モルモン

とは?

What of the

Mormons?

 

熱心に善いことに携わり

 

 

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信仰の火(The Fire of Faith) 9章
豊かな人は耐え忍ぶ

トンガの人々の強い信仰と深い霊性は絶えず私を驚かせた。私は彼らに近づき追いつこうと熱心に働き特別に努力した。私にとって教訓となる出来事がトンガについてすぐに起こった。(写真:オファと同じ時代のトンガ人オサイ姉妹)

その日オフィスを歩いていると,一人の若い男性が私にメモをくれた。それは彼が一緒に住んでいた大叔母さんから,彼女を訪ねるようにというものだった。そこには「オファ」というサインがあった。そのメモには,住所と,いつもそこに住んでいるからいつ来てもいいが、私と話したいことがあるとあった。私はその若者にオファに明日の午後うかがうと伝えてくれるように言った。

私はオファと彼女の夫のことをよく覚えていた。私は若い宣教師だったころ、この老夫婦に深い感銘を受けていたからである。彼らは宣教師たちとほかの人々をよく助けていた。彼ら自身の子供はいなかったが、失望することなく、いつも家の周りにいる子供達の面倒を見、食べ物を与え、多岐にわたって助けを与えていた。私はオファが病気になったり助けを必要としているお年寄り達に、食べ物を持っていっていることに気づいていた。私は遠方の島へ送られる前の短い間しかその地域にいなかったが、私にとって彼らの残した印象は深く忘れがたいものだった。

今、何年も後に、私はまた彼らに会おうとしていた。彼女の夫のことがメモになかったことからどうしたのだろうと思った。私はこの間に主が彼らに与えられたすばらしい祝福を見ることを本当に楽しみにしていた。私の心の目に、愛らしい木や花のある美しい庭のあるよい家に住む二人が見えた。歳をとった今、助けてくれるたくさんの友人たちとよい環境にいるだろうと確信していた。

その住所に近づくにつれて、彼らが以前と同じ場所に住んでいることに気づいた。天候に打たれ落ちたやしの葉の屋根を見たとき、私の見た美しい庭は打ち砕かれた。なぜなんだ、これは何年も前と同じ家で、違いは修理が必要なひどい状況になっただけだ。車輪の後だらけの道と隣人も変わらず、ただ以前より古くなっていた。雨が降っていたのが霧雨に変わった。すべて泥だらけで、じめじめして、かび臭かった。

その家の近くに車を止めて外に出た。車のドアを閉めると一人の歳をとった婦人が家から出てきて入口に立った。オフェだった。小道を通りながら、彼女が手を少しぶらぶらと前と後ろに振るのを見た。盲目なのがわかった。彼女の手をとり、強く抱きしめた。骨と皮だけの華奢な体から、もう長くないことを悟った。

「はいって、はいって。」と、彼女は微笑んだ。「座って話しましょう。またあなたに会えるなんてうれしいわ。」盲目であったにもかかわらず、見えているように感じた。私たちはござの上に足を組んで座り、長い間そこにいることになった。彼女が貧しい人々を助ける耐えることのない望みについて話してくれた後、ついに、「ここに来てもらったのは断食献金を納めるためです。私の支部長は私のほうが必要だといって受け取りません。グローバー伝道部長、断食献金を払うことによって得る祝福を私から奪う権利は彼にはないんです。あなたは伝道部長ですから、彼を正してください。このお金はあなたにお渡しします。今度から受け取るように支部長に言っておいてください。」と言った。

そして彼女がこれまでためてきた小銭を古いハンカチに包んで私に手渡した。私は、「支部長は正しいかもしれないよ?与えるよりは助けを受けるべきだと思うよ。」と言った。彼女は長い間私を見つめていたので、私が見えているんじゃないかと感じた。彼女は深く考えていた。しばらくたって、彼女は微笑みながら優しく、夫が亡くなっても豊かで心配することは何もないということを教えてくれた。

私は当惑して質問し始めた。夫はたくさんお金を残したのか。財産は受け継いだのか。豊かならなぜもっとよい家にすまないのか。彼女は微笑んで言った。「いえ、いえ。そういうものじゃなくて。」私はニュージーランドの神殿に行くことができたかも訪ねた。「いいえ、私たちは一度もいくことができませんでした。何度も神殿に行くためにお金をためましたが、もっとそのお金が必要な人たちがいたので、その人たちにあげてしまいました。」彼女はつい最近盲目になったと言った。彼女は縫い物をしたり料理をしたり動き回るのが前より難しくなったが、ほかの人を助けるためにできることを今もがんばっていると言った。

