"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Blessed in unexpected ways: New friends

New friends: JoAnn and Larry Sims (blue scarf, purple shirt), Drew Tanabe


     Before we left for Japan, one friend wrote us, "We pray that your presence there will be wonderfully used by the Lord in ways more than you could ever imagine.
     Another wrote, "May your trip there and your words be blessed in unexpected ways."
     It was and they were. For instance, we made new friends:  

JOANN AND LARRY SIMS -  The new directors of the World Friendship Center (for the next two years) are JoAnn and Larry Sims from the state of Washington. JoAnn's father was a trucker and Larry worked for a trucking company for awhile so Tony the Trucker (who has his own 18-wheeler) had a lot in common with them and they discussed things like--well, uh, axles?

ANDREW (DREW) TANABE is a student from the east coast doing an internship at WFC. (From January until the day we arrived he had been doing an internship at the Memorial Peace Museum under Steve Leeper.) Drew's great-grandfather was Japanese and came to the United States at the turn of the 19th century. The six of us had lots of fun over breakfasts at the center, swapping anecdotes about things like brushes with wild animals (including yellow-jackets).

KEIKO MIYAMOTO is the translator of Memories of Sadako, a little book I am offering to those who prayed for us while we were in Japan. I hadn't met her before but your prayers went before me and touched her heart.
     At the reception, Keiko took my hands and said earnestly, "Your talk gave me courage." She came to the WFC later to take my hands again, put her face close to mine, and tell me, "Your talk gave me hope" in a personal situation she was facing.
     She pulled out a tiny box, opened it carefully and showed me five of the world's tiniest paper cranes, calling them "my treasure." She let me choose one for myself (I chose the red one), giving me an even tinier box to keep it in, cautioning, "Don't sneeze!"
"Don't sneeze!"
     "Now it's my treasure, too." I told her.
     Later, up in our room, I handed the box to Jerry, who was sitting on the floor, his back against a wall--the only furniture in a Japanese bedroom is a thin mattress and quilt on the floor--told him what was in it and warned him to open it carefully.
     Jerry opened the box, peered in and said, "There's nothing in here." I leaped back across the room to him with an anguished: "NO-O-O!" We searched all the folds in his shirt until we found the little morsel and restored it to its container. Whew! I couldn't lose Keiko's "treasure" in the first half hour of being entrusted with it!

Kotaro and Junko Tanimoto and family
KOTARO AND JUNKO TANIMOTO - Kotaro    and his wife Junko live in Hiroshima. Kotaro got his degree in dentistry in San Francisco and we have mutual friends there who told us to look them up.
     I wrote the Tanimotos ahead of our coming to invite them to the ceremony "at 10 AM June 12 in the south-east corner of the Peace Park," and before we even arrived, Junko had dropped in at the World Friendship Center, met the Sims and signed up for an English conversation class!
     We had a chance to visit with them at the reception and this is what Junko emailed me afterward:
[mepapa.jpg]CONNIE AND MASAAKI NAKAMURA - Connie has just moved with her Japanese husband Masaaki from Saipan to Nogata, Japan. We have been following each other's blogs. Hers is Japan--Living the (Not So) Simple Life and unfortunately her life was not simple enough for her to come to Hiroshima for the ceremony. We really wanted to meet!
     But she commented on my post afterward: "I'm just beginning to realize what an awesome woman your mother was. She seems to embody what I want for my own life and feel like I have failed to achieve....I want to stand for something, to make a difference, to have a strong purpose."
     Then she wrote a post on her own blog about "Someone I want you to meet. . .Jessica Renshaw" in which she said, "The more I read about her mother the more amazed I am. Her mother was AWESOME. She embodies everything I want to be. To stand for something with strength, unwavering commitment and purpose."
     A really neat discovery we made in the course of our correspondence since we got home: WE MAY BE COUSINS! Connie's maiden name is Schon (with an umlaut). My maiden name would have been Schon, too, if my father, who was born Earl Schon, hadn't been adopted by his stepfather Louis Reynolds! My great-grandfather was August Schon, her grandfather was Emil August Theodor Schon. So there may be a connection there. She confirmed what we had been told before, that "Schon" is a German Jewish name.
     Her ancestors come from Suhl, Germany, so my Danish nephew Allan, who has wanted to go look up our ancestors in Germany, may have a place to start digging (not literally!)
     Who would have expected two descendants of a family of German Jews to find each other while blogging about Japan?

DEBI YOSHIMURA - Just before we left for Japan, our daughter Julie put us in touch with her friend Debi Yoshimura in Tokyo. She lives very close to the university I attended as a teenager. We didn't meet Debi while we were there but we have connected on Facebook:
Thank you, Julie!

Jessica, I actually live a 5 minute bicycle ride from ICU. We'll it's 5 minutes from ICU going down the hill toward Nogawa Park, going up the hill it's probably more like 10... I've lived here for the past 10 years. This has truly been a very difficult few months in Japan! But we have seen the Lord open the hearts of the Japanese people to the gospel of Christ in ways that couldn't have been foreseen before March 11th. Tokyo Baptist Chruch, where I am a memeber, even baptized a man in Ishinomaki, Miyagi-ken, last month! He was given the choice of coming to Tokyo or being baptized there and he wanted to be baptized on the spot he was saved! So that's what was arranged with about 100 people watching:-)

Please continue to pray for Japan, there is a very long road ahead.

In Him,

(NOTE: At the moment, we have an embarrassment of riches--thousands of photos--which we're trying to edit down to post on Facebook.)

1 comment:

  1. Gosh (cousin) Jessica, I am honored to have been given a mention in your blog! I am just continually amazed at what God can and does do. If I can be totally honest- our friendship and everything that has unfolded from it has been one of THE top blessings in my life in the past few months. I never thought I could feel such a true warmth and love for someone I have yet to meet! I have been blessed in so many ways by the crossing of our lives and can only hope I can return the blessings to you in some way!

    lots of love!!!!