This is a story of a man that I met in Okinawa Japan,
Moriyaki san, He was my friend.
Moriyakisan- ? "Modeeyahkeysahn"
Lou, Greg and I were on "Outreach". I guess outreach can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, so ill just slightly explain.
Outreach to us was to be in the streets, telling people about Jesus the Christ of the Bible, trying to help people see the true light, that Jesus Died for them.
That was my complete heart. I honestly loved people, I loved to spend time with people, talk to them. I enjoyed every long day, and night of conversation with whoever it was that I was with that day. I never did that because I had to. I only did that when I wanted to.
I always wanted to! I loved people!
I'd go down to the "Okinawa City Mall" with my dictionary, and my bible, Okinawa was my heart. The Japanese people were my heart. I'd sit there and wait, when I saw someone just standing around, Id go up to him or her and try to use my Japanese and just speak to them, it was kinda funny at first, because all that I could say was "konichiwa" (good afternoon) adn one can only say that so many times before it gets kinda old. ya know what I mean? I had my Japanese phrase book too. :-)
I began to semi learn the language, not enough to be able to hold a good conversation, mind you. Just well enough to get myself into big trouble. I Loved the Japanese people so I wanted to learn their language.
Moriyaki was on, B.C street, or was it Gate 2 street? ummm, not sure! but he was Drunk!
I don't know, maybe my Pastor Don Bishop, (yeah that was his real name!) was on fire at this time, or maybe we just listened to him for a change, I'm really not to sure!
Maybe, God was telling us that we needed to love people. "love thy Neighbor" or something biblically religious like that.
I'm really not sure what it was that put the spark in Lou, Greg and Gene , but when they saw Moriyaki in the street, something happened, because from that moment on, They were gonna be his friend! We had all decided that we were going to help him!
why? I'm really not to sure about that, may be it was because he just fell into our laps or maybe it was because the lord really dealt with us, uhhhh, may be it was a little of both.
They witnessed to him! "witness": (bring the dude to a decision about the lord, today!, or you'll never have another chance, kinda thing.) but everyone knows how it is when you speak with a drunken man. nothing gets through!
There was another barrier as well. Moriyaki spoke Japanese only, Greg and Lou only spoke a little Japanese. Lou and I were studying Japanese intensively at this time though, so Lou was slightly more advanced then Greg. Lou and I had a reason to study, we had the Japanese babes! and mine was Hot! : - ) (she is my wife now of 25 years)
Lou and Greg didn't care much about any barriers though. For those guys? there were no barriers!
they had just taken an apartment together. They were Out of the Marine Corps. and they had come back to Okinawa to "reach the Japanese for Christ" they were both single but Lou was dating, courting a very cute Japanese girl named Noriko, and Greg was Hunting! for anything! with breasts! :- ) though Greg and Lou were in love with life, they were also very much in Love with Jesus, and the truth, and like me, they very much loved people too!
Moriyaki san probably thought that Greg and Lou were nuts! that night, I'm not sure exactly what his feelings were. But what they did next was definitely a sight to be seen.
After "witnessing" to Moriyaki san, they asked him if he wanted to go to heaven, and of course, like 98% of the entire earth would say, he said "yes." So they asked him if it would be okay for him to pray with them, and again he said "yes" and they prayed. They asked the Lord to come into his heart, and that was that.
I don't even know if he understood anything that they had told him but........
..........In Greg and Lou's eyes, Moriyakisan was "saved!"
uhhh huuu, no turning back now buddy! : - )
Moriyaki san? "weather you like this or not , we are going to help you". And that's what they did, that's what we did!
Moriyakisan, was a large size man, for a Japanese, He wasn't fat, but we all learned quickly, that he was very heavy. He lived in the streets under some cardboard boxes, right smack dab in the middle of Okinawa city. the street was his home, he hadn't had a bath in ages, and you could smell him a mile away, (besides the saki smell) he had a very nasty sour odor to him, you know, kinda like rotting eggs. or a dead carckus. No seriously, he smelled bad!
