The Words of the Yoshida Family

A Mother's Inspiration

Danichi Yoshida
November 1998

I still remember those good ol' days when my mom would make all the kids go fundraising with her. Three kids cooped up in a station wagon surrounded by giant buckets of roses and carnations, splishing and splashing with every turn and bump on the empty Illinois country roads. It would baffle me why my mother would want to sell flowers on Mother's Day, the one day in the whole year that was supposed to celebrate her great accomplishment of being a mother. Sure, you could make lots of money on a day like Mother's Day, but I would never have thought that there was actually an internal meaning to dragging the kids out in the morning, driving out to the middle of the country, and then setting up a flower stand. Now, in STF, we're dragged out by team captains and driven in wind-chime packed vans to populated shopping strips while singing Country Roads.

To me, fundraising is hell. I shudder in disgust whenever I hear the "clang" of a wind-chime. "Technically", fundraising is really simple. All you do is ask people if they would like to but whatever product you have and if they say "NO" you go to the next person and if they buy one then you smile, thank them, and wish them a good day. In reality, however, fundraising is the most difficult thing that I've ever done before in my whole life. It's so tough because there's this whole internal meaning behind fundraising and once you have that knowledge, you're fighting on a whole new spiritual battleground. When you're out on the frontline, your spirit is like a roller coaster, going up one second, then screaming down into a twisting plunge.

My most challenging struggle with fundraising has been maintaining a high spirit and a good attitude. When you're fundraising, it is so easy to get depressed and frustrated. When this happens to me, I begin questioning all types of things about fundraising and the church. This one Friday in particular, my team went fundraising in Los Angeles and once again my spirit got totally dominated by that same heavy spirit that makes me depressed. The neighborhood wasn't that terrible, but at the end of the street there were a series of houses that had a completely different spiritual atmosphere than the rest of the houses. The first of these houses that I went to looked like one of those houses you see on those HBO gang documentaries. There were about six young adults just hanging out in the front of the house and three little kids who were playing in the front yard. The people were all different races, but they seemed like they were brothers and sisters. I was hesitant to approach them at first, but when we started talking they were pretty cool people. They called "Granny" out, and then this old, ungroomed, hunchback lady came out and took a look at the chimes. She decided to buy one and as she went back into the ghetto shack, this dirty looking middle aged man was making his way out. I quickly found out that he was a drug dealer after he gave one of the guys some marijuana. I was totally confused at the time because I had no clue who all these people were and why they were at this run down house smoking weed with little kids running around, and then this drug dealer comes walking out of the house, and the lady of the house buys a wind-chime. Normally, you would be happy that somebody was able to make an offering, but I was completely disillusioned that these people could be helped in anyway, even if they did by a wind-chime. One thought lead to another, and all of a sudden I felt so depressed and hopeless. With each step, my spirit slowly sank and became heavier and heavier. When we finally got back to the center, I read the MFT Handbook for about three hours straight and I just tried to absorb everything from it that I possibly could. I was able to rest a bit easier that night, but that bad spirit was still lingering and I still wasn't motivated enough to face the two week fundraising condition that was going to start the next day.

The next morning, I received a phone call from my mother and I did what everybody does when they get a phone call from their mother, I complained. I complained about how I haven't run in so long, how we don't get enough sleep, how I hate fundraising so much, and I just went on and on. She told me to stop complaining, stop thinking so hard, take it like a man, and "JUST DO IT". All of a sudden, it hit me like a jolt of electricity, "JUST DO IT!" Those three words don't seem like much, but the fact that they came out of my mom's mouth at that exact time gave it a different meaning.

I unofficially dedicated my year of STF to my parents because I strongly feel that I owe it to them. They had to go through so many sacrifices and persecution in order to find the truth and without that truth, my family wouldn't even exist. By me not giving 100% effort, it's like me saying straight to my parents' face, "Yeah, thanks for everything, but it means nothing to me" and there is no way that I can do that to my parents. Those three simple words gave me the inspiration and determination to get through the two week condition. Many times I felt like giving up and leaving, but I couldn't allow myself to do that because my parents and the first generation have gone through too much for us punk kids to just toss it to the side because of our faults and weaknesses. I couldn't give up because I know that my parents would never give up.

Thank you Mama and Papa.

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