Yu-Ai September issue 2019 — New Directors Roger & Kathy Edmark

Yu-ai Friendship
Newsletter of the World Friendship Center, NPO

Greeting from Roger and Kathy Edmark, new co-Directors of the World Friendship Center.  We have now been in Hiroshima for over a month and are enjoying our time at WFC.  We would like to thank all of the staff and volunteers at WFC for the warm welcome we have received.

Roger Edmark

I was born in North Dakota, in the USA. Before I was one year old, my parents moved to Seattle. They packed up my older sister and me in the car and drove to Seattle to look for milder weather and better employment opportunities.  Within one week, my father was employed by the Boeing Company.  Twenty-two years later, I too would be employed by Boeing.

All of my schooling, grade school through high school, was in Seattle.  My favorite activity as I grew up was playing baseball which I did through High School.  I have always loved sports (baseball, softball, basketball, golf and others) either participating, coaching, or watching it.  After high school I worked for Norse Home, a retirement home in Seattle.  I was a pot and pan washer.  I continued to work there after enrolling at the University of Washington, also in Seattle.  I first studied Architecture, but eventually received a BA in Philosophy.  After graduating, I worked for the Boeing Company for 43-years, mostly in Aerodynamic Engineering.  My job involved international travel, and Tokyo Japan was a frequent destination.

When I was in my 50’s, I was told by the doctor that I had a heart murmur.  The murmur was caused by a congenital heart defect of my aortic valve.  I would need to have it fixed if I wanted to live a normal active life.  So, at 57 years of age I had an operation to replace the faulty valve with a new artificial one.  Today, my heart works like a clock – it literally beats one beat per second.  My grandchildren like to put their heads on my chest and hear the clock (heart valve) click away.  The whole process was a reminder that there are no guarantees as to how long we live, so we need to cherish each day as it comes.

Kathy Edmark

I was born in Twin Falls Idaho.  My parents accepted a call from the Christian church to go as missionaries to Miyako Jima when I was 4 years old.  For the next 11 years I lived in Miyako, Kobe Japan and Okinawa with 1 year in Seattle.  When I was 15 years old, I returned to Seattle where I completed my last two years of high school.  I too got a job at Norse Home in my last year of high school, which is where I met Roger.  Three years later, we were married.

My first job after getting married was in the home, which took all of my time until all four of our children were in school.  I then answered a call to serve in our church for a couple of years as Christian education director. After that I became a para-educator in the school district our children were attending. I worked for the school district for 25 years.

One of my skills has been sewing. My grandmother started me sewing at a young age. The rest I learned from directions on patterns. I made and sold Barbie doll clothes as a first “job”. I made some of my own clothes as a teenager.  I made my own wedding dress! One time I made outfits for all 4 of my children including a 3-piece suit for my son for a family picture. I did a lot of sewing for my daughter Aimee’s ballet school, including short tutus. I made my first daughter’s wedding dress and her attendants’ dresses. My second daughter would only let me alter her purchased wedding dress, to save me stress, but I had to take it apart to do that. Sewing has given me a great feeling of accomplishment as I take a flat piece of fabric and create something beautiful and or useful. I don’t sew very much any more because of hand pain but I have altered 4 of Roger’s shirts by hand stitching since we arrived. A useful skill.

My faith has led me to be very active in my church. I have been a Sunday school teacher most of my life, usually with children, but also with youth and young adults. Bible Study Fellowship, an interdenominational Bible study, was an important part of my life for 7 years. Part of that time I also worked in the children’s program.  Two years ago, our daughter became the Food Services Director of a camp and conference center, Camp Koinonia, and asked if I would like to be her volunteer assistant.  So, for about one year, we lived half our time at the camp and half the time in our home north of Seattle.  The camp was in transition, so Roger became the Development Director there at about the same time.

Kathy and Roger

Two months after we were married in 1973, we were asked to be one of two security couples at another retirement home, Northaven.  We lived there for one and one-half years. That began a 46-year relationship with Northaven. For 36 years, Roger has been a member of their board of directors and most recently as board President.  He is now an Emeritus member of the board.

