Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Myanmar International Convention - Dec 3 to 5

I received the following touching experience below about the 2009 Myanmar International Convention by email , that I would like to share with everyone . I did not attend this convention,
As told by convention delegates from Indonesia.9th December 2009

We have just returned from a truly memorable convention in Myanmar .
We had a peak attendance of 5,123.
It was such an emotional and memorable experience.
Brothers came down from as far as the Chinese border. Others came from across the Indian & Bangladesh borders. Still others from the northern Thailand & Laos borders, and from many other places in between.
The longest trip we heard but cannot confirm was a 9 day trip one way, many traveled for 5,6,& 7 days. In the most remote areas there is only one means of transport and that is on foot. So for many that is how they started their journey to the convention and how they will finish it as they return home. Many are still traveling now even though the Convention finished on Sunday a week ago.
One 69 year old brother, who took six days, walking for the first two days, said they thought they had saved for so long but they still did not have the finances to come. So the branch had provided some funds for “hard circumstance” brothers (those who found it extremely hard to financially make it to Yangon ).

The further up country you go, the further away from Yangon , the poorer the brothers are. So the ones who could afford it the least, were the ones who had to travel the longest distance.

Most of the brothers had been saving for two years to make it to this convention.

One of the brothers on the branch committee told us that many had sold their one cow or their pigs or their chickens, in many cases their livelihood, in order to attend and were willing to trust in Jehovah to provide for them somehow, on their return to their homes.

Makeshift wheelchairs

One group of 50 that came across the Indian border had two handicapped brothers, so they made some make-shift wheelchairs. These collapsed not long into the journey and as the first two days travel was on foot, the brothers carried these two on their backs over those first two days.
The ruling Military junta provided a special train with 18 carriages that brought 1200 brothers. Many kingdom songs were sung during the 20 hour journey from Mandalay to Yangon .

One brother we met had no legs at all; that is no visible legs from the pelvis down. He provides for his family of five children by cutting grass and tilling soil. Both he and his entire family were faithfully in attendance.
These brothers came these vast distances by a combination of walking, jeep or truck, boat (deck class with little or no toilet facilities), bus and train. Some needed to use a combination of all five modes of transport.
Some of the brothers who were not used to traveling suffered badly from motion sickness. So once they arrived in Yangon some opted to walk to the convention site instead of by vehicle. Some chose to walk two hours each way to and from the convention each day in preference to getting in anything that had wheels. They must have been dreading their return trip to their homes.
Many arrived with little or no money, no means of paying for food or accommodation. So some of the Bethel brothers went and paid for their own accommodation so that 113 of these brothers were able to stay at the Bethel .
A further 500 stayed at the Kingdom Halls in Yangon . Another 504 stayed in the private homes of our Yangon brothers. In some cases every square inch of floor space was made available for sleeping. We heard one unconfirmed case of a sister offering to accommodate 35 brothers & sisters however 54 turned up!
One sister hired a warehouse, used by a further 300 plus for the days of the convention.
Still more than 500 needed to be accommodated. The brothers did not know what to do. Then the unthinkable (from a Myanmar point of view), the Military junta gave permission for the rest to stay right there at the convention site.
Accommodation was somehow found for 1,916 who had insufficient money to pay for such; and yet still had the faith to come.
This leads me to the most remarkable part of the whole convention. It was not what happened during the convention but what happened in the lead up to it.
The hundreds of us who were foreign delegates who had already paid our fares for accommodations in 4 star hotels and sight-seeing tours, had no idea of the drama that our brothers in Bethel, who were organizing the convention, were going through.
Not only were many of us totally ignorant of the conditions many of our brothers live in, the sacrifices they had to make to afford to attend, the willingness to put up with sleeping on railways stations etc and to travel in overcrowded trains, buses, trucks, boats and walk for days.
But even these brothers who happily endured these things were unaware that, as they were preparing to set off to the convention that the convention site had not been approved.
The brothers had been making application for two years for the sports stadium to be used for the convention but each time they met with refusal. As they applied each time the brothers added more information and reasons why they should be granted permission to use the facility. They were told a religious organization would not be permitted to use it, especially a church.
The brothers were very careful how they worded things and explained that, no they were not a church and, no they did not sing hymns.
Then what are you, what do you do?
We teach people high moral standards, how to be better law abiding citizens, better husbands & wives, to have appositive attitude to life & to the future etc.

One particular official was blocking it each time, but finally they found a way around him with less than two weeks to go before the convention date. However then it had to go through a long seven step process.

The brothers knew it would never get through in time without something extraordinary happening.

