Wednesday, September 15, 2010

MUM: The King's Treasury

     Mum was profoundly influenced by the example of George Mueller, born in Prussia (1805-1898), who with his wife Mary founded five orphanages to care for more than 10,000 orphans, housing the first 30 in their own home in1836, without ever mentioning their needs to another human being. Mueller had such faith in God's provision that he once sat down to dinner with a table full of orphans and thanked God for the food--when there was no food. Within minutes of his prayer, a neighbor brought bread, saying he had an unexpected surplus, and a milk truck broke down outside their door, with milk the driver told them needed to be drunk because it was perishable.
     "God worked miracle after miracle in caring for these orphans.  George Mueller records that he never once was deprived of a meal, though at times they came very close to not even having food.  On one occasion, a woman gave 10 pounds for the orphans, which came at a time when one of the houses had no bread and none of them had any milk or money to buy either.  This money came only a few minutes before the milkman's cart was due and breakfast was served!  Another time dinner had to be delayed 30 minutes in order for the answer to come and food to be provided.  Such a postponement happened very few times in the whole history of the orphanages even though thousands of mouths had to be fed daily!" From mini-biography
    Mum's attempt to "go and do likewise" is included in Catherine Marshall's Something More,1974:

From chapter 11, "The King's Treasury":
     "There is endless fascination in seeing what has happened to individuals who have picked up God's challenge to tithe. A correspondent-friend, Barbara Reynolds, had spent nearly eighteen years in Hiroshima, Japan, as a part of the World Friendship Center ministering to atom bomb survivors and crusading for peace. Meanwhile, Mrs. Reynolds had been offered a scholarship to Pendle Hill, the Quaker study center near Philadelphia. It seemed right to accept. There was only one difficulty: she did not have money for the trip home [to the States] It was at this point, she wrote me, that she read Peter Marshall's sermon "Research Unlimited."
     'I will never forget the challenge that started me on one of the most exciting adventures of my life: "Suppose, for example that a group of Christians decided to experiment with the Lord's exhortation to tithe for one year. What do you suppose the results would be?"
     I had never tithed. Quakers don't even pass the collection plate. . . . Nevertheless, when I finished reading that particular sermon, I felt moved to try.
     I began by adding up all the money I had in the world: a few thousand yen in a Hiroshima bank, a couple of hundred dollars in the United States, and some small change in my purse. I resolved to set aside a tenth in a special purse and the next day, withdrew enough from my bank account to start my Fund for the Lord. I also began to keep a special record of my experiment.
     And would you believe it! On January 26th when I began to tithe, I had less than three hundred dollars. When I left Japan two months later (on March 23rd) I was able to turn over, in tithes, more than I had to begin with.
     Now, a year later, I can report that the experiment which I began without any particular expectations has developed into a way of life which has opened up amazing and undreamed-of potential.
     I'm sure you know that I am not speaking of tithing as a way to get rich quick! No, the amazing effect of my tithing experiment has been twofold: (1) It has completely freed me of the panic fear that used to grip me about being penniless. Now I know that my needs will always be supplied. And (2) it has helped me to know the joy of being a channel through which blessings can flow to those around me. The Lord's purse is never empty!"

