In the late nineteenth century hundreds of Christian missionaries were dispatched to Japan to convert the "heathen," a task that many felt could be accomplished within a few decades. That expectation proved to be wildly optimistic, since today fewer than one percent of Japanese are Christian.
Hannah Riddell an Englishwoman in Japan by Julia Boyd 080482049x The Fast
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The Christmas celebrations for these people were a great joy and revelation to them. The Bishop of London, Dr. Wilmington Ingram, long a friend of Miss Riddell and a sympathizer in the work of the hospital, had for many years taken a personal interest in the patients. In , the Bishop came to Japan, and whilst here, visited the hospital. While he was in Tokyo, he was received in audience by the Emperor and spent many busy days.
Owing to his many engagements, the Bishop feared that he might not be able to visit Kumamoto. The company owning the steamer on which he had taken his passage back to England, very kindly offered to permit the steamer to stop at Moji to take him on board after his visit to the lepers. On December 15th the Bishop reached Kumamoto and was met at the station by Miss Riddell and escorted to the hospital.
The Bishop's arrival and his welcome by the patients made a memorable scene. It had been raining, but just as the Bishop arrived it ceased, although dark clouds threatening snow remained in the sky. One of She patients read an address of welcome in English. When the Bishop heard the words of welcome in his own language, he was deeply touched and the tears came to his eyes. The face of Miss Riddell who was standing by, was beaming as a mother's at the cleverness of her child. After the Bishop had gone through the hospital, he officiated at a service in the church, at which time eight persons were baptized.
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After making an address he left, expressing great sorrow at not having more time. Many of the patients accompanied the Bishop to his car, lighting the way with Japanese lanterns, the choir singing hymns, the echoes lasting until the car disappeared in the darkness. Forty years have passed since Miss Riddell planned and built the hospital. A great many of Miss Riddell's friends helped her most generously in many ways because they felt the absolute necessity of this work, being greatly impressed by her devotion and zeal.
Admiral Uryu in while serving at Takeshiki, met Miss Riddell and since then has been a staunch supporter of the hospital. On one occasion he said. I respect and admire her greatly. Many others were moved by the same sentiments of admiration and respect to assist Miss Riddell in her self-sacrificing work. The care and trouble involved in the prosecution of her work, completely absorbed Miss Riddell.
Never yielding, unflaggingly devoting herself to her noble mission, she finally completed her Divinely inspired task and was called to her eternal rest. The Home Office began to exert itself in the carrying out of these plans. And may the blessing of God rest upon her great work, the Hospital of the Resurrection of Hope! Every morning early, at his devotions, he was observed to take out of his pocket a small book and read from it.
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Has brother officers noticed this and wandered amongst themselves if his successful strategy found its inspiration in this little book. Some years later, Mr. Galen Fisher of the Y. She took out of her bag a little book saying this is a little book called Daily Tight, which I translated with a friend of mine. Please look at it.
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That lady was Miss Riddell. Miss Riddell continually drew courage and kindness from the following verse of this book. Miss Riddell's respect for the Imperial House was very great. Although her ways and habits were different, she wished to follow Japanese etiquette and customs as far as possible. Her house was of pure Japanese architecture. She westernized it in some ways without detracting from its beauty. In the alcove tokonoma of the drawing-room were hung the pictures of the Emperor and Empress which were put there at the time of their coronation.
On the wall of the next room, there hung a portrait of the Emperor Meiji in uniform; opposite this was a beautiful painting of the Empress Komyo. This was evidence both of Miss Riddell's great respect for the Japanese Imperial House and her loyalty to the rulers of her own country. When the Emperor Meiji died, the funeral was set for September 13th; Miss Riddell who was then in Karuizawa planned to go to Tokyo to show respect, but owing to illness she was unable to do so. After Miss Riddell's death, among her papers, a letter of condolence to the Empress Dowager was found.
It is not certain whether this letter was sent or not, but it shows how deeply she felt the death of the Emperor, and her great sympathy for the widowed Empress. Having lived in this beautiful land for twenty-two years, may I be permitted to endeavour to express my deep and heartfelt sympathy with your Imperial Majesty on this especial day of trial,--the final parting, the last sad journey.
The hearts of all Englishwomen will be sympathising with your Majesty to-day. Miss Riddell was deeply sensible of the unusual interest taken in her work by the members of the Imperial House, and was most grateful for their many gifts. In January, , she received the Blue Ribbon Medal in recognition of Distinguished Service, and in she was summoned to the Palace and received from the Empress through Count Tokugawa, a sum of money for the hospital. In the Prime Minister, Count Terauchi, conveyed to her a further monetary gift from the Empress. From the hospital has received an annual grant of money from the Imperial Household, and Miss Riddell herself received a silver cup with the Imperial Crest in , at the time of the Crown Prince's wedding, and a further gift of money for the Hospital.
In , on February 11th, the sixth class order of the Sacred Treasure was conferred upon her. On Nov. Later that day she was graciously received in audience by H. On leaving, she received a box of cakes with the Imperial Crest. Miss Riddell felt deeply this signal mark of appreciation of her work and was much affected by it. On February 3rd, , the report of Miss Riddell's critical illness reaching the ears of the Empress and Empress Dowager, they were much moved and gifts were sent in sympathy. Miss Wright and a representative of the hospital in grateful recognition of this gracious act, went to Tokyo for the purpose of thanking Their Majesties in person.
The Chamberlain presented each with a box of cakes and escorted them to their car.
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They then proceeded to the Omiya Palace to offer their thanks to the Empress Dowager. This they did through the Grand Chamberlain, Viscount Irie, also giving as requested a report of the hospital work since Miss Riddell's death. On November 10th, the Empress Dowager composed the following poem which she sent to wherever lepers were being cared for.
On my behalf, for it is difficult for me to go. The patients of the hospital were overwhelmed with gratitude on the receipt of the poem from the Empress Dowager, and many of them were moved to compose poems expressing their joy and thanks for this evidence of her sympathy. When we heard this, we were greatly moved at the deep mercy and sympathy of the Empress Dowager. With Miss Riddell's love for others, she made no distinction in her treatment of the eighty patients in the hospital, and the hundreds of ether lepers who came under her care. To her they were all brothers and sisters, and in her eyes they were all her equals.
At Christmas and Easter, when it was her custom to make presents to all, she never delegated the choice and distribution to others, but always personally chose articles appropriate to the age and taste of each. The patients, appreciating this, received the gifts as evidence of her love, and valued them the more for this reason. She was untiring in her efforts to win friends for the work by circulating reports, and photographs of the buildings and the patients, but she would never include herself in the groups. It was always "for the sake of the hospital" and "for the sake of the sufferers" that she spoke and wrote.
Some one likened, the hospital to a hot-house j we really think so. Even the employees complained, that in every case the patients were always considered first; they were treated so well that they got tired of doing nothing; and were so loved that they were spoilt," and again: "While we are well, any place will do, but when we get seriously ill we must be in this hospital.
We lived in an atmosphere of generosity and patience, which money could not buy. Economy was one of our virtues; we needed no pocket-money and did not need to go into society. If we were even not well from a cold, for a few days, all would know and we would be prayed for. Once patients entered the gate of the hospital they became Miss Riddell's beloved children. She showed to all that Mother love, which is the most beautiful thing in all the world. She never spared herself in her efforts on behalf of these her children. Whenever she heard of a patient being ill, forgetful of her own fatigue, she would visit him in his room, taking fruit, nourishing food, ice-cream, or some other delicacy.