Hello everyone. Happy Sunday; in a New Week of Kami's blessings! Thank you very much for taking time to attend KC Chicago's Ikigami Konko Daijin Grand Ceremony. As always I wish that each & every one of you enjoy great health & the most excellent spirits on this wonderful autumn morning.
It has been 132 years since the day our founder, Ikigami Konko Daijin, entered the next world. Kami released our founder's Mitama-spirit to minister to the entire world on Oct. 10th in 1883.
Kami requested our founder to complete a hundred days of faith training & said he would become a kami after passing away. He did it with his heart & left this physical world on the day when Kami predicted his death & said would be "Konko Daijin's Day." This year I deeply realized the importance of this Hundred Days' Devotion of our founder. It was significant so that Kami admitted he had completed his faith training in this world to become a kami.
Therefore; I too, seek to do my best in training myself - with all my heart - for one hundred days; which I began on July 2nd & continued to Oct. 9th, following our founder's training as closely as possible. I believe I received a positive response from Kami when I visited Japan from Oct. 7th to Oct. 21st. I named this trip, "One in which Kami's wish may be fulfilled."
On Oct. 10th I witnessed a most solemn & beautiful Ikigami Konko Daijin Grand Ceremony at our headquarters.
So I was not in Chicago on Oct. 10th (local time) when 5 students from the Loyola University came to KC Chicago for interview. My wife, Kanako, called me in Japan the day before Oct. 10th & asked me how she should do. She thought her English was not good enough & was afraid that she wouldn't be able to answer their questions clearly. I told her that I believed this was more likely, Kami's way of telling her to do her best; & to reply them from her heart as sincerely as possible.
By the way, you'll remember this all happened on Oct. 10th, which is "Konko Daijin's Day." I could not help but think it was a very positive response from Kami for my ‘Hundred Day's Devotion.'
In thinking about it all this time, I think Kami wanted Kanako to practice faith individually to build her confidence, without relying on me. In so doing, she received divine virtue in praying on her own. In the past, when I wished my wife would be such & such a way, it actually means... I want to depend upon her & avoid practicing faith individually, on my own. After all, since Kami is everywhere at the same time, I can pray for her & successfully renew myself through it. It also means I practice faith individually & receive divine virtue as I pray on my own.
Because this happened, I made up my mind to accept everything with joy & gratitude by getting rid of myself as if I were dead, like Our Founder was on that 10th day of Oct. 132 years ago... whatever happens & no matter how difficult it might be.
Another thing that happened on my trip was that I brought a small bottle of ashes of the late Mrs. Haruko Nakaoka. Before the war Haruko-san spent her childhood in Kushigahama, Yamaguchi prefecture in Japan. She lived with the Nishimura family (from her father's side) & the Yamagata family (her mother's side). Because of the poverty which Japanese immigrants suffered in those days, her parents had to send her to families where she'd have a better life.
Her brother Mr. Yoshito Nishimura met Haruko-san in her junior year, & after she graduated from high school, he sent her to live in the USA before the war. On that trip she & her brother visited Konko Headquarters & took photos in front of the old, main worship hall.
Haruko-san always believed she would return to Japan again, but that dream never came true. She had a wonderful, enjoyable wedded life with Harold-san for 66 years in the USA & passed away quietly last year at age 94. All her life she wished to visit Kushigahama one last time. So that's why I brought some of her ashes to Japan this time. My heart was filled with joy & gratitude, to be allowed to travel with them. I believe this feeling was a reflection of Haruko-san's Mitama spirit's joy & gratitude.
Rev. Hiromichi Konko, the next Principal Mediator sat at the Mediation place in our main worship hall when I arrived at our headquarters on the morning of Oct. 10th. I sought Mediation with him & he held the bottle of her ashes & prayed for Haruko-san's Mitama spirit.
Afterward I showed Haruko-san around our headquarters. I showed her the place where she had been taken her photo before the war. I took her ashes to our founder's gravesite & the Yuzaki mountain-side & other places of interest.
After the grand ceremony at our headquarters I took a bullet train to Kurume in time for the monthly service of KC Airaku the same day. Then the next two days I took trains to Takanabe to see Rev. Setsuo Furuya, my wife's father. He has been hospitalized since January. To my surprise Mrs. Hisako Ohara, my wife's sister had come to Takanabe from Yakushima by her car to see her father in hospital. She picked me up with her mother at the Takanabe station. We visited KC Takanabe-Kita where my father-in law, has served as associate minister. This was my first time to visit the church. I felt the deep connection of historic atmosphere through the whole visit.
