In September of 1985, Jeff was 26 years
old and had already given up on ever meeting anyone that he could marry and be happy with for the rest of his life. In his experience, it was only the first two months in a relationship that were pleasant and fun. After that, it was horrible. He decided
about a year and a half earlier, to stop pursuing such torture and just give up.
On a Tuesday evening in September of 1985,
Jeff and a long-time, good friend from elementary school had gone out together for a fast-food
dinner. After they ate, they were still enjoying their talk as they drove back. They weren’t ready to call it a night yet, so they drove around while they talked
and eventually pulled into a public park that had a girls’ softball game going on. There was a parking spot open just behind one of the dugouts, so they could watch the game from the car
while continuing to talk. Jeff’s friend got interested in the game, so
the dialog had dwindled.
Jeff had plenty of time to think about
his life. He felt that it wasn’t good to be alone. He needed someone with him, so they could share in each other’s lives. He thought about what he really wanted in a girlfriend and what was always missing from all of his other
relationships. He knew that he wanted someone that was a Christian, or at least
interested in investigating Christianity, because he knew that this was something that he always wanted to investigate more
for himself, and that is sometimes hard to do without someone to talk things over with and study alongside with. Jeff had already concluded that there was truth in Christianity, but had seen a lot of people that had
different views of what Christianity was. Jeff knew that many of these views
were contradictory and wrong, but needed to sort them all out. Hearing the contradictory
viewpoints and not knowing how to discern the truth was a huge obstacle that made it difficult to understand even some of the basic points of Christianity.
He went on to think about all the traits
and characteristics that were important for someone to have in order to make a relationship work. He went into great detail of what such a person would be like. He
thought about all of his weaknesses and realized he needed someone with strengths in those areas. He hoped that his strengths could help someone with weaknesses in those areas. As time was passing, this formula was becoming very complex. Jeff
thought it would be impossible to find anyone that fit these criteria. It seemed
hopeless, but so did trying to continue on alone. Jeff began to quietly pray
as his friend continued to watch the game. Jeff prayed that he would be able
to find someone like this, and that they would be able to explore a true relationship with the God that Jeff had always felt
was somewhere “out there”, but Jeff didn’t understand enough about Him.
Jeff was specific in his prayer that he didn’t want someone preaching, lecturing and telling him about God. He wanted someone that knew more than him, but could grow and learn together with
As this prayer went on and on, Jeff realized
that he was asking for the moon, but he just kept asking, getting more and more detailed.
As Jeff finally came to a close, at the VERY MOMENT that he stopped praying, he KNEW that his
prayer was heard and he KNEW that his prayer was going to be answered. And
not only that, he KNEW that he was going to meet the girl that he was going to marry “tomorrow night at 7PM”. He knew it was more than wishful thinking; it was like he heard God tell him. It wasn’t that he heard an audible voice, but it was just as clear as if he
Jeff let this sink in for 5 or 10
seconds, and then turned to his friend sitting next to him and said, “I’m going to meet the girl that I am going
to marry, tomorrow at 7PM”. His friend burst out laughing and slowly realized
that he was very serious. With much skepticism he asked where Jeff was going
to meet her at 7PM tomorrow. At first, Jeff didn’t know. Then he remembered that he had signed up for a night school class that started tomorrow night at 7PM. Jeff asked his friend to come along with him, but he said no. Jeff tried to insist but he said, “No”. Jeff and
his friend mentioned it to a mutual friend of theirs and he decided to take the class with Jeff.
Jeff’s dad and Jeff had both enrolled
in this class a couple weeks earlier, but Jeff hadn’t told him of the “meeting the girl” part. Wednesday night came and Jeff’s dad and Jeff went to the class.
They got there about 6:50PM. There were a few people there, mostly older,
retired men and one woman that looked a few years older than Jeff, and another woman that looked (to Jeff) like she might
There were about a dozen students
or so waiting by the locked door of the classroom. Jeff didn’t have a watch,
but he knew it must be about 7PM. For the first time, he thought to himself,
“Maybe I was wrong”. Just then, he heard some footsteps coming from
behind him. He could hear them getting louder and louder as they got closer and
closer. It was obvious that they were the footsteps of a woman in high heeled
shoes. When Jeff could tell that they were just a few feet behind him, he turned
to see her (Just before he turned, he thought to himself, “This is going to be the girl that I will marry”). As he turned, they made eye contact. It
was an attractive woman in business attire. They continued to keep eye contact
until she walked passed him. She continued walking and turned the corner, out
of sight as Jeff heard her footsteps get fainter and fainter.
