Autumn has arrived; the hot summer has passed. Now, I would like to share God's blessings in Argentina with you.
When we had been in Brazil for two years, my husband's neurosurgery professor at the University of Tokyo asked him to return to Japan. After arriving at Narita Airport, we took a sleeper car on the Blue Train and saw our first snowfall in Hokkaido.
Since I worked in the same hospital full-time, we needed help taking care of our kids who were still little. So, we asked my parents to live with us.
After that, my husband worked at a new hospital in Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture, and then we moved to Saitama again.
My husband wanted to continue working in a foreign country, so he waited for an opportunity to work as a JICA specialist, but it was hard to find those opportunities.
On the other hand, I worked as an internist in the city center three times a week, so my parents backed us up, helping with child care, as they had done in Hokkaido and Hiroshima.
We have many testimonies during 1 year in Japan, but I would like to talk about another opportunity.
A colleague at JICA told my husband that if he wanted to serve in abroad, he could become a medical officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He decided to apply for an interview at the Ministry. First he was about to be assigned to Iraq. A few days later, Kuwait had been invaded by Iraq, and his assignment was canceled. Later, he was reassigned and we moved to Argentina.
Spanish is spoken in Argentina and is very similar to Portuguese, so it wasn't too much trouble for us.
There was a Japanese school in Buenos Aires, but we had no intention of returning to Japan, so we decided to educate our children in English. It was a financial burden, but we enrolled them in the American School (Lincoln School). At the time, the Japanese school was free but for other schools, there was no government assistance; after a few years, there was some assistance. My oldest son took an ESL class, English as a Second Language. (ESL is a class for non-native English speakers to reinforce their English skills.)
My second son was in kindergarten, and my third son was in preschool since he was 4 years old.
Our sons soon learned to speak freely in English and Spanish and enjoyed their school life.
I took private Spanish lessons three times a week.
I hoped to continue my medical career, but my husband suggested that I could study in the mold department in the chemical laboratory of the dermatology department, so I had to go there for a while. It took more than 40 minutes by bus each way, but a Ph.D. lady was the chief and taught me a lot. However, unfortunately, it was discontinued because of more HIV testing and the dangers of contamination.
We became members of an American missionary church, a Baptist church with a family atmosphere.
One day, when Tomoyuki was nine years old, he asked me a question."Mom, why do we have three grandfathers and grandmothers? Ono is dad's side of the family, and Ota is mom's side, right? Then, ｗho are the Anno grandparents?
I hoped we could tell him the truth about his birth as soon as possible. However, Michio was not very forthcoming.
I thought the time had finally come, but I should talk to my husband first. So I told him, "Tomo, there is a reason for that. But you are too young to understand it. I will talk to you later someday.” Tomoyuki understood and did not ask anymore.
After a while, Tomoyuki said, "Mom, I want to be baptized. "
He had made his own choice of faith. I was so happy that I told my husband about it and asked him if we could talk to our son. "This is the only chance we have to talk to him about it.” He agreed. One night the three of us had time after the younger two were asleep.
"Tomo, Dad and I have something important to tell you. Listen carefully to what I say. Before Mom and Dad got married, Dad had been married to a woman named Makiko Anno who was the daughter of the Anno grandparents.
She was a physician, and your dad researched neuroanatomy at the University of Florida in Gainesville, and they had a baby. Makiko-san died suddenly after giving birth to the baby and went to heaven. She believed in Jesus. At that time Dad was not a believer. After her death Dad became a Christian and the Anno grandma also became a Christian.
The baby was you. Makiko-san is your biological mother who gave birth to you.
I met you when you were one year old. You were so pretty. I wanted to be your mom, so I got married to your dad."
Then Tomoyuki said, "Oh my God!" He was surprised and got up from his chair.
I continued to tell him, “I could not tell you this story until now. I was scared that if you knew the truth, you would feel so sad. "Tomoyuki smiled and asked, "Mom, why are you scared? I like having two moms, both of you. "
He responded and never looked sad, but continued to smile.
Michio held hands with us and prayed, “Thank you for giving us Tomoyuki's mother, Makiko, and thank you also for giving us his foster mother, Megumi.”
Tomoyuki fell asleep, but I could not sleep at all that night.
I was relieved and grateful that I could finally tell him the truth. However, on the contrary, I felt that he was smiling even though he had heard the sad story because he cared about me.
I looked at his sleeping face many times to check for tear marks on his face, but there were none.
Early in the morning, while I was cooking breakfast, Tomoyuki woke up, clung to me, and cried.
"I can't believe what Mom and Dad said yesterday!” He kept crying aloud.
After a while, I said, "Tomo, I don't want to believe it either. If I could, I would put you in my belly again and give birth to you as my baby. But everyone loves you. Do you understand that?”
He said clearly, “Yes, I understand."
“I won't hide anything from you. You can tell anyone this story.”
He seemed to be convinced and wiped away his tears.
Every Monday, Michio and I had choir practice at church, and we were staying with a Japanese friend who was taking care of our sons. The next day, I got a phone call from the lady. She said, "Mrs. Ono, Tomoyuki told me something about his birth story."
I asked her, " Did Tomoyuki sound sad at that time? “
She replied, "No, the opposite. He was so proud that he has three sets of grandparents and two mothers.”
I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I had felt so guilty for keeping it a secret until then. I was so thankful to God.
During the following summer vacation, our family visited Makiko’s grave in Florida to sing hymns and pray.
I briefly told the truth to my younger sons before going to the grave. Yoshiyuki understood what I was talking about, and I could see a few tears in his eyes. I am not sure if Norimichi understood, but he seemed to know it despite my not explaining it again.
The pastor of Gainesville, Rev. Gary Crawford, gave us a memorial service with friends from the church, members who knew Makiko and Michio, and we had dinner together.
Pastor Gary gave Tomoyuki his middle name.His name is Tomoyuki Damon Ono.
Mr. and Mrs. Davis were close to Makiko and Michio, so they invited Tomoyuki to tea and spent time with him.
When he returned home, Tomoyuki was very satisfied and said, “Mom, Mr. and Mrs. Davis are nice.”
Tomoyuki knew his roots and developed a strong sense of identity. Tomoyuki will turn 40 this October.
He majored in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan and joined ROTC as a college student. (ROTC: Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, a program operated by universities to train officers in cooperation with the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force. Students take regular courses at the university while also receiving military training.)
After graduation, Tomoyuki joined the U.S. Air Force. He is currently a Lieutenant Colonel. His wife, Abigail, is also a Lieutenant Colonel. They have a 13-year-old son (Cooper) and a 9-year-old daughter (Isabel).
They love American football. (To be continued.)