Westside Church of Christ: History Project
Dates attended: 15, November, 1961 to 15, August, 1971
First came to Westside upon a plea for students
of Pepperdine College to serve as teachers in the
Bible School. Seems that plea came in October,
1961. It was evident to Nelmarie Benge that this
would be an in-state mission field. Nelmarie along
with several others including myself, Kenneth Robb
(I started attending in February, 1962), decided to
accept the invitation to serve the Lord as needed. It would become an unforgettable and most happy experience. We were 22 and 23 years of age respectively. Nelmarie and I continue to serve the Lord where the need arises, even to this day.
Our experience at Westside was indeed our fn-st growing years of service in the Lord. Ken's first role as a Minister of Education (volunteer and part-time); teacher training, Bible school growth pains, Vacation Bible School programs along with nine years of exhilarating camp work. We both taught in the Bible School program-from 2nd grade through a growing youth program. Ken preached for the church from Sept. 1965 to Aug. 1971. His last sermon was entitled: The Church: A People for God from I Pet. 1:13-21.
We saw the church grow through its youth program with a few adults being added along the way including the acquisition of property adjacent to the existing corner house and eventually the construction of a new auditorium, offices and classrooms. We recalled vividly the wonderful volunteer spirit that existed during this period of Westside ' s growth.
The youth were a challenging and dynamic collection of talent spanning about eight years. Youth meetings, outings, camping, trips to Disneyland, beach parties and just getting together at the Robb home for eating- wow, could they eat! Our photographs over those years tell quite a story of spiritual growth, imagination, determination, spirited fun and some heart aches. Our hearts were truly touched by their concern, love and appreciation. Unforgettable times indeed.
We remember special private times in home Bible studies. Not everyone we studied with responded to the Lord, but others were baptized over time. Precious memories not easily forgotten. Home studies often followed a "nearly" typical Japanese meal. Nelmarie has fond memories of the women' s prayer group which Taz Kusako started.
Special meal times called "combined pot-luck dinners" were held regularly with the Issei, Nisei, Sansei and Keibai ( sp ). Such a wonderful "feast" of Japanese and American food and the fellowship was always exciting along with trying to pronounce the names of specialty foods and communicating with the Japanese speaking brethren. Remembering frequently that Joe Aiboshi and I competed to see who could consume the most "gohon" (sp), Japanese steamed rice. Nori Sekino and Yutaka Niisato ever-present encouragers, they were always nearby. Don't forget the "hasei" (chopsticks), (sp).
Butch Blackbum and Bob Waldron with the help of others performed a "mock" wedding for us one Sunday afternoon before our actual wedding later in July which was held in Santa Cruz on the 29d1 of July, 1962. Tosh Aiboshi, Kaye Sekino, Frances Itow, Lillian Nissato, Taz Kusako (sp) and many others provided quite an afternoon of fun, games and sweet fellowship. Five years later our son Timothy was born and two years later our daughter Ruth. Special attention and gifts were provided by the congregation to get our young family on the road toward being well cared for in clothing and toys. Even a wonderful gas dryer was given. We just never lacked for attention; we were well cared for in typical Japanese style. These continue to be warm and sweet memories.
A leap of faith took place in 1967 when it was decided to purchase additional property adjacent to the corner house. Next came the clearing of land, rearranging Bible classes in the house across the alley and then the cons1ruction of a new auditorium. During the first phase of construction heavy Spring rains required larger footings for the foundation. Would it ever stop raining? As I recall, marvelous volunteers provided 70% of the construction by brethren and friends of Westside. It was truly a quality building, built with love and pride. "The new building" as it was affectionately called was dedicated in the Fall of 1969.
In August of 1971 I accepted the position of Minister of Education in Alabama following the completion of all my class work for a Masters Degree in Bible from Pepperdine University. Our family left Westside with tears and many fond memories of our first work and prayed that God's providential care would continue with our wonderful and supportive Japanese brethren. It was most difficult to say good-bye. Precious memories, always!
Since our departure we have served churches in Birmingham, Alabama; Dallas, Texas; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Garland, Texas and most recently 3 1/2 years in Brest, Belarus where we established the church including its registration with the authorities. We would have continued our ministry there, but the government sees us as a threat to their country and now refuses to issue visas to us. We are also forbidden to enter the Russian Federation as well. We have also served an additional seven months in Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Republic of Georgia and Latvia. We have fourteen (14) or more adopted grandchildren in Eastern Europe.
I served as an Elder for five years with the Saturn Road Church of Christ in Garland before serving as a missionary in Brest. Nelmarie has become quite an accomplished Ladies Bible Class teacher having authored several study booklets. Timothy is married and lives in Seattle, Washington working as a supervisor for a high tech computer company and Ruth is married and lives in Garland working as a supervisor for CSC Logic; neither has any children. Currently we are assisting the church in Santa Cruz, California while we wait for our next foreign mission work.
In His hands,
Ken & Nelmarie Robb
P.S. John Matsumoto and Joe and Tosh Aiboshi, we have many photographs in storage which we will try to retrieve when we visit Ruth in Garland at Christmas time. Please let us know if this seems desirable for the project at hand. Being posted on the WEB is not a problem for us now. It was while we were in Belarus however. Yes, there is a story behind that statement.