This made Jeff realize something. He realized that woman was dressed in business clothes and high heeled shoes. The class that he had enrolled in was an automotive repair class. People went there to change their brakes and change their oil. The
people in this class are not going to be wearing business clothes and high heeled shoes.
Now, he thought about the other two women in the class. Maybe the fact
that they are not wearing makeup may make them look older. The fact that they
are probably wearing clothes that they don’t mind getting greasy, may give the appearance of being homeless. As soon as he thought about that, he heard the faint sound of footsteps coming back toward him. He recognized that they were the same footsteps coming from the direction that the woman had disappeared
around the corner. As they got louder and louder, Jeff looked toward that corner. Then that same woman came back around the corner and walked directly to Jeff, making
eye contact the entire way. She stopped just two feet in front of him and asked
him if this was the automotive repair class. Jeff said, “Yes”. She asked if the teacher was there yet. Jeff
said, “No”. She asked what time it was. Jeff didn’t have a watch. He just looked at her. Jeff’s dad was standing next to him and he looked at his watch and said, “7
o’clock, on the dot”. That woman was Akiko. Jeff knew that this was the woman that he would marry.
The teacher arrived a minute or two later. Everyone went inside and took care of the required paperwork. Jeff and his dad finished first and the teacher told them to go upstairs and have a seat in the classroom. They went up and sat on the east side of the classroom in the west facing chairs. When Akiko came up she sat on the west side of the classroom in an east facing chair. Jeff’s dad rarely attended class and dropped out. Jeff would always get to class a little early and Akiko would always be a little late. Whenever Jeff would sit on the west side of the room, Akiko would sit as far away as possible on the east
side. Whenever Jeff would sit on the east side Akiko would sit as far away as
possible on the west side. This went on for a few weeks.
One day Jeff stayed after everyone else
was gone, to ask the teacher some specific questions about a mechanical problem Jeff was having with his car. After about 10 minutes, Akiko came back upstairs. She said
that her car wouldn’t start. The teacher and Jeff walked out with her to
troubleshoot the problem. The teacher discovered that it was an electrical problem
and that a fuse had blown. He held something to the fuse in an attempt to bypass
the fuse. He asked Akiko to try and start the car. When she tried, he was thrown on the ground by an electrical shock.
He was quite shaken up. He told her that he was finished! He said, “Call a tow truck!” He allowed her to
use the classroom phone, and then he went home.
Akiko called the Auto Club roadside assistance
and they sent out a tow truck. The school was dark with no one around. Jeff asked Akiko if he could wait with her for the tow truck to arrive.
She seemed thankful for him to wait with her. When the truck came, Jeff
offered to give Akiko a ride home and the tow truck driver could follow his car to her home.
Jeff and Akiko talked as they drove
a few miles to her house. On the way, they drove by Jeff’s house, so he
pointed out to her where he lives. When they approached Akiko’s house,
Jeff was shocked when she said, “That’s my house”. It was right
next to the softball field where Jeff had pulled the car over and prayed to meet someone. It
was literally just a few yards away.
A few days later, Jeff decided to walk
his dog from his house to Akiko’s house. He hoped that he could bump into
Akiko and talk. She had told him what time she gets home from work, so he planned
to be there about that time. As he was getting close to her house, he saw her
drive passed. She didn’t see him.
Jeff ran with the dog as fast as they could to get to her house while she was still out. Just as they got there, Jeff saw the automatic garage door closing.
It was too late.
The next day, Jeff DROVE his dog
in the car, one block PASSED Akiko’s house, around the corner, out of sight and parked. He then got the dog out of the car and walked back and forth in front of her house until she got home. When she arrived, they visited and chatted outside of Akiko’s house. Jeff noticed a Christian “fish” emblem on the back of Akiko’s car. He felt reassurance that this is the girl he was supposed to marry.
