Postscript from Takaido

by Alan Yeo . 21 October 2012



They were sound asleep when the house started shaking from left to right.  Mae felt the bed moving, as if someone was physically shaking her. Awakened from her sleep, she thought it was a dream but realised that the shakings were not the usual tremors they had previously encountered. Jieren, however remained undisturbed and when stirred from his sleep, just muttered to Mae, “Never mind… Sleep on!” The next day, they learnt from the missionaries that their neighbour’s daughter had cried through the night as a result of the earthquake.


Jieren and Mae felt privileged to be the pioneer batch of volunteers to help the missionaries Beng Tian and Joanne in the physical setup of Evangel Tokyo as a new missional network and also in making connections with new Japanese friends. Their 3-month stint in Evangel Tokyo had not only been a great learning experience but it also gave them new perspectives of Japan and her people.  

When Jieren and Mae first moved into their neighbourhood in Takaido, they didn’t know anyone but gradually, they got to make new friends in their neighbourhood. “It is easy to strike a conversation with a Japanese but it takes time for them to warm up and be open to you.” Initial conversations were mostly superficial but as you begin to spend more time with your Japanese friends, it was a matter of time before they became curious to probe further by asking questions such as “What are you doing here in Japan?”  “Why did you come here as volunteers?” “Why did you become a Christian?” Through their interactions with the Japanese, they discovered that the younger generation have a different mindset. They are more open and eager to learn from other cultures. There is now a growing number of Japanese who are keen to study English and learn from foreigners, making it easier for our missional network team to connect with them further.


One particular friend whom Jieren and Mae were quite fond of was the owner of a yakitori stall that they used to frequent. Although the owner could not speak English, he was very generous and kind, and would even give them extra portions.  Whenever Jieren and Mae walked past his stall, he would eagerly wave to them. On one occasion, the owner even tried to introduce more friends to them and arranged for one of his customers, a Taiwanese, who waited patiently for Jieren who was scheduled to collect his order of yakitori. Before returning to Singapore, Jieren and Mae bought the owner a cap that he happily put it on, pointed to it and said, “Nice! Nice!”


Sourcing for furniture and household items during the physical setup proved to be a challenge as they encountered the arduous process of documentation related to the purchases. However, the salespersons were all very personal and professional in their services and not just simply interested in selling you their products. They would take time to understand your need and were very responsible to run through the necessary documentation with you thoroughly. Despite the language barrier, the salespersons remained very patient and would find someone who could communicate with you. 


Cycling was one of their favourite pastimes. The providence of bicycles for the volunteers gave them the opportunity of exploring the city and inner suburbs with ease. The Japanese are really good at cycling and it was impressive to see how a Japanese mum is able to manoeuvre with three kids on her bike. Once, while Jieren and Mae were out on their bikes, it started to rain heavily and they did not realise that it was a typhoon number 4. As Mae cycled past the buildings, she was almost pushed out onto the main road by the strong gust of wind rushing through the gaps between buildings. Thankfully they made it home.


Now that Jieren and Mae have returned to Singapore, what they really missed most was the devotional time at Evangel Tokyo with Beng Tian and Joanne exploring, reflecting and learning the Word of God. The three months of immersing into God’s Word has certainly refreshed them in their spiritual journey with God. They also missed the many Japanese friends whom they have met and also the wonderful Japanese delicacies!  One evening in Singapore, they were craving for Japanese food and Jieren decided to drop by a Japanese shop for sushi take-away but it was just not the same…