Minute With Mark

by | Dec 10, 2020

During the past year I have had the pleasure of serving as the Scout Executive of the Far East Council, with headquarters in Okinawa, Japan. Our council services American military and Ex Patriot families in many Asian countries. My daily work involves interaction with good Scouters from Singapore, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, India, and other areas. I am always impressed and inspired by the people all over the world who strive to live “On My Honor.”

Last month, as my family and I were traveling back to Japan from my son’s wedding in Utah, we stopped at Yokota Air Force Base in Tokyo. Our intention was to just stay overnight until we could catch a flight on to Okinawa. However, our plans changed when I tested positive for Covid-19. The military informed me that I would be isolated from my wife and children for 14 days, and that they would be divided as well into two more isolation apartments. This news was extremely discouraging to all of us. Within a few hours, I was transported away from my family and placed alone in a room. As you can imagine, this sudden change of plans plunged all of us into “the depths of despair.”

After a sleepless night, on the following morning, the military personnel arrived to transport my wife and seven children to two separate apartments in the same isolation building where I had been moved the night before. They loaded our many suitcases and bags into a van and were transported across base. My wife reports, “I was so discouraged. I felt like we were being taken to a concentration camp, though I knew circumstances weren’t that bad. Still, my spirits were very, very low. We didn’t know anyone on this base, and it didn’t seem fair that we would all be divided up.”

However, as the van pulled up to the drop-off point of the isolation tower, my wife was surprised to see an office window on the first floor of the tower. There, prominently displayed, was a large BSA fleur de lis! Our family was actually being assigned to quarantine above the local base Scout office! My wife and children couldn’t believe their eyes. They jumped out of the van and peered through the windows of the closed rooms. Inside they saw Scout gear, camping equipment, and posters and pictures of Scout troops at Yokota Air Base. Seeing these familiar images was like coming home.

After they were settled into their isolation apartment my wife called and told me that we were all actually staying above the local Scout hut! Because I had never been at that air base before, and because I had arrived at night, I hadn’t been aware of the Scout office, and I hadn’t seen the BSA logo. However, it was a great comfort to our family during our weeks there. This miracle was a tender mercy to us, and a sign that the Lord was watching over our family and was aware of us. I am grateful for our Scouting family and for the familiarity of Scouting values and people all around the world–even, and especially–during the Covid-19 pandemic.