“To have faith is to believe in something you cannot see,” said my father who is also a pastor at a church during a Christmas conference 10 years ago. It did not sink in when I was younger, but every Christmas I remember his sermon and appreciate the message he delivered. The sermon was about having faith, and I hope to share this with you in this article.

My parents met 27 years ago at a Bible camp. My father who was studying to be a pastor fell in love with my mother at the first sight. He wrote her so many letters after the camp to my mother until she realized that there would never be a man who would love her as much he did. They got married and were stationed at their first church in Shizuoka as newlyweds. Happy and busy days they had – and nothing could have made them happier when they received the news that my mother was pregnant with their first son.

Weeks passed. My parents were excited and happy to welcome their first child to the family; however, the doctor found a medical condition with my mother. The doctor told my parents that it would be likely that the child would also have a medical condition if they decided to have the child. The doctor said that it would be a difficult journey to have a child with a medical condition and recommended an abortion. My father said he felt like he fell from a top of a cliff. It was unexpected.

My parents prayed every day and night until my father made the decision to have the child. This is when he said, “To have faith is to believe in something you cannot see; I had faith in God and in His plan – I believed that the child He has blessed us is and will be our beloved child no matter what medical condition she/he will have.” From there, it was a joyful road. My parents could not wait to see the face of their first son.

On December 6, 1989, they had their first son – a healthy beautiful baby. The baby was named Hotaru which means fireflies in Japanese in hope that he will be the beautiful light in the world. That month, they had their first Christmas with him. In the photo albums we have of the family, my parents look joyful and jubilant holding their first son. Christmas has always been a fun, blessed time filled with love for us.

In this time of the year, people from around the world celebrate Christmas by spending time with friends and family. Okinawa has people from different cultural backgrounds, but the values such as family, friends, and faith are universal. Unexpected things sometimes happen, no matter what the culture is. Having faith in a greater plan or purpose can open us to joyful experiences. I hope that as we look back at the year that passed and look forward for the coming new year, we will always remember our loved ones in our hearts. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!