Generations of generosity, a family legacy

An older mother and son sit next to each other. The son is looking at the camera. The mother is looking at the son.
Mariko and Ken, mother and son, a legacy of generosity.

Mariko and her son Ken are MCC partners, just like many of you.

Sitting in Mariko’s living room, I had the privilege of hearing their story.

Mariko and her husband Morio were Japanese newcomers to Canada in 1980. Funds were limited, as they decided to live on a single income while Mariko stayed home to raise their two young children.

“I had learned to be frugal from my mother, but I didn’t think about giving or being generous,” Mariko remembered.

They recall how the Mennonite church made their family feel part of the community. Through their church, they became involved in MCC’s New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale. They were impressed by the generosity of supporters in both volunteer time and resources. Ken’s first introduction to MCC was as a young parking attendant for the relief sale, and Mariko would help at her church’s food tent.

Still, navigating a new language, new culture and new country made it difficult for Mariko to focus on her global community. There was so much happening at home.

Then her son, Ken applied and was accepted to spend a year working in an elementary school in rural Uganda through MCC’s Serving and Learning Together (SALT) program.

She showed a box full of letters Ken sent from Uganda.  

A handwritten letter
One page from dozens of hand-written letters Ken sent to his parents while in Uganda. They would type out these letters and email them to Ken's community and supporters.
MCC photo/Ken Ogasawara

“One of the letters said his host mother, Dorcas told him ‘Please pray for rain, if it doesn’t come, we’ll starve.’ I thought to myself, “If it doesn’t rain here, maybe my tomatoes and lettuce won’t grow as well, but I certainly won’t starve.”

Inspired by these letters, Mariko visited Ken for a month in Uganda and saw for herself the deep needs faced by families and the hope and relief offered by MCC partners in the community. Her trip to Uganda had a huge impact on her world view.

A black and white photo of three people sitting on a step in front of a doorway in Uganda.
Mariko with a neighbour and her son while visiting Ken in Kanungu, Uganda. 
MCC photo/Ken Ogasawara

After returning home, Ken was passionate about continuing his work with MCC. He first served as an intern in the Communications department, then later as a board member. Next, he transitioned back into a staff position as the Communications Specialist in the Ontario office. Ken explains:

“MCC is a way for me to have faith in action and make a practical impact in the world the same way that Jesus made a practical impact.”

Both Mariko and Ken found in MCC values with which they resonated – inclusion, support, justice, and peace.  Through their shared experiences, they saw the incredible impact that can be made through support and generosity.  

“Putting MCC in our will was an obvious choice. MCC is working hard for people who are struggling; our legacy gift is a celebration of thanks to them,” Mariko explains.

What Mariko and her husband didn’t know was that the culture of generosity they were creating in their home would go on to impact the lives of their children in ways never expected.

With two daughters of their own, Ken and his wife Cheryl began to think about how they could steward their resources and teach their children the importance of blessing others. Unbeknownst to his mother, they too chose to include MCC in their will.

“[Putting MCC in our will] was a quick discussion with my wife. In our estate, we know that there will be space to give generously to our family, and space to give generously to our global brothers and sisters".

It wasn’t until we sat down together to share their story that Mariko and Ken realized that they had each included MCC in their estate. Their decisions were made separately, but they were both influenced by the lifelong journey with MCC that they shared.

Throughout the morning, Mariko and Ken told story after story of all they have learned, experienced and celebrated in their communities, both close to home and around the world. As our time came to a close, Mariko reflected on how she has been invited into a space to learn more about Indigenous communities in Canada:

“I am doing work in understanding other cultures … and it is a long journey of learning, accepting, truth and reconciliation.”

She showed me a beautiful pair of moccasins made by Niska Artisans - – an MCC reconciliation program – that Ken had gifted her in acknowledgment of her growth. Delicately beaded and sewn together, for Mariko, the moccasins serve as a reminder to always keep learning, keep uplifting others, and striving to walk “in a good way.” 

A pair of feet wearing moccasins
Moccasins hand-made by Niska Artisans that Ken gifted to Mariko.
MCC photo/Ken Ogasawara

MCC is a meaningful part of Mariko’s and Ken’s lives. Now, through a legacy gift, their compassion and generosity will continue to have a meaningful impact for generations to come.  


If you are considering a planned gift in your will, please reach out to us or visit our legacy information webpages for more details.