Over 30 years ago I met a Sister of Marie-Auxiliatrice for the first time. It was the day of my interview and entrance exam for Akenohoshi secondary school. Just a schoolgirl with no Christians in my family, I was nervous faced with this Sister in her veil and crucifix.

Once school started, I found it very strange to call the nuns “Sister” instead of “Professor” but little by little the strangeness disappeared. In place of this strangeness, throughout my school years I wondered about the Sisters. They always wore habits of the same colour, sometimes carried their watch in their hands because the strap no longer fastened, their tights were darned.

As a teenager I simply couldn’t understand why they had chosen such a poor and uncomfortable life, and I knew I could never give up my freedom like they had….machiko_photo.jpg

(Machiko and her family)

Now I am a teacher in the school. The first 5 years were really very difficult. Confronted with the difficult behaviour of the students and relations with the parents I often felt like leaving it all behind me. By doing my best, I told myself that it wasn’t that bad after all and I tried to show myself to my best advantage. akeno_oshi_1-2.jpg

(Akenohoshi school)

One day after a session guiding the students, I was driving home wearily and the Sister who was with me said “I wonder what God will do now?” “He’ll do something that we can’t even imagine I’m sure!” “Everything will be fine, won’t it Lord!” She always spoke so joyously! While she repeated these words of such complete confidence in God, a confidence that I had never felt, I remembered a Bible passage that I had read in school. “Do not worry so much about what to eat, to drink, to wear; look at the lilies of the fields, Solomon in all his glory was never dressed as beautifully as the least of them!” I realised something in that moment: no one is freer than the Sisters! In realising this, that I was the one who lacked freedom, a great sweetness and light filled my heart. I had never felt anything like it before.cierges_en_bandeau.jpg

I remember that after dropping off the Sister, I sat in my car and for a few moments I couldn’t hold back my tears.
Then I realised that it was a sign from God. …And now I too believe that God was most certainly there !

[/Machiko Ikeda

(Teacher of Akenohoshi high school)