The College Division of the Students Training Course was held in the Home of the Parent from March 3 to 9. Under the theme “Inquire into the origin and pave the way for tomorrow,” the course attracted from all parts of Japan a total of 474 participants—consisting of university, junior college, graduate school, and technical school students—who were supported by 256 staff members.
At the opening ceremony, Honbu-in Motoyoshi Tomimatsu gave an opening address, in which he said: “I believe God the Parent and Oyasama, who have drawn all of you to Jiba, have prepared a message for each one of you. I hope you can embrace it in your heart through proactively engaging in various activities and interacting with your fellow participants.” The ceremony was followed by a prayer service performed in the Main Sanctuary.
The weeklong training course included lectures, the practice of the dance and musical instruments for the service, hinokishin activities, and group discussions. A practice service was conducted on the 8th by third-time participants and second-time participants who were in the final year of school. On the 7th, all participants had a chance to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings in Kyoto, Nara, or Osaka prefectures. What follows is based on the Tenri Jiho newspaper’s report that focused on one participant’s first missionary work experience.
With a map in hand, a 22-year-old participant, Chieko Tanaka, was in a residential area in Ikoma City, Nara Prefecture, paired up with another participant in her group. She was enthusiastic even though she had never engaged in door-to-door missionary work. “I want to let people know how I came to the faith and how amazing the teachings are,” she said. “I’m more excited than nervous.”
When she was a freshman in high school, she was approached on the street by a Tenrikyo woman who asked her, “Is there anything troubling you?” Having been worried about relationships with her friends, she felt at ease because of the woman’s kind smile. “Somehow I told her what was on my mind,” she said.
Chieko then visited the woman’s Tenrikyo church a few times as she had been invited to but gradually stopped going to the church. Right before her entrance into university, an unexpected situation arose in her family and made her feel at a loss. What crossed her mind at that time was the woman’s face. The next thing she knew, she found herself with a cell phone in hand writing her a text message, saying, “I want to go to the church again.”
Her first participation in the training course was two years ago. “I was deeply moved when I saw my course mates administering the Sazuke for other group members and receiving God the Parent’s blessings.” She had decided to come back before graduation so as to enjoy quality time once again.
“Hello, I’m a Tenrikyo follower,” she tried to talk to people through the intercom during the missionary work. However, most of them were either not home or quick to turn her down. “What if I get rejected again?” Her face became clouded. That was when she found her partner politely bowing his head at each house while saying, “Thank you very much.” Her partner’s humble behavior enabled her to shake off her uneasy feeling. She thought to herself, “Nothing will happen if I don’t try to speak.”
Although she did not get to talk to anybody about the teachings, she knocked on the doors of over 40 houses in a matter of one and a half hours. She and her partner then joined other group members in spreading the name of God by singing the Mikagura-uta while walking down the streets. Leading the group with the sound of the wooden clappers, she seemed unfamiliar with how to play the instrument, but one of the group members helped her keep rhythm by clapping his hands for every beat while singing the Mikagura-uta.
“I learned firsthand that it is not easy at all to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings. But I want to do it again,” she said, adding: “The presence of my course mates who sincerely implemented the teachings always backed me up. I want to learn more about the teachings and the service and become a Yoboku who can bring joy to God the Parent so that I can be of help to people in need.”