Over the past few months, we’ve been sharing with you about some of the relationships we’ve been cultivating. This month, we’ll focus on Penelope and Percival again. If you don’t remember our stories about them, click here to refresh your memory from our April newsletter.
About a week after we sent out our newsletter, Penelope and Percival moved… and now they live in the same building as us, right across the hall!
Penelope loves all sorts of different plants; in June after her uncle uncle died, I gave her an orchid to express my condolences. That day we had a long conversation, I found out that she’d attended a Christian church in Naha (the capital city of Okinawa) in her childhood.
“I feel as though my life has come full circle. In my childhood, I loved Takei sensei (the pastor of the Naha church, who has since passed away), and now I have met you!” She hugged me again. I felt so honoured to be included in the list of people she loves.
After our conversation, I asked Higa sensei (our own pastor) whether he’d known Takei sensei. He had, and even owned a book put out by the Naha church, which included many pictures of church members.
This year, we invited Penelope and Percival to our annual Canada Day party, and both came. That day, Penelope and I had a chance to give special gifts to each other. Penelope performed the Okinawan tea ceremony; and I pulled out the book from Takei sensei’s church to show her. She spent a long while looking excitedly at all of the pictures. Her memories were so sharp. With no hesitation, she rapidly pointed from picture to picture, telling me the names and stories of the majority. At the end she bowed low, and thanked me deeply for the gift of those renewed memories.
We’re continuing to build up our relationship with Penelope and Percival, and had them both for dinner last night. We are now in the midst of the Okinawan festival of Obon, when people specifically worship their ancestors. Normally this is a time for family only, and Penelope and Percival wouldn’t think of coming over. However, since Penelope’s uncle passed away recently, they don’t yet have the altar where they would normally worship him, and so are not celebrating this year.
Beforehand, we prayed that they will have an entirely different Obon experience this year, where they would encounter the spirit of Jesus, and realize that His power and love are so much better than the powers of the other spirits they worship.
During our visit, Percival asked us whether the Bible says the world is a sphere or flat. One of his co-workers had asked this question. We told him that the Bible isn’t a science textbook, but did point him to Isaiah 40:22, which talks about God sitting above the circle of the earth.
“This is the first time he has ever seen a Bible,” Penelope told us as Percival looked at the book.
We showed him a few other verses and talked about God’s gentle care for His people (Is. 40:11), His sheer size (measuring the waters in the hollow of His hand; Is. 40:12), and the fact that He created and named the stars (Is. 40:26). We briefly mentioned Jesus and the New Testament, and Penelope turned to the book of Matthew. We all had a chuckle over the fact that Matthew starts with a list of ancestors, and we were right then in the middle of Obon. Our discussion of Biblical matters took less than 10 minutes, but we hope that the words that Percival read will sink into his heart, and that he will come back to us with more questions in the future. What an honour to share his first experience of Jesus with him!