彼女が受けるべきだと感じた物質的な祝福は何もなかった。私は質問を続けて、すべての事実が出揃った後、「オファ、どうして豊かで何も心配することはないなんていったんだい?夫もいない。子供もいない。盲目で、体の調子もよくない。壊れた家に住んで、屋根ももれている。神殿に行ったこともない。どうして豊かなんだい?」と言った。

彼女はまた私を長い間じっと見つめて私の質問のすべてをこういってさえぎった。「主が私の人生に満足しておられるのを知っているので私は豊かです。私が思ったように物事は運びませんでしたが、私はすぐに夫と再会するでしょう。主が私たちに家族を与えてくださると知っています。できることすべてしてきたとは思いませんが、主は私がしてきたことに満足してくださっていることを知っています。」

私は教義と聖約の67節にある主の言葉を非常にはっきりと思い出した。「富を求めずに、知恵を求めなさい。そうすれば、見よ、神の奥義はあなたに明らかにされ、そのとき、あなたは豊かにされる。見よ、永遠の命をもつものは豊かである。」

もう少しの間私たちはともに過ごし、太陽が西に沈むころ、謙虚なその屋根と床に金色の光が差し込んだ。私はそのまぶしい光景に驚嘆した。最後に、私は立ち上がり、オファに別れの挨拶をした。

帰りぎわ、太陽は低く、穏やかに周りの状況が変わるのにきづいた。金色の残光が泥沼を金色に染め、崩れそうなあばら家が美しい大邸宅に変わった。夕暮れの最後の光線がやしの葉を立派な琥珀色に輝かし、その光は高価な宝石のように輝いていた。壮麗な行列にも劣らない美しい人生の壮大な一日の終わりだった。

車に戻ってから、オファのほうを振り返ってみた。かすんだ目に、歳を取った盲目の女性はもうそこにはおらず、日ももう沈む中、美しい天使が宮殿の入り口に静かに立ち、手を振っているのが見えた。私は彼女はもっとすばらしいものを見ていたことを知った。

後に、私は彼女が行ったように行い、オファが見たと同じように私も見れるように熱心に祈った。この神聖な光景と思いは今も私とともにある。「もっとよい行いをしよう。」

その年の終わりに、トンガの人たちがそこで使わずに集めた超過の断食献金を、かなりの額の小切手で教会幹部に送った。オファのようなたくさんの人々が、誰でもどこにいる人でも、貧しい人々を助けたいと望んでいる。私は真の豊かさについて考え続け、オファのほかのドンガの人たちが行ったように豊かな人はお金に頼らず、すべてのことを目立たない助けとして行うということを、ついに理解し始めた。

オファが亡くなってからも長くなったが、今でも、彼女のことをよく考える。彼女は永遠に続く豊かさを探し続けて見いだした。彼女はどのようなお方に信頼しているのか知っていた。素ばらしい報いは次の世だけでなく、彼女はここにいる間にもそのうちのいくつかを味わった。私たちすべての人がこのようにできるように願っている。

Riches That Endure, Chapter 9 from the book,The Fire of Faith, by John H. Groberg  

The strength of faith and the depth of spiritual understanding the Tongans demonstrated constantly amazed me. I knew that hard work and extra effort on my part were necessary just to stay close, let alone try to catch up with them. One experience that taught me this came not long after our arrival in Tonga. 

I was working in the office one day when a young man brought me a note. It was a request from his great-aunt, with whom he lived, to visit her. It was signed "‘Ofa." The note gave an address and said she was always there, so any time I could come would be fine, but she needed to discuss something with me. I told the young man to tell ‘Ofa I would visit her the next day in the afternoon.

I remembered ‘Ofa and her husband very well. As a young missionary I had been very impressed by this particular older couple. They were always helping the missionaries and others. They had not been able to have children of their own, which I'm sure was a disappointment to them, but there were always other children around their home whom they tended and fed and helped in many ways. I noticed that many times Ofa took food to older folks or those who were sick or in some kind of need. She and her husband were very helpful to me also. I was in that area only briefly before being sent to a distant island, but the impression they made on me was deep and lasting.

Now, after many years, I was going to see them again. I wondered about her husband, as the note made no mention of him. I anxiously looked forward to the visit and to seeing what great blessings the Lord had given them during the intervening years. In my mind's eye I imagined them living in a fine house with a beautiful garden and lovely trees and flowers. I realized they would be older now, but I was sure they would be in good circumstances and have many friends to help them.

