Good Morning, everyone! Thank you very much for attending today's 100th Day Memorial and Burial Services for Mrs. Masae Ogawa.
Time flies so fast. Nearly 100 days have passed since Masae-san died on June 5. Every morning and evening at KC Chicago, we keep Masae-san alive in our memories and extend our prayers for her now along with all the Mitama spirits who are related to our church. I do this especially in the month of September since September is the month when we honor the Mitama spirits church wide. I have offered special prayers for the Mitama spirits and after regular evening service I read the speeches of my mentor Rev. Soichiro Otsubo's to deepen my heart together with our departed Mitama.
Since Masae-san's death I have recently had the chance to grow closer to her spirit in a very special way. She left many valuable keepsakes such as letters, photos & other memorabilia. Of particular interest were letters Masae-san exchanges with Mr. Shinkichi Nishimura her father. There were also many photos originally owned by Mr. Yoshito Nishimura, Mr. Shinkichi & Mrs. Ume Nishimura's oldest son.
Yoshito-san studied at the Waseda International Institute in Tokyo from 1936 to 1938. During that time he roomed at the Konko Church of Kanagawa. It is sad to say that he died from tuberculosis soon after returning to the USA, on Oct. 27, 1939. Together these artifacts revealed many important facts about Nishimura's. Tim-san once told me that he couldn't find his grandfather Shinkichi-san's name in the Interment Camp lists & wondered why.
Masae-san had kept some letters Shinkichi-san wrote to her in 1943 & 1944. The letters were sent while he was in a hospital in Seattle. One letter dated Nov. 25, 1943 said, "Thanks to Kami's blessings I am allowed to live today. If Kami didn't exist, I would have passed away two years ago."
That meant that Shinkichi-san had already been afflicted with serious illness in 1941 when the people of Japanese ancestry were ordered to relocate to the interment camps. Perhaps he was allowed to stay in Seattle because of his illness instead of being forced to leave for the camp.
By carefully reading these letters I found several important facts. For example, Masae-san and Hideko-san left the camp to work at the house in Idaho on April 5, 1943. They were in Hunt, Idaho around Nov. 25, 1943. Then they moved to Milwaukee. They moved to Chicago from Milwaukee around the end of May the next year and at that time Mr. Masao Nishimura had already lived in Chicago.
In one of Yoshito-san's photo albums I found tickets for the train in Japan. One ticket dated on July 29, 1937 was from Busan, Korea to Yokohama, Japan. It also showed that he had stopped by our Konkokyo Headquarters in Okayama. There were several photos showing our headquarters. I guessed Yoshito-san had visited Busan to see Haruko-san. It was enlightening that these mementoes proved I'd guessed it right.
I found another important fact about the Nishimura's when I called Haruko-san. Haruko-san met Yoshito-san for the first time when she went to Tokyo as her high school excursion. Yoshito-san in some way knew her school excursion and visited her at the hotel in Tokyo. Haruko-san was very surprised to see her older brother for the first time. Then Yoshito-san visited Haruko-san in Busan to send her back to the USA. Through these facts I realized the Nishimura family, especially Haruko-san's parents, Shinkichi-san & Ume-san had always been very anxious about her who they were forced to send to Japan soon after she had been born.
Mr. Shinkichi & Mrs. Ume Nishimura were the sincere believers of Konko Faith in Seattle. Shinkichi-san owned the Lane Hotel where the Konkokyo gatherings were often held. Ume-san became a church elder when the Konko Church of Seattle was established in 1928. Shinkichi-san's letters says, "Please have faith. All results in Masae's divine virtue. I have been praying to Kami for you. Please be patient well."
In other letters Shinkichi-san emphasized to his daughter, "Masae, don't forget Kami-sama. Please extend your appreciation to Kami, saying, 'Kami-sama, thank you very much today for being allowed to work everyday thanks to you.'" I was surprised & very pleased to discover Shinkichi-san had such deep faith in Kami.
Shinkichi-san died on January 5, 1945, in Seattle. He had been forced to live alone, separated from his family who had been ordered away to live in interment. But... though he lived alone... he did so with deep gratitude; sustained by his strong faith in Kami.
As I said before, Yoshito-san stayed at the Konko Church of Kanagawa. I have been contacting the grandson of the reverend who was head-minister during that time. Yoshito-san had left many photos of the Kanagawa Church that were in Masae-san's collection. Those pictures are now a very valuable resource because KC Kanagawa burned down in air raids during World War II. Most of all other photos owned by KC Kanagawa had been destroyed. It was a great pleasure to see Yoshito-san was a very earnest & faithful Konkokyo believer.
I now clearly understand that it was the sincere faith of Mr. Shinkichi as well as that of Mrs. Ume and Mr. Yoshito Nishimura that brought our family to Chicago to establish the Konko Church in the Heartland of America. The Nishimura family's earnest faith is a valued, trust worthy foundation for this church. Masae-san also succeeded their faith so well that she handed down this faith to her descendants by deepening her faith throughout her life. She must be reaping the peace & joy as a most worthy ancestor in the spiritual beyond. Let us pray for her eternal peace and happiness.
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