I'm back and I had a wonderful two days away from home. I saw many old friends and students and I had a chance to spend time with two people who probably influenced me more than anyone else in my life.
When I was twenty-two I came to Japan to teach English at a Christian Center which was supported by missionaries from America. Dick and Martha Lammers were living at the Center and they took me under their wings and taught me how to teach, how to love the Japanese people, how to accept new customs and ideas. Dick and Martha had come to Japan in 1948 and had headed the Morioka Good Neighbors Christian Center from 1969. I showed up in 1977 and for two years was able to watch them go about their lives and learn from them about life in general.
This weekend the Lammers were back in Morioka and at the ages 82 and 84 they were joking that this is probably going to be their last trip back to Japan "on foot". The Christian Center where we all taught and lived was having various welcome home programs and I was invited to make the trip to Morioka and join them. In the 18 years since the Lammers retired, Tetsu and I have seen them one other time, but since our first meeting already 31 years have elapsed!
For me, this weekend made me feel like I was a twenty-two year old girl again and here were my protectors and mentors still teaching and showing me things just like all those years ago. Dick and Martha really hadn't changed at all. Still the same slow way of talking. Still the everpresent smiles. Still the desire to share and teach and make something around them a little bit better. I spent the better part of these two days either trying to absorb what they were saying or plying them with questions about their recent thoughts on life. A few times as I listened to them I'd think,
"I knew this once. How could I have forgotten it? What have I been doing all these years?"
I don't know how to explain it. The Lammers live deliberately. They are big recyclers. They have a philosophy on life of living simply, ecologically, globally. They don't just do for doing nor just sort of fall into a pattern. They think. They decide. They enjoy doing what they've decided. They do not insist that others do it their way but they look like they are having so much fun that you just want to know why and how and maybe try it out yourself.
I tend to do things just because it is what is expected, what is easiest, "well, it won't matter once" type of philosophy. Take food for instance. I KNOW we should eat more healthily but I cook heavy things, fast things, or just heat up something frozen. The Lammers have always eaten whatever is seasonal, home dried or they pickle what is abundant. They are not hard-lined vegetarians but they rarely eat meat. Why? Because the crops it takes to feed one cow could feed so many more people so it is their silent gift to the hungry to eat simply.
When we all lived in the same Christian Center those many years ago, I admired them for their commitment to walk instead of ride, reuse instead of buy, patronize the local stores instead of saving a few yen at the supermarkets. And I wanted to live that way too, but I've forgotten over the years. It made me sad to think that nearly 30 years have gone by and I've missed nearly 30 years of their wisdom and influence.
I am grateful to God for putting me in the care of these two very impressive people when I was young and impressionable. I hope God will guide my own children to people as inspiring and loving as the Lammers.
What fun I had this weekend! I'm afraid I've got a lot of people pictures I'll be showing you over the next couple of days!