It was a hot summer when our family moved from London to Minnesota, in the USA.
We arrived at the dormitory of Bethel Seminary in Saint Paul from the airport.
When we entered our room and saw juice and water in the refrigerator as well as the welcome card, we were very happy.
The rooms were as cold as a freezer because of the season. Since we arrived in the evening and had no furniture or bedding, we spent the night shivering in the cold room.
My husband still had his final papers to do in London, so within a few days, he had furnished the house, bought two used cars, finished the school formalities for himself and the children, and returned to London again.
Princess Diana passed away on August 31, 1997.
It was the night that a friend of my son was staying with us.
I was tired and dozing off when my son woke me up after seeing the breaking news of her death. I immediately called my husband in London to inform him, but he did not know about it yet.
Bethel Seminary is a master's graduate school.
The sprawling campus was home to Bethel University.
The spouses of seminary students were allowed to take courses at half price without receiving the credits for their classes.
I did some research to see what was going on.
After that, I aimed to get a master's degree in theology, so I switched to being a regular student.
Neither of us was aware of how demanding studying theology could be. We were expected to read many books and take midterm and final exams. During the 1st semester, we had to submit 20 reports.
We heard that even American students could not always graduate in two years.
I knew that the only way to pass the exam was to have my husband read the books and summarize them for me.
Most of the students struggled with the history of Religion.
It was especially hard to understand the analysis of documents.
I thought it was impossible to get a passing score in this subject for international students who were using a second language. So I came up with an idea to resolve this problem.
It is getting exam questions from one year prior.
I went to ask my closest friend, Daniel.
He said at that time, "Megumi! You can't do that! Because that would be cheating. It's a sin."
I immediately looked into his eyes and said, "What? Is it a sin? Ha ha ha. Daniel, that is not true. When we took the college entrance exam, we studied the questions from the past, didn't we?
It's the same thing. There is no guarantee that the exam will be the same as it was a year ago. But it gives us some good hints. There are eight international students in this seminary.
We have all struggled with English. So, Could you help us?
I promise that I will only turn this paper over to international students. Is it wonderful if all of us could pass the exam, graduate, and work for the Lord?
You must be blessed because you help the weak brothers and sisters. ” He was convinced and lent me his exam paper from last year. I told the international students, "This is a special mercy from God," and I gave them a copy. I wonder how much this helped the students to concentrate on other subjects. By the way, I found out that the professor of this subject used the same questions 80% of the time. This helped a lot.
As I began to hearmore of the content of the English classes, I no longer needed such help, but without my husband's summaries, I would have flunked the course.
I enjoyed Missiology very much.
The professor was my advisor and took care of me.
On Thanksgiving, he invited my whole family to his home and we enjoyed a feast with turkey.
My sister's home with full of Thanks Giving Day meals
My husband took a one-year missionary course, so he had to study much harder than me. He always got excellent grades. I managed to get a passing grade, but there was one subject in which I did better than him. It was called "Clinical Pastoral Care.
After learning theory in the class, we had practical training. Once a week, we were assigned to a nursing home, where we listened to the concerns of and chatted with several patients, and we later reproduced the conversations in written form. I wrote a report on my reflections and lessons learned and received an evaluation as well as guidance from the chaplain.
My husband was concerned that my English was not good enough to do this. So he called the chaplain. The chaplain told him "Don't worry. Talking is not so important. It is much more important to be there. "
I was greatly encouraged to hear that.
The facility had some people who had dementia and mental illness. There was once a situation in which my husband was touched on his buttocks by an old lady who seemed to have a type of dementia called Pick Disease.
When I played Amazing Grace on my alto saxophone with the chaplain's piano accompaniment during a music time to help people relax, the same lady said, "Noisy! Shut up!"
But, at the end of the worship service, that lady gently held my hand and said, "Thank you.”
There was a gentleman who was a psychiatric patient suffering from depression and wanted to talk to me.
I listened to his story and shared that I was suffering from depression, too. He appreciated hearing that and we prayed together briefly. Through this pastoral care service, I began to feel a new mission as a chaplain. A person who has the role of a pastor to be with and care for sick people.
Ladies and gentlemen! The saying goes, "What one likes, one will do well".
I got an A+ (highest grade) in pastoral care and my husband got an A. (to be continued)