Serving

In the Short Days of Autumn

After the long summer break, schools became busy again and September passed so fast.  Although the side effects haven’t changed, making various new commitments, I am getting active, also .

Listening to George’s sermon; “ Start a day with the Lord”, I now get up at 6 o’ clock in the morning and begin the  day with a prayer and reading the Bible. God’s words slowly but surely permeate me just like coffee beans become  fragrant coffee through a filter.

If I get near-sighted with cancer, which may never go away and can come back any time, as well as the treatments, which may never end and bring numerous side effects, I would be easily overwhelmed.  Yet in front of such an enemy, the Bible always gives me courage, hope, peace and even joy each time I open it.

 Reunion

A Japanese girl who had a heart transplant at UCLA Medical Center 12 years ago at age 9, arrived in L.A. again recently, this time to study English.  Yet as she ran a fever, she visited Dr. Kobshigawa, a worldly known cardiovascular specialist, who treated many heart transplant patients from Japan.  In order to help their communication, I reunited with her after 12 years and with Dr. Kobashigawa after 3 years.

Dr. Kobashigawa hasn’t changed at all.  Taking a few seconds to recognize me, who was wearing a wig, he reached out to shake my hand with a big smile.  Listening to the girl’s heart, he said it was strong and there was no need to worry.  He looked very happy to see the girl who has grown up into a healthy adult because of the heart transplant.

Reuniting with them, I  re-appreciated the extraordinary experience of volunteering for the international organ transplant patients, and was happy, too.

“ Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many,”  (Mark 10:43-45) says the Bible.

The ministry of the organ transplant was not a job with compensation, but it is now clear that God called me to serve the international patients and I am so glad that I could respond to Him by volunteering.   By answering my prayers, He is also giving me multiple opportunities to serve in His kingdom again now.

The days of autumn are short and fly fast, but my days are getting productive again, feeling the intimacy with God just like with my beloved family.

 

Glimpse of God’s Kingdom

The week of the election was busy, depressing, and physically unsteady. As I slept  late and didn’t spend a quiet time to read the Bible, the life became hectic and anxieties increased immediately like bubbles.

Yet the Lord is still faithful to offer a glimpse of His Kingdom.

In the Bible there is a parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14-30): A rich man, who was going to travel, asked his three servants to take care of his money (talents).  Two servants invested the money and multiplied them but the third servant buried them being afraid of losing them.  The master was happy with the two servants, but scolded the third one.

God wants us to use our talents for His kingdom no matter how small that is.   Listening to Him, at the beginning of this year, I made a goal to play music at a nursing home.  My major was not music, but since I became an instructor of YAMAHA Music School in Japan, I have taught piano from time to time.

Today I visited the nursing home with two little girls, 5 and 7 years old, to rehearse for the performance on 12/1.  It was about 5:30pm and about 20 people in wheelchairs were dining at the hall where there was an old piano in the corner.  As we walked into the hall, they didn’t seem to care about us.  I sat at the piano with one of the girls.  The piano was not in the best condition and the two students were very beginners, who just started lessons two months ago.  Yet, once we began playing piano,  the elders stopped talking  and I felt a lot of eyes staring at us.  Then I heard them beginning to sing along with the piano and at last there was applause!

I knew they would like kids’ performance, but this reaction was more than I expected.

After the short rehearsal, a few elders followed us to the hallway as if dogs were trotting after kids wagging their tails.

“ Where are you going?”  “Are you coming back?”, they asked.

“Yes.  We’ll come back with more children to sing and play Christmas songs.” I replied.

“ They must be lonely because no one visits them.  If they like the performance, we can visit again,” said a mother of a student.

I recalled another Bible verse:

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”(Matthew9:37)

Although our talents are small, the elders will like the performance and the students and the parents will enjoy giving!

That was the moment of a glimpse of God’s Kingdom.

My worry was replaced with the assurance, and I felt like God was whispering to me, “See, that’s way I told you to do.”

GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!

Giving Our Best

The rain that continued for two days stopped this morning. It was the day for me performing Christmas carols with my piano students at a nursing home.
Last night I could not sleep well worrying about trivial things like if the copies of programs and Christmas cards were enough, if the student’s families, who were so looking forward to their first piano performance, fit in the small hall of the nursing home, or what if little brothers and sisters of the students become loud. Yet as I saw the sun coming out among the gray clouds, I took it as the sign of God’s blessing for today’s performance.
Indeed, my little 5 students did their best performance. At the last song ” Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, even the elders on their wheelchairs sang and clapped hands together with us.


After the performance, the  children went to each room to give their hand made Christmas cards. Many elders were on beds in dark rooms closing drapes, but the children were not intimidated to hand them the cards and the elders looked happy with smiles.


When I asked the students what Christmas was, they answered that was the day of Santa Claus. Yet, as I said, ” Let’s give joy today just like God gave Jesus to us. Let’s be His helpers today,” they really did. I hope and pray that today’s experience of giving will remain in their hearts for long time and help them as they grow.
I’m thankful for Sandy, who joined us as a singer, and my son Roy, who played guitar and lent us an PA system, as well.
Though I was a little disturbed by cancer yesterday, today being able to  give our best to glorify our Lord’s name, I am so thankful for the opportunity, and my spirit was lifted up again.

Truly GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!

Helping a Wedding

” A retired military man and his wife will have a ceremony to renew their vow.  Can you play piano?”  asked George.

Our church has a top-level organist.  Yet as the man served for our country, George wanted to conduct the ceremony as a free gift ,and  he asked me to play piano as a volunteer, instead of asking the professional organist.

My fingers are pretty beaten up by the side effects:  They are tingling, weak, and cracked.  If holding chopsticks is hard, playing piano is much harder.