More on George Mueller's prayers

Monday, September 13, 2010

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

MUM and the naked man up a tree

     It was the Fourth of July, if I remember. Or maybe it just felt like it. Dao, Annie, Diep and Jenny were on a flight to Los Angeles and we were going to welcome them to the United States with an American picnic. Mum had arranged for someone to pick them up at the airport while she went to a park early in the day and staked our claim on a picnic table.
     It was still early--in fact the call may have waked us up--when my husband Rick and I were drawn into the day's events.
     Mum's voice sounded apologetic, as it often did when she had to break it to us that there had been another change of plans. (They were so common she called them "C. of P.") "Hi, Honey. There's been another C. of P."
     "Hi, Mum. Dao's being flown to Alaska?"
     "No." She laughed without losing her air of purpose. "Do you--does Rick have a pair of pants he doesn't need?"
     What did this have to do with a picnic? "I--don't know. I'll ask him." There was no point getting into "Why?" yet. I knew we'd hear about it in good time.
     I asked Rick (my husband then). He thought there was an old pair he could live without.
     When I relayed this information, she asked, "Could you--would one of you mind driving them over to _______ Park? I'll meet you there. Actually, maybe Rick should bring them. There's a man here that needs them. I'll tell you all about it when I see you later."
     Rick agreed to go without complaining but I could see him shaking his head a bit as he dressed. With Mum it was always something--something totally unpredictable.
     When we both went later to meet Mum in the park at the originally agreed-upon time, with our promised contributions to the picnic, we found she had secured a table. It was complete with a paper tablecloth, paper plates, and plastic tableware, as well as containers of what we presumed to be food.
     And a strange man.
     As Mum greeted us and explained who would be bringing Dao and the girls and when they were expected, I couldn't help noticing out of the corner of my eye that a small Mexican man was sitting quietly at the table. He was probably just resting on the bench for a minute, I decided, and would get up and leave soon.
     Just when I couldn't pretend to ignore him any longer, Mum said, "Oh, let me introduce you to Jose." Jose stood and bowed slightly as we offered him handshakes. Mum laughed slightly. "He's the one who needed Rick's pants." I realized now that he had on a pair of familiar-looking pants way too big for him in every direction.
     On the pretext of helping us fetch things, Mum walked with us to our car so she could talk to us privately.. "When I came here this morning," she told us, "I made several trips to the table and then sat down to wait for everybody. After a few minutes I thought I heard something. I looked around and there was no one in sight. Then I heard the noise again.
     "This time I looked up--and there was a man crouched in a tree overhead."
     It turned out that Jose was from Mexico and had been sleeping under the tree the night before when a couple of guys found him there and roughed him up. They demanded everything he had on him, including his clothes. Apparently when Jose saw Mum coming--I say apparently, because he could not communicate this to her in English--he was so embarrassed he climbed the tree.
     But Mum, in her usual way, got him all sorted out and managed to convey to him that he was welcome to join our family picnic.
     Other tables were filling up now so it was good Mum had come early (good for us and especially good for Jose.) But we still had two or three hours to kill. We sat down and chatted with Mum for awhile. We didn't want to be rude to Jose but we didn't know what to say to him, nor he to us. Questions like "What was it like hiding naked in that tree?" were a bit awkward, even if we'd known how to say them. 
     Dao and the girls arrived eventually and so did other people I'm sure but that part of the picnic is a blur. All I remember is the shock of being at a "family" meal with a bunch of strangers and no common language--four who spoke only Vietnamese, one who spoke only Spanish and the rest of us who spoke only English. Mum and I kept throwing in smatterings of Japanese and a soupcon of French--but it wasn't intentional.
     Tim can keep each new language he learns in its own compartment. If he needs "thank you" he goes to the appropriate bin to pull up"arigato," "spasiba," "danke," "gracias" or "ta." But Mum and I were both created linguistically incorrect. Every foreign language we learn goes into one big mushpot. So when we fumble for foreign words, especially with Asian people, Japanese is usually what comes out. Or even ghastly combinations like Mum's memorable sentence, "Coke wa pau desu," which jumbled three languages, including a smidge of Hawaiian. (She was trying to say, "There's no more Coke.") And she bowed as she said it.
     It was a long afternoon. Nobody could speak intelligibly to anyone else--but somehow everyone had a wonderful time.
     Our family had expanded again. Someday it would include everyone in the entire world. I just knew it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

MUM: Maigran

     Maigran is what they called her--Dao Mai and her three girls, Anh (Annie), Diep, and Jen.  Maigran: short for "My grandma."

