Each year a team from Australia flies across to help the RP Church in Japan. Here is ther report from this year’s trip:
Around 21 hours after leaving for the airport in Australia, we arrived at the CCB (Covenanter Centre Building) in Kobe, which would be our home for the duration of our trip. The ground floor is a Christian bookshop, the second floor is the theological school and the top floor is the library and the small apartment we’re staying in.
On Saturday afternoon, we attended a Christmas concert at Higashi-Suma RP church. It was all in Japanese, but it was still fun to experience and to hear some familiar tunes with Japanese words. We stayed for afternoon tea and everyone we met was very friendly and quite determined to feed us! It was nice to talk to the people there.
Like the concert, the church service on Sunday was all in Japanese, but we were able to sing along with the psalms. It’s pretty amazing to be able to sing along with people who speak a different language and know that we’re all praising the same God! There were maybe around thirty people there, but I’m not very good at estimating number of people, so I might be wrong.
After the service, we stayed for lunch and talked more with the people there. Some people speak enough English to have a conversation, which is very helpful, and some don’t speak any, so it can become a combination of trying Japanese phrases, asking someone to translate, pointing, drawing pictures, and a lot of nodding and smiling! But everyone was very kind and it was lovely to meet them all.
There was a short afternoon service at Okomoto-Keiyaku and Lynsey Blakston preached on Jesus answering Pilate’s questions, with Kihei translating.
In the evening, there was an English psalm sing in the theological hall on the second floor of the CCB. It was an excellent time of fellowship and encouragement, with Karin and Jane both giving their testimonies. Following the psalm sing, we shared supper. I don’t know about the others in the team, but I was very full by the end of the day!!
On Monday, we went up a cable car to the Kobe Herb Gardens, which were beautiful. There are lots of vivid autumn colours around Kobe and the gardens and views were exquisite.
On Tuesday, we attended nursery and then ladies’ Bible study at Okamoto-Keiyaku. Pastor Takiura ran both. Nursery involved some songs, psalms, a duck riding a train and some Bible teaching. Pastor Takiura kindly ran the study in English as well as Japanese, so we were able to follow along. Some of the men who travelled with us (Rev Alistair McEwen and Lynsey Blakston) gave lectures at the theological hall that evening.
On Wednesday, we attended English class at Okamoto-Keiyaku and played some games with the children. This was followed by dinner with people from the church before prayer meeting. Kihei preached at prayer meeting in English as well as Japanese, which was helpful for us! But we were able to sing along with the psalms in Japanese.
Thursday was the Kobe Christmas Festival, a concert in which different churches from all over Kobe cane together. The RP churches were part of organising the event.
We did distribution on Friday, putting flyers with info about the Okamoto-Keiyaku church Christmas events into letterboxes in the neighbourhood around the church. Kihei took us out for lunch, which was delicious, and then we handed flyers to children as they walked home from the local elementary school. We finished up by doing a bit more distribution in letterboxes before heading home to have dinner. The Takiuras came over and it was lovely to spend the evening with their family and have family worship together.
On Saturday (December 14), all seven of us attended the kid’s Christmas party at Kasumigaoka church. We joined in with the singing, sang a psalm in English for the kids, and joined in with the craft and baking activities. It was great to meet the people there and spend time with them.
Sunday was a busy day. Alistair, Karin and Lynsey went to Kasumigaoka for morning worship. Jane, Lily, Maria and I went to Mukonoso. We were welcomed warmly and stayed for lunch afterwards. Yusuke was preaching and was kind enough to give us an English explanation of the sermon after the service. It was brief, but really good. It was nice to talk to Yusuke and his wife Honami a bit more. Lunch was delicious, and then we headed off to catch our train.
Some of us met at Kitasuzurandai church for afternoon worship. Pastor Sakai was preaching. The service was completely in Japanese, but it was good to join in the singing and read along with the Bible passages. Afterwards, we had afternoon tea and us girls made origami with Pastor Endo’s daughters, Kei and Mai.
Kihei, Kanta and Sana picked us up in their car and took us to Kasai for evening worship above Naito-san’s pharmacy. We sat on the floor on cushions for church. Kihei led the service and translated while Grandpa preached the sermon. Naito-san made dinner afterwards, which was delicious.
After a resting and sightseeing on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday afternoon saw the team heading to Okamoto-Keiyaku to help set up for the kid’s English class Christmas party. We decorated the church and prepared ingredients for the cake decorating competition (which was very fun and a bit messy!). A new family came along to English class which was encouraging. It was a good time, with singing, the cake competition, the Christmas story, and some games run by some of our team.
English class was followed by dinner at church and then prayer meeting. Pastor Takiura preached and Kihei sat behind the team to translate for us. Pastor Takiura preached about our need to know and accept Jesus to be able to come to the Father. It was great to be able to follow along with the service, thanks to Kihei’s translation.
At the end of the week we caught the train to Okamoto to help out with the nativity play. We helped set up beforehand and then helped with costume changes in between scenes. It was so cute to see all the kids playing their parts!
What a wonderful trip!
We here at RP Global Alliance are delighted to hear of one RP church helping another in this way and pray that both parties will be very much encouraged as a result. Thanks to Bessie for such a comprehensive review of the trip!