My wife, Laura Nobuko Uyeda Bagby, is an extraordinary woman.
First of all she embodies the ideal feminine person; She’s a woman!
Secondly, she personifies the complete life mate and wife;
Thirdly, she has realized all the goals of motherhood.
But there is more….much more.
When I met Laura Uyeda, she was a dressed up, perfect makeup, every hair in place person who had never been camping. I was living in Auka, a refugee village in a remote corner of Honduras, with no electricity or running water. Actually, we did have a type of running water: me running down to the well we had dug a few years before with empty 5 gallon plastic buckets, filling them up, and running back up to our house. It was about 50 yards away. Good cardio. We had a two burner kerosine stove, candles, flashlights, and a bucket to bathe out of- pouring cold water over our bodies, soaping up, and pouring the rinse water, minimizing the quantity so we could stretch that 5 gallon bucket as far as it would go…..
Laura adapted incredibly well for a city girl used to all the comforts. We bought veggies that were mostly green so that they would ripen and be eatable during our 3-4 weeks at our home in Auka.
She became a culinary expert in combining canned foods, locally grown rice, beans and eggs, with our ripening veggies into delicious meals! Before Laura, I was eating in Mirna’s kitchen enjoying rice and beans, beans and rice, boiled bananas, along with occasional mystery meat (turtles, iguana, cow, pig, and others). Laura changed my culinary world.
She had never flown in a light airplane before, and I discovered on our first flight in our PA-22 Piper Pacer that she got airsick- and it happened on every flight thereafter. On that first flight I had given her a Green Apple Jolly Rancher candy. When she needed a barf bag, all I had was a clear plastic bag we had gotten at the vegetable market that morning. Green was not the preferable choice for flight candies!
She never hesitated to get into that small airplane for the 3 hour flight from La Ceiba to Auka. She was fine as we flew along the Caribbean coast that extends east from La Ceiba. The air was smooth, the beaches deserted, and water blue. At Cabo Camarones, the coast turned southeast, and we cut through a mountain pass for the direct route to Auka. That’s when things got bumpy. As we flew over the flat savannah, we encountered the rising thermals, which jostled our little “Flying Banana” (because of the yellow color) up, down and sometimes sideways. This last part of the flight usually occurred around noon, and lasted for over an hour. Finally we sighted the jungle border of the Kruta River, knowing that our airstrip and home was located right on the boundary of the pine tree grassland. When I sighted the white metal drums we painted to mark the ends of the runway, I could descend and land. Laura staggered out of the airplane, most often with a smile on her face. Incredible courage.
Inspirational willingness to suffer hardship for the cause.
I am a doer. I see a task, develop a plan to accomplish the task, gather the resources, and do the job. My focus is on the completion of that task.
Laura is a people person. She sees a task as a means to better know a person, and constantly enlists others to help in her tasks, as a mean to the end of better knowing that person.
Can you see a potential area of conflict?
We have had conflicts in our work. And in the process, Laura has “infected” me with her concern for others, and utilizing work as a means of better relationships. I have come to agree with her on some, OK many of her points of view of work as the ultimate fun and means of better relationships.
Because of Laura’s focus on people, we together have accomplished many tasks in a much “user friendly” manner. I cannot imaging how my life would be, how our ministry would impact so many, and how we would operate our café business without her persistent, guiding, and inspirational hand on me when it comes to caring for others.
Truly inspirational servanthood!
Laura grew up in a Japanese Hawaiian culture as a Buddhist. She had an auntie who was the leader of her Buddhist group, and they were very active in their offerings to the ancestors, and cultivating a very evident spiritual atmosphere in their home in Honolulu. Then Auntie Lillian became a follower of Jesus. She told Laura to pray the Lord’s Prayer daily and end the prayer “in Jesus’ name.”
Laura didn’t know who this Jesus was, so she went to the local library to find some books on this character. She was surprised that the card catalogue had so many references to Jesus, and astonished to discover shelves filled with books about Jesus. “Wow, this guy must be somebody” she thought. She checked out five books, one of which was “The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (not what you would consider light reading!), read them all, and decided to walk down the hill from her home on Ala Mahamoe street to Moanalua Gardens Missionary Church, where she saw her piano teacher Jackie Weber standing at the door greeting everyone as they came in. A few months later she was baptized- a public proclamation of her new faith in Jesus, her Savior, her Lord, and her God.
No one from her family attended her baptism.
15 years later, everyone in her family had been baptized.
Laura took her relationship with God very seriously. It became the MOST important thing in her life. She was fortunate to have many older ladies spend time with her, speak truth into her life, and model others-center living to her. As she read the Bible, she understood that she was now a new creation, and was being transformed into a new person- one designed by God for eternal purposes. She embraced this change, and looked for any opportunity to further this process.
She moved to Maui, got a job in a hair salon in Kihei, and began attending Hope Chapel. One day he met a guy who had left Maui a few years before to work with refugees in Honduras. Initially she understood that they were from two different worlds with little common ground between. It was during that time she realized that even though she had well-paying profession that she enjoyed, owned a home on a beautiful part of the island, and had many friends who loved her and cared for her, God had more for her. He had designed a personal adventure for an that would exceed her life expectations.
It was after that at afternoon church concert when she was asking her Lord about her desire for a godly husband that He said clearly “What about him?”
“Him” was the guy from Honduras who at that moment happened to be onstage singing an original composition – “The Rice and Beans Blues” with three of his friends.
“Oh no. Not that guy from Honduras!” was her reply.
It was a few months later that she was at Hope Chapel with her visiting parents and brothers, listening to “That Guy” speaking about his adventure in caring for the refugees from the war in Nicaragua that her Lord asked again: “Well, what about him?”
For her, that was when the light went on and she suddenly realized “That’s the one I want!”
After the service she introduced me to her parents and brothers. Honestly, I could not figure out why she wanted me to know her family. The sermon wasn’t that great.
In her logical Japanese functional thinking she had decided “Since I’m going to marry him, and since my parents are here visiting from Oahu, he should meet them.”
I was in a hurry to meet my windsurfing friends, who happened to be beautiful athletic godly ladies (who I thought would fit better into my fourth world refugee environment), and I was looking over Laura’s families head as my friends got into their cars, when suddenly as I was shaking hands with Laura’s father Ronald, that I heard a voice say to me “You better pay attention because these could be your in-laws.” I grabbed Ron’s hand again and asked “What did you say your name was?”
14 months later we were married at that same Moanalua Gardens Missionary Church (October 1, 1988) with Laura’s parents walking her down the aisle as my parents stood beside me at the front.
Since then, Laura has been constantly leaning into the adventure that God had designed her for, willing to give up all her comforts, riches, prestige, and ultimately herself for the upward call of Jesus on her life. She has not hesitated one time in giving to others, going to strange places, living in rugged conditions, and the most challenging aspect of the adventure- living with me in an understanding manner.
Inspirational Following the Heart of God.
Yes, Laura Uyeda had turned out to be the MOST inspiration person I have ever met.
What a privilege it has been to be her companion, her confidant, and her lover.