     Mum didn't know she would become grandmother to three Vietnamese children when she met Dao Thanh Mai in Japan. Dao had come to Hiroshima from Saigon for plastic surgery on her face, badly scarred by French bombing in 1947.  For 30 years, scars on her mouth had made it impossible for Dao to open it wide enough to insert anything bigger than a straw.
     Dao was on staff at an orphanage for Amer-Asian children in Saigon.  Despite everyone's warnings that the city was about to fall to the communists, Dao flew back after the surgery, refusing to abandon the children until finally forced by the Khmer Rouge to do so at gunpoint.
     Then Dao grabbed Anh (Annie), whose father had been a black soldier--a big one, from the looks of her--and Diep, whose father was white, and fled.  She tried to hide and support them while Mum doggedly appealed to American members of Congress to let the three into the United States, offering to be their sponsor.  Some of them were sympathetic but the U.S. was admitting no one into the country from Vietnam, no matter how desperate their situation.  No exceptions.
     For five years, Mum received sporadic letters from Dao, addressed to "Mama." During that time a man "befriended" Dao, leaving her with a baby of her own.  So now there were four.  Once during that time Dao paid someone for a place on one of the boats slipping secretly out of Vietnam.  But the person took her money and the boat left without her.  She heard later that everyone aboard had died.  She tried to escape again and ended up in jail for six months.
     In 1983 the door to the United States was opened to Amer-Asian children and the children Dao had protected became her ticket to freedom.  Mum received word that the family was safely in the States.  They had been flown, for some reason, to Maryland.
     "That's a relief," I said.  I was relieved they were in the States but secretly I was also relieved they had overshot California.  Now someone else could take over responsibility for them.
     But Mum was already on the phone.  "Maryland," she said to the operator, and in an aside to me, "I know of a church in Maryland that works with refugees.  Maybe they can track the family down."
     I knew it was only a matter of time until we had the four Vietnamese in Long Beach and were finding a home for them, enrolling the kids in school, driving Dao to the Social Security Administration, including them in our family Thanksgiving and Christmas. 
     With a sigh I faced the inevitable and let the borders of our family enlarge.  Again.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

MUM and the Exploding Wheat Germ

July 21, 1985

Public Relations
Kretschmer Wheat Germ
PO Box 302
Milwaukee, WI 53201

Dear Sir or Madam:

I have always felt safe around wheat germ. With all the other problems of life, it always seemed to be one thing I didn't have to fear. If everything around me slipped its moorings, wheat germ was one product I could count on to remain stable. Not any more. The other day our jar of wheat germ exploded!

It was a half-used jar which I had kept refrigerated for several months after opening. Recently I loaned the jar to my mother, who used some and put the rest in her fridge. The next day, she got the jar out to use a second time and it exploded in her hands, propelling a large hunk of glass out of the side of the jar. Although the hole was below the level of the wheat germ, no wheat germ blew out through it. When she leaned down to pick up the glass shard, it was too hot to touch--and the hole it had made was charred and hot around the edges!

Friends have offered various theories. No, the jar had not been near the refrigerator light; the light doesn't even work. As far as we know, nothing in the jar had fermented. And the possibility of demon possession seems doubtful.

Have you run into this before? Is this a case of spontaneous combustion such as takes place sometimes in grain silos? I want to be able to reassure my mother that I did not deliberately rig the wheat germ to detonate.

We await your reply with great curiosity.

Jessica Shaver

P.S. Perhaps you need to label your jars "Fissionable Material!"

International Multifoods
Multifoods Tower
Box 2942
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402

August 15, 1985

Dear Mrs. Shaver:

Thank you for informing us about your mother's experience with a jar of Kretschmer Wheat Germ. We are concerned about your report and apologize for this incident. We hope your mother was not injured.

We would like to obtain more details as well as the jar if your mother still has it. We are sorry for the delay in responding to your letter, however, it was addressed to a clearing house which handles our cookbook requests and just now reached our corporate offices. We were unable to obtain a telephone listing for you from directory assistance.

Please be assured that the wheat germ cannot create a condition such as spontaneous combustion which can be a problem in grain storage areas. Neither fermentation nor gas buildup could be factors with this product. In checking with our plant manager, he informed me that in his 14 years of experience, he is not aware of any similar incidents and cannot explain such an occurrence.

