Going To Israel!

Completely out of blue, George and I will go to Israel from 2/18 for 10 days.

According to the Bible, Israel,“the land flowing with milk and honey”, was given to Abraham by God about 2000B.C.  God promised him that he would become a father of many nations and his offspring would increase abundantly like the stars in the sky, and 2000 years later, Jesus was born in that land.

Going to Israel has been George and my long term dream, but because Israel has been always in battles, since the very beginning of its history till this day in spite of that amazing glory, and the country is far away for me who has cancer, the idea has never come to reality.

Yet last week, when we had lunch with George’s brother, who is also a pastor in Murrieta, and his wife, they shared about the Israel tour that they host for his church every year, and as they learned that the trip to Israel was our 20th anniversary wish, they immediately invited us to go together.

George and I looked at each other feeling implausible that the couple-in- law was giving the chance to make our dream real.

“ We never get tired to go there. It is always inspiring and life changing,” they said.

According to them, the dangerous battlefield is in a limited area and if we avoid there, the rest of the country is safe.

“ We do wedding vow renewal ceremonies in Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle by changing water to wine for a wedding. If this is for your anniversary, you should do that.” The brother-in law was adding.

“Is this true? Is it ok to accept it?  Are we really going to Israel?”

Though feeling still difficult to believe it, I was getting excited.

We have saved money diligently, and George said he could take a vacation.  Then the last problem was my health.

I asked my oncologist if I could go to Israel.  She e-mailed me back saying,

“ It is a great opportunity!  Your 2nd cycle (of  the infusion) will be during the trip, but you can postpone it until after the trip.”

She gave me the permission, but I was still nervous with the side-effects.  I don’t want to go to a doctor in Israel or stay at a hotel alone.  Yet, the more I talked about the trip, the stronger my desire became.  This may be the only chance in my life and if I don’t go, I may never be able to go.

So, I decided to go!

This must be a gift from God.  All of sudden, as an utter surprise the gift was delivered in front of George and me.  What a perfect timing it is!

GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!

Love Never Fails

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  George gave me beautiful flowers and chocolates, and I baked heart-shaped cookies for him.

Flowers

This Valentine’s Day was the 20th one after we married.  An international, 2nd marriage with two little boys was a rough ride and there were numerous crisis. In spite of that, we could make it to this day because of George’s extraordinary efforts and God’s grace and mercy.

Sometimes I wonder what if I hadn’t married George and brought up my boys in Japan. Especially as I think of the second son, who has ADHD but became a web designer, it is clear to me that having George as the father and living in the U.S.- where many doors have opened for his career – contributed a lot to his success.

For me, I can’t describe how greatly he has been supportive during this four-year battle against cancer.  He now has his own health issue, Parkinson’s, and I wonder if it was because my cancer battle has stressed him out so much.  Nevertheless he is still doing his best to protect me and leading me, as well as our children, to God’s path.

God is really gracious knowing I am a problem child for Him, so giving me the best husband.

In the Old Testament, there is a story of Ruth, who was a Gentile but became an ancestor of Jesus.  In the story, her mother-in-law, Naomi, who became a widow and lost her sons in a foreign land, decided to go back to her homeland, Israel, and said to Ruth to go home, dissolving the mother-daughter-in-law relationship.

Ruth cried and showed her determination to share the fate together with Naomi saying,

“ “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

“Wherever you go, I will go….”

I wrote down the verse on the Valentine’s Day card to George.

George and I will renew our marriage vows in Cana in Israel.  Through the cancer battle, God has strengthened our relationship.  Love never fails even with cancer or Parkinson’s!

Israel Trip: 1) May I Get to Israel

israel_pol01

Safety and Security

Sunday a South Korean tour bus was blown up by terrorists near the border of Israel and Egypt.  Israel is surrounded by Islamic countries; they are hostile to Israel, as well as Christians.

In a northern neighbor, Syria, the civil war conflict is getting intense.

I am afraid that the security at airports in Israel may be very tight and lines for the immigration or customs may be very long.

Someone told me if I were in a wheelchair due to  a cancer patient, I can cut in line.  This may not be a bad idea.  I will bring my medical report with me.

 

Health

It is nothing compared with the east coast hit by the snowstorm, but Israel is colder than L.A. where we have 75 F in recent weeks; especially at night a weather report says it’s under 50 F according to a forecast.

I couldn’t get rid of cough and from  yesterday the skin itch came back.  I hope it won’t get worse.

It takes 13 hours by direct flight From L.A. to Tel Aviv.  Israel is 10 hours ahead of L.A.  I will leave home at 9:30 am, depart from L.A. at 1:30pm, and arrive at Tel Aviv at about 2pm on the 19th.

Passport

Last time when I went to Japan, I had a difficult time to confirm my ticket and to go through the security.  How about this time?  All of the people in the tour have American passports except me.  Mine is a Japanese with my maiden name on it.  I hope I can ride on the plane with everyone.  I don’t want to be left behind!

