A letter from Barbara Easton in Japan
May 4, 2009
Greetings in the name of our risen Lord Jesus Christ!
Thank you very much for all you do as faithful witnesses to the coming of God’s reign. Your prayers and gifts of time and money help support the church throughout the world.
Spring is always a busy season of new beginnings, particularly in Japan, although I may never become fully in tune with beginning a new school year just before the school year ends in the United States. This year in April Kwassui Women’s College, where I teach English and Christianity, opened a Faculty of Nursing in cooperation with the state-of-the-art national hospital in Nagasaki prefecture. It’s located about 25 miles from our main campus, in the city of Omura. This is the first four-year university facility there, so the city seems very pleased to welcome us. Historically, Kwassui has a connection with Omura. About 100 years ago, our founder Elizabeth Russell established an orphanage there after an earthquake and tidal wave destroyed fishing villages in a neighboring prefecture. However, as the government gradually increased its facilities, in time the Kwassui orphanage was discontinued.
Now as we start to celebrate our 130th year as an educational institution for young women, we are seeking to prepare health care providers for a rapidly aging society. One of the entering students, Keiko, is a Christian who has already graduated from our Department of Human Relations, but she is now acquiring further education for a career of helping other people.
As a member of the Board of Directors of Kwassui Gakuin, I am well aware of the efforts that Kwassui’s administrative leaders have been making to achieve the opening of the Faculty of Nursing in a timely manner while satisfying all of the requirements of the national Ministry of Education. When the new semester began, the classrooms were ready for instructional purposes, but the beautiful chapel currently has portable chairs (as is the case in some smaller churches) because someone had originally ordered desks for a “large lecture room” rather than appropriate seating. Nevertheless, this is being adjusted, and all of the students and staff are gathering on Friday mornings from 8:20 to 8:45 for services of worship, in addition to attending chapel hour services on our main campus on Tuesdays. My British missionary colleague and I, along with Kwassui’s chaplains and other administrators, as time permits, attend the morning chapel services on the Omura campus and will take turns speaking there, as we do on the main campus. Please pray that these will be meaningful times, as God’s Spirit works in the lives of the students and staff.
One other encouraging development this spring is the increased attendance at the Bible study sessions on Thursday evenings at Kwassui’s main residence hall. (There is another dormitory on the Nursing campus.) There are more than ten students coming from various departments (such as English, Music, and Nutrition) and all years of study. The three students who remain in the dormitory from last year have made great efforts to invite new members to join. We now have five nationalities in the group!
Despite people’s anxieties about the flu epidemic, we continue to see God at work in many ways. Forty PC(USA) mission personnel will visit hundreds of congregations across the United States this fall to tell how God is at work around the world. World Mission Challenge will be held from September 25 to October 18, 2009. Learn more at the Mission Challenge Web site or by calling Ellen Dozier at 888-728-7228, x5916.
I also expect to be in the United States, mostly in August, for interpretation assignment, beginning with the missionary sharing conference in Louisville to learn more with other mission co-workers about Presbyterian activities. My home base is with my sister near Billings, Montana. I would be happy to be able to meet and talk with you as plans can be arranged.
Thank you again for the encouraging support that you provide as members of God’s family of believers in Jesus Christ.
The 2009 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 123