We would very much like to learn about this incident in greater detail. It would be most helpful if you could send the jar and any remaining wheat germ to my attention at the above address. We will be happy to reimburse you for postage.

Enclosed is a postage paid envelope to use in supplying further information such as the code number stamped on the jar bottom in blue ink, the size (12 or 20 oz.) and flavor (regular or brown sugar & honey) of the wheat germ. It would also be helpful to know if the product may have come into contact with some chemical in your mother's house or if perhaps a spoon or other utensil used with the wheat germ may have been exposed to some contaminant such as a cleaning compound, solvent, etc. Last, and most important, please let us know if your mother escaped injury. If you would prefer, you may call me collect at _________.

We look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible and will be happy to keep you informed about our examination of the jar should you be able to send it to us. We hope this unusual experience has not discouraged you from giving Kretschmer Wheat Germ another try. Enclosed are some coupons as well as our popular cookbook, "Something for Everyone" which we think you'll enjoy. . .


Diane Wieland
Communications Manager
Consumer Products Division

August 19, 1985

Ms. Diane Wieland
International Multifoods

Dear Diane:

My mother, after describing the explosion to me over the phone, threw the jar into the garbage. When I said I wanted to see it, she fished it out for me. The hole was perhaps an inch across, like a jagged many-pointed star and some of the glass around it was charred brown.

I wrote you (before I saw the jar) that it was half-used. Actually there were only two inches of wheat germ left in the jar (the largest size, regular flavor) and the explosion was just below its surface. When I saw the jar, some of the wheat germ was wet and was adhering to the side of the jar just below the hole. I immediately assumed this helped explain the hole; my mother insisted that had not been there previously but was a result of having been put in with the garbage.

My mother was not injured, just shaken. I have to say that she is rather scatterbrained and frankly, there's no telling what a utensil she used with it might have been exposed to! She has been in Japan all month and is due back Friday. I'll ask her if she still has the piece of glass.


Note: As it turned out, she hadn't but here's the sketch of it I sent to Diane Wieland. Since the glass of a Kreschmer Wheat Germ jar is thick and the piece blew straight out the side of it without breaking the jar, I assume not only Kreschmer but our Department of Defense would have liked to look at it. I'm sorry we didn't keep it or the jar, not so much for their sakes but as a personal souvenir.
     Things like this could only happen to my mother, But with her they were a way of life.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

