Tuesday, October 09, 2012

kobe bible fellowship

I have been attending the Kobe Bible Fellowship (KBF) for some weeks now since arriving in Kobe. There are not many English/Japanese churches in Kobe, whatmore in Japan, so my Google search returned very few results.

The Kobe Union Church was tops in the result, probably due to better SEO, and I've visited the Union Church of Manila while on assignment in Makati. I figured they must be similar in that they are inter-denomination. 

Also in the results page was KBF, which I found to be nearer to where I was living. Kobe Union Church is nearer to Rokko mountain, and was a bit harder to access though they provide shuttle service from the nearest station. While on one of my exploring rounds, I stumbled upon a brick building that looked like a church near Tor Road.

Being sceptical since there were a lot of church-looking buildings that were merely wedding chapels for Japanese who seek Western-style weddings, I was of course surprise to find that it was a real church! 

I decided to visit the next Sunday and found the church similar to GAP in Tokyo. Quite big for a Japanese church, it had Japanese and Chinese services in the morning, and an English in the afternoon. Often mistaken for a local, I have gotten into the habit of slipping in and out quietly since I didn't know anyone. Usually the non-Asian foreigners would get noticed naturally.

One day I had accidentally sat at the back row which was reserved for late-comers. The usher must have noticed I couldn't read the sign, so ushered me to the front, and in doing so, introduced herself. After service I said hi to her again, and she told me about the "Malaysian Night" they were organising. On the day of the event, she called me to ask if I was going. How could I say no?

Turned out there was a missionary team from the New Life Restoration Church PJ who had visited KBF. They had some special event in the church, and it included making mooncakes! Of course I had forgotten it was Mooncake Festival just around the corner then.

I found it ironic though that I have never make mooncakes back home, so not wanting to reinforce the irony, I politely declined and told them I'd take pictures for them! But it sure looked fun. One of the Malaysian pastor's wife was teaching them how to make snow skin mooncakes. In the church kitchen, another lady was   gathering the rest to cook bak kut teh.

As I watched in amazement how easy it was to make snow skin mooncakes, the smell of herbal soup wafted from the kitchen to the hall. I couldn't wait for dinner to begin!

They even brought along the moulds to make the mooncake. It looked like children at play as they mixed the different colours and produced multicolour skins. At the end of it, they put it into the fridge to let it set while we started having the bak kut teh together.

I'm not sure if the bak kut teh had been adapted for the Japanese palate, but it tasted sweeter than I remembered. Well, no complains, sweet bak kut teh is better than nothing! I just can't wait for mum to send over some Malaysian food seasonings so I can start cooking.

During dinner, the Malaysian team did some presentation and shared abit about their church, how they became the sister church to KBF, and sang the popular icebreaker song "Hari Ini Ku Rasa Bahagia".

The Japanese reciprocated with a Hawaiian dance rendition of the song "Just Let me Say". It had been so long since I heard that song, and it was just so meaningful that I had to wipe off tears. Also, the dance was very beautiful that I almost wanted to learn that dance too. I guess anything that's inspiring can inspire you to do the same too, even if it's something you're quite bad at!

True to the Mooncake Festival, they shared about the lanterns too. They brought some traditional lanterns for us to enjoy as they shared the story about the culture.

After the irony of the mooncake making, I couldn't help but be amused that glasspaper lanterns are also a thing of the past. It's really quite rare to see such lanterns on sale because they're mostly dominated by battery-operated ones with Angry Birds on it.

Then we did a little prayer walk around the church and ended up at the parking lot where we prayed for Kobe and the country of Japan.

I made some new friends too that evening. Like this couple who certainly made me feel at home. The husband is Japanese, who found his love in Indonesia, and they both speak each other's language so fluently that I wouldn't have known otherwise. 

When the Malaysian pastor's wife found out that I had just arrived in Japan and was looking for a church, she told me to stay on in KBF, that I didn't need to look further. With all the love I'm experiencing, perhaps I don't need to anymore. 

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