Again Tomorrow

Hello All, Grace and Peace be unto you from our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST.

Again Tomorrow
An American Boy in Japan

Johnny angrily kicked the small stone with his foot, watching it disappear into the azalea bushes.

"That's one of the rocks the boys threw at me yesterday," he muttered, looking narrowly at the high fence that surrounded the mission house. The trees on the other side made a perfect firing line.

"I don't see why we have to live in Japan," he said under his breath. "I hate it here! The boys are mean. I don't have a single friend."

A whizzing rock missed Johnny's ear by an inch. Quickly he jumped behind the persimmon tree. He heard scrambling and laughter. A rock hit the trunk of the tree. Then came a whole shower of pebbles.

Johnny did not mind the rocks as much as the laughing from behind the wall. If I only had someone to talk to and play ball with, he thought sadly. "Maybe they would want to play with me if they knew I was the star forward on the basketball team in America last year."

"Johnny,"Mother called. "It's time for supper." Dodging flying rocks, Johnny darted out of his hiding place and ran for the house.

"I hate Japan!" Johnny exclaimed, near tears as he sat at the table. "The Japanese boys throw rocks over the fence at me whenever I'm out in the yard playing." He jabbed his fork into the meatball on his plate. "Why can't we go back to America where I had some friends to play with?"

"You can play with us," suggested six-year-old Lorraine, carefully giving her doll a bite before raising the fork to her own mouth.

Johnny eyed her scornfully. "If you think I'm going to play dolls with you, you're crazy!"

"You know we can't go back to America yet, Johnny," answered Mother, ignoring Johnny's last remark. "We've been here in Japan only a month, and we promised to stay five years"

"Well, I can go back alone, can't I?" demanded Johnny stubbornly. "I could stay with Grandma and go to school there."

Mother looked so sad at this remark that Johnny immediately wished he had never said it. He turned his attention back to his plate.

The rumbling sound of the sliding front door announced Father's return. A few minutes later, he took his place at the table in the homey little kitchen.

"I've had quite a day!"he announced.

"The people in Omagari village seem very open to the gospel. The officials gave me permission to put up a tent, and quite a number of people agreed to come to the meetings."

"Did anybody get saved yet?" piped up eight-year-old Louise.

"Not yet, honey,"answered Mr. Anderson.

"But I believe there will be some saved soon. Why, in the hospital where I visited, one lady told me she had been waiting for years to hear the message of the Bible. She thanked me over and over again for the Japanese New Testament I left with her."

Johnny finished his meal in thoughtful silence. He knew that if they had not come to Japan, the people in Omagari village and these other places might never heave heard about JESUS. There were no other missionaries for miles around.

Alone in his room after supper, Johnny thought things over. He had heard about JESUS ever since he could remember. And one day, he asked JESUS to forgive his sins and be his SAVIOR. Man, he had been happy to know he had a clean heart and that JESUS had given him eternal life! Yes! the Japanese people should have this same chance to hear about JESUS. They needed missionaries to tell them. Why, he and his folks simply could not go back to America and leave all these people without a chance to hear about JESUS!

Johnny sighed as he looked at himself in the mirror. "If my hair were not so blond and my eyes so blue and round, maybe I would fit into this country better." Johnny pulled back his eyes. "If I had slanted eyes and black hair like the Japanese boys, maybe they would come and play with me. Maybe I could dye my hair black so I would look more like them."

Johnny was still staring at himself in the mirror when Mother came in to say good night. She sat down on the edge of the bed.

"I do not think your eyes and the color of your hair really makes any difference, Johnny," Mother said when he told her what he had been thinking. "There's a verse in the Bible that says, 'A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly.' You'll have to do something to show the boys you want to be friends with them. Why don't you ask JESUS to give you some ideas?" she suggested as she got up to leave the room.

After Mother left, Johnny thoughtfully made circles on the straw mat floor with his big toe, then slipped to his knees.

"Dear JESUS forgive me for being selfish," he prayed, "but I'm awfully lonesome. Please help me to find some friends. Show me how. Amen."

The next morning, Johnny had an idea. "I've got it!" he almost shouted, jumping out of bed. "I'll learn some Japanese words from Kono San!" Johnny quickly put on his clothes and hurried to the kitchen where their Japanese maid was busy getting breakfast.

Kono San understood enough English to know what Johnny wanted. Over and over again, she repeated the words for "Come here," "Let's be friends," "Let's play."

Johnny kept mumbling them to himself as he ate breakfast. "Irrasshai, asoboo, tomodachi ni naroo." As he did his school lessons, with Mother supervising him and his sisters, the words kept running through his mind.

Johnny finished his lessons by two o'clock and went out to the yard. He had been waiting for quite a while when he saw the black heads in the big tree on the other side of the wall.

"Come! he shouted in Japanese. "Let's play! Let's be friends!"

He heard laughter and scrambling. Suddenly three Japanese boys appeared at the gate. Eagerly, Johnny ran to open it. "Come, let's play. Let's be friends," he repeated in his best Japanese.

The boys looked at him curiously for a moment, then at each other. They burst into laughter and ran away. Discouraged and lonelier than ever, Johnny trudged into the house.

"When someone laughs at the way I try to talk Japanese, I just laugh right with them," said Father that evening when Johnny told him what had happened. Don't give up, Johnny. Try again tomorrow."

Before he jumped into bed that night, Johnny prayed about his problem again. Suddenly an idea flashed into his mind. He was quite sure it would work! That big can in the refrigerator-it was just the right size.

Johnny worked as hard as he could on his lessons the next morning so he could try out his plan. Mother emptied the peaches into jars so Johnny could have the large tin can. Carefully he cut out the bottom with a can opener, then he washed and dried the large can. Running outside, he leaned the ladder against the garage and climbed up carefully clutching his can, a hammer, and some nails. He nailed the empty can above the garage door about eight feet from the ground. Putting the ladder away, he began to practice throwing a rubber ball through his homemade basketball hoop.

At first, he stood close to the can, but gradually he became more skillful and could throw from farther away. Johnny became to interested in his game that he did not notice the boys in the trees on the other side of the fence until he heard their shouts when he made a spectacular "basket" from quite a distance.

"Hooray!" shouted the boys in Japanese. Johnny looked up quickly. He searched his mind for the Japanese words he had learned. "Come," he said, "let's play."

The boys laughed at his strange accent. Johnny laughed too. In a moment, they appeared at the front gate. This time they did not run away.

Johnny gave the ball to the biggest boy, who threw it at the empty can. Everybody laughed when he missed.

Then the boys lined up and took turns. After doing that a while, they formed sides and played a game with the ball and can, counting scores. All too soon, Mother called Johnny in for supper.

"Mata ashita," called the boys as they ran out the gate.

Johnny knew that Sayonara meant "Good-bye," but what did these other words mean? He would ask Father. But by the time he had reached the table where the family was waiting for him, he had forgotten the words.

"Think hard!" encouraged Father. "They'll come back to you."

Johnny frowned, trying to remember. "I think the first word was something like mata."

Dad laughed. "Mata ashita!"

"That's it!" shouted Johnny jumping up in his excitement. "What does it mean?"

"It means 'again tomorrow.' "

"Again tomorrow," repeated Johnny. "That means they're coming back to play with me. I've got friends at last!"

And in his heart, he said thank YOU to GOD.

~Matilda Nordtvedt~

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