As I drove to the address, I realized that they were in the same location as before. And as I pulled up to the weather-beaten, tumbledown, coconut fale (hut), my vision of a beautiful home and garden was shattered. Why, this was the same house they had had years before, only now it was in a terrible state of repair. The rut-filled roads were the same, the neighborhood was the same, just older. It had been raining, and now there was a light drizzle. Everything was muddy and damp and musty.

I parked on the road close to the house and got out. As I closed the car door, an old woman came out of the house and stood in the doorway. It was ‘Ofa. As I walked up the pathway I saw her put out her hand and move it back and forth in a slightly waving fashion. I could tell she was blind. I took her hand, then gave her a big hug. I realized that she had not long to stay in this life, as she had nothing but the frailest body of skin and bones.

"Come in, come in," she beamed. "Let's sit down and talk. It's so good to see you again." Though her eyes were sightless, I was sure she saw. We sat cross-legged on the mat and visited for a long time. She talked about her continuing desire to help the "poor people." Finally she said: "The reason I asked you to come is so I can give you my fast offering. My branch president won't take it, as he says I need it. President Groberg, he has no right to deny me the blessings of paying fast offerings. You are the mission president, you straighten him out. I give this money to you. Please tell the branch president to take it from now on."

She then handed me an old handkerchief tied around some coins she had been saving. I said: "Maybe the branch president is right. Maybe you should be receiving help rather than giving it." She looked at me for a long time and I actually felt she could see me. She was thinking deeply. After a moment she smiled and kindly informed me that, even though her husband had died, she was rich and had nothing to worry about.

I was a little confused, so I began to inquire: Had her husband left her a lot of money? Had she received an inheritance? If she was rich, why didn't she have a better house? She softly laughed and said, "No, no, not like that." I asked if they had ever gone to the temple in New Zealand. "No, we never made it. We often saved money to go to the temple, but ended up giving it to someone else who seemed to need it more." She told me she had recently gone blind. She said it was more difficult now to sew and cook and get around, but she continued to do the best she could to help others. That was her life.

Every physical blessing I felt she should have received seemed to have eluded her. I continued to question her; and when all the facts came out, I said: " Ofa, how can you say you are rich and you don't have anything to worry about? You have no husband. You have no children. You're blind. You are in poor health. You live in a run-down home. Your roof leaks. You haven't been to the temple. How can you say you are rich?"

She again studied me for a long time and then stopped all of my questions by simply saying: "I am rich because I know the Lord is pleased with my life. Things haven't turned out the way I thought they would, but I know I will be with my husband soon. I know the Lord will bless us some way with a family. I know I have not done all I could do, but I know the Lord is pleased with what I have done."

I recalled what the Lord said so clearly in Doctrine and Covenants 6:7: "Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich."

We visited a while longer. As the sun began to sink in the west, it sent long shafts of golden beams across the floor of that humble hut. I marveled at the brilliant hue. Finally, I stood and bade farewell to ‘Ofa.

As I left, the sun was very low and I realized that a soft transformation had taken place. The golden "huelo 'oe la'a" (afterglow of the sun) had turned the mud into veins of gold; and the run-down hovel into a beautiful mansion. The final rays of the setting sun colored the tattered coconut leaves with an amber-like richness that made them glow and sparkle like precious jewels. What a magnificent close to a beautiful day, heralding a similar close to an equally beautiful life!

As I reached the car I turned and looked back at ‘Ofa. Through filmy eyes I saw not an old blind woman but a beautiful angel calmly standing at the door of a palace, quietly waving good-bye, knowing that the sun had almost set. I knew she could see much more than I could.  

Later, I prayed fervently to be able to see as ‘Ofa saw and do as she did. The vision and feeling of that sacred experience are still with me. "I must do better," I thought. "I must be more helpful. I must seek and find and serve the Lord and others more effectively"

At the close of the year I sent a good-sized check to Church headquarters for the excess fast offerings the Tongans had gathered and not used locally. Many like ‘Ofa wanted to help the "poor people"—whoever and wherever they were. I continued to contemplate what riches really are and finally started to understand, as ‘Ofa and other Tongans did, that they had nothing to do with money and everything to do with quiet helping.

‘Ofa has long since passed away, but even today I often think of her. She had sought for and found the riches of eternity. She knew in whom she trusted. Not only has she gone to a great reward, but she tasted some of it while still here. I hope we can all do likewise.