My mom and dad always loved having extras in our home on the holidays so in my senior year, ( North Eugene High School, 1978-79), I first met Steven and Nathan Kaylor. Steven was the spiritual brother and Nathan the musician. I grew up in a very musical family so more than preachers, I liked musicians. Unfortunately, musicians didn't like me, but preachers did. :D
In my first year at PBC, I would go to Steven and ask him why Nathan didn't like me. To remember that now makes me laugh. Steven always answered as a friend who cared. God's ways are usually not what we have figured out and his timing is always the best timing.
Around Nov. my great-grandma (Granny) passed away. Her funeral was in Pasadena so we all (Grandmarie, dad, mom, 3 brother and sister), flew down for the service. While there I was lying on a sofa thinking about Nathan when I heard clearly, "What about Steven?!" I sat upright and said outloud, "Steven?!" Up until that time, I'd never thought of him in any way but a dear friend. That same night back in Portland, Steven said suddenly feelings for me began in his heart. After the funeral I flew back to Portland. As I was on my way to go hear Nathan practice with the choir, Steven walked by. I said hello to him and he replied with the biggest smile and said, "Hiiiii!" He'd never responded that way to me before. Soon after that time, we had a PBC banquet. He had already asked a friend and his roommate had asked me to the banquet. But both of us, without realizing it, were moving our chairs to where we could see each other during the banquet. I can remember my feelings grew so fast for Steven. I knew that with Steven, if we were to marry, came a life in Japan, but I knew immediately if I could have him, I'd go anywhere to be with him.
We were married June 20, 1981. In 1982, 9 1/2 months after our wedding, our first child, Angela Elizabeth, was born. We had her on our living room sofa in Eugene, OR. We were broke! In 1984, our second child, Bethany Joyce was born. She was born in the birthing room at the hospital. Eugene in those years suffered greatly and jobs were few. But those were days where no matter how hard it was, I had my beautiful daughters that kept me happy and thankful.
On Jan. 29th (Bethany's 5th birthday), 1989, we flew to Japan. Of all the things to remember, this is one thing I remember about that day. Earlier that morning, Ted Bundy had been executed. It was front page news on the paper the man was reading who was sitting across the aisle from me.
For me, I didn't know how hard leaving my family would be, especially my best friend, Jan, and sister, Lori, but God gave me what I needed to keep strong. My husband and daughters needed me to be strong. We said our good-byes and gave our hugs and began our adventure in Japan. I never looked back or felt sorry for myself. I took this new step in my life as an adventure to live out. I knew that Steven and I were in God's will.
We flew into Narita, outside of Tokyo, took a bus to the Haneda airport in downtown Tokyo, then caught a flight to Southern Japan. We met up with Steven's folks, Leo and Phyllis Kaylor, and drove 1 1/2 hrs. to get to their home in Arao City. We fell into bed. The next morning I was too tired to go to church, but when I expressed my feelings, they were returned with a look that said, "We're all tired but that doesn't matter. We're going to church." Up until that time, I had been my own person so this was a new experience. And they were right, I just needed to get up and go. There was no translation in the services, messages were long, and afterwards everybody brought their own food in picnic style containers and we all ate together. You'd think that I would have felt lonely but I never once remember feeling that way. In moving to Japan, I began to understand Steven like I'd never known him before. He was white on the outside, but raised in a Japanese nation and his heart was Japanese through and through. So much of what he was made up of, was Japanese. I began to understand that and found myself falling in love with him deeper than ever before. He became my best friend for the first time in our married life. I had been encouraged to homeschool the girls due to being far from any international school, (and due to high costs of international schools). Sending my kids to a boarding school was not an option. My memories of homeschooling are some of the best and worst memories I have. Angela was a bright easy to teach student. Bethany was dyslexic. Going from homeschooling a child who loved to learn, to homeschooling a child that couldn't comprehend easily, with a mother who lacked patience, proved trying. Bethany still loves to tell people about the, "BIG FAT F!!," story. I think I'll leave that story out for now. ;D But I will say this about my Bethany... she is the most talented brilliant lady. God healed her in an instant from her dyslexia before her fourth grade year. I'll tell that story in another post.
