Our Westside Story
On February 4, 1964; John Wyatt proposed marriage
to Betty Ousley; she accepted a few minutes later
on February 5. And on the 14th, we decided to not
have a long engagement. Betty had been attending
Westside, and thought it the ideal size for the wedding,
on February 23rd. We had discussed where we would
worship after we were married and had agreed to"shop
around" before committing to one congregation. However,
upon reading the "Labors of Love" article in the Westside
bulletin after one week of marriage, and
seeing the sacrifices made for our wedding, we were through shopping.
Many times in our 36+ years of marriage we have shared our Westside experiences. Now, we would like to share some of the stories with you:
On the first Sunday of five-Sunday months, the English and Japanese-speaking congregations would meet together. A potluck would always follow. On those Sundays, John would lead the congregation in songs. He would select his songs early the week before and one of the Nisai would help him find the same songs in the Japanese song books, and tell him how to announce the numbers in Japanese. John would carefully write the numbers out phonetically, and on Sunday morning, he would announce the song numbers in English and then in Japanese. The singing was particularly beautiful on those days-a reminder of Heaven! Invariably, after worship and at the potlucks, the mama-sans would come to John and bow and chatter to him in Japanese. They were always startled to learn he neither spoke nor understood Japanese.
We quickly learned to love the Japanese people, culture, manners, and especially their food! We learned to eat with chopsticks. We learned that sushi and seaweed and many other dishes are very tasty. When we finished our meal, someone invariably would check our teacups to see if there were leaves to be read. Sometimes, Michio Nagai (highly respected teacher at Pepperdine) would visit with his parents on these days.
Betty taught the 3-4 year old children; there were about 20 in class. They sat at a huge child's level table and listened intently to the Bible stories. The one child who sat under the table and refused to participate in anything was Joanna Waldron, but then she would go home and sing every song and tell her parents all about the lesson. Once, Kay Dobbs (Deakins) and Betty visited in every student's home. In each home, a snack had been prepared, and we did not leave any house without a gift.
Twice, John went with the teens to Camp Tanda at Big Bear Lake. Both times he directed the camp .
We have tried twice to move to Ibaraki, Japan. Even though we did not make it to Japan, because of our acquaintance with Bob Waldron at Westside, we ended up in Alaska for 20 years. When people ask us how and why Alaska, the standard answer is still "we were on our way to Japan."
After John retired from teaching in Alaska, we moved to Vancouver, Washington. Our love for the Lord's Church still is uppermost in our lives; John is now an elder for a thriving congregation. Presently, John's favorite hobby is bonsai. And we still love Japanese food! Somewhere in our marriage, a seed was planted in the hearts of our three children. Our middle child and her family are missionaries to Togo, French West Africa, and our two sons are both supportive of the spread of God's Good News around the world.
Some of John's early heroes in the Church were the Nissai leaders of Westside. Though they spoke but little of their own involvement, their examples were powerful Christian models. Their quiet action was much more impressive than any verbal lecture. And when he learned how some of these men served so courageously in World War II and counted that as nothing, preferring instead to live boldly for God, he knew he had met heroes indeed like those in Hebrews 11.
Mr. And Mrs. John C. Wyatt