Unsung Missionaries

Discussion in 'Missions / Witnessing / eVangelism' started by John of Japan, Sep 14, 2006.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    This thread will be about missionaries hardly anyone has ever heard of. Therefore, it will not include missionaries like William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, Jonathan Gorth and David Livingstone, as great as these men were. I want to share with you some who are virtually unknown on earth nowadays, but well known in Heaven.

    Please share on this thread if you know someone like that. I'm looking for missionaries of the past, but I certainly wouldn't object if you share about an unusual but unknown missionary of the present. Just please, please, don't anyone write about me! I know far more about me than you do, and I don't want to know any more!! :smilewinkgrin: :type:
     
  2. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Rimitsu, the Nestorian Physician

    Rimitsu the Nestorian Doctor


    The story of the great Nestorian missionary movement is not well known among modern Christians. The Catholics called them heretics, though they opposed the Mariolatry of the day. I call them evangelical, though they had some peculiarities and were definitely not Baptist.

    The Nestorians went east from Persia on their missionary journeys, ending up in such far away lands as China and yes, Japan. In the north of the main island of Honshu is an ancient grave with a cross on it. I have in my files an article with pictures of the grave from a Japanese magazine. The locals have a silly legend that Jesus fled there after Judas took His place on the cross, married a Japanese woman and had many children. I have no doubt that the grave is that of some lonely Nestorian missionary, doing his best for Christ far from his beloved Persia.

    The Nestorian missionary I want to introduce to you is a different person, but not much more is known about his life than the missionary you just read about. His Persian name was Limitsi, but the Japanese called him Rimitsu. He arrived with two others in Japan in 736 from China, according to a book called the Shoku Nihongi, dated 797. He was a physician, and became the friend of the Empress Komyo, who evidently became a Christian, but perhaps only a secret believer.

    We know that in Japanese history, Komyo was well known for her charity, founding the first orphanage, leprosarium and hospital in Japan. Charity is not something taught in Shinto, which is nothing more than a primitive animism. Buddhism was not yet common in Japan in those days, but it too is a passive religion, not usually teaching charity.

    What else can I tell you about Rimitsu? Very little, since very little else is known about him—on earth that is. They know him well in Heaven, which is no doubt his current address. There he must have heard these words from our Lord Jesus Christ: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

    God bless.

    Main sources: By Foot to China, John M. L. Young; Jizo and Jesus in Japan, by Kenny Joseph. You can read Young’s fascinating, scholarly book about the Nestorians online at
    http://www.aramaicpeshitta.com/Online_Version/books/bftc.pdf#search=%22Rimitsu%22
     
  3. El_Guero

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    Just because we think they may have been missinaries to Japan, I guess I should go easy on them there nestorian missionaries.

    ;)
     
  4. John of Japan

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    Yup. Let's just hope no one edimicated in church history comes on the thread.:thumbsup: :tongue3:

    Seriously, check out Young's book. I think the Nestorians, the original ones anyway, have been given a bad rap in church history.
     
  5. J.D.

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    I wish I could remember the names of some of the Scottish Presbyterian missionaries that I heard about that took the Gospel into the Pacific Islands, most notably Hawaii. I was astounded by their zeal in the Lord. Many of them were murdered, and some were eaten by cannibals. The stress on their families was incredible. If I can find some of the names, I will come back and post them.
     
  6. El_Guero

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    Just ask any hawaiian you witness to . . .

    Well, maybe not . . . that might not be a good witness.

     
  7. El_Guero

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    I think the Nestorians did get worse of a rap than they deserved . . .

    And we probably should remember that they sacrificed a lot in the name of Christ. And they were one of the few that actually went to the ends of the Earth . . . back when that meant leaving (forsaking) everything that you knew . . . your family . . . you language . . . your culture . . . your food . . . and your life . . .
     
  8. J.D.

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    Why is that? Do they view the Scots as conquerers instead of missionaries?
     