One memory I have, soon after arriving to Japan, was of an honorary lunch put on for us by one of the Ariake Bible Church mom's, in her home. She'd made a delicious feast for us. One of the dishes was a soup. Due to barely knowing me, my mother in law had no clue that when I see something that doesn't look appealing, my brain tells my stomach, "You don't want to eat that or it'll kick in your gagging reflex." In this soup was a root commonly cooked in Japan. It is called Konyaku. Konyaku reminds me of rubber and is usually cut in big pieces. It's a treat for the Japanese. To me... no taste, hard to chew, difficult to swallow, and ugly to look at. My brain was saying, "Don't even think about eating that!" I turned to my mother in law who was sitting on my right. I whispered, "Whatever that is, I can't eat that. I can eat everything else, but I won't be able to get that gray thing down." Mama K. turned to me and said, "You have to eat everything!" I argued, "But you don't understand, I can't." She repeated what she'd said. So I began to pray and PRAY HARD! I asked the Lord to please help me get that gray stuff down." I took a bite in faith.... I don't think my faith was working at that time because I went into a hard loud gagging fit in front of a large table full of people. On, "The Little Mermaid," there is a scene where Sebastian the crab sees Ariel out of the water singing to Prince Eric. In shock, Sebastian drops his jaw... That was the same expression I saw as I looked around this table full of shocked faces. With tears coming down my cheeks I said, "I told you, I can't eat things or my body rejects it." My mother in law so graciously grabbed her chop sticks and faster than a speeding bullet picked out every piece of konyaku from my soup and put it into her bowl. I don't think she ever made me eat "everything" after that. :D It must have been so humiliating for her but she took it in stride. I've laughed about that moment many times since. Mama K. and I barely knew each other at that time. I was young, selfish, and liked things my way. Mama was pretty set in her ways, too, so it took time to know one another. But I have to say this about my mother in law. She is the godliest, most amazing Proverbs 31 woman I know. I love her with all my heart and thank God for putting her in my life. Both she and Daddy K. are my heroes. They've now been in Japan for almost 60 years. Both are godly, full of integrity, positive, young at heart, full of love (for Japan and especially the Japanese people), and are the best in-laws a daughter-in-law could have ever asked for. One last added tidbit... Our first three months in Japan, they gave up their bed for us. They didn't have to, but that is the kind of heart they have. And Mama's cooking was delicious! She serves her family from morning until night. I love my in-laws!
Another memory of my early days in Kyushu. We had a ladies prayer meeting in a brand new home that belonged to one of the ladies in the church. Japan, at that time, used Kotatsu tables. These tables sat over a hole in the floor. Under the table was a large blanket and under that was a heater that kept the hole in the floor toasty warm. The house, on the other hand was freezing. I remember blowing smoke rings from my mouth in the cold, laughing at how cold I was. I needed to use the restroom so excused myself. In this new house was a brand new toilet that had just come out. It was a toilet with all kinds of button and under the toilet seat were nozzles ready to squirt. Problem was, these toilets didn't use symbols like the toilets now use, but everything was in kanji. I remember how I loved the heated toilet seat in that freezing house. I didn't want to get up but knew I had to get up some time. I had a jean skirt on. I turned to flush and couldn't figure out where the handle was. The lady of the house had put a bushy plant over the top of the toilet that hid the handle from my sight. So I figured it was one of the buttons and pushed. As I faced the toilet, out came a squirt of water that went all down the front of me. I was in that little toilet area laughing hysterical while trying to figure out how to turn the darn thing off. I finally figured out which button was the off button. My next dilemma was how to disguise my wet skirt that had steam coming off of me due to how cold it was. I wrapped my skirt close to me and hurried back under the kotatsu table and let the heater under the table dry my skirt. But I had giggles throughout the whole prayer meeting. That was a fun story to write home about.
20 years ago, to call America cost $4.00 per minute. We did not have that kind of money so I decided to try something. I rarely had moments where I needed to hear my mom's voice but once in a while I'd want to hear it so bad that I'd pray, "Lord, please tell mom to call." Every time I prayed that, my mom called that very day. I understood the power of prayer through that experience. One day I prayed but mom didn't call. I remember being so surprised and sad she didn't call. The next day she called. I said, "But mom, I prayed yesterday that you'd call." She said, "I KNEW IT! I knew I was suppose to call yesterday but then put it off." That blessed me so much that God had told her, but she was a day off in obeying his voice. How grateful I am now to have email, Skype, and Facebook... for being able to keep in contact with friends and family.
Enough for today... Thanks for reading... Shelley