Our home church in Seattle is Olympic View Community Church of the Brethren.  Church of the Brethren is a historic peace church in the USA. “Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS)”, a ministry of the Church of the Brethren, is how we learned about WFC.  We have both been involved in many church leadership positions and church activities from the time our children were young.

As a family we loved to spend time in the outdoors.  We did not do that so our children would love the outdoors, but that is what happened! They all love the beauty and wonder of nature!  A favorite place today is the beach house where we have part ownership.  It is on the water one hour north of our home. Kayaking, strolling on the beach, relaxing in the hammock and enjoying friends and family are all things we enjoy at the beach cabin.

Serving others is important to Kathy and me and our children have caught that bug as well.  They have also chosen occupations and volunteer activities in their lives which serve others.  Fifteen years ago, we learned about WFC and immediately were interested.  We even came to WFC fourteen years ago when Roger had a business trip to Tokyo. We explored Hiroshima and stayed a night at WFC. We have a motto on a plaque at home which says “God does not ask about our ability or inability but about our availability.”  We made ourselves available to WFC and were called to serve, so here we are!  In the short time we have been here, we have met many wonderful people and have hosted many interesting guests.  We have seen how valuable the mission of WFC is: to share a message of peace through relationship building, listening, storytelling, especially Hibakusha stories, and having a peaceful place for people to stay. 

Copyright © NPO World Friendship Center 2019 All Rights Reserved

Friendship Afternoon — September, 2019

Roger and Kathy Edmark are the new directors at the WFC.
They will talk about their life stories in English.

Roger grew up in Seattle in the state of Washington. He went to school there including college at the University of Washington, and then worked for The Boeing Commercial Airplane Company for 43 years until retirement. Kathy’s memories are of growing up in Miyako-jima, Okinawa and Kobe, Japan. Her parents, grandparents and aunt and uncle were all missionaries. She moved to the states to finish high school, met Roger, and the two of them raised four children. Kathy worked 25 years in education as a para-educator. Both have felt called to serve in many capacities as a response to their faith.

World Friendship Center
TEL 082-503-3191
Email wfchiroshima@nifty.com
8-10 Higashi Kan-on,
Nishi-ku Hiroshima

Yu-Ai May issue 2019 — Korean PAX report by Keigo Nakamura

Yu-ai Friendship
Newsletter of the World Friendship Center, NPO

Participating in the Korean Pax
Keigo Nakamura

I learned many things and experienced many meaningful days while participating in the Korean Pax. For example, I learned about military comfort women and Korea in the Japan colonial period. I’d like to tell about four of my most impressionable experiences.

First, on the morning of the second day, I saw demonstrations held in front of a military comfort women statue near the Japanese Embassy. Many people participated in the demonstrations due to the day falling on May Day, including many students. Some, wearing yellow dresses like Jakie Chan, hit something like a sponge ball which had a face photo of Prime Minister Abe on it, which was interesting. Girl students and women with
their children also participated. I thought they were more interested in politics than Japanese people. Enjoyable activities like dances and songs were performed during demonstrations. I was surprised and interested, thinking that those looked nicer than in Japan. However, I also felt sad to see mothers participating with their small children, exposing them to Anti-Japanese sentiment at such a young age. Moreover, I had a strange feeling that I would betray my country joining this demonstration.

Second, I visited the House of Sharing. I learned about military comfort women when I visited the historical museum located on the spot where the House of Sharing was founded. I was a little bit tense because some Korean army soldiers were there. I had thought that Military Comfort Women would be all Chinese or Korean. So, I was surprised to know that
there were Japanese military comfort women too. I had an opportunity to meet former military comfort women and to hear about many things. One said to me, “I am able to forgive the present-day Japanese who were not born when I was a comfort woman. I am glad to hear your apology, but you are not responsible. My heart is not healed.” Her words impacted me deeply. She said that she wanted the Prime Minister Abe and Emperor Showa to apologize to her which made me understand what severe sufferings she had undergone.

Third, I went to Gyeongbokgung Palace. I often have seen historical Korean plays on TV, and was glad to see close-up the historical building which I saw in the TV program. I realized again that the Korean Palace was splendid. This was my second time to visit Seoul and Gyeongbokgung. I saw more black people and Westerners than the last time. I realized that Korea has become globalized.