MUM: Bodhisattva* Barbara

     When did I realize my mother is in a category all her own, a "singularity," as my brother Tim would say. Was it the day she called to tell me her wheat germ had exploded? Or the day she wanted to borrow a pair of my husband's pants for an illegal alien she had found naked in a tree?
     Most people who knew her called my mother a saint, not in the Biblical sense, as a term interchangeable with "Christian," but in the sense in which most people use it, to mean someone exceptionally good, kind, caring, and compassionate. In either sense, Mum qualified.
     In 1969, Mum left Hiroshima after 17 years' unpaid philanthropy. There was a farewell party given by an "Association to Express Appreciation to Barbara San" and Mayor Setsuo Yamada presented her with a key to the city. She had written a message, "Goodbye to Hiroshima," to the people she was leaving and the local YMCA printed her words in a bilingual booklet, with a preface by the mayor and many messages of praise and thanks from those who had known her.
     In it, Dr. Tomin Harada wrote, "you may feel uneasy if we treat you a saint, but your modest way of life--humble wear, not riding a taxi, always taking a bus, and most of the time walking in flat shoes, has an image of a saint in Hiroshima. We suddenly realized that here is the true beauty and an overall impact projected by your character."
     Under the heading,  "To Bodhisattva Barbara" (as opposed to Bodhisattva Buddha), Eiichi Nakata of Osaka wrote, "As I admire and worship the teachings of Buddha, Christ, and Gandhi, I also admire Mrs. Barbara as a saint. . . I am not so brave as you; I cannot give up my home and possessions. . ."
     One person called her "the flower of Hiroshima."
     Over 1,000 letters and contributions totaling nearly 1,000,000 yen (about $2,778) were sent to her before her departure, to support her future welfare in the States.
     But I'm here to tell you they don't know the half of it.
     Way back when we were still an intact family living in Japan, friends often gave us lavish gifts of fruit, huge baskets lined with green tissue paper, on which rested elaborate arrangements of choice apples, grapefruit, oranges, and grapes covered with cellophane.
     I don't remember our ever unwrapping one. Mum just gave them as gifts to other people. We assumed they made the rounds of the community in this way like a game of "Hot Potato" and we used to ask each other, "Who gets the brown bananas?" Passing on the bounty we received was a standing family joke.
     Mum didn't just give away the overflow that came into her life. I've already told you how she gave away her bed to a refugee family when she was 65. My first husband and I loaned her our trundle beds and she gave those away, too--to two separate people. She gave away a fountain pen which had been given to her at some banquet in her honor, not realizing that it had her initials inscribed on it. She gave away the centerpiece I bought her as a housewarming present when she settled in Long Beach.
     I told you about the lipstick, too. A Cambodian woman died and her family had no idea how to go about arranging for a funeral. They'd just arrived, couldn't speak English. Mum found an interpreter who explained that the county would take care of it and that the family could spend a few minutes saying goodbye, preparing her for cremation.
     The woman's children combed her hair and wanted to give her face a little color. Mum went down to the gift shop to buy some lipstick for them but they didn't carry any. So she gave them her own lipstick, a gift from us. Even the fact they gave it back wouldn't have been so bizarre if she hadn't gone on using it after that!
     Miyoko Matsubara, one of the two Hiroshima survivors whom Mum accompanied on the Peace Pilgrimage throughout the United States and Europe, later published a memoir of their travels together. In Little Boy the style-conscious Miyoko wrote, "We've often noticed that Barbara is traveling somewhere with only one pair of shoes and a single purse. If she receives a dress which was chosen specifically for her, it quickly disappears. The more expensive the present that someone gives her, the sooner she gives it away."
     Clothes, books, stationery. Money.
     Hiro, the other survivor who traveled with her, entrusted $1,200 to me to use for Mum's needs. I made the mistake of giving her the money to use for herself. The next thing I knew she had opened a time account for her Vietnamese "daughter" Dao.
     The day Mum was mugged, she had in her purse $100 that belonged to the thrift shop she and Dao were helping set up. Knowing that the shop was in a bad part of town, she had taken the money home with her for safe-keeping. Since she felt responsible for losing it, she put the stereo system we had given her for Christmas in the thrift shop to sell so they could make up the loss.
     Then there was the Christmas tree.
     When she first moved back to the States, Mum lived for two years with a lady named Emma. Emma was 96 years old and starting to forget things. But she mainly needed a companion, someone to share her homemade peach pies and play Dominoes with her. She was a sweet lady. I remember her sitting contentedly in her easy chair when Mum brought Miracle or friends with children to see her. Emma would rock contentedly, murmuring, "Little dogs. . . little dogs. . ." or "Little kids. . . little kids. . ."
     But there was one issue on which Emma stood firm. Emma's daughter had died around Christmastime at the age of 16 and in all the years since then, Emma had refused to put up a Christmas tree.
     Mum brought a straggly five-foot tree for her anyway and our family donated balls and tinsel. Surprisingly, Emma wasn't offended. She was pleased. But a few days later, her breathing got bad, as it did periodically, and she had to spend Christmas in the hospital.
     Emma was hardly out of the house before Mum, like the Grinch in reverse, was spiriting the tree, the  decorations still clinging perilously to its limbs, out of the house, into her car and down to her church, First Friends, where it graced the fellowship hall through the remainder of the holidays--through the telling of the gospel story to more than 100 Indochinese children, through cookie-cutting and carol-singing and a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings for the entire church.

