The photo above shows Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. The mountain in the distance, Mount Ararat, is said to be the landing place of Noah's Ark in the book of Genesis in the Old Testament. This is the mountain where Noah and his family, chosen by God, were sent by ark when the earth, filled with evil, was punished with a great flood. It is said that the fathers of the Armenian people are descended from Noah.
I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.”
Today is Christmas, December 25, 2022.
How is everyone spending this day?
In my childhood, Christmas was the most exciting and joyful time of the year. My grandfather brought a box of ornaments from the U.S., and we would open it and put them on the big pine tree my father cut from the mountain. On top of a Christmas tree, the ornament is usually a star, but in my family, we put a beautiful glass bird. How proud I was when I got to put it on the tree at the end.
It was around the time when my chaplain training was in its second half.
I visited a young lady, a 20-year-old, who was going to have surgery for stomach cancer. She came from Armenia to work and relied on her older sister who had immigrated to the United States. However, within a year, she developed stomach cancer and was hospitalized.
She had anxiety over why the scheduled surgery got postponed and the subsequent surgery date has not been decided yet. English was not her first language, so I thought it might be difficult for her to understand the reasoning for the postponement from her medical staff. I met her sister in the hospital room, and she too didn't understand the situation.
Her diagnosis was "Scirrhous Gastric Cancer" which tends to occur in young women in their 20s to 40s. This type of cancer progresses very fast. Therefore, once diagnosed, cancer can easily metastasize to other parts of the body. She looked visibly thin, weak, and in serious condition. I thought her cancer had already metastasized to other organs and was unlikely to have surgery. She wanted the operation as soon as possible. So I said, "Would you like me to ask the doctor about the operation and want to know in detail?" Both she and her sister agreed, so I visited her doctor. The condition was called peritoneal dissemination where cancer cells scatter around the abdominal cavity. I asked the doctor to explain this in an easy-to-understand way.
A week later, I visited her. They heard from the doctor about her situation. They were so depressed and discouraged. I knew that they were atheists. Her older sister was upset and said "If God exists, why should my sister suffer terribly?” I felt a sense of helplessness as to how I could comfort them. The patient said, "If I am going to die, I want to see my mother one more time before I die. I wish to go back to Armenia!" I was unable to comfort them with soothing words or pray in front of them.
One day I was introduced to a pastor who had come from Nepal on a business trip, though I don't remember what route. My family had planned to visit Nepal the following year, so I wanted to meet him and ask him to pray with me for this patient and her sister.
I asked the sisters bravely, "I know you don't believe in God, but I'm meeting with a Nepalese pastor at the hospital tomorrow, would you mind letting him pray for you?” To my surprise they told me "That might be a good idea." The next day, the pastor visited her room and prayed powerfully for her healing. The following day I visited them and noticed a cross pendant on the older sister's chest. Although she wore the cross pendant, I don’t think she fully committed to Christianity, however I was so encouraged that and visited her sister often.
One day, when I visited her as usual, I saw the patient's face shining! I asked her what had happened. She replied, "This hospital paid for my flight and arranged for me to return to Armenia. They also arranged for my sister's ticket so that we can go back home! I get to see my mom. I am so happy. Thank you for all your concern." I couldn't help but take her hand and say, "I'm so happy for you. How wonderful! " I gave her a tight hug.
Everyone! Can you believe such a miracle that happened to her?
I was overwhelmed by the greatness of this country that could offer such a benefit to her.
No one could have expected to come true. A week later, they left for home in Armenia filled with appreciation. I believe that God wiped away her tears of sorrow and gave her the best gift.
New Year's Day is Sunday. My online message will be off.
After that, my dance teacher, Mrs. Ryoko Takeda helped me for a while, and now Dr. Michio is in charge.
Mrs. Masako Hakozaki proofreads my Japanese every week.
I met her in Nepal, and she lives in the Ibaragi prefecture.
My three sons and Mrs. Athlee Bowman in Alaska proofreads my English. She and Pastor Bowman served as a missionary in Sapporo for many decades.
Mr. Byron Westfield, an English teacher at Kushimoto High School from Georgia, U.S.A. helped when the others could not this year.
I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to them. Thank you again for your cooperation this year. I look forward to working with you again next year.