Only the brothers in Bethel and the Governing body knew of the situation. So each member was told to personally beseech Jehovah to help.
They now had got past the main person who was blocking them. So they presented the application at the next desk and where told yes it would be forwarded to the General but he was not in town hence was unavailable, so the application could not proceed until his return.
The brothers silently prayed and at that moment who should walk into the room but the General himself! So it was handed straight to him. Not only that but for some other reason the junta had convened a meeting and instead of having to go through the seven step process it was dealt with promptly and given approval.
There was now only 9 days to go to the start of the convention.
However there was another major hurdle to overcome. The venue had already been hired out for the days of the convention for a boxing tournament which had already done its advertising over the radio.
The brothers approached the sponsor and explained they had been planning this convention for over two years and that over 4000 would be attending (over 5000 did attend).

The sponsor said that the only way that he would change the date to the following weekend would be if every single one of the 16 boxers and their trainers etc would agree.
Again the Bethel brothers beseeched Jehovah and almost unbelievably all 16 agreed!
Now came the hard work. Even though repairs too much of the timber seating had been carried out by the management, other areas of the stadium required urgent attention.
One Bethel branch member said that he almost collapsed from the stench in the toilet facilities. Plumbing needed to be repaired walls painted. There needed to be electrical repairs and the air-conditioning needed to be repaired all in the space of just eight days.
Despite the stench, brothers & sisters got on their hands and knees and scrubbed the amenities to a much nearer acceptable standard. The large mirror in the male amenities was black and not only unusable but also un-repairable, so the brothers replaced it. They fixed the air-conditioning and electrical problems and painted a number of walls as well as polished the floors.

The 300+ brothers worked tirelessly for eight days!

The manager was most impressed and took picture of before and after and presented these to the junta apparently taking much of the credit for the improvements.

We knew nothing of this before arriving and can only marvel at the faith and diligence not only of the Bethelites and local Yangon brothers but also of those with such little means, who have such mountain-like faith, who attended from so far away under such trying conditions.
But we heard no complaints; just expressions of joy and appreciation. All those who were unable to provide their own food, were fed three good meals a day, such was Jehovah’s loving care. The Bethel had arranged for food boxes for all the delegates who were unable to provide their own food. They were all so appreciative to Jehovah’s organization for the food and shelter they received.

Many of the visiting foreign brothers were so moved by the local brothers plight, their faith and their obvious humble attire, that they felt moved to donate to them what clothing they had brought along but did not really need, so that there would be at least a little equalizing.
How important our contributions to the worldwide work are!

There is so much more I could say but I will just conclude by saying that after the final prayer no-one wanted to move. Everyone clapped and clapped and waved and waved to each other around the auditorium. Then they hugged all those around them and cried tears of joy. There was not a dry eye in the stadium.

As brother Losch of the Governing body said, everyone there would remember this occasion for many, many years.

We saw in an amazing way the application of Romans 12:10: “In brotherly love have tender affection for one another. . . “

We experienced overwhelming evidence of Jehovah’s loving care, his spirit and his blessing. As 2 Corinthians 1:3 says “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort. . .”

We witnessed the power of prayer and Jehovah’s ability to take control of any situation.
We feel as Joel expressed: “YOU will be bound to praise the name of Jehovah YOUR God, who has done with YOU so wonderfully.” Joel 2:26

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

2009 Seoul International Convention - August 27 to 30,2009






















The 2009 Seoul International Convention was held in Seoul World Cup Stadium from August 27 to August 30, 2009. There were a total of 4512 delegates from total of 24 countries. The largest delegates was from Japan where they had 2800 delegates and they have their own full program in Japanese without a translation. Other languages such as Mandarin and English was translated by radio FM frequency . 1826 delegates had homestay with the local publishers and there were 8858 volunteers. The attendance on the final day was about 59,000 and 539 got baptized. From Malaysia and Singapore we have a total of 440 delegates . 210 from Malaysia and 230 from Singapore. There were 6 groups each from Malaysia and Singapore. There were 4 groups of a total of 133 while the other 2 groups left earlier. Group A = 34, Group B =33, Group C = 30, Group D = 36 . We depart from Malaysia on August 25 at 1145pm by Korean Airlines. The flight took 6 hours. Korea is ahead by 1 hour . We arrive at about 730am. When we arrive at the Airport we were greeted by a group of Korean publishers who were there to welcome us . The sisters were dress in their traditional Korean costume. From the airport , we went to the Gimpo Assembly Hall which is about 1 hour drive by bus. When were arrive , we were given a warm welcome and met with our host. We were also given a performance by the Korean sisters who play the traditional musical instrument and sang kingdom songs in English, Korean, French, German, sign language. After that we return to our host home. The temperature was about 24”C to 30”C during the day time while at night it is cooler .