*Bodhisattva: (Buddhist) n. An enlightened being who, out of compassion, forgoes nirvana (paradise) in order to save others. [Sanskrit bodhisattvaḥ, one whose essence is enlightenment: bodhiḥ, perfect knowledge + sattvam, essence, being (from sat-, existing).]

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The most important books in the world - 1 of 2

     Do you know that the same book has been the top best-seller every week since long before the New York Times' had a best-seller list--and is never mentioned on it?
     The Bible. That, hands down, is the most important book in the world.
     But after the Bible, children's books are the most important, because they reach us at our most receptive, out most formative. They are also, in my opinion, the hardest books to write well. To engage a very young reader, they have to be fun. To engage a school-age reader, they have to be exciting.
     To have any value worth keeping them out of the fires heating our baths, they have to make a profound and positive moral without it being obvious. We're building a worldview here, shaping values, presenting role models! Even Dr. Seuss used zaniness to teach us "a person's a person, no matter how small" and to show redemption through a Grinch's heart which was capable of expanding "three sizes" in one day--not to mention teaching us the joys of applying our own imagination to creative word-play.
    I am leery of books which are engaging but have disturbing messages. Judy Blume wrote a book in which the young "hero" watches his teenage neighbor undress every night through binoculars. It leaves the reader thinking voyeurism is not wrong, that it's a valid choice. I am not comfortable with those who are thrilled that their children read Harry Potter since "at least they're reading" when my understanding is the books make a positive, if subtle, case for dabbling in witchcraft.
     There are books which will guide you to reading matter worthy of your children's minds. One of them is Beverly Darnall's compilation of Laura Bush's List of 57 Great Books for Families and Children: Laura's List. Another is Gladys Hunt's Honey for a Child's Heart. Share with your children your own favorites, of course, but don't overlook the classics and classic series like Little Women, Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, Misty of Chincoteague. has excellent, Christian character-building historical novels in their Beautiful Girlhood Collection and All-American Boys Adventure Collection.
     I see that my grandfather's compilations of Real Life Stories (consisting of four volumes such as Real Adventures and Heroic Deeds) were apparently re-issued last year. I'm just reading them for the first time and think today's children would love them. I hope someone will also re-issue his four-volume collection of Junior Literature: a feast of selections from dozens of great authors: Shakespeare, Malory, Stevenson, Hans Christian Anderson, Mark Twain, Frost-- Good stuff.
     Every boy should be introduced to Kipling's "If":
     "If you can keep your head when all about you
      Are losing theirs and blaming it on you. . .
     Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
     And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son."

     How did your early reading help you become who you are?