  9. Squire Robertsson

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    Actually, I think it was American Congregationalists in Hawaii. And yes, at least culturally and economically, they are viewed as conquerers. It was their sons and grandsons which lead the drive to depose the Hawaiian monarchy and annex the Kingdom to the USA. Hawaii in the late 1800s was a fairly civilized place. The government was more or less a constitutional monarchy. So, there wasn't any reason for annexation other than Manifest Destiny.
     
  10. TheWinDork

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    John Birch

    source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Birch_%28missionary%29

    John Morrison Birch (May 8, 1918August 25, 1945) was an American Military Intelligence Officer and a Baptist Missionary in World War II who was shot by armed supporters of the Communist Party of China. A portion of the American right consider him a martyr, the first victim of the Cold War. The conservative John Birch Society, formed 13 years after his death, is named in honor of him.

    Early life and initial missionary work

    Birch was born in Landour, a hill station in the Himalayas in northern India; both his parents were missionaries. In 1920, when John was 2, the family returned to America. He was raised in New Jersey and Georgia, brought up in the Southern Baptist tradition, with his five siblings (he was the oldest).

    He graduated from Baptist-controlled Mercer University in Macon, Georgia in 1939. In his senior year at the university, he organized a student group to identify cases of "heresy" by professors, such as the teaching of evolution.

    While at Mercer, Birch decided to become a missionary, and enrolled in the Bible Baptist Seminary at Fort Worth, Texas. After completing a two-year curriculum in a single year, he sailed for China in 1940. Arriving in Shanghai, Birch began intensive study of Mandarin Chinese. After six months of training, he was assigned to Hangchow. Hangchow at the time was outside the area occupied by the Japanese fighting in the Second Sino-Japanese War. But the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 ended that: the Japanese sent a force to Hangchow to arrest Birch. He and other Christian missionaries fled inland to eastern China. Cut off from the outside world, he began trying to establish new missions in Chekiang Province.


    Military career

    In April 1942, Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle and his crew had crash-landed in China after the Tokyo raid. (They launched from an aircraft carrier, but flew from Tokyo to China because of lack of fuel, planning to land as best they could.) For several crews, the mission ended badly. Some were captured by the Japanese, and a few perished. Colonel Doolittle and his crew were more fortunate; after bailing out, they were rescued by sympathetic Chinese and smuggled by river into Chekiang Province. Birch was told of the survivors, and went to meet them. He assisted them in getting to safety, and then helped locate and direct to friendly territory other American crews.

    When Doolittle arrived in Chungking, he told Colonel Claire Chennault, leader of the Flying Tigers, about Birch and his help. Chennault said he could use an American for intelligence duties who could speak Chinese and knew the country well. Chennault commissioned Birch as a first lieutenant on July 4, 1942 in the China Air Task Force of the U.S. Army.
    Birch joined the Fourteenth Air Force on its formation in 1943, and was later seconded to the OSS. He built a formidable intelligence network of sympathetic Chinese informants, supplying Chennault with information on Japanese troop movements and shipping, often performing dangerous incognito field assignments, during which he would brazenly hold Sunday church services for Chinese Christians. Urged to take a leave of absence, he refused, telling Chennault he would not quit China "until the last Jap"; he was equally contemptuous of communists. He was promoted to Captain, and received the Legion of Merit in 1944.

    On Aug. 14, 1945, V-J Day signaled the end of hostilities, but China was still in ferment, with armed bands of Chinese Communist guerrillas throughout the countryside. On August 25th, Birch was leading a party of Americans, Chinese Nationalists, and Koreans on a mission to reach Allied personnel in a Japanese prison camp they were stopped by Chinese Communists near Sian. Birch was asked to surrender his revolver; he refused and harsh words and insults were exchanged. Birch was shot and killed; a Chinese Nationalist colleague was shot and wounded but survived.