May I  get on the plane and get into Israel without troubles!

 

 

 

Israel Trip : 2) Three Thousand Year Old Port City

I did arrive in Israel without any problem!

The airport of Tel Aviv was big , clean, and no long lines at all.  There was even nobody at the customs and no sign of the threatening tension.  Actually the security of LAX was much tighter.

The weather was surprisingly  sunny and warm like summer! This must be the Mediterranean climate.

Jaffa (Joppa)

 Mediterranean Sea and Tel Aviv

The port Jaffa  overlooking  the city  of  Tel Aviv

Jaffa ( Joppa)

 

We drove about a half hour from Tel Aviv along the shore of Mediterranean Sea. The view changed from a crammed modern town to an old town with brown bricks and arch shaped widows. It was Jappa (Joppa), the oldest port town in Israel, where Jonah in the Old Testament ran away from God when he was told to go to Ninevah, and where King Solomon imported the cedar for the temple. This town has been there at least for three thousand years.
Acts 9  in New Testament tells a story that  Peter  resurrected Tabitha in Joppa and stayed a long time in this town living with Simon a tanner whose house was near the shore.  Peter saw a vision that  told him to proclaim the gospel not only for Jews but also for the Gentiles, and from here the gospel spread to the world.

Surely, there was the Simon’s house  right in front of the shore.
Teh House of Simon the Tanner
Our tour guide, who is a Messianic Jew , said dead animals were considered unclean for Jews, and even now bringing home the smell of animals could be a reason of divorce, so Peter staying at a tanner’s, was beyond comprehension and very radical 2000 years ago.

God’s grace is much bigger than our imagination, and if Peter hadn’t obeyed God, the gospel had not been spread to the world, and I would’ve not have been saved.

I also saw several wedding couples taking pictures in front of a house, on the narrow stares, or a cobbled street. They were so compatible and beautiful with the character of this old town, and  I learned that Jaffa was popular for photo shooting.

A Wedding Couple in Jaffa (Joppa)
As we left Jaffa, the temperature dropped quickly and I had to wear a winter jacket.  I got exhausted.  It was a long sleepless day, but I am deeply thankful that I am in Israel, the Holy Land, finally.

Israel Trip : 3). I Can’t Help Crying

Everywhere I go I become emotional and I can’t help crying.

When George and I renewed the wedding vow performed by Ron, the brother in law just like 20 years ago,

Renewal of vow
When I was rebaptized in the Jordan River, the same river in which Jesus was baptized,

Baptism

When we went to an area of Capernaum, the lake side where Peter was restored by Jesus who asked him three times ” Do you love me?”, the mountain of the beatitude; the places Jesus performed miracles and taught about Heavenly Father, His kingdom, and the salvation,

IMG_1091

Capernaum, where Jesus lived, taught frequently and performed many miracles, was a prosperous fishing port city.

and when I heard familiar worship songs in Hebrew on a boat on the Sea of Galilee,

Sea of Galelli

I was moved so much that tears ran on my cheek. I finally came to Jesus’ homeland, who is my savior. As though the still water of the Sea of Galilee were welcoming me, I felt Jesus so close and overwhelmed. ( If I meet Him face to face in His kingdom, how much more will I cry?!). He made this trip possible and invited me here! How great is our God!

It Is So Good That I Forget Cancer

I have been enjoying every day in Japan with my family and friends.  Meanwhile there were several phone calls from Kaiser at home in L.A. I will have an infusion right away when I get back home, and several more appointments are waiting to follow up the new findings in the last CT. Yet, being in Japan, I completely forget about cancer, and everything including food, chatting, and even Karaoke is like fully bloomed cherry blossoms: wonderful and amusing!

Last year I could reconnect  with elementary school friends after almost 50 years, and this year I could reconnect with my college friends, who were some of the last pieces missing from the list of my past friends. I practiced figure-skating together with them; sometimes slept and ate together bearing hard trainings.  Our time of the reunion flew so fast that it seemed never enough and was hard to leave.

After then I traveled from Tokyo to Yokohama to see a couple whom George married last year and it was about midnight when I got back to my mother’s home.

I don’t have any career or wealth to be proud of, and the battle against cancer may be endless, but I have many friends who welcome me all over in Japan, and families who love me in both Japan and the U.S..  This must be the taste of the happiness and God’s Kngdom.  I am thankful to God, who sent so many precious people into my life.  He is good all the time!

 

A Grain Of Wheat

In Japan, I saw Mr. I who had a liver transplant 10 years ago at Cedars Sinai.   He had even a kidney transplant two years ago after his kidneys had failed because of a side effect of  immunosuppressives.  This time his wife became his donor.   It has been several years since I saw him last time, but  both Mr.I and his wife looked so great, even younger than  before.