Monday, July 26, 2010

The most important books in the world - 2 of 2

    It was a children's book about Japanese twins that endeared my mother to the Japanese people (and by extension, other cultures) so deeply that the propaganda of the second World War could not affect her.
     And it was a book about a little girl confronting a burglar that taught her to believe there is good in everyone. Joining the Society of Friends ("Quakers") as an adult was an outflow of having read a book by the author of The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett.
     The book was Editha's Burglar, based on a real seven-year old girl and published in 1888. Quakers believe in searching for and appealing to "that of God in everyone" ("the true Light which enlightens every man," Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 9). That was a thread that ran through Mum's entire life, affecting the way she treated everyone from the young Japanese woman who replaced her as Dad's wife after their divorce to an anonymous man who knocked her down and stole her purse when she was 69.
    She got that way of seeing people from a children's book, long before she got it from the Bible.
     Like justice, pain is something children understand intuitively-- that is, they understand their own pain. I remember Ben coming to me to complain, "I have a headache, Mommy." He pointed to his forehead. "See?"
     What children have to be taught is that other people feel pain, too. One of the mistakes I think we make in this culture is making a game of other people's pain. We let our children poke us or hit us over and over and we laugh or say "Ow!" as if being hurt is fun. Then they poke once too hard and we get angry and the game's over. Confusing message to a child!
     Worse, we let them watch cartoons or movies in which other people's pain is supposed to make us laugh. Though I understand the bad guys deserve it and it empowers the kid, I've never really enjoyed Home Alone.
     Yes, there are people with bad intentions and we want those intentions thwarted. We want children to be safe. But Mum, like Editha, treated people redemptively, not vindictively. While Editha's father is out of town and her mother is sleeping, seven-year old Editha hears a burglar in the house. She goes downstairs and addresses him naively and without fear:
     "'Don't be frightened,' she said, in a soft voice. 'I don't want to hurt you; I came to ask a favor of you. . . . Mamma would be so frightened if you were to waken her, that I am sure it would make her ill. If you are going to burgle, would you please burgle as quietly as you can, so that you won't disturb her?'"
     The burglar, taken aback, laughs.
      "'You mustn't take any of mamma's things,' said Editha, 'because they are all in her room, and you would waken her, and besides she said it would break her heart; and don't take any of the things papa is fond of. I'll tell you what,' turning rather pale, 'you can take my things.'
     "'What kind of things?'
     "My locket, and the little watch papa gave me, and the necklace and bracelets my grandmamma left me, --they are worth a great deal of money, and they are very pretty, and I was to wear them when I grew to be a young lady, but--you can take them.'"
     She goes to get the things for him and talks to him as he helps himself to the silver and other valuables, asks him if he really wants to be a burglar and shakes his hand before he climbs out the window.
     When her parents find out the danger she was in, they blame themselves and vow to take better care of her. But Editha says, "He wasn't such a bad burglar, papa--and he told me he would rather be something more respectable."
     Six months later, after he is caught, the burglar voluntarily returns her things to her.
     Read early and often, that book had a profound effect on my mother. She maintained that attitude toward strangers and evildoers--seeing them as reachable through courtesy and love. I am convinced Mum would not have become the gentle, generous, courageous woman she did if Editha had rigged up a device to catapault the burglar headfirst through a wall.
     Remember Ashley Smith, the woman held hostage in her Atlanta apartment in 2005 by convicted rapist Brian Nichols? Ashley talked to him as to a fellow human being about the terrible consequences of drug use. She read to him from the Bible and in the end persuaded him to turn himself in.
     Do we want to teach our children to respond when wronged not by turning the other cheek but by causing other people pain? Don't we want them to see "bad people" as "potentially redeemable people," people Jesus loves? Don't we want them to learn courage, strength of character, and trust in God? How can we expect them to develop compassion for sinners if we have taught them to laugh at people getting concussions from falling cans of paint and being hit in the face with two-by-fours, as if other people don't feel pain?
     I'd rather teach my children to search out and appeal to that trace of God's image in everyone.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

MUM: Hiroshima Peace Pilgrimage

(To enlarge page, left-click twice, separately.)

Miyoko, Mum, and Hiro (taken by Richard A. Brown, Fairfax, CA)
From Chapter 4, "Peace Pilgrimage to U.N.," in The Phoenix and the Dove by Barbara Reynolds, Nagasaki Appeal Committee, 1986.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

