Raising pets can teach children many lessons in life. They can teach us about responsibility, love and friendship, and even sadness. Growing up in the countryside, my family was fortunate to have the space to raise many animals. My passion and love for them was supported by my parents.
We once had a pointer called May, which was named by my grandfather because it was born in May. I always enjoyed the TV drama called “Lassie.” I longed to have a dog living with the family inside the home. However, with May, she was kept outside in a shed on a loose leash. Even after my grandfather’s passing, May was an intimate member of our family. When she died, my brother and I were shocked and cried a lot.
One time my brother brought home a pigeon that he got from a friend when he was in middle school. He also got a budgerigar, but never imagined it could talk like a parrot. One day, I heard a small voice, “Daddy, Daddy.” At first, I wondered who it was. Then I knew that it had to be the budgerigar. As kids we used to call out to my father who was working outside, “Daddy, it's time to eat! " The budgerigar must have learned it from us. After that, he even learned to call me, "Memi, Memi.” It was a great discovery!
My grandfather also had a few ducks. My father had built a hut for them, but the ducks were allowed to roam freely in the yard. I remember one morning my brother and I took the ducks out to swim in the creek, and when we went to pick them up in the evening, we couldn't find them. We looked around for them for a long time, but they were nowhere to be found. Both of us returned home worried. We didn't think it was possible, but to be sure, we looked in the shed and to our surprise, we found them safely home. Since then, it had become a routine for the ducks to leave the hut early in the morning and return in the evening.
During Thanksgiving meal, our family would have ducks instead of turkeys like they do in America. I noticed this and protested to my mother in tears. I couldn’t bear eating our precious ducks. She said, "Megumi, we gave our ducks to someone who will take good care of it. This duck is something else we bought from another shop. You can eat it with peace of mind.”
But in my heart, I knew it was our duck. I didn't say anything further since I didn’t want to hurt my mom’s feelings. My mother sure did make delicious oven baked duck. They had an unusual stuffing in their bellies, which was very tasty.
Since we no longer had our ducks, my brother and I were lonely and so with our parents’ permission, we bought two female chicks from a shop in town. I named one of them "Susan" and loved her when they were little. When they were still young chickens, I sometimes put a string around her neck and walked with her. But as they got older, they didn't do as well as I wanted them. We pushed them to my grandmother to tend to. My grandmother lamented. "I don't want anything with a mouth anymore.” My grandmother would make nutritious food for them by chopping up scraps of green vegetables and mixing them with shells from the beach, so the yolks were golden and bigger than usual.
My favorite animals were a chimpanzee and a horse. Both of which were strongly influenced by American TV shows. I especially enjoyed watching the program called Running Chess.
A girl and a horse were the main characters. The girl is the daughter of a ranch hand who raises a horse named Chess with a trainer. This home drama depicts how she wins the Grand National, the pinnacle of steeplechase racing. I wanted to ride a horse just once in my life. I told my wish to my father. To make me happy, he took me to the equestrian club of College in Matsuyama city during summer vacation. My dream came true at last. I rode a horse for two days in a row. Our parents listened and honored our dreams and helped us the best they can.
During my residency, I joined an equestrian club that was over an hour and a half bus ride away on Saturday afternoons. I used to jump over the high bar, which I had always dreamed of doing. My husband made sure that I had the chance to ride horses when we were married in New York. In Argentina, I had a horse riding lesson with my three sons.
One day, my horse caught a cold so our instructor gave me a new horse to ride. As soon as I got on the horse, he started rampaging and I hit my head against the fence and the floor.
I knew the horse was running toward me, but I could not avoid him because I could not move. The horse stepped on my left knee. It left a hoof mark on my leg that lasted for several years.
My passion for animals influenced my third son, Norimichi. In Africa, he wanted to have many animals as pets. I attached testimonies of that time. If you are interested, please read them with your children or grandchildren.
Let us look back at today’s passage from the Bible. It clearly shows how much Jesus loves children. However, 2,000 years ago in Judea, children and women were not considered members of society. Therefore, the disciples may have thought the children were not worthy and a nuisance to Jesus and so they tried to keep them away. However, contrary to this, the Lord lifted the children, laid hands on them, and blessed them. Children and adults are all God's "children."
Childhood forms the foundation for a healthy life. I was blessed to have parents that supported our dreams and loved us as children of God. I pray that God will guide parents and bless their families abundantly so that both the children and the adults who watch over them can grow freely during this emotionally rich period of their lives.
[Story of Mother Hen "Sunday"]
2. Pet memories, Part 2 (Message for kids)
[Rooster "Uncle Bob" got flu]
Mrs. Michiko Asao, 57, the pastor's wife of Shingu Church of the Japan Christian Church, passed away yesterday, May 21, at dawn. I met her at "Tomonokai" and we had a short relationship of about 2 months, but she was an irreplaceable person for me. Not only did she carefully read my messages and short messages on my homepage, but she also sent me sincere feedback every time on the line, which was very encouraging to me.
However, after April 25, there were no "read" messages. I was shocked to hear that she had undergone emergency surgery for a ruptured brain aneurysm, and I had asked praying for the Lord's healing by a group of volunteers.
She had been recovering gradually, but yesterday I received the sudden news of her death. They will have a prayer time with church members tonight, and the funeral service will be held at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
This morning, after joyning the service together at Shingu Church, Michio and I met Michiko at the rectory and prayed with her husband, Pastor Asao, and us.
Her face was peaceful. I was deeply moved to tears by the sight of a beautiful and parakeet that was being taken out of its cage by the pastor, who seemed to be watching her intently without moving.
The pastor said, "In a word, my wife was a spotless person. “
I believe that she was able to keep the pure heart like a child that Jesus loved, no matter how wicked the environment was.
I heard that she listened to what people had to say and spoke kind words that comforted and encouraged them. She must have been a great support to the members of the church.
Please pray that God's peace and comfort will be abundant for her husband, their son, and her relatives who are in sorrow, and that the members of the church will overcome this ordeal and strengthen their faith even more.
Donations closed on May 14, but we have received them from 4 different locations after that. The total amount is as follows. We express our sincere gratitude to all of you.
The second Disaster Prevention Forum and Music Concert are coming up this Saturday, May 28.
Many of you may not be able to attend, but we ask that you pray with us in the Lord. We pray that the performers, Bloom Works (Hiroyuki Ishida and Kazz) and Daisuke Nozawa, will be in good physical condition to give the best performance and impress the people gathered at the concert.