    The rest of the party was imprisoned but released a short time later. Birch was posthumously awarded an Distinguished Service Medal.
    [edit]

    Memorials

    Birch is known today mainly by the society that bears his name. His name is on the bronze plaque of a World War II monument at the top of Coleman Hill Park overlooking downtown Macon, Georgia, with the names of other Macon men who lost their lives while serving in the military.
    Birch has a plaque on the sanctuary of the First Southern Methodist Church of Macon, which was built on land given by his family, purchased with the money John sent home monthly. A building at the First Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas, is named The John Birch Hall. A small street in a housing development outside Boston is also named for him.
     
    #10 TheWinDork, Sep 20, 2006
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  11. whatever

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    Ever heard of James Chalmers? This is from http://www.wholesomewords.org/missions/giants/biochalmers.html
     
  12. John of Japan

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    Great posts on John Birch and James Chalmers, thanks to WinDork and whatever. :thumbs: :thumbs:

    I knew about John Birch, and even have a short biography of him which I highly recommend, though I can't seem to find it right now. I had completely forgotten the name James Chalmers, but now looking on my bookshelves I find a little book with his story, Giants of the Missionary Trail, by Eugene Harrison.
     
  13. John of Japan

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    Matthias, the Apostle Who Gets No Respect

    Matthias, the Apostle Who Gets No Respect


    I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Matthias. As the replacement for Judas, he never seemed to get the respect accorded the other eleven of the original apostles. Some even doubt his apostleship, saying that in reality Judas was replaced by Paul. However, this view ignores two key Scriptures. First of all, Matthias was said to be “numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:26), which clearly shows that Matthias was the proper replacement for Judas. Furthermore, those who wish to wish to replace Judas with Paul forget that Barnabas was an equal apostle along with Paul (Acts 14:14), which would make the awkward number of thirteen!

    Be that as it may, we would expect to know more from history about Matthias, but there is very little. Even John Foxe, in his famous Book of Martyrs, (ed. by William Forbush, p. 3), has only a very short entry for him: “Matthias—Of whom less is known than of most of the other disciples, was elected to fill the vacant place of Judas. He was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded.” Let’s see if we can add a little to this sparse story.

    His name is the shortened form of Mattathias, a Hebrew name meaning “gift of Yahweh.” According to fourth century church historian Eusebius (The History of the Church, trans. by G. A. Williamson, p. 64), Matthias was one of the seventy disciples sent out on a special missionary journey by Christ (Luke 10:1). Eusebius also gives him full status as an apostle (p. 71), showing that the early church, at least, considered him to be one. Some church fathers also connected him with Gnosticism, but it is safe to say that this is a false charge, based as it is on a fake Gospel (no manuscripts remaining) purporting to be by him. Also, an early Gnostic named Basilides claimed to be a disciple of Matthias, but this is highly unlikely considering that he was not born until 117, well after Matthias was dead.

    So, where did Matthias labor as a missionary? There is a tradition that he labored in a place called Ethiopia, though different from modern Ethiopia, where he was blinded by cannibals but then rescued by the Apostle Andrew. This is just a tradition, though, probably no more than a legend. He may have been stoned or killed with a lance or an ax by Jews, or he may have died in Sebastopol, being buried near the temple of the sun, we just do not know. At the least there is little doubt that he died a martyr just as the other eleven did except for John. The ancient Roman city of Trier in Germany claims to be the last resting place of his ashes, though Rome also claims to have a piece or two of him. Today you can visit the Church of Matthias in Trier where his bones lie in a white marble sarcophagus.

    The place where Matthias actually labored for Christ along with several others of the apostles is probably Armenia, a mountainous country just east of Turkey, and the first country in the world to claim to be Christian. If this is true, there is no doubt that he did an outstanding job as a missionary! And there you have it—almost all that is known on earth of Matthias, the lowliest apostle of them all!

    Main source: The Search for the Twelve Apostles, by William Steuart McBirnie. Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1973.
     