He asked her what it was. She said, “Um… you know…” He asked her again and she said, “You know… it’s a Christian thing”. He asked her where she got it. She said
at a Christian book store. Jeff was intrigued that she went out to buy it to
put on her car, yet she didn’t seem comfortable talking about it. Jeff
really felt strongly that this is the girl that he is supposed to marry.
Jeff asked Akiko if she would like
to go out and get something to eat. She said that she would like to, but she
has to go to Little Tokyo to get a gift for an office gift exchange. She asked
Jeff if he would like to come along. Jeff agreed.
Akiko told him that she has to leave very soon. She asked when he could
be ready to leave. He said he would quickly take the
dog home and drive right back to pick her up. She seemed concerned that it would
take a lot of time to take the dog home. Jeff assured her he could do it quickly. Jeff was hoping she would go in the house, but she stayed outside and watched Jeff
walk away. Jeff reluctantly started walking further away from his house, toward
where he parked his car. Akiko shouted out, “Don’t you live the other
way?” Jeff shouted back, “I know a shortcut!” Akiko just stood with a confused look on her face, watching Jeff walk off in the wrong direction, walking
further away from his house. Jeff did get back quickly and they had a good time
getting to know each other a little better on that night in Little Tokyo.
time they went out. Jeff asked Akiko to come along to his cousin’s restaurant
in Fallbrook. It was a long drive and they had a lot of time to talk and get
to know each other. On the drive,
Jeff asked Akiko what the most important thing in her life was. After a long
hesitation and giving it some thought, she answered that she, “Would have to say that God was the most important thing
in her life.” Again, Jeff was assured that this relationship was from the
prayer. The more they talked, the more they started to realize that they had
many things in their pasts in common with each other. Akiko came from Japan
in 1979. She had several bad relationships with guys in Japan. She wanted to renew her life. She accepted Christ in the early 1980s and hoped for a new life. Since then she had several bad relationships again. In early 1985 she broke up with a guy after a two-year
relationship. It was detrimental and hurtful.
She prayed to God to bring a Christian guy who can trust and grow in faith together because she knew she could not
find a guy to hold a good relationship. She promised not to try to find a guy
but trust HIM to bring him. It turns out that Akiko was praying this prayer the
night before Jeff and Akiko met. Akiko was in her bedroom praying the same prayer that Jeff was praying just a few yards
away, while parked in his car by the girls’ softball game.
had been attending church at Mission Valley Free Methodist Church for about five years. She invited Jeff to join her. It was there, under the tutelage of the pastors that Jeff started to learn more about the Bible and how to discern the truth. He also learned a lot about discerning the truth when he attended "Defending the Faith" classes, which are part of Biola's Christian Apologetics Program.
Even after they were dating for quite a long time, Akiko would never introduce him to
her friends at church as a “boyfriend” or “a guy that I’m dating”. She always introduced him as a “guy that lives in my neighborhood”. Akiko later told
Jeff that at one point, she was praying, “Please don’t let that guy be the guy I was praying for!”
Akiko realized it was God's plan and He had a purpose for her and Jeff to be together. They finally
did get married in February, 1990 and now have two daughters. They currently
attend Yorba Linda Friends Church. They still go back occasionally to visit Mission Valley Free Methodist Church where they and their two daughters were all baptized. From time to time
they still visit with the pastors who were at Mission Valley
at the time they were attending there; Arnold Doi who is now at New Life Christian Church in Glendale and David Shigekawa who is now retired. They still enjoy meeting for lunch when they can.
Just some notes: When hearing this
story, some people ask why Akiko was wearing High healed shoes and business attire at an auto repair class. The reason
is that she was working a job that required her to translate automotive technical manuals from English to Japanese (or Japanese
to English). She was not taking the class to be able to work on her car. She wanted to learn more about the process
of auto repair and the jargon used. She was looking for a way to improve her abilities for her work.
And by the way, regarding Jeff’s
friend that was in the car with him when he was praying; he wouldn’t agree to come to the class with Jeff for the first
day of the class, but he later admitted to showing up and watching from across the street.