Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:”
The year 2023 has dawned. I hope that you will join me in praying for a peaceful and comfortable life in the world during this year.
We left for Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, in September 2001, one month after returning from Boston. My husband was employed by JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) as an expert and team leader for a school community health and hygiene project. It had been underway for ten years before my husband's assignment.
Nepal is famous for Mount Everest. We were looking forward to our experience in Nepal because we are both Asians.
In addition, Dr. Noboru Iwamura of the Japan Federation of Christian Associations had walked to the villages of Nepalese people suffering from tuberculosis and treated them. He asked the Japanese to run a campaign to collect used stamps and one-yen donations for support. We participated in collecting stamps when we were in elementary school. It is heartwarming that Dr. and Mrs. Iwamura adopted 12 Nepalese children who had lost their parents due to tuberculosis and raised them as their children.
My oldest son Tomoyuki graduated from high school in Boston and went on to the “Aerospace Dynamics Department" at the University of Michigan. My second son Yoshiyuki and the third one Norimichi were with us.
My husband’s office was in Kathmandu city, but the project was in Kabrepalanchok District, a suburb of Kathmandu. The work was mainly two-fold.
The first one was to build toilets, running water, and garbage bins for the 115 schools in the area. There was no culture to use toilet in Nepal.
Children were also taught about self hygene like the importance of hand washing, cleaning the environment, and first aid methods. Many people fall off cliffs and suffer broken bones and injuries, so they have to learn first aid for wounds and burns since they use fireplaces. After learning they teach yonger students and produced a drama too educate the community about health by having them watch it.
The second program was to support activities to empower women where the status of women was very low. 153 women's groups were formed and met in the evenings after work to learn literacy and how to raise vegetables and pigs to generate income. They also began operating a library.
However, from 1996 to 2006, due to the ongoing civil war between the communists (Maoists) and the royal family, my husband and his staffs encountered a period when they could not enter mountainous areas. Their project had been in the process of getting off the ground, so they had to do their utmost to maintain the project, and it was difficult to make progress.
I had a pleasant fellowship with many of the ladies who had come as accompanying family members of JICA experts and senior volunteers.
A ballet teacher who had just arrived from Japan taught us healthy exercises. I opened my house to the participants and had lunch together. I was grateful for them for exchanging cooking recipes, showing me different souvenir stores, and giving me all sorts of valuable information.
I got acquainted with Masako, the wife of Mr. Hakozaki who was a senior volunteer in Nepal. She graduated from mission school and was very interested in my stories and activities. She would ask me questions about Christianity. I have fond memories of visiting her home several times and treating her to delicious Oyaki.
Mr. Hakozaki worked to improve the status of women in the village of Luvu, focusing on knitting using silk yarn because the climate of the area was suitable for sericulture. Mr. and Mrs. Hakozaki had a wonderful time communicating with the Nepalese during his project.
I want to introduce some of her photos to you with her permission.
Our sons were in an international school in Nepal. Yoshiyuki played soccer, and Norimichi played volleyball in extracurricular activities, and they had a match in Bangladesh. They also joined the brass band, where Yoshiyuki played the alto saxophone, and Norimichi played the trumpet. They both seemed to enjoy their youth with their friends on weekends.
By the way, I was very disappointed that I could not finish my master's degree in pastoral ministry in the US. I didn't know if I could have the opportunity to train as a chaplain in the U.S. in the future. Even if I could officially qualify as a chaplain in the U.S. by earning two more credits, I would have no reason to live in the U.S. Even if I returned to Japan, I could not work as a hospital chaplain because I was not a pastor. I felt that my mission as a chaplain would disappear, and I was at a loss for a concrete plan for the future.
One day, a Japanese lady visited us from Japan. I asked her about her background over tea after dinner. She graduated from JTJ (Jesus To Japan) seminary in Tokyo. But, she did not become a pastor because she did not think she had a calling as a pastor, and she was working in a Christian office. She told me that JTJ has the motto that anyone can learn anytime and anywhere. The seminary has a correspondence system where they send videos of their classes. I knew I could study even if I was in a foreign country. I exclaimed. This is it! "
She gave me the address of the JTJ seminary, and I immediately applied for admission.
Soon after, I received a cardboard box full of videos.
I devoted myself to learning and submitting reports all day long. It took many years before I graduated from the seminary and received the ordination as a pastor. However, God fulfilled my desire through such guidance. (to be continued)