The first thing that had to be done, was for him to take a bath, and that's just what Lou and Greg did, they took Moriyakisan to their apartment, and gave him not one but three baths and after each bath, he still smelled.
As a matter of fact, he never really got rid of that smell completely.
They Litterly scrubbed him from head to foot, again and again. "Hey!"...they finally concluded. "With a little bit of cologne, He was fiiiiine!"
Mori couldn't say much, he could only mostly make noises, though he spoke often. Only Eiko san (another Japanese girl from the church) could understand his lingo. He spoke mostly Hogen. the official Okinawan language before the Main Land Japanese came and claimed Okinawa for its very own.
As a younger man, Moriyakisan was a part of the Okinawa Yakuza, which is the Okinawa version of the "Japanese mob." When he went to prision, Society had dumped him completely, as well as all of his Yakuza "friends". As a matter of fact, His so called "friends" ended up taking Moriyaki's pinky finger with them as a departing gift. Or should I say................... "parting gift".
His family had disowned him, and believe me when I say this. When a Japanese man is disowned by his family, He is excommunicated, completely!
Moriyaki san could barely walk and he had to carry himself. He had Multiple Sclerosis and his reflexes always reflexed when he didn't want them to. He walked very slowly and fell often. not as much when we first met him, but after he had been with us for a couple of years.
Greg and Lou allowed Moriyaki san, smell and all to stay in their apartment with them, We fed him, and took care of him.
We, well... Eiko San, Went to the Okinawa City Office to find out who his relatives were, and where he may have come from...who was suppose to be responsible for him. If anyone.
We found out that his older brother lived near by. We went to see him. needles to say, He wasn't very happy to see us at his door step. He wanted absolutely nothing to do with Moriyaki san.
Moriyaki San had no other family! The city made the older brother take him in. By law, they only had to give him shelter. So his brother by the force of the government, "Allowed" Mori to stay...Well, kinda.
He made Moriyaki san to sleep outside under the stairs in the back of his house. Out in the elements. Okinawa weather could get pretty fierce during monsoon season too. I must say that Okinawa weather is pretty mild year around, average 70's, the weather dips to the lower fifties or upper fourties in the dead of winter. But it probably rained for 65% of the year or maybe more.
The concrete stairs that went up to the roof, became Moriyaki?s complete shelter and there was absolutely nothing that we could do about it. We tried to get him out of there, but now His brother wouldn't have it. After learning that he was going to get money from the government because of Mori's illness.
He didn't want to lose his money coming in. (the city was to give him money monthly for taking him in.) It was a dispickable thing for his brother to do and we were all very upset about it all. Moriyaki's brother still hated him though. He was still disowned and he was still an outcast, but now there was a buck to be earned, money to be made.
Mori had an old tatami mat that his brother threw out to him and a blanket, (we later gave him a good one) and he was only allowed to ever enter the house if he needed to go to the toilet, or wash in the small bathroom by the back door. No shower or bath! It was unbelieveable!
The man had MS and His damn brother wouldn't even hold the door for him.
I'm not real sure exactly what Moriyaki did to cause his family to hate him so much but by watching his brothers attitude towards Moriyaki definitely made me wonder, that's for sure.
Moriyaki san's brother had a nice fishing business. He would have been considered middle class on Okinawa. He lived on the beach and by law, had fishing access to the ocean. They caught the fish every morning, and cooked them in his own garage, They sold the fish everyday to the bento market! they made a pretty nice living at it too.
Anyone who has ever been to Okinawa, definitely. knows what the bento market is.
The Okinawan people love bento's for lunch. A bento is a small box lunch but made fresh everyday with an unbelievable variety of choice, from seaweed, to sushi, to kobe steak, chicken, pork, to freshly fried fish, head and all. Mmmmmmmmm. (that's how his brother cooked them, and they were good!) Tons of veggies, cooked any way you wanted them, and always rice! ...a little yakisoba? mmmmmm.
Ohh My. I miss that. There is absolutely nothing in this world like Okinawan Yakisoba! The Okinawan "bento ya". would go crazy here in the U.S.
