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   In Memoriam

Kimmo & Ritva Juutilainen

Proposal at Domma

In November 1965, Kimmo asked Ritva for an evening walk in Kaisanniemi Park for the first time and escorted Ritva to the Domus Academica student dormitory. Surprisingly, Kimmo proposed Ritva in Domma's lower stairwell. Ritva was stunned about the proposal, as it was the very first decent chance to be together, and refused. Kimmo didn't like at all what he heard, turned on his heels and told that he wouldn't contact her anymore and that the ball was in Ritva's court. The spark from Ritva still glowed, even though RUK's course celebration and the first evening walk had not taken right to succeed. The time was not yet right.



The spark for missionary work

The Student Mission within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland was established in 1964 and greatly guided the future of Kimmo and Ritva. In addition to his studies, Kimmo toured as the secretary of school work evangelizing all over Finland, and Ritva served as the secretary of the Student Mission. A revolutionary christian student event held at Joutjärvi Church in Lahti was a game changer for both of them. More than a hundred young people gathered in front of the altar as a sign that they felt God was calling them on a mission. Kimmo and Ritva attended the event without knowing anything about each other and walked to the altar with dozens of other students. The spark for missionary work was ignited.

Home gathering in Hamina

In 1960 Ritva studied the last year of the highschool in Kotka and visited regularly in city of Hamina with her relatives, where her uncle held Bible meetings at home. In the spring of 1960, the training of Reserve Officer Course (RUK) 102 also began in Hamina, which brought Kimmo to the city. Soon Kimmo found his way to home gatherings and met Ritva for the first time. When it was the time for RUK's course party a couple of months later, Kimmo asked Ritva to be her lady. However, Ritva could not become a lady because of the wedding of her big brother, that hit the same day, and the potential love story faded away. Or so they thought. In the autumn, they both started the studies in the Faculty of Theology in the University of Helsinki, and next time they met each other as course mates.



Nocturnal insight

In February 1966, Ritva was staying with her girlfriend for the night. The friends chatted in the twilight of the night, e.g. of the boys, and Ritva had not been bothered herself about the issue until then. Suddenly Ritva realized that Kimmo would be the right one, after all! The feelings towards Kimmo gradually matured and the decisive move took place just before Easter. Kimmo was leaving to the Student Mission Easter event in Jämsä. Ritva wrote a letter about the ignition of her feelings and slipped it into Kimmo's hand at the Student Mission on Pohjoisrautiekatu before Kimmo rushed to the train to the train station. Kimmo replied soon with a letter and the romance burst into flames. Juhannus, a Midsummer festival came, Kimmo and Ritva were in Poukkusalmi, Savonlinna, and in the glow of Midsummer bonfire, they finally got engaged.

The maternity ward home

It was 1967 and engaged classmates were graduating with a master's degree in theology. One thing was accomplished and next they got married on October 22nd, 1967 in Ritva's hometown, at Elimäki Church. Kimmo and Ritva found themselves soon living in the old municipal hospital in Jämsä, which served as the Finnish Lutheran Mission's training center and where they participated in the first missionary course. There, the maternity ward eventually became their first home, but it didn't last long. After the course, Kimmo left to a language school in Scotland, missed Ritva so much that hitchhiked from England to Finland and got back to finish his studies.



Mission field is calling

Spring brought migratory birds to Finland and also Kimmo back from England. However, then it was Ritva's turn to go to a language school in London where she stayed in late spring. In the same year they were expecting to leave on a mission field with the other course fellows and missionaries to come. Israel was originally supposed to be their mission field and home of the future. However, there were some twists and turns in the journey, the destination country turned into Ethiopia but the final destination of the  future was even further afield, in Japan. Kimmo and Ritva spent autumn in Oslo getting to know the work, colleagues and Norwegian language in the Norwegian Lutheran Mission. Departure to Japan took place at Helsinki railway station on December 21st, 1968. The journey brought them through the Soviet Union and on Christmas Eve Kimmo and Ritva arrived in their new hometown of Kobe. They could hardly have guessed that there would be almost 40 years of life ahead in Japan.

The Story of

Kimmo & Ritva

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