Tenrikyo Brazil Young Men’s Association organized a mission caravan that engaged in missionary work in Portugal in June—which marked its first attempt to spread the teachings in Portugal.
The mission caravan was led by Tadashi Ota, chairman of the Brazil Young Men’s Association. Participating in the mission caravan were five members in total: Chairman Ota, Vice Chairman Katsumi Ishii, Paulo Ishizaki, Marcos Okamura, and Yoshio Takahashi. They left Tenrikyo Mission Headquarters in Brazil on June 11 and arrived in Lisbon on the next day. Starting on June 13, they performed missionary activities such as door-to-door missionary work mainly in Lisbon through June 23. They stayed at the apartment of Akira Shimane, a Tenri University student studying at the University of Lisbon. On June 17 and 18 they visited Maria Del Carmen Alen Alvarez, head of Rio Miño Fellowship in Tui, Spain. They left Lisbon on June 24 and drove to Tenrikyo Europe Centre, which is located in Antony, France, to participate in the center’s yohaishiki service held on June 26. They returned to Lisbon on June 30 and flew back to Brazil on July 1. The Young Men’s Association Headquarters sent Committee Member Masaharu Matsuda to join them in doing missionary work in Portugal. The Brazil Young Men’s Association also invited two members of the Europe Young Men’s Association, Kiyohiko Endo and Dairin Shinoda, who joined them in the middle of the tour. Consequently, the headquarters, the Brazil Chapter, and the Europe Chapter cooperated in conducting missionary activities in Portugal. They passed out a total of 14,130 pamphlets and administered the Divine Grant to eight people during their stay in Europe.
The Mission Headquarters in Brazil will reach its 50th anniversary in April 2001. One of the activities that the mission headquarters has been promoting during the “three years, one thousand days” season preceding the anniversary is to establish mission stations in the states that have no known Yoboku or followers. In order to achieve that goal, the Brazil Young Men’s Association played a leading part by sending five mission caravans to those states. Mission stations will be established in three of those states. Chairman Ota said: “The year 2000 is the quincentenary of the year when the Portuguese first landed in Brazil. We also had a friend who happened to be studying at the University of Lisbon in the same year. So we thought that this was the time to go to Portugal to do missionary work.”
During the mission caravan they had some wondrous experiences. When they visited Rio Miño Fellowship, they passed out pamphlets at a weekend market that was held next to the fellowship and danced to the Yorozuyo in front of the fellowship. Alen Alvarez’s neighbors had been speaking ill of her for six years since she had opened the fellowship, but by seeing them passing out pamphlets and dancing to the Yorozuyo, they encouraged her missionary activities for the first time.
Akira Shimane was rooming with three foreign exchange students from Angola. When the mission caravan members came back from Tui to his apartment in Lisbon, one of his roommates started participating in the services and learned how to perform the seated service from watching other people. The members of the mission caravan did missionary activities with their whole heart every day, but the people of Portugal did not show much interest in Tenrikyo. He was the first person who took an interest in the teachings. He said that he was very impressed with the teaching of the Joyous Life.
The Brazil Young Men’s Association donated literature on Tenrikyo including the Ofudesaki, The Tip of the Writing Brush, to three main libraries in Portugal: the National Library in Lisbon, the municipal library in Port, and the Coimbra University Library.
Chairman Ota said about the future mission in Portugal: “We all wish to have a mission station in Portugal, but in order to have it we will first have to find somebody in Brazil who will undertake missionary work in Portugal. Thanks to the efforts and sincerity of the past and present bishops and our predecessors, we were blessed with an opportunity to come to Europe and conduct the mission caravan. Keeping the spirit of Arakitoryo and their efforts and sincerity in mind, we will promote missionary activities more than ever.”