We went to the hospital to see Rev. Setsuo Furuya. It was my first opportunity to see him in almost 20 years. I wanted to thank him & said, "Thank you very much for your faith training through your illness. Thanks to your virtues, my family in Chicago has been blessed more than I think possible & KC Chicago has been protected by the watchful eye of Kami."
He was very pleased to see me & might be encouraged by my story about how blessed KC Chicago had been.
Wed, Oct. 14th; I went by train from Kurume to Kushigahama. With the bottle of Haruko-san's ashes I walked from the Kushigahama station to the seashore,... where I said to her, "Haruko-san! You have finally come back home! You are in your childhood, home town in Japan! Do you remember these places around here?" I climbed up the small seawall, recited the divine reminder with her & threw Haruko-san's ashes into the sea. When I did it, relief lifted from my shoulders like a soaring bird & I was moved to tears.
Fri, Oct. 16th, I joined the solemn; beautiful Ikigami Konko Daijin Grand Ceremony at KC Airaku. Rev. Tateo Suenaga, head-minister of KC Birigui, Brazil gave the sermon. He talked about how wonderfully the church had been transformed through Kami's arrangement since his son, Rev. Shintaro Suenaga returned to Birigui after a long period of faith training at KC Airaku.
On Sat. Oct 17th two couples' married & had wedding receptions together. The newly-wed two couples were Rev. Kenichi Otsubo & Miss Yuuki Koga & Rev. Shizuyuki Suenaga & Rev. Megumi Takeuchi. Megumi Sensei is my niece. Their joint-wedding ceremony was both solemn & beautiful. The receptions were filled with happiness, laughter & of course, tears of joy from the beginning to the end. I was overwhelmed & lead to give three cheers with emotional tears in my eyes!.
My wife, Kanako, most always asks me to return to Chicago as soon as possible. So I expected to return home around Oct. 18. This time Kanako told me it might be better for me to stay a little longer at KC Airaku. So I chose to take my return flight on Oct. 21. This too, turned out to be a great blessing.
On Oct. 20th KC Kokura held the 130th anniversary celebration of its propagation. Konko Shijin, the second successor of our founder, told Kami's will to Rev. Matsuhei Katsura, "Katsura-san, go to Kyushu to propagate this faith from now."
Rev. Katsura asked, "I understand. To which parts of Kyushu I should go?"
Konko Shijin said, "Kokura is a good place."
Rev. Katsura said, "Konko-sama, Kokura is a really desolate place."
Konko Shijin said, "Go to that lonely place with Kami of fortune. If all people; even old men & women believe in this Kami, then that place prospers day by day, month after month & year to year. Then it will become a prosperous land in three years." Then a little later he said to Rev. Katsura, "You should go to Kyushu to die. Become a part of the soil of Kokura. If you go there one day earlier, the people there will be helped one day earlier."
So Rev. Matsuhei Katsura started his missionary work in Kokura 130 years ago. Rev. Katsura has been revered as the founding minister of Kyushu. That would make the believers of the Konko Church of Airaku seem to be the great-great grandchildren of KC Kokura.
Thanks to Kanako's suggestion, this time I could join their celebration with a clear & happy heart. I really sensed the profound history of the buildings & atmosphere of KC Kokura which stands in front of the Kokura castle.
Throughout my whole trip I came to the realization deep in my heart that, "I have no power, no ability & no talent before Kami. There's no other way than for me, but to entrust everything to Kami by getting rid of myself as if I were dead."
When I stand faithfully on this point-of-faith in the Konko Church of Chicago; I burn with the inner desire to fulfill my role for Kami! My heart pounds violently with expectation. I would like to share much more about this latest insight into my trip of faith. But the time is limited, so I would like to finish my speech with this thought.
"Inspired & encouraged by Kami's superb workings during my trip to Japan, I come back to Chicago with a strong determination to do my best to train myself with a heart to develop & achieve unbreakable Peace & Joy in my whole being, & to inspire an era of the peaceful & joyful hearts for all people in the world. Thank you!
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