We ate the bentos everyday at work. and they were very inexpensive too, approx. 300Y. for a good one? about $3.00.
Mori loved bentos as well, yes even a Japanese man with Multiple Sclerosis eats with chopsticks. Amazing I know. But uhhh, when he ate, You didn't ever want to be sitting beside him, that is for sure! :-)
although, it was very funny to watch Mori. We always joked with him about it. If he was drinking miso soup, he'd have about half in his lap before ever getting the bowl (chawan) to his mouth. We took care of that problem though. We would only give him small amounts at a time, it really frustrated him to no end too.
Mori never drank saki again! After the night that we took him in. Mostly because he was always with us. orrr uhhhh, maybe God had something to do with it. : - )
Akemi and I would pick Moriyaki up for church, and for any other Japanese activity that we were involved in. We were always involved in something about everyday. We took Mori with us most of the time. We all took turns watching him and helping him around.
Believe me when I say this, Getting Mori to the car was a real chore. It was very difficult, especially late at night bringing him home, or on Sunday mornings, when the neighbors were all sleeping. We had to enter the gate to the back stairs, whenever we opened that gate, it would squeak real loud, and clang and make so much noise.
Houses are very close in Okinawa, and very few have much if any grass to separate them from one another. Its pretty much all house, concrete, wall! house, concrete, wall! on that Island!
In the dead of summer, Mori's brother's house would be all opened up and He would be sleeping in his bedroom right there by the small alley way where we walked. I could often see him lying there. Sometimes he would say things. I'm not sure what he ever said exactly, but it never sounded very nice. Mostly he would just mumble to himself but always loud enough for Moriyaki to hear him.
Well, the path from the front of the house to the back stairs was about 40 feet, we'd go around the corner of the back of the house, Moriyaki slept under the stairs that led to the roof. Waking him up wasn't a very difficult task either. It had to have been very uncomfortable for him. I'm sure.
The Government was giving his brother money every month to take care of Mori, but I think we took more care of him then they did. We were all pretty poor though, none of us had any money. Greg, Gene and I all worked for the "Pacific Stars and Stripes" at the time. Lou taught English
in a japanese middle school. We all made very little. Barley enough to even survive let alone take care of our friend. I was making about six hundred and fifty dollars "a month" at the time. and we only got paid once a month too, It was extremely difficult for all of us being American on the Okinawan economy, but we were all there to reach the Japanese for the Lord, and though we needed money to survive, we didn't care much about it.
Moriyaki san would play with us at times. He would make karate noises. See, When mori would talk, he would speak with kind of a low to high pitched voice, he'd speak very simple Japanese. He mostly spoke Hogen.
This is hard to explain in words. He spoke kinda like an American who would be jokingly speaking in karate lingo, like, Kiiiiiiiiyaaaaaaaaa,! Haiiiiiiiiiiiyaaaaa! Only in a little slower fashion. I'm not sure if anyone will ever understand how I'm explaining this in text, but I guess Greg, Lou, Eiko, Akemi, Gene, and many others from the day will be the ones to understand this part. not the actual kiya or haiya part, but the sound of it, that is how he spoke all of the time.
When he spoke, his voice would go up and down high pitched, it was so funny, as an American to hear him speak, and if it were not funny enough, he"d make the karate sounds on purpose trying to make us laugh. We would mimmick him, not making fun of him, but just enjoying him, and making him laugh back, then he would do it back at us, and....... and it was just so funny!
Lou and I would play with him in that manner. We'd make the karate sounds back at him, we had so much fun with Moriyaki, he was our friend. and we all loved him and we all cared for him. I guess I'll stop right there, cause readers will just not understand this part.
We never spoke bad of his brother. For the most part! But we did all pray earnestly for him, He wasn't ever really mean to us, Well, To me personally that is. His Girlfriend even gave us fish from his shop sometimes when He wasn't around, ( Uhhh, would that be considered stealing? Lets let the religious ones figure that one out.) and all though He never said it to any of us, I think he was rather dumbstruck because of our persistence in caring for his brother. I think deep down he really appreciated us. He didn't like Moriyaki san though, that's for sure. Whenever we would come by, He would turn his back, walk away and mumble to himself.
His neighbor came out and met us one early Friday evening as we were picking Moriyaki up for a beach party. They thanked us for caring for him, and they even had a few choice words to say about their next door neighbor, which was very embarrassing for us, we didn't know how to react. We didn't hate Mori's brother. In fact, we made it a duty to pray for him everyday. but to be completely honest, he wasn't on our best friends list either!
I think that this is why the Japanese ministry really began to grow. We loved Moriyaki san when everyone else had rejected him.
Moriyakisan's heart had begun to completely change, It was awesome to see that Mori was actually living for the lord. But you had to look close. He would try to sing the Japanese songs in church. "shu no chi, shu no chi, ni i chi kara ari, ku shi ki....chi kaara." (there is power, power, power in the blood) It would sound like he was moaning when he sang the songs. He was at times just a little bit louder then everyone else. He pretended to be able to read the words in the hymnal books but we all knew that Mori couldn't read or write.
There was this one time, it was during a service, as the Pastor was preaching, Mori wanted a bible, so he could follow along with the reading of the scriptures. For some reason, he was adamant about reading it himself on this particular occasion, so Akemi (my wife) gave him her bible to read.
He held her bible up and pretended to read it. We knew he was pretending. His eyes would move along the pages like he was actually reading and he even moved his finger. But he was holding the bible upside down. It was so funny because he had such a serious look on his face. He would peek out of the corner of his eye, checking to see if Akemi and Eiko San were watching him or not. I sat down beside him and pretended to read along with him. His face lit up like a Christmas tree. He must have actually thought that he was pointing in the right place, because his hand just moved up and down with the upside down words of his bible until the reading had ended, then He closed the bible and with a very satisfied look on his face, exclaimed "Haaaaallelllluuuuujah? Yeeeeeeesuuuuu Chriiiiistoooooo"
Mori would at times wander off down the flight of stairs in the church, the church was on the second floor of a store front. The stairs had about thirty steps or so. if someone wasn't watching him continually, he'd fall and hurt himself. He fell a few times as a matter of fact.
He began to fall more often as his disease advanced. He began to lose his eyesight as well, his brother was forced by us to have his eyes checked, mori's eyes were cataract, they were turning a deep gray color, and nothing short of a transplant would have helped.
One evening Moriyaki was upset because we were always worried about him, we always helped up and down the stairs so he was going to do it himself this time. He jerked his arm away when we tried to help him. He wandered off down the stairs, he fell and he hit hard, his teeth went through his tongue, and chopped a part of it off, we rushed him to the doctor, he lost the front portion of his tongue, and it took months for it to heal.
If anyone could have understood moriyaki san's speech before the fall, it was definitely impossible by now. Now? He could pretty much only make sounds. Even Eiko san, who spoke fluent hogen, couldn't understand a word that Mori would say.
If he ever had any money or when someone from the church would give him any money, he would always excitedly pull it out in the restaurant, or kisaten (coffee shop) or where ever we were fellowshipping. you knew when it was coming, I could see him moving for it five minutes in advance, while everyone was talking, he'd try to reach to his pocket, and his hand would move all over the place for about five minutes, until it finally rested on his hip, or pocket area. That was about how long it took for his hand to figure out what his brain wanted it to do I guess. Once he found his pocket, he'd shakingly pull out the money.
We'd all tell him, Morisan! iie! (NO) Its Okay! (daijobuu). He would make a real big scene about it. It was so funny to watch an old Japanese man with Multiple Sclerosis getting angry, and demanding that he be able to pay! with "his own" money. Eiko would humbly bow before Moriyaki san in the Japanese traditional manner (holding both hands out and kneeling to accept his gift! and when she did, he'd have a huge smile on his face, knowing that he had paid for it! He was awesome, His heart was awesome and I could see it.
Mori's heart was awesome! He'd go on outreaches with us, he couldn't do much, but he tried. God sees the heart of a man when Men only see his ugly or beautiful outer shell.