MUM: Hiroshima Peace Pilgrimage: Hiro's story

     I am sorry that I cannot talk to you in your own language. But please listen to the message I bring from Hiroshima.
     I am 18 years old. I graduated from Hiroshima Public Commercial Senior High School this March and this is a Japanese school uniform. In Japan all students must wear this uniform. I say this because somebody thought this was a military uniform. I am glad to be here and present to you messages from the first atomic-bombed city of Hiroshima. I am glad so many of you could attend this meeting.
     My parents died when I was two years old. My parents and all relatives were victims of the first atomic bomb, except for my grandmother. Since then, I have been living in very difficult circumstances. I was only two years old when the bomb fell and I could not do anything for myself. Since she took care of me, she could not work for money. In addition to this, she was so old that nobody wanted to give her a job. She applied for work, but everywhere in vain. This meant slowly starving to death for both of us. She tried to sell soap from door to door, carrying me on her back on top of her heavy load of soap. Whenever I heard my grandmother telling this story, I could not help crying and being so thankful to my dear grandmother.
Hiromasa and his grandmother
     However, we were so poor that we could not support ourselves. This difficult situation continued until I was four years of age. At that time, I began collecting old iron and copper in the streets. In this way I used to earn about two shillings a day, or sometimes three shillings, in order to help my grandmother and make her more comfortable. Were there children anywhere as poor and miserable as I? Yes, more than 8,000 orphans in Hiroshima had had hardship as I have. My grandmother was then 64, and still working to support herself and me. This made her very sick, and finally she often could not go out to work at all.
     At the Commencement ceremonies of my primary and secondary schools, I had nobody attending with me. It was very hard to see my classmates happy with their parents and relatives on these occasions. My eyes were filled with tears and I was almost crying. Then, I tried to find out why I had to suffer and why I was unhappy. And I have reached a point where I understand--everything was caused by war. It is war that has given me this suffering and unhappiness. I am not the only example. Today there are a very great number of people who are still suffering from atomic bomb sickness and the results of war.
     A week before we left Hiroshima, on the day the United States announced the resumption of their nuclear tests, a policeman died in Hiroshima. He had been transferred to Hiroshima on the day after the explosion. He helped victims of the nuclear weapon, and that was the reason he got radiation in his blood. But for 16 years, there was no sign on him. Six months before we left, he became sick. When he died he left two children, and it is true to say that these children have been orphaned by the effect of that bomb. . .
     I would like to emphasize again: please put a stop to nuclear testing and the arms race!
     Thank you very much.

     Note: Hiro and I were the same age when he went on the Hiroshima Peace Pilgrimage with my mother. He was an intelligent, solemn, earnest, duty-oriented young man. He served his grandmother and when she urged him to accept the offer to go with Mum and Miyoko to speak wherever possible in all the nuclear powers, he served my mother, becoming like a son to her. He learned English and was able to be an interpreter on the next, much more ambitious pilgrimage around the world.
     When they came back to Japan in 1964, Hiro fell in love with a young Japanese woman named Atsuko but as an orphan and a survivor of Hiroshima, he had "nothing to offer" her parents as a potential son-in-law. Mum went to bat for them, acting as their go-between. Atsuko's parents, who had two daughters but no sons, agreed to let Hiro marry Atsuko if he would assume and carry on the family name and the family business, spending six years training to become a dental surgeon.
     Hiro did.
     He and Atsuko married and had seven children--an especially great blessing for an orphan! At least one of his sons is following in the family business and they are probably the best-known dentists on the island of Shikoku!

Monday, June 28, 2010

MUM: Hiroshima Peace Pilgrimage: Miyoko's story

From Friends of the Hibakusha, edited by Virginia Naeve. Denver: Swallow Paperbooks, 1964.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

MUM: World Peace Study Mission

From Chapter 5, "World Peace Study Mission," in The Phoenix and the Dove by Barbara Reynolds, Nagasaki Appeal Committee, 1986.

Friday, June 25, 2010

MUM: Help me, God!

See also post on this website for August 2, 2010: "A Little Toad Shall Lead Them?" by Barbara Reynolds and Jessica Reynolds Shaver. (Left click on article twice to enlarge it.)

From Chapter 6, "Help Me, God!" in The Phoenix and the Dove by Barbara Reynolds, Nagasaki Appeal Committee, 1986.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

MUM: from Reweaving the Web of Life: Feminism and Nonviolence

     I have let Mum share with you how God led in her life after our voyage "to Russia with Love" through her book The Phoenix and the Dove. Now I want to let her share her perspective on her life as she looks back on the trip around the world and the two protest voyages, on the marriage that ended, and the lessons she learned from all of it.

From "Barbara Reynolds: Sailing Into Test Waters," in Reweaving the Web of Life: Feminism and Nonviolence, edited by Pam McAllister, Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1982.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

MUM: from Facing the Danger

"Barbara Reynolds," from Sam Totten and Martha Wescoat Totten, Facing the Danger, Interviews with 20 Anti-Nuclear Activists, Trumansburg, NY: The Crossing Press, 1984.