Fourth, I experienced interaction with the host family in Korea. I was treated to Korean food – dak galbi on the second day of my visit, and to samgyupsal on the third day, as well as a Korean alcohol, mak goeli. While drinking together at that time, we talked about my grandfather and politics. Through this conversation, I learned about historical Korean plays, Korean children’s songs and the educational system of Korea. I had a friendly conversation with the host mother because both of us had something in common, learning Chinese a little. Given a lot of good sightseeing advice, I spent an enjoyable time while I was free on the fourth day.

Allow me to use this opportunity to apologize for having troubled many people when I got on the wrong train when I changed trains and got lost. I learned many things and had a valuable Golden Week. Karen invited me to participate in a summer camp in Nanjing which I’d love to do. I’d like to express my deepest gratitude to the host family in Korea, people of the Peacebuilding group that accepted the Korean PAX, and members of the WFC.

Translated by Sachiko Hiraoka

Copyright © NPO World Friendship Center 2019 All Rights Reserved

Yu-Ai May issue 2019 — Korean PAX report by Matsue Matsumoto

Yu-ai Friendship
Newsletter of the World Friendship Center, NPO

Participating in the Korean PAX
Matsue Matsumoto

I participated in the Korean PAX from April 30 to May 5. During this trip, I visited places where we usually could not go, and had very valuable experiences.

I participated in a protest meeting which was held in front of the Japanese Embassy on Wednesday May 1. The protest meeting is held on every Wednesday. In the afternoon, we went to Seodaemun Prison History Hall. On May 2, we visited the Comfort Women Historical Museum and met a Korean woman at House of Sharing. They both depicted negative legacies of the Imperial Japanese Army.

At the anti-Japan demonstration on Wednesday, a priest of the Methodist church offered his message and prayer. I couldn’t understand Korean, so I had no idea what he was saying. In the bible, Matthew 5:44 says “Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” I couldn’t understand what kind of message he offered and how he prayed for people in the demonstrations.

At the site of Seodaemun Prison History Hall, prison houses are preserved and open to the public. Activists in the independence movement were imprisoned here during the Japanese colonial period. The prison houses were also used by the Korean government after World War II. They were the buildings where tortures and death penalties were performed.

At House of Sharing, Tsukasa Yajima, a Japanese, showed us a video of the activities and protest of Ms. Kang Duk-kyung who was the first to proclaim the comfort women issue. We saw her pictures that she drew for her mental health. Each picture depicted her crying heart – a feeling I could share. After that, I met two Korean women. Their names and ages were the same. One of them looked calm as she told her story. I thought she had a strong will which would not be daunted and would persevere through anything. When I asked her “What do you want us to do? What do you want?” She answered, “Apology and compensation.” The other was a woman free from care.

On the night of the second day, I made an apology and told the A-bomb experience. During questions and answers session after my presentation, someone asked “Why don’t you ask America for an apology? You had terrible experiences due to the A-bomb.” I answered, saying “Many American people agree that the A-bomb ended the war sooner. The Japanese proverb says, ‘Leave the past in the past. Cover up what smells bad.’ Many Japanese don’t ask for apology. Some young Japanese don’t know that once Japan fought against America. Today, the power of nuclear weapons is about 4000 times as strong as that of the A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima. One bomb would contaminate half of the earth with radiation. From a humanitarian standpoint, such a powerful weapon must not be used. However, some countries possess them. I am making efforts to abolish nuclear weapons.” I don’t know whether they understood what I meant.

There is a culture of “hatred” in Korea we Japanese can’t understand. They harbor this feeling for a long period of time in their minds. However, Kim Yog-Won an author of Social Psychology (1989), points out that the Korean are very generous people and forgive others, and can accept their fate due to “hatred”. I think that both aspects are true. I can understand the Korean people seek for an apology from the top person for war responsibility. If the number of people who support the latter aspect is larger than that of the former, I think we can find a clue to reconciliation. Today, the relations between Japan and Korea are strained. I hope from now on, that young people try to solve the Japan-Korea issue.

Translated by Sachiko Hiraoka

Copyright © NPO World Friendship Center 2019 All Rights Reserved