Yet if they didn’t mind  me playing piano, I would be  more than happy to serve. Last Saturday,  I left for the church taping my thumb tightly.

The bride who was in an elegant  white dress with a long, train which was the same dress she  wore in her wedding 11 years ago, looked so beautiful as a wedding magazine model.

The ceremony was small with their 8 year old daughter, father of the groom, a friend, a church secretary, photographers, George as a pastor, and me.  Because of this, I really wanted to play piano well as a nice music gift.

As George told me three more minutes to start, however, all of sudden I had a cramp in my belly.  I was already nervous about my awkward fingers, but what if I had diarrhea during the ceremony? !

I ran to the  bathroom and kept praying;

” God, thank you so much for equipping me as your servant today.  Please make me play piano without making any mistakes, pain, and diarrhea until the end! Please don’t let me ruin this special day for them!”

Then the ceremony started.

The bride came in the sanctuary with her 8-year-old daughter instead of her father.

” Do you promise to love her/him in sickness or in health, in poverty or in wealth, in good times and bad till death shall you part?”

It was so emotional and beautiful when they  renewed the vow they made 11 years ago at this same church that I couldn’t help praying for God’s continual blessings on them and for their strong marriage.

When the ceremony was over,  being relieved from my responsibility, I felt so honored to be a part of their special day.  It was indeed a blessing for me, too!

wedding

Next year will be the 20th anniversary for George and me.  We have been talking about our dream of visiting  Israel, the holy land, sometime, if both of us are healthy enough, but watching the marry couple, I wondered how wonderful it would be if we can make it to go there as the celebration of the 20th anniversary.

A Japanese old saying says, “If you talk about next year, demons will laugh at you.” Yet, I am going to pray about it.  May God grant our wish!

 

 

 

 

Inspiration from Ishmael

Although my many friends are working hard from early morning till night everyday, I, who have no more dependent children, retired, and have an excuse of being on chemo, get easily lazy relaxing too much.  In the midst of such a temptation, three Bible classes are always good to stimulate my lukewarm spirit.

 Zealous Ishmael

Last week 29-year-old Ishmael, who is an assistant pastor in a small church, came to our ESL Bible class as a guest speaker.

I’ve known him for about 7 years.  When he was taking a pastoral internship in a mega-church which had about 10,000 attendance every Sunday, George, who also started working there as a new pastor, introduced him as a zealous young man who was giving out tracts on the streets, or in the front of high schools every day.

His bald head, well sun-tanned body that is always in good shape as the result of good training, and his zeal for God have never changed even after he married a beautiful wife.

Showing up in the class with a backpack and tennis shoes, he politely greeted George,

“ Hi Coach, thank  you for inviting me here!”

He opened up his big thick Bible, and  began his sermon.

 Servant of All

 Ishmael, who was born to an Iranian father and Mexican mother, described himself as a rebellious child who didn’t respect his father or even hated him.  The Koran or God were not interesting while the parents tried to teach him about them, but the one who influenced his spiritual growth was his Catholic grandma, who was always next to him and prayed for him whenever he was in trouble.

While he was attending a sports gym to enjoy what he loved to do,  he got a desire to tell others whom he met in the gym about God and he told Him his desire, and then gradually his lofty talent in sports enticed other attendees who wanted a personal trainer.

Soon after, he was given an opportunity of a ministry by opening a free gym, called “ Dungeon “ in a church’s garage.  His prayer was answered.

Yet, as he had been training people how to run, aiming at the annual L.A. Marathon, he said, he got angry because he wanted to run fast instead of running slow with people he was training.

Then the Bible spoke to him:

“ Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

“I asked God to give me an opportunity to minister to those I met, and He gave it to me.  But now I was so selfish and complained about it!”, said Ish.

When he noticed  this way, he wept.

On the day of L.A. Marathon, Ishmael, who had enough ability to compete with the fast runners, chose to run with his slow group of trainees all the way to the end.  When they reached the goal raising hands up together, he said he felt great joy, which was probably very different from the joy of winning the race.

We all have desires to be the number 1, or to be better than others, especially if we have the ability to be.  Ishmael chose to give up such a desire for his slow trainees.  I was moved by his humility, the strength behind of his tenderness, and his obedience to God.

I admire Ish, who wants to be a great servant of God continually.  He is an inspiration and  I want to be like him!

Ish, thank you so much! 🙂

with Ish

with George, and Ish (center)

 

Little Servants

With four of my piano students (age 6-11), I visited a nursing home to present musical performance today.  For three students, this is the 2nd time to serve.

Last time we played Christmas carols but this time I picked 16 songs from old hymns and 50-60’s popular songs.  I passed out the booklets of the lyrics, but the audience sang along with piano without opening the booklets.  As one of the goals was to play their favorite songs, if they could sing in their hearts, I reached that goal.

Many of the audience said, “Thank you!” to the students with big smiles as we were leaving.  There were no spot light or a gift of flowers,  but I wonder if the children felt their appreciations, and if they felt rewarded after many hours of practice.

We then visited patients’ rooms one-by-one passing out students’ hand-made New Year cards.  Most of the people were laying on their beds, but there was an old man sitting on a stainless chair beside his bed playing cards.  As a student, who was wearing a purple dress like a ballerina, gave him a card, he said, “ Thank you, beautiful ladies!  You look really pretty and this is very nice!”  His cheerful voice made me smile, and I hoped his compliment touched the little students’ hearts, too.

I wonder how many of those old residents have a chance to go out or receive visitors.  If our little performance could give some good time for them, and my little students could experience joy to serve them by playing music, I could achieve the goal.

Since last December, making commitments to play piano for Christmas and today, I was under the pressure, but now I am relieved.  I gave thanks to God who equipped me again in spite of my little talent.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA