Ten years after the founding, Mother Okamura and Sister Kawakubo went to the United States. Thanks to the help of Father Punsman and many others, this was made possible, not only to collect donations for future projects, but also to help plan for the future. Mother was a person who always prayed and thought about what we could do for those who were right in front of us. Her decision to switch from a post-war orphanage to a facility for intellectually handicapped children was also a result of her determination to identify with those who were weak, poor and suffering. The results from the trip to the U.S. were also very successful for establishing a new facility. We are sure that the two of them who went to America had a very difficult time. Unlike today, it took a long time to get there by ship, and I you can only imagine the many difficulties they faced in the days when the world was not yet globalized. Mother sent many letters of encouragement to the remaining members in Japan about her experiences in America. As she always said herself, one person's sorrow or joy was another's own. She gave her heart to each and every one of her members. This was true even in her later years when she was so ill.
When the Social Welfare Society Law was established, Mother had the two great responsibilities of being the President of the Social Welfare Society and the Superior of the Religious Congregation, and she spent her days cheerfully devoted to both, which I believe many of the sisters still remember now. Although she could not have done it without God's grace, we believe it was the result of her daily prayer life. Due to years of overwork, she had trigeminal neuralgia and suffered from severe headaches and had to bear a lot of pain. However, she showed God's love to the members with her usual smiling face, kindness and sometimes severity. I think she was carrying her cross as the founder of the church. Even though her body was getting weaker and weaker, she was able to live her life as a Fiat until the day she returned to the Kingdom of Heaven with her caring sisters. In the end, prayer was the only way for her to serve the Lord, and she showed us the final form of service before she passed away. She was 82 years old. I wonder where she was in her small body, always praying and thinking about what God's will was for her and what she needed to do, and then doing it with absolute trust. Mother was a person who was always looking ahead. That is why our congregation has always been serving the sick and vulnerable people of the time irrespectively of who they are.
We have two convents in Koganei, one in Oshino Village at the foot of Mt. Fuji, and one in Fuchu City.
As the sisters grow older, many of them have began to spend their days in even deeper prayer because they can no longer perform actual service. More and more sisters are joining Mother in heaven now and we can feel the power of their prayers as we nurture the seeds planted by Mother here on earth. The seeds left by Mother are now being planted and nurtured in the hearts of each and every member of the Missionary Order of St. John the Evangelist. Just as Mother and Father Totsuka were always working to be neighbors to the people in front of them and for the salvation of many others.
The Social Welfare Society continues to grow in accordance to the needs of those around us. Sakuramachi Hospital started out as a tuberculosis hospital, but quickly moved from a tuberculosis hospital to a general hospital and then to a hospice for terminal care. We have established a special nursing home for the elderly who were lonely in an aging society, and also a center for those who were at home. The intellectually handicapped children's home was moved from Hachioji to Yamanashi and as the number of children decreased, and the original children became adults, the children's department was abolished, and due to the demands of the times, the number of group homes and home support centers are increasing. Each facility has been supported by church members and many benefactors. Inheriting Mother's legacy, we, the St. John's Society, will continue to serve, seeking to know who are our neighbors and who are the most vulnerable people around us just as Mother always cared for those whom Christ cared for.
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him.
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.