  14. El_Guero

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    Ran into a missionary that I think goes by the pseudonym 'Sam Douglas' and his wife 'Rose Douglas'. They are serving in the hinterlands of Nepal. There are times he has to walk in . . . whew!
     
  15. John of Japan

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    The Inventor of the Rickshaw

    Jonathan Goble of Japan
    By John R. Himes​

    It was 1853, and Commodore Perry’s famous black ships had sailed into Edo (now called Tokyo) bay, causing great consternation and even panic among the watching Japanese. Oh yes, the Japanese were even then as now a sea-faring nation. I don’t know how many times I’ve eaten some delicacy from the sea for the first time in this country. But the size of Perry’s ships and their technology had awed the Japanese into silence. Though they had learned how to make muskets, and called them Tanegashima after the island (now used by the Japanese Space Agency as their rocket pad) where the Portuguese first revealed their secrets, the cannons on the black ships were huge and powerful.

    Thus it was that Perry cowed the Shogunate (Japanese government of the day), which had outlawed any contact with the outside world, imprisoned and mistreated foreign sailors shipwrecked on Japanese shores, and generally refused to join the civilized world. The Shogun, Japan’s ruler, signed a treaty with America, and with that tremendous changes began to take place which would not end until well into the 20th century.

    Meanwhile, among the Marine contingent aboard the flagship, the USS Susquehanna, was a young man named Jonathan Goble. Jonathan was a young Baptist believer, and had actually joined Perry’s expedition for the purpose of learning more about Japan in order to someday reach the Japanese for Christ.

    On the trip over, Goble had befriended a young Japanese seaman named Sentaro, nicknamed Sam Patch by the crew, who had been shipwrecked overseas, and thus was not allowed back into his own country. After arriving back in the home country after the expedition, Goble took Sentaro under his wing, and they went to college together, though college turned out to be somewhat beyond Sentaro’s ability. However, under the teaching of Goble, Sentaro trusted Christ as Savior and was baptized as the first ever Japanese Baptist believer.

    Goble studied diligently, hoping to go to Japan someday as a missionary, but then was not allowed to continue in college after marrying a local girl. Goble would return with his wife to Japan to become the first Baptist missionary to the country on April 1, 1860.

    The Gobles were under the auspices of the American Baptist Free Mission Society, and stayed for ten years their first term. During that time they experienced incredible hardships, ministering as they did in a country that for most of that time still outlawed Christianity on pain of death. Among their other struggles, Mrs. Goble’s health went downhill.

    Her loving husband thought of a wonderful idea. He took a picture of a British baby carriage from “Godey's Lady's Book” to a Japanese carpenter in 1869 and told him what he had in mind. Thus it was that the first jinrikisha (“human-powered vehicle”), which we know as the rickshaw, was invented. Japanese history books say that a Japanese inventor in Tokyo designed the first one, but he evidently actually built his from a diagram given him by his Yokohama associate, Goble’s friend. Horses were rare and expensive in the Japan of that day, and people would hire a peasant to carry them piggy back over the river fords. Even the rich folk had to settle for a palanquin carried by four men. Therefore, the rickshaw in its day was a great leap in technology.

    Goble kept very busy in the Lord’s work, with much foundational work to do before even attempting to start a church. Here is what he wrote about his work in the “Missionary Herald” of 1868: “I am as busy as I can be, teaching school, editing a native paper, and doing a little at translating. I am engaged by the Prince of Tosa to lay the foundation of an English college; and in prosecution of this plan we expect to go up into the country of Tosa to live. We are getting a font of Japanese type cast, and expect soon to be able to print Bibles, tracts, books, and papers, with press and moveable types. The English, Dutch, and Chinese versions of the Bible are already introduced as a reading-book in our school. Some of the pupils have of their own accord asked to be admitted to family worship, and others ask particular instruction in the Christian religion. One of the latter is a high officer of state to the Prince.” (Quoted in A History of Christianity in Japan, 1909, by Otis Cary, p. 65.)

