Hello, everyone! I hope you are all enjoying good health and excellent spirits. Thank you very much for attending today's service.
Kanako and I got married on Dec. 7, 1980. This year it will be our 30th wedding anniversary. In Japan the 30th wedding anniversary is called the 'Pearl' celebration. Dec. 7, was the day in 1941when the Japanese navy attacked the Pearl Harbor in Hawaii 69 years ago. It was the beginning of the terrible 2nd World War.
This summer the Konko Churches of North America and the Konko Missions in Hawaii held their joint conference at the Camp Erdman, the northwest corner of Oahu Island.
Because this year's anniversary is so special I really wanted Kanako to be with me for this important conference. It allowed us a chance to achieve a new spiritual investment in each other and renew many friendships with church members both in Hawaii and North America together.
Besides our anniversary, 2010 also marks the 65th anniversary of the end of WWII, which began on Sunday, Dec. 7th, 39 years before we were married. Kanako and I eagerly wanted to visit the Pearl Harbor to pray for the Mitama spirits of all who died in that terrible war. We looked forward to visiting the Punchbowl to pay our respects to Robert & Hideko Kubo and the late Mr. Herb Nakamura who died in Chicago and were buried at the National Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu.
We enjoyed a wonderful week in Hawaii as a family and it was filled with Kami's awesome workings right from the start because the number of our seat row in the airplane was 13.
In the west, the number 13 is often said to be a bad or unlucky, because it was the day on which the Jesus was put on the cross. But our parent church of Airaku, Japan teaches that there is no goodness or badness to any number. We emphasize that by saying 13 is the number that represents the fulfillment of Kami's wish.
On Aug. 11th before anything else we visited the Konko Mission of Honolulu. As we prayed I sensed the virtue of the founding ministers of the church, the late the Revs. Kodama. We met Rev. Yoshino and Revs. Mr. David and Mrs. Megumi Yano and had a wonderful talk with them. David Sensei was our guide to the Punchbowl Cemetery that was located near the church.
The Punchbowl is the crater of a dormant volcano on Oahu. National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, which fills most of its floor, is the cemetery that serves as a memorial to the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces. It was a huge open space and had a fine view there. I felt those Mitama spirits of the US Armed Forces were well respected.
We found the sections of the gravesites of both Mr. & Mrs. Robert Kubo and Mr. Herb Nakamura through a computer located there. Though the sections listed were not on the map, Kami led us first to the gravesite of Mr. & Mrs. Kubo. In front of them we said, "Hideko-san, Long Time No See!! Robert-san, we saw you for the first time."
We were almost moved to tears. Then I found that Mr. Robert Kubo had belonged to the 442 Infantry during the WWII. That unit was said to be one of the most courageous in the US military history.
We also found the gravesite of Mr. Nakamura and said, "Nakamura-san, Long Time No See!"
Then we wanted to visit the Konko Mission of Waipahu. But we gave the idea up because I forgot bringing my eyeglass so that I couldn't drive after the sunset. Instead we saw a beautiful sunset from Waikiki beach. I'd seen my first Waikiki sunset 10 years ago after the 2000 KCNA/KMH Joint Conference. I had been amazed with its beauty and solemnity. At that time I wished I could have seen it with Kanako. Now, ten years later we shared it on our Pearl anniversary Year within a few short miles of Pearl Harbor.
The next day we did visit Pearl Harbor. We had 10:00 am tickets to visit the Arizona Memorial. In front of the Pearl Harbor we recited the Divine Reminder together and on the Arizona Memorial I prayed and measured the length of the battleship Arizona. We also boarded the battleship Missouri with an information kit. Although it was more than 69 years old, I felt the battleship menace of this war ship when I found how carefully it was prepared for the war. I couldn't help but pray for world peace. We stayed as long as possible. Pearl Harbor and the Punchbowl Cemetery were most impressive and memorable places for us.
On Aug. 13 we joined the KCNA/KMH Joint Conference. It was wonderfully organized. Everyone enjoyed the perfect weather for three days and accumulated a great "spiritual investment." We had many chances to talk with the members in Hawaii.
Two guest speakers were particularly good. Rev. Mitsutoshi Horio, head-minister of the Konko Church of Hida, Japan, spoke about true and sincere faith in Japanese. He said that everyone had the spirit of Kami. And once it started working, it would guide us in the right way by referring to the teachings and his own experiences. His dynamic speech impressed the participants a lot. It was translated into English especially for the younger listeners.
He graduated from the Konko Seminary School one year behind me. For ten days, as a senior, I taught the next years' Seminary students, including him, how to live and train ourselves in faith there. His wife, Rev. Masayo Horio was one of my classmates at Seminary. This was the first time we'd seen each other since graduation. What a treat to renew our friendships with each other!
One interesting sidelight, Camp Erdman is the location for the TV drama "Lost." The natural beauty there is indescribable. At the sunrise services we enjoyed a fantastic sunrise each day. As for the sunset, I almost missed it. But nature called and I went down from the second floor. I saw Kanako and she told me the sun would be setting right away. I rushed to the beach and there was a sunset, amazing beyond description.
Coming home the row number of our return seats was 13 again. So coming and going, our trip to Hawaii was filled with Kami's awesome fulfillment, which we will never forget, nor adequately express our gratitude for. Thank you!
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