He said that he felt so good  that there were lots of things he wanted to do, and has been busier than ever.

“What would you like to do?”   I asked.

” Care service  for the elderly,” he answered.

When he was young, he had a car accident followed by transfusion, which gave him hepatitis,  and  then the hepatitis turned to cancer.  Though his first doctor was one of the prominent doctors, he gave up on Mr. I.   Yet Mr. I found a different doctor traveling a long distance from his hometown, and from there he soared again like a  Phoenix.  During that tough some thirty years while he was sick, he received so many kindnesses from so many people, including the donor family in the U. S., the care service is his way to return such favors, he said.

He has already  built three homes with  14 occupants for each home, and those are for low income seniors.

” Wonderful!”  I was so impressed with what he has done.  Smiling humbly, he said, ” iThe homes are called the Elderly School.  It has a school song ( which Mr.I wrote) and even uniforms!”  In the video he showed me, the elders who were wearing white jackets were singing, solving math problems, baking cookies, practicing calligraphy, P.E. and so on, following the bell just like a school.  He said the facilities offer terminal care also, inviting the families to their beloved ones bedsides, instead of transferring the residents to hospitals.  In this way, he wants to teach the young generation how to take care of each other.  The project is just beginning, and he has many more ideas and plans.

The Gospel of John said, ” unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces forth much fruit.”

A grain called the liver transplant donor, which died and fell on Mr. I, has born many fruits through him, and I, who was with him to help his practical daily needs during his stay in L.A., could be a witness of God’s work.  God can produce something beautiful even with tears and death.  God is good all the time!

It Has Been Four Years

Yesterday, on the Mother’s Day, I said to Sunday School students, “Mom is a precious gift from God.  The Bible says obeying and honoring parents pleases The Lord.  Let’s make a special day for her by telling how much you love her!”

In the afternoon, our grown up children came over with sushi and lobsters for me.

Spending the joyful time with them, I recalled the Mother’s Day four years ago.  It was two days after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, when my heart sank like a heavy lead and  the soul was blown like a withered leaf by the shock and fear.  I taught at the Sunday School, attended a worship service, and in the afternoon, the sons and the daughter came over just like yesterday.  I was so vulnerable  that the words of the Bible, and kindness of friends and the family made me cry easily.

Since then cancer has come back twice, I have lost hair twice, had surgeries three times, and been on chemo continually.  However, my family has always surrounded me giving firm support and encouragement.  Living a day at a time instead of looking far into the future, by holding onto the Bible, somehow four years has passed by.  I thanked God for this great family and think this four years is also a miracle, grace.

母の日カード

I Will Take Care Of You

I visited a patient who was at the hospital for cancer treatment.

As a nurse came into the room to help her go to the bathroom, her husband who was sitting next to the bed, immediately moved her walker right front of her and escorted her to the bathroom.  Watching how precisely and promptly he took the actions, I learned she was taken care of well by him.

Cancer takes us all of sudden to the front line of the battle and we have to learn quickly how to fight in the chaos.

The husband is taking good care of his wife spending many hours next to her, clicking his laptop constantly to learn and seek the cure, and going to work to bring home the check.  Under the gentle smile, I wonder how much burden he has carried.

The humble man with gray hair and deep wrinkles, looked so big and dependable.

And so is George, my husband.

“ I am determined to take care of you.”

Since the bad report came back, how many times he has said so?

Last Sunday was Father’s Day.  My grownup sons and daughter-in law did really good job to fix BBQ and show appreciation to their father.  I am thankful watching them growing mature year-by-year, but I continually pray:  May my sons become good Godly men who know God and can take good care of their wives and kids, receiving wisdom and strength from the Lord, like their father, George.

Old Hymn Touched A Lonely Widow

I was invited for lunch by a 87 year-old widow.  She is a wealthy lady who used to have horses and even an airplane, but after her beloved husband passed away, she lives in a big house all alone.  Just like my 86 year old-mother, if you are lonely, you want someone to talk with.  Enjoying  a plate of salmon she cooked for me, I paid full attention to her talk, which changed topics spontaneously.

Then, she started talking about a piano.  The beautiful antique baby grand piano in the living room used to belong to her husband’s family.  Though her mom also played piano, she doesn’t, and after her three sons moved out, she has been only dusting the piano which had no one to play.

She asked, ” Do you play piano?  If so, I’d like you to play something.”

It was such a beautiful piano.  With gratitude, I accepted the request, and sat at the piano.

Opening the hymn book she gave me, I started playing.  Then I heard a whimpering sound.  She, who was listening standing at the piano, was crying.

“I’m sorry, but that was my mom’s favorite song,” saying so, she cried like a little girl.  A simple hymn touched the old vulnerable widow’s heart.

George always encourages me to play piano, which is a gift from God, for someone else, but it was a moment that I was sincerely thankful for the gift, and for the opportunity to serve Him.