    Goble’s other accomplishments as a missionary were much greater than the rickshaw, though. In 1871 he hired a Japanese printer to make wood blocks of his colloquial translation of the book of Matthew, which became the first Bible portion ever printed in Japan. (A German missionary to China named Karl Gutzlaff had previously printed his translation of John in Singapore.) He wrote, “I tried in Yokohama to get the blocks cut for printing, but all seemed afraid to undertake it, and I was only able to get it done in Tokyo by a man who, I think, did not know the nature of the book he was working on” (Cary, p. 86).

    After ten years on the field, Goble finally took a furlough. In the meantime, their mission board had ceased to exist, so for awhile they became the first independent Baptist missionaries! Eventually they came under the umbrella of the American Baptist Missionary Union. In 1873 they returned to the field with team mates, the amazing Nathan Brown and his wife. Brown had already worked many years with William Carey in India, where he had translated the New Testament into the Assam language, but after a time in the States arrived in Japan at the ripe age of 65! He later translated the first ever Japanese New Testament, and the only one in colloquial Japanese (instead of the difficult classical Japanese) for eighty more years!

    The two families founded the first ever Baptist church in Japan in the city of Yokohama on March 2, 1873, beginning with just the two missionary families. However, in July the first Japanese convert was baptized, and the church grew from there. Yokohama Baptist Church is still in existence after these many years, and still remembers fondly the founders, as can be seen from their Internet website.

    So what can we say about Jonathan Goble? It is said that he had a temper and was stubborn, and he sometimes mistreated those around him. He sometimes failed to concentrate on his main task of winning souls and was detoured into educational pursuits. But he loved Jesus Christ supremely, loved his wife dearly, and loved the Japanese with his life. And that, folks, is what a missionary should be about!

    Main sources:
    A History of Christianity in Japan, by Otis Cary, 1909.
    A History of Christianity in Japan, by Richard H. Drummond, 1971.
     
    #15 John of Japan, Sep 28, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 28, 2006
  16. John of Japan

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    Henry Martyn, the Lonely Bible Translator

    Henry Martyn, the Lonely Bible Translator
    By John R. Himes​

    Henry Martyn made an incredibly difficult decision as a young man. God had called him to the mission field, but he was in love. Lydia wavered. Could she follow him across the world from England to Asia? Surely that was too much to ask of a girl. She said no, but Henry never gave up. Even after reaching India to work with William Carey, he wrote a letter inviting her to come out to meet him in India, but it was not to be. He would remain lonely until he died deep in the heart of Persia.

    Henry was a brilliant young man, educated at Cambridge, but with little spiritual depth. However, this changed when he came under the great spiritual influence of Charles Simeon, pastor of Cambridge’s Holy Trinity Church and one of England’s greatest preachers. As Simeon shared the prayer letters of William Carey, the great Baptist missionary translator of India, Henry began to feel the burden. Before long he was confident of God’s call to be a missionary. In preparation for this, he joined Simeon’s staff as a curate, and began to learn to preach and minister to the hearts of the members.

    As a young man he loved the Lord and His Word with all of his heart. He did not speak of memorizing verses, but of memorizing passages. At one point he even assayed to memorize the book of Romans in Greek! This was a sign of the future—Henry on the mission field would become an amazing linguist! He delighted in reading the Bible in the original languages every morning, and after becoming an instructor in the classics at St. John’s College, he began learning Urdu, Bengali, Arabic and Persian on his own.

    In 1804, as Henry began preparing to leave for India, he fell head over heels in love with the lovely Lydia Grenfell, and indeed, she seemed to return his love. In 1805 he dreamed of marriage, hoping that she was willing to be a missionary wife. However, things had not progressed far enough, and he took his leave of England without her by his side on July 19, 1805.

