Ten years ago tomorrow, July 31, 2004, was a hard day for June and me. That is the day we ended our nearly 38 years of living in Japan as missionaries.
When we left that day from Fukuoka Airport, we were exhausted physically. It’s hard to get everything done when you are in your mid-60s and have to leave somewhere that has been your home for more than half your life.
It was a difficult time emotionally, as we were leaving friends and colleagues, many perhaps we would never see again. It was hard to say good-bye to close friends and co-workers from church, school, the neighborhood, and the larger community.
It was also a hard time because of the many decisions that lay ahead. Even though we knew where we were going to live for the first year back, we had to decide where to locate permanently. Theoretically, we could have chosen anywhere.
We have been very happy with our choice to live in Liberty, Mo., but it has been a challenge to become homeowners for the first time at our age.
It has been very nice having less pressure and more time with and proximity to family. But I enjoyed what I was doing in Japan so much I was not particularly happy to leave and to be retired.
I am happy, though, that I have been able to maintain some continuity with what I enjoyed doing so much. In considering only my “public” activities, I feel especially happy because of the following:
(1) Making four trips back to Japan (in 2006, 2008, 2012, and 2013). When we left Japan in 2004, I expected to go back, but didn’t think it would be possible to go back so often. Now I am looking forward to one more trip back—in 2016 at the time of the centennial celebration of the founding of Seinan Gakuin where I taught for 36 years.
(2) Writing and publishing two books. Although I was disappointed at not being able to find a publisher, it was still gratifying to use my own logo and the name 4-L Publications to release Fed Up with Fundamentalism: A Historical, Theological, and Personal Appraisal of Christian Fundamentalism in 2007 and Limits of Liberalism: A Historical, Theological, and Personal Appraisal of Christian Liberalism in 2010.
(3) Teaching theology classes. For many weeks each year since the fall of 2006, the most enjoyable activity of the week has been conducting the course titled Christianity II: Development in a three-hour time slot each week in the fall and spring semesters at Rockhurst University. I look forward to starting next month what will, sadly, likely be my last year to teach.
(4) Writing and posting these blog articles. This has been a particularly enjoyable and fulfilling activity during the past five years. My first dated blog posting was on July 17, 2009, and I have averaged six articles a month in the five full years since then. I much appreciate all who have read some or many of those articles and especially those who have made comments from time to time.
In reflecting on the past ten years, I am very grateful for good health and for the opportunities I have had to teach, to write, and to travel. And I am thankful for my many Thinking Friends with whom I can communicate regularly.