When I was about age 8 or 9 and Sunday School was over, instead of playing games with my peers, I sat next to Mama in the pew of the sanctuary of the church during the Japanese-speaking church service. (The men sat on one side and the women sat on the other. I don’t know why, but they did. That’s why I never sat next to Papa in church.)
By attending these Japanese-speaking church services, I was able to learn the “Doxology” and “Gloria Patri” in Japanese and some lines of the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” in addition to a few Christmas carols.
As I mentioned in a previous column, Mama had a beautiful singing voice and would sing hymns and other songs she knew while cooking our dinner as I set the table or helped her in any way she requested. She taught me Japanese children’s songs such as “Hato Popo.” Although many years have passed, I still remember the children’s songs Mama taught me.
Even to this day, when we have a combined English and Japanese service, I always sing the “Doxology” and “Gloria Patri” in Japanese. I think of Mama and feel her presence beside me and can hear her beautiful voice singing hymns.
Sitting next to Mama and attending the Japanese-speaking church services, I learned many pertinent religious words in Japanese, such as 組合 kumiai (congregational), 長老 Chourou (Presbyterian and/or elder), イエスキリスト Iyesu Kirisuto (Jesus Christ), 聖霊 Seirei (Holy Spirit), 聖餐式 Seisanshiki (Holy Communion), よみがえる yomigaeru (resurrect), 十字架 juujika (cross), 弟子 deshi (disciple), 聖書 Seisho (Bible), 賛美歌 sanbika (hymn), 罪 tsumi (sin), 信仰 shinkou (faith), 望み nozomi (hope).
It has been a blessing to retain and be familiar with the terms I learned as a child because today I am able to understand 85 percent of a sermon spoken in Japanese.
If I would only truly apply myself, I could learn the Lord’s Prayer in Japanese, but as it stands now, I only know the first two lines. This is one of the New Year’s resolutions I make every year, but fail to keep.
The Lord’s Prayer has a combination of the most beautiful four verses in the Bible. It covers all walks of human life in this short prayer taught by our Lord. Maybe I should make up my mind beginning now to memorize this prayer in Japanese.
Thank you, God, for giving me such a wonderful Mama. She was good to me. I will always remember all the wonderful aspects of life she taught me and her being such a living example.
My best wishes to all of you for a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and A VERY HAPPY 2014.
Amen in gratitude.
Maggie Ishino is a Rafu typist. She can be reached at email@example.com. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.