Carolyn Stypka's Japanese Adventures

 Carolyn Stypa

Update 1
Update 2
Update 3
Update 4
Update 5

Update 6:

My dear family, friends, and church supporters,

I hope this finds you well, and having an enjoyable and safe
celebratory weekend of our nation's Independence Day. My 4th was
celebrated with a rooftop pizza potluck with patriotic Budweiser, some
sparklers in the park, and an impromptu rendition of our national

I find it harder and harder to write these update emails the longer
and longer that I wait.  I feel as so much has happened with the new
placement, town, people, adjustments, churches.  The past three and a
half months in Kumamoto have certainly gone fast!  Although I haven't
made an official update since March, I have been keeping up a blog
online.  I write in it maybe twice a month, and it is simply short
thoughts or stories I felt compelled to write down.  Think of it more
of a journal.  If you'd like to check out the blog the site is:   I will not be sending out
notifications when I update the blog, as it is fairly informal.  These
emails will continue to be send at least quarterly.

Since I last wrote, I've completed more than the equivalent of a
quarter semester.  We had our midterm exams about two weeks ago.  Most
students will start their summer vacation at the end of this week,
July 10th.  My fellow teachers and I, as well as advanced class
students, will continue coming to Luther Gakuin for at least the
entire month of July.  Although I won't be teaching classes, I will be
working with students in Speech Competition preparation, grading, as
well as doing all final preparations for English Summer Camp in Mt.
Aso July 27-29th.  Our theme this year is Wild, Wild West, so it's
been a blast working on camp ideas.  Hopefully they'll still be
greeting us with "Howdy ya'll" come August back in school.

As far as teaching, I teach two classes of 3rd year junior high
students, four classes of regular level 1st year high school students,
and one class of English Tokushin (advanced, extra classes with an
emphasis on English) 1st year high school students.  I thoroughly
enjoy teaching and seeing students get excited about English, which is
sometimes a rarity depending on the day, and the particular class.  My
most challenging classes are my two junior high school students.  It
has taken alot of energy and trying new techniques each week for my
partner teacher (also new) and I to at least gain the respect from our
students to half pay attention, sometimes try and not constantly be
talking.  In the past month I was finally seeing both classes on a
regular basis, and we were able to bring in a variety of ideas.  It's
been challenging and fun to try and think up ways to engage the
students.  I've become more aware of seeing the variety of my students
learning styles.  It's been particularly rewarding seeing some more
unmotivated students to get excited about drawing scenes from The Very
Hungry Caterpillar or getting to try out spelling on the board.

I've been enjoying my time at my new church, Murozono Lutheran Church.
This is the first time I've had a woman pastor, Yuki (Goto) Sensei,
and she is just wonderful! There are a handful of teachers from my
school that attend the church, as well as some students.  Murozono has
a fairly decent group of youth that attend fairly regularly, a point
of struggle for most churches in Japan. At school, there is morning
reihai, or worship, every morning.  It was a good reminder at the
start of the school year, as the chaplain first explained the parts of
the Bible to our students; you could tell immediately by watching that
this was the first time for most students to ever hold a Sesho in
their hands.  Morning worship is about 10-12 minutes long, with a
song, scripture verse and short message.  I gave a message in May, and
will do so again in August.  In this past week, fellow J3 Jenifer and
I performed Amazing Grace (bilingually) at morning worship.  We had
also done it at Murozono a month or so ago.  It's good to get my
fingers tickling the old ivories again.  Jen, of course, sang

Please keep me and my fellow missionaries in your prayers.  Many of us
will be traveling (long and short) distances over our summer
vacations.  In particular, Jen will be going back to the States to
marry her lovely fiancee Rob this August!  I will be back in Tokyo for
a few days, and then working on a farm for two weeks.  The place I
will be working is the Asian Rural Institute, and if you'd like to
learn more, please visit  I hope to take a day
trip or two during this month as well.  School meetings will start
again August 21st.

As always, I welcome any and all questions or comments.  Please feel
free to forward this information along to anyone who might be
interested.  To find out more about my work through the ELCA please
visit  If you, your organization, or
someone you know would like to get involved in supporting what I do,
as well as others around the world, please contact

Thank you all again for your continued support, love and laughs.

In love and peace,


Update 7