By Yuki Katayama
English Language Program
“How great view is it?” I thought in my mind. I was impressed by the magnificent scenery, and I wanted to show the beauty to my precious friend.
In May 2022, I came to Pittsburgh. Since then, I have visited many restaurants to eat American style hamburgers or tacos, watched Jurassic Park at AMC Waterfront 22, and been to Point State Park to watch marvelous fireworks on the Fourth of July. However, in July, I felt little tired of Pittsburgh because I ended up going to almost all the fun places in this small city. I started to seek new places that would excite me to visit.
One day in July, a classmate from my first semester in the U.S. invited me to do something different. “Do you know Prism which is an international student community? Why don’t you go to bible study with me tonight?” she asked. I suspected bible study would be challenging for me since religious stuff was not familiar to Japanese people like me. Yet, I expected to gain a new experience and decided to participate in it. “Sounds cool! I want to go there!” I responded. After classes, we went to a house that held bible study sessions. I was somewhat nervous before entering the room. There were three volunteers, among whom Mike was especially gentle and friendly. He is American, but spoke slowly for us to help us understand the meaning of the sentences in the bible. The topic of that bible study session was “LOVE.” I don’t remember the details, but I learned the importance of giving unconditional love to those close to me. The value was brand-new and greatly inspired me. My first day with Prism was unexpectedly amazing, and I wanted to keep participating in their activities.
The following Wednesday, I went to bible study again. At the beginning of the study session, Mike asked us, “Do you believe in resurrection?” I didn’t understand the word and asked, “What is the meaning of resurrection?” “Resurrection is the return of dead people to life,” answered Mike. It made sense, but I was still confused because I didn’t believe in “resurrection” at that time. However, the more we read bible, the more I understood and was convinced of the meaning of the word. “Resurrection refers to soul or spirit coming back to life, not to a body,” Mike said. Even though the idea was new for me, I felt it faithfully. I thought about one thing in my mind. My dad passed away when I was a junior high school student, and I cried heavily. Despite feeling sad sometimes even now, I could start believing that my father’s spirit came back and a person who has his soul was born after his death. I feel like my life is a little brighter than it used to be thanks to the bible study at that day.
One Saturday in August, a bike trip took place around the west area of Pittsburgh. It was such a hot day. I was anxious about my bike skill since the last time I rode a bike was when I was a junior high school student. Anyway, the trip started. I started catching a fresh breeze while riding a bike. I sang my favorite song at a volume that no one could hear. After a while, I felt hungry. I asked Mike, “When is the lunch time, Mike?” “Oh Yuki, are you hungry now?” responded Mike and he took a snack out of his knapsack and handed it to me. The snack was tasty, and I felt “Mike is such a considerate person!” again. At the end of the trip, I took a picture with him in front of a fountain in Point State Park.
In October, we had a Niagara Falls trip. It took about four hours by car, and I got a little tired before seeing the fall. Also, the most disappointing factor was that Mike was not there. On the other hand, the moment I saw the waterfall, my fatigue was blown away. “What a beautiful scenery!” I was moved by the view I’d never seen before. The water was transparent like crystal and splashed vigorously from the top to bottom. That night, I wanted share pictures of Niagara Falls with Mike and sent them to him. He responded 5 minutes later. “Wow, they are so beautiful! I hope you had a good time, and we can go there together next time!” he said. I was glad to see the messages and smiled in the room where there was only me. I have a sister in Japan, but I was feeling as if Mike is my brother in the U.S.
After belonging to Prism, my life in the U.S. has completely changed. Due to it, I have learned new perspectives from bible study and have traveled to many places which I’d never visited. Also, above all, what I am grateful to Prism is giving me an opportunity to meet a loving man, Mike. His kindness has warmed not only my body but also my heart even in severe cold winter. I will return to my country in a month, but before that, I want to express my gratitude to Mike for sure. I’m quite certain that I will never forget him.