Good Morning, everyone! As always, I thank you for attending today's monthly service for December 2017. This is the last monthly service for the year. I hope each of you are enjoying good health & excellent spirits, as we look forward to welcoming the New Year of 2018.
On Friday, Nov. 17th, I flew to San Francisco to attend their Ikigami Konko Daijin Grand Ceremony & the 60th Spiritual Birthday for the late Rev. Yoshiaki Fukuda, on Sunday, Nov. 19th.
Rev. Fukuda was the founding minister of KC San Francisco. He laid the foundation of not only KC San Francisco; but also for the KCNA, the Konko Churches of North America. I wanted to pay my deepest respects to him for his tireless efforts in bringing this faith to North America.
In 1991, I trained under the guidance of Rev. Soichiro Otsubo at KC Airaku. I had an earnest desire to do missionary work in the USA. Rev. Tateo Suenaga, head-minister of KC Birigui in Brazil, thought nothing would happen for my wish to be fulfilled unless the ministers of the USA got to know me. So he took the lead in attending the 60th Anniversary Celebration of KC San Francisco that was held in May 1991. Rev. Tadayasu Fuchigami, a staff of the Konkokyo newspaper in those days, joined us in our trip to the USA to support me.
I visited KC San Francisco by myself for the first time a few days before the 60th Celebration. Rev. Richard Grange, head-minister there at that time was about to leave for the Colma cemetery. He kindly took me there.
My first duty in the USA; or Goyo, as we call it in Japanese, was to clean up the big, tall tombstone of the late Rev. Fukuda. I did it with sincerity in my heart, praying, "Fukuda Sensei, please train me to be able to succeed your wishes to embrace this faith in North America."
Since then this was my 1st visit to the Colma Cemetery in 26 years. The services in front of both tombstones of Rev. Yoshiaki Fukuda & Rev. Fumio Matsui were held there on Saturday, Nov. 18, one day before the celebration. I joined it & silently promised myself before both Mitama spirits to do my best to serve Kami & people in the USA.
During WWII, Japanese-Americans were forced to be confined in the interment camps. They were discriminated against not only before & during but also after the war. Rev. Yoshiaki Fukuda did his best not only to build the foundations of the Konko Faith of North America, but also to raise the status of Japanese-American Communities in the USA.
Due to his utmost hard works, he died young at age 59. He left the following last words, "My tasks have been uncompleted in my life time. However, I will try to accomplish my tasks as Mitama spirit."
What an awesome passion he had for the Konko Faith!
This was his wish as a Mitama spirit. However, this time I keenly realized this was also his earnest wish to leave to those who would serve Kami & people in the USA in the future.
Rev. Fukuda was afflicted with tuberculosis in his 20's & nearly died. He sincerely asked Kami to recover from it if Kami really exists. He suddenly wasn't able to breathe. Immediately he realized Kami did exist. Without Kami's permission, we could not breathe. He apologized to Kami for testing Kami & then came to himself. This was the beginning of his absolute trust in Kami.
He had the absolute belief in Kami that Kami would bestow any blessings to help people in any difficulties. Through such absolute prayers of his & Kami's miraculous blessings, the Konko Faith widely spread in North America. Rev. Fukuda built the foundations of the Konko Faith in North America through his absolute trust in Kami.
Konko Daijin taught us, "Tenchi Kane No Kami sent Ikigami Konko Daijin to provide blessings & teachings so that mankind may prosper. Kami is Kami because of man; man is man because of Kami. Both are fulfilled through this mutual relationship."
For the blessings that mankind may prosper, Kami & man must each fulfill the other. In order for Kami to be fulfilled, we humans must realize Kami's intentions through each & everything that happens, good or bad, in our daily lives. Then we can harmonize with the universe & communicate with it. This will open the world of mutual prosperity for divinity & people. When Kami's request is fulfilled in people & their request reaches the fulfillment of the divine request, then the joyous world will open between divinity & people.
I realized this time that, based on Rev. Fukuda's foundations, Kami would request me to establish such absolute belief that everything that happens, good or bad, is Kami's doing, that is, "All is Divine Love." It means any difficulties are no longer difficulties & they are Kami's desires filled with divine love. When we try to respect any difficulties as Kami's doing with gratitude & polish our heart toward our peaceful & joyful heart through them, they becomes Kami's workings filled with divine love. I will do my best to manifest this fact & be of great service to embody & manifest the Divine Reminder in North America.
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