Good Morning, everyone! Happy New Day, Week & a special, "Thanks" for attending this, our 2nd monthly service for August. Today, an important addition will be a special time of encouraging students in their studies for the new school year. I hope you are all enjoying good health & excellent spirits.
KCNA's 2013 Conference was held in Vancouver BC from Friday, August 9th to Sunday, August 11th. It was one of the best conferences. I would like to share it with you today.
There was "Youth Camp" for the young believers age 13 to 17 from August 6th to 8th before the conference. This was Daichi, our second son's last time to attend this particular group. Next year we hope he can attend the "Young Adult Seminar," the next higher gathering for young people age 18 to 25.
A "Family Camp" was held on Thu. August 8th too, for parents with youngsters aged 12 & under.
Last year special program called, "Spirituality Bridge" was inaugurated. It's designed to give ministers & believers a chance to exchange ideas through conversation & was held on Thursday too.
I had flown for Seattle to stay at Rev. Nakahara's house on Wednesday, August 7th. Rev. Dick Dusek, minister of Konko Fellowship of Tacoma very kindly picked me up in Seattle & drove me to the conference site together early enough to join both "Spirituality Bridge" & the Conference 'proper'. As for "Spirituality Bridge" all participants worked to write an answer to: "Please share one experience at the Mediation place which was very memorable to you or had a big impact on you.
For the ministers: It could be either sitting at the Mediation Place (Gokekkai) as a Mediator (Toritsugi-sha) or receiving Mediation (Toritsugi)."
Here's what I wrote: "When Uzunoe Oyasensei kindly accepted me as an associate minister of KC Portland 18 years ago I had thought I wanted to do missionary work in New York, NY. Then I found that KCNA's first priority was to establish a church in Chicago. So Uzunoe Oyasensei & I often discussed the matter after we moved to Portland, Oregon.
Forty days before the 65th Anniversary Celebration of KC Portland we talked about it again at the Mediation place. I made a promise with Uzunoe Oyasensei that I would train myself as much as possible to have Kami show me whether the place should be New York or Chicago.
I was not sure if my faith training would be enough to show me the proper way. But thanks to Mediation, Kami's workings were great during those forty days. I had three traffic accidents one right after another. First the left side of my car's bumper was hit. Then the right side. & the third impact was directly in the center of my bumper. It rained heavily the day it happened, as it often does in Portland. I had turned the wrong way into oncoming traffic. Trying to find the way to turn around safely, I slowly crossed the road. Then a car passed mine going pretty fast & I hit the door of that car. An attractive lady opened the door & rushed toward me saying, "Are you killing me?"
More significantly, during these forty days Daichi, our 1½ year-old second son, became very ill. He had a fever as high as 105 degrees for five days. Nothing we could do seemed to make him better so we just turned to prayer. Then our twelve-year-old son, Mitsunori came down with the same symptoms. Mitsunori cried & cried in pain & there was nothing for us to do but pray for him as well.
These kind of things continued happening for the whole forty days. I really felt this was a challenge to train myself with Kami. Therefore I let go of my ego until it was gone. Then after KC Portland's 65th Anniversary Celebration I sought Mediation with Rev. Uzunoe Oyasensei. He said, "Then your missionary place is Chicago."
I clearly now believe Chicago is the place where Kami wants my family & I to establish a church to serve Kami & people. The tests we had during those 40 days by enduring in practicing faith, were Kami's way of telling us to, "Stop trying to do it all yourself. Turn around & trust me."
So, that's what we've been attempting here in Chicago. Now, 16 years later, may we continue to do so, deepening our faith through Mediation, for as long as Kami gives us breath to do so.
The three days of the conference were great. This year's theme was "Let us seek & receive Kami's Words through Mediation." There were two keynote speakers for the conference, one from Japan & the other from within the boundries of N. America. The Rev., Dr. Todd Takahashi is from the Konko Mission of Honolulu, Hawaii. Rev. Shuko Tsuda's 'home-base' is KC Amagasaki, Japan. This might have been the first conference to have both speakers give their keynote speeches, in their own language... English or Japanese on the same stage, one at a time in the same session.
Rev. Takahashi described the place within a Konko church's Worship Hall where ministers & believers join to communicate with Kami, the"Mediation Place (Okekkai); as low place in the ground or "Depression (Kuboitokoro)," like the 'sink-hole' which swallowed up a large part of a hotel building in Florida recently. He said that in faith-practice this was the place where all problems in the world could be gathered together. As a result, it's not a very clean place; instead it's a dirty place, like a toilet. It is the place where people should share their most pressing life-problems, especially the dirty ones, which are inside their deepest recesses of hearts the way they push their bodily wastes out into a toilet. When they do this honestly & thoroughly it can all be "recycled" by receiving Kamis' words through Mediation about learning to deal with those problems constructively in the future.
Rev. Tsuda was a wonderful example of this proccess by telling most honestly about problems she'd overcome through Mediation. After getting married all pressures even unusual ones came to her. She tried to deal with them without rest, went depressed little by little & at last lost her mind. She even turned her thoughts to commiting suicide. Fortunately, because she had two children she could not put them through such a terrible experience. She returned to her church & did everything for her to become normal without success. Finally she wanted to see the founder, thinking he was the only person who would save her.
One day she prayed hard by herself for a while & then heard a voice. She thought it our founder's voice. It came from the Mediation place of KC Amagasaki. It was a voice of her younger brother, Rev. Shohei Tsuda. Since then she has sought his Mediation & spewed out whatever she has inside. Through his guidance she recovered from her madness step by step. Through her expeience she talked about the very importance to seek Mediation.
These keynote speeches had a great impact to all audience members, as you can well imagine. They led to very energetic group discussions over the next two days even in casual, friendly social conversations. I had not planned to attend the conference. However through Kami's arrangement I could. I felt the urge to be open & candid in these sessions. As a result, I had a wonderful memorable time throughout the conference which deepened my faith in all aspects.
The next year our KCNA Conference will be in Toronto, CANADA. I hope you will all give thoughtful & sincere consideration to joining me in 2014.
Well, now back to Sun. Aug. 18th, 2013. We are now in the one hundred days of faith training leading to the 130th Anniversary Celebration of our founder. At every prayer service we recite the following solemn pledge: "What we wish now for the 130th Anniversary of our founder's death, is to revive the vivid way he lived so each day we will feel Kami near us & hear more clearly the Divine voice. We seek to blaze a trail into the active world of Konko Daijin, & experience the essence of his faith -- as if by touching we'd feel its warmth & by poking we'd draw spurting blood."
If you haven't been doing this yet, please join me in this one-hundred-day faith training from this day forward, no matter where you are or what challenges you face in that day. Let us join together in spirit, do our best to clearly accept everything that happens in our daily life & seek to develop unbreakable peace & joy in our heart by manifesting this pledge on our daily behavior. To the degree that we succeed; I am sure we can have some faith gifts to bring to our founder this coming October when we have our group tour to Japan.
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