Young Men’s Association Members Visit Australia

Nine members, including live-in missionary trainees serving at their churches and university students, took part in Tenrikyo Young Men’s Association Australia Study Tour between August 29 and September 13. Over two weeks, the participants sprinkled the fragrance of the teachings, engaged in hinokishin, visited a local high school to promote cultural exchange, and experienced staying with Australian families. Initially started in 1998 as one of the activities to commemorate the 80th anniversary of this association, the annual tour seeks to recruit and nurture members who aspire to spread the teachings overseas. It is intended for association members who are 25 years of age or younger. Preliminary training sessions were held at the Young Men’s Association Headquarters on two occasions, first about a month prior to departure and then on the day before and the day of departure. During the second session, the members studied English phrases likely to be useful in handing out Tenrikyo pamphlets to local residents. They also practiced origami, the art of paper folding, and learned some games from instructors from the Boys and Girls Association. In the evening of August 29, the group gathered at the East Worship Hall for a prayer service before heading to the airport. The next day, they arrived at Tenrikyo Oceania Centre, located in the city of Brisbane, Australia. Over the next two days, they engaged in hinokishin at Brisbane Forest Park, cutting down withered trees and pulling weeds. From the evening of September 2 to the morning of the 4th, each member stayed with an Australian family in the city. On the 5th, the group reassembled and visited Kutomi Goshu Fellowship (headed by Rev. Michiharu Mori) and Taiten Brisbane Fellowship (headed by Rev. Michiyuki Yamanaka). After listening to the first-hand experiences of both missionaries–who inspired the members with their enthusiasm for the overseas mission–the group stepped out to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings. Although the members’ English was not fluent, they spoke to local people, occasionally using body language. At Wellington Point, they performed the service dance to the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo before carrying out missionary work. They administered the Sazuke, the Divine Grant, 36 times on that day alone. One of the Sazuke administrations came after a passerby who had watched the members administering the Sazuke from a distance approached them and asked out of curiosity what they were doing. It so happened that the gentleman was suffering from an illness, and one of the members was able to administer the Sazuke to him. On the 8th, the tour members moved to Melbourne, which takes two hours and a half by plane, and paid a visit to Melbourne Shinyu Church (headed by Rev. Ryoichi Fukuda). On the 10th, they sprinkled the fragrance of the teachings in the city, and some of them were able to administer the Sazuke. Junji Hashimoto, a 25-year-old live-in trainee serving at his grand church and the future successor to the head minister of Tsuruminato Branch Church, said: “What I learned through the study tour is whether or not I can sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings depends solely on my stance of mind. Only when I made my mind bright and spirited, could I attract people’s interest in the teachings, overcoming the language barrier. With this lesson always in mind, I’d like to continue working for the path each day.” Noriaki Sakagami, a 20-year-old Tenri University student belonging to SATOM (Students Association for Tenrikyo Overseas Mission), said: “The Australia Study Tour has reinforced my commitment to become proficient in English. In order to work on the overseas mission in the future, I will continue to polish my English ability. The study tour also allowed me to learn the universal language of a smile. Now I realize that ‘sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings with a smile’ would be the first step to imparting the joy of faith to others.”

Share this article:

Comments are closed.