When I was a child I had pen pals. One pen pal was Vicki in Pennsylvania. Another was in Japan, and her name was Midouri. I remember the thrill of choosing a paper to write on. I had various colors in my collection of stationary. Every single letter was a form of art to me. I wanted Midouri to receive it as a special gift created by me just for her. I hoped she found it exciting and somewhat mysterious as I certainly did the letters she sent to me. I loved knowing whatever I was going through, I could write about it to Midouri and she would reply how much she cared. I remember how it felt to finalize the envelope and seal it up with a special sticker or heart to greet her even before reading what was inside. I would walk it to the mailbox not long before I knew the Mail Carrier would arrive. I didn’t want the letter to sit long and get wet if it rained, as there were openings in our old rusted mailbox on the farm. I would think about all the hands my envelope would be held in until it reached Midouri. Oh, and the many letters crammed with it in large bins and placed on airplanes flying all the way to Japan. Would my one tiny letter make it to her?
I would think about her bedroom and how it looked and where she sat to read my words. I was a little southern girl on a farm in AL. My own room, which was in the tower of a castle, is where I wrote to her. I was never alone because I had many friends in the castle with me. My Barbies and babies whispered ideas and reminded me of our adventures. Each of them wanted to be in the letters to Midouri, therefore I would try to always include them, after all they were my best friends. My family actually had very little and often barely made ends meet, yet I had this lovely room. My dad won a contest and chose this beautiful little bedroom furniture for me. Ironically, my princess room was an escape from his rage much of the time. I was one little girl coping and dreaming, and reaching out across the world in letters to another little girl who also needed a friend. When her letters arrived, I could never make it from the mailbox to my house without tearing open the envelopes. I will never forget my heart skipping in my chest to find the delicate rice paper inside. It would not have been more special to me if it had been made of pearls and gold.
In life, we all need to hear the stories of another soul to encourage us and uplift us. To validate our struggles and fears, and to offer hope and kindness. To know we are not alone. To be asked to write letters for a ministry that reaches out to those who may have trouble making ends meet, just as my family did when I was a child, is one of the greatest honors of my life. I have not walked in your shoes, but I have had symbolic shoes of my own with holes and worn soles. What I can say to you is this, even when my shoes were worn out, I kept walking. I realized at a young age there was always a path before me; a next hour on the clock. Somehow, some way, along that rugged path, I always find “Midouris” – friends. People I can pour out my soul to, and they listen and trust me to soak in the stories of their own hearts. My prayer for everyone is that they will have a support system. You will have at least one person you can talk to, about anything, and at any time. I also encourage you to be that one safe person to someone. Be a friend who allows someone to feel what they feel, say what they need to say, and share what they need to share. Never stop searching for that safe person. They may be around the world in Japan, but remember, it didn’t matter to me that my safe person was so far away. What mattered to me is that she cared.
Chaplain Kim Crawford