    I remember my own appearance before the candidate committee of Baptist World Mission in the fall of 1977. I too was single with no prospects of marriage, but the mission board appointed me saying, “We believe you should be married, but feel you can make it on the mission field of Japan without a wife.” God in His wisdom led my future wife to apply to Baptist World Mission the very next year, so I did not come to Japan unmarried. But I have often wondered how it would have been as a single missionary. The Apostle Paul never married by his own choice. Henry Martyn never married though he was deeply in love as he left for the mission field. How incredibly difficult that must have been!

    To continue our story, within 48 hours Henry’s ship was in the harbor at Falmouth, which was only 25 miles away from where Lydia lived. Napoleon’s navy had taken to sea and it was war time, thus preventing the ship temporarily from continuing to India. So Henry took the time to visit Lydia, and share with her his love for the first time. The two young people parted with deep emotion, neither knowing what the future held.

    Once again on the ship headed for India, Henry had great tumult of soul, but yet as a missionary gloried in the opportunities before him. Even on the ship he was a faithful witness for Christ, preaching at the crew’s Sunday service, winning the ship’s carpenter to Christ and witnessing to a depressed marine corporal.

    After arriving in India, Henry was privileged to meet the great Baptist Bible translation team of William Carey, Joshua Marshman and WilliamWard. The brilliant young linguist learned valuable lessons from these men that would greatly help his future, but deep within his heart was still back in England with Lydia, so he wrote her a long letter, asking her to come East with the British fleet in February and marry him. Alas, she did not even get the letter until March.

    It was that year that Henry’s heart was broken. Lydia wrote him saying that she could not come to India and could not marry him. Her mother forbade it. There was nothing left to do for Henry but to throw himself into the Lord’s work. He preached, witnessed to Muslim and Hindu Indians, and worked on Urdu, Arabic and Persian (present day Iran) translations of the Bible. Amazingly, though Muslims are very stubborn in their religion, God blessed Henry’s witness with several Muslims coming to Christ.

    On February 12, 1812, Henry finished his translation of the Persian New Testament. Henry had a dread of what to do with his translation. While Carey and his team was preparing to print the Persian New Testament, Henry longed to be able to present a manuscript copy to the Shah of Persia. Though ill with the fever, ague and tuberculosis, he headed north deep into Persia, at last arriving at the Shah’s court, where he was able to get no further than the prime minister. Sick, lonely, tired and feeling like a failure, Henry passed on to meet his Savior at age 31 on or about August 18, 1812. Few knew of him on earth until his biography by John Sargent, Memoirs of the Rev. Henry Martyn, was published in 1816. Few know today of the lonely Bible translator. But in Heaven, they all know him, for he served His Savior faithfully until the end.

    Main source: My Love Must Wait: the Story of Henry Martyn, by David Bentley-Taylor.
     
  17. Jim1999

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    John, that story reminds me of a personal friend, late now, and pastor of ma Baptist Church in London. He asked a woman to marry him ad she said no. She went to the mission field in Africa. He remained single and pastored his only church all those years. He came to Canada once a year to lecture at the seminary in Toronto.
    When she retired from the mission field and returned to London, Dr. John Wilmot asked her to again marry him and they lived the rest of their lives together.

    It is hard to find such commitment to calling as that, but often shows arond missionaries.

    Thanks for that.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  18. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Jim, even though my mission board appointed me as a single man, I know deep within that I would never have made it as a missionary without my precious wife. I'd be a total wreck!! :BangHead:

    I'm glad the Lord knew that and led us together.
     
  19. Jim1999

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    At least you are honest enough to admit it. I remained single, by choice, for the first 20 years of my ministry. I had a couple of opportunities, but chose to remain single. I think Englishmen in my time period were literally stiff upper lip sorts.

    I know the Lord knows us well, and He does exceeding above all our expectations, and in His good time.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  20. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Jim, you are a better man than I am! I thought it was really rough doing without a wife from college graduation to marriage, only three years. :laugh:
     

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