The special highlights were the program reports from other countries where the branch representative from some countries gave experiences from their countries and during the start and after the experiences, the group of delegates will stand up and wave their hands to the audience. Also, in the last day of the convention after the program ended at 4pm , the 6 new kingdom songs were play and everyone wave at each other . It was indeed very touching and emotional. I heard one experience from a elderly British brother who now stay in Malaysia . He said , after the convention when the 6 new songs were play and the publishers were waving their hands ,a black sister from USA was so touch and hug him and cried.

I did not have a partner and stay alone with a single 42 year old brother. He did not speak much English so we have some challenge talking to each other. He had to use his handphone dictionary to check the words and call a translator by phone. At night , his congregation prepare a welcome gathering for me at the Kingdom Hall. Their congregation had about 75 publishers. The young children and a group of publishers sang kingdom songs and they interview me. During the next few days , after the convention , there were some publishers who treated me for a meal at some Korean Restaurant. On the last day, my host invited about 3 brothers to his small home for a little gathering. I was happy and surprise to met 1 Japanese brother whom I met 2 years ago when I went to Japan and stay with him. I lost touch with him as he did not reply my email. Another Japanese brother took off his tie and gave it to me.

After the convention on August 31, 2009, Monday , we went to tour the bethel in the morning. We were divided to a group of about 10 people and there were Korean publishers who were our tour guide and show us around the bethel. After the branch, we started our tour of Korea. The places we visited in Korea are the following :
31 August 2009 Monday – Hwaseong Fortress
1 September 2009 Tuesday - MBC Studio ( Korea drama “ Jewel In The Palace” shooting place ) and Namiseong Island ( Korea drama “ Winter Sonata” shooting palace )
2 September 2009 Wednesday - Namsangal Hanok Village , Korean Folk Village ( Try Korean Tradional Costume), Kimchi Museum ( Learn to make own Kimchi) , Dongdaemun Market for shopping.
3 September 20089 Thursday - Kyong Palace ( Build in 1934) , Folk Museum , Blue House, Ginseng Center, Amethyst Factory , Myeong Dong & Insadong for shopping , Han Gang River Cruise .
4 September 2009 Friday - DMZ ( Imjing and Freedom Bridge) , Jeju Island - Jeju Museum of Folklore and Natural History.
5 September 2009 Saturday - Dragon Head Rock ( all lava formation , lies on the coast just west of Jeju) , Sunrise Peak , Cheonjiyeon Waterfall , Songup Folk Village , Mystery Road.
6 September 2009 Sunday – Depart for home .

2003 Yokohama International Convention-October 16 to 19, 2003































2003 GIVE GOD GLORY INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN . OCTOBER 16-19 .
SAPPORO & YOKOHAMA - OCTOBER 16 – 19 , 2003
SAITAMA & KOBE - OCTOBER 23 -26, 2003
The International Convention is being held at the International Yokohama Stadium which is a
open stadium and has the setting capacity of about 60,000 people.
Upwards of 7,000 delegates from 16 countries – including the United States ,Canada , Germany ,
Korea , and a number of countries from South East Asia are attending one of the 4 convention.
Each day , there is a 20 minutes program : Reports from other countries. The Branch
representative will give a report and experience from their countries. They gave the experiences
from the Japanese Stage. It is transmitted live to Sapporo . There are 4 Languages in Yokohama
: Japanese, English , Chinese and Korea. The International Convention in Sapporo has Japanese
Language while there selected talk given by the Governing Body in English were translated
Japanese , in Sapporo and Yokohama.
16-10-2003 – THU
Reports from Other Countries : Alaska , Thailand , Guam
Attendance : 51,585 – Japanese , 1,211 – Korea , 197 – Mandarin , 2432 English . Total
Attendance : 55,425
17-10-2003 – FRIDAY
Reports from Other Countries : Morning – Germany, Hawaii , Hong Kong
Reports from Other Countries : Afternoon – India, Canada, Malaysia
18-10-2003 – SATURDAY
Report from Other Countries : Morning – Mauritius , Burma , Korea
Report from Other Countries : Afternoon – Sri Lanka , Philippines , Taiwan
19-10-2003 – SUNDAY
Reports from Other Countries : Morning – USA, Canada
Total Attendance in Morning : 59,842
Total Attendance in the Afternoon : 61,000
Total Volunteers = 9,899 Baptism : Yokohama – 669 , Sapporo – 181

Group A – 32 ( Yokohama, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka)
Group B – 36 ( Yokohama & Sapporo)
Group C - 34 ( Sapporo )
Kobe – 26
Total = 128

October was the happiest moment in my life. I have the privilege of being of the delegate from
Malaysia to attend the International Convention in Yokohama Japan. I was very happy that my
dream to attend the International convention has come true . I miss the last international
convention in 1998 that was held in Vancouver , Canada in June 1998 and in Korea , Sept 1998.
I have read about the experiences of the International Convention in Korea and after reading it, I said to myself I must attend the convention no matter where it is.
I am very