Tenrikyo Young Men’s Association Australia Study Tour, in which 10 members took part, was held between August 7 and September 4. The purpose of the Australia Study Tour is to nurture young members to become missionaries who will engage in the overseas mission in the future. This study tour is also designed to train members who will become actively involved in their chapters’ activities to spread the teachings. This year’s members were diversified in the sense that some were university students and others either held part time jobs or lived at their churches as trainees.
Preliminary training sessions were held at the Young Men’s Association Headquarters on the day before and on the day of departure to assist the members in learning about Australia’s culture and customs, studying useful phrases which could be used in talking with Australians about the teachings, and getting better acquainted with one another.
Prior to departure, the group gathered at the East Worship Hall for a prayer service. The members then paid their respects at the Shinbashira’s residence. Although a typhoon was approaching the Kansai region on that day, the members were able to fly safely to Brisbane, Australia.
After arriving at Tenrikyo Oceania Centre in Brisbane, they thanked God the Parent and Oyasama for their safe arrival and asked that they be shown blessings throughout the study tour. During the first half of the tour–that is, for a period of two weeks–they stayed with host families while attending a language school to brush up their English. All of them reported that they enjoyed staying with Australian families. On Sunday, August 17, they returned to Tenrikyo Oceania Centre and attended its monthly service. Each member was assigned to play a musical instrument for the service, and joyously participated in it. After finishing the language school, they hosted an appreciation party for their host families at Oceania Centre, where the guests were treated to food, drinks, and entertainment put together by the members of the tour. They showed their host families around the sanctuary and gave them short explanations of the teachings of Tenrikyo.
After the home stay, the members were stationed at Tenrikyo Oceania Centre for the rest of their stay in Brisbane and had opportunities to listen to missionaries active in Australia. They learned a great deal about engaging in missionary work in Australia and asked many questions, eager to learn what course of action they should follow in preparation for their future. One of such occasions was a visit to Taiten Brisbane Fellowship, where they took the opportunity to discuss overseas missionary work with Rev. and Mrs. Yamanaka and two live-in trainees. Members were impressed with their missionary activities conducted at nearby beaches where they hand out pamphlets about Tenrikyo and administer the Sazuke to local residents every day. The tour members also made a visit to a local elementary school, where they engaged in a cultural exchange program along with the Yoboku Society of Tenri University to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings.
Then they drove approximately 1,000 miles to Sydney to experience different facets of Australia and to get a feel for how huge the country is. In Sydney, they engaged in clean-up hinokishin at a beach. Several times, the members were asked where they were from and why they were cleaning the beach. Such were great opportunities to sprinkle the joy of faith. They also had an opportunity to listen to Mr. Yozo Suzuki, who has been spreading the teachings in Sydney for five years.
In Melbourne, the members visited the only Tenrikyo church in Australia, Melbourne Shin-yu Church. Rev. and Mrs. Fukuda shared their experiences in sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings on Australians over the past 30 years in Melbourne and their thoughts on the role of a church in a local community. They also visited the local high school that had been attended by all three of the Fukudas’ children. First, the Australian high school students took the members on a tour around the campus. That was followed by a cultural exchange program in which the members demonstrated the traditional Japanese art of paperfolding called origami and showed them traditional toys such as kendama. They also performed a skit, which was well received by all.
They returned to the Home of the Parent on the night of September 3 and reported to the Shinbashira’s residence the next morning.