It is a beautiful May morning as I start this blog article, and I am writing this in Fukuoka, the city in southwest Japan where June and I lived for 36 years. So I send you warm greetings from Japan and from the campus of Seinan Gakuin University.
Having lived here for so long, it really seemed like I was coming home when I arrived back here on May 14. I had warm and nostalgic feelings much like I used to have years ago upon going back to where I grew up in north Missouri after having been in Japan for several years.
June and I last visited back in Fukuoka in 2010, and I am sorry she decided not to come with me this time—especially since we can’t celebrate our 56th wedding anniversary together tomorrow.
One of the first things that stuck me upon being back in Fukuoka was how little things have changed in the past three years. There used to be so much new construction taking place across the city all the time, but there seemingly has not been much since I was here last and there is not a lot that is visible now. That is, no doubt, largely due to the sluggish economy over the last many years.
On May 15, I attended the Founders Day ceremonies at the school system known as Seinan Gakuin (SG), which started as a small school for junior high school for boys in 1916. Now there are well over 10,000 students from the nursery school through the university that includes a law school.
And there has been, and is, new construction on campus. There is a beautiful new four-story Language Education Center at SGU, and a new administration building is currently being built.
Around 80% of the students at Seinan Gakuin are in the university, and that is where I taught for the 36 years we lived in Fukuoka. But this academic year, which began the first of April, marks the completion of the Seinan Gakuin Elementary School (SGES), which opened with grades one through three in 2010.
From 1996 to 2004 I had the privilege (and the heavy responsibility) of serving as the chancellor of Seinan Gakuin. In that capacity I was the one who proposed and then worked toward the founding of the SGES. It was a thrill to visit it the month after it opened in 2010, and it was a thrill for me again to attend the SGES chapel service this month with more than 400 students, from the first through the sixth grades, present.
I wish you could have heard the grade school students recite the Lord’s Prayer together. I venture to say you have never heard that prayer said as loudly or as clearly as I heard it in that chapel service. And the pupils were so quiet and well-behaved through the remainder of the service that I was much impressed.
Of all I tried to do in Japan through the years, I can’t help but think that perhaps my most significant accomplishment was laying the groundwork for the founding of Seinan Gakuin Elementary School.
|Seinan Gakuin Elementary School (on left)|
I thank God for the privilege of being able to serve as an educational missionary at Seinan Gakuin from 1968 to 2004 and for the blessing of being here again now and until the end of this merry month of May.