Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Friend, Mariko

     I'm having a hard time writing the continuing story of my friend, Mariko, because of the recent tragedy in Japan. I have so many friends in Japan and don't know how to make contact with them.
I'm, of course, praying for them.

     The story continues after Mariko and her family moved back to Japan. We corresponded occasionally. She was growing spiritually. 
     The phone rang one day, Hedeki's voice was unmistakable! He was in town on business! Could we get together for a visit? He didn't have to ask twice! 
     I went to a shop to buy gifts for the family. I knew he'd have gifts for me! We met in the foyer of my church! He had attended the International Bible study class before they moved so he was comfortable meeting there.
     Sure enough, he had gifts for me so we had fun exchanging with each other. We had a good visit and he told me about each one in the family. It was so good to be with him! Then he said, "I must tell you that Mariko is a very good Christian!" I was thrilled. "She wanted me to tell you." I thanked him for sharing such good news with me. Then I said, "But, Hedeki, what about you? Are you a Christian?" 
     "Oh, no," he said, "not yet. Someday I will be, but I'm not ready to yet."
     I became very bold at that moment and said, "But, Hedeki, what if something happens to you, like an accident or sickness, and you were to die. Do you know where you'd go? I'll be praying for you that you'll believe in Jesus." He thanked me.
     A few years after that wonderful day with Hedeki I went to Thailand and had an over night stopover in Japan! I wrote to Mariko and another friend telling them I would be there on a certain day, staying in a certain hotel. I'd love to see them if possible. 
     I bought gifts to take with me and at the last minute bought three instead of two...just in case!
     After a long flight, I arrived in Japan and finally at the hotel. I was greeted by three entire families! I was so glad I bought that extra gift! One friend called another friend, that I had no address for, but I had tutored their children. It was so good to see them too! Even the husbands were there! I've never felt so welcomed in my life!
     What a great visit we had over a meal together! My students had all grown so much! 
     When it was time to say good-bye I took Mariko's hand and said softly, "I'm praying for you."
     She smiled, "Thank you."
     A few years later, I received a note in the mail: "Hedeki and our son are both being baptized!"
     What a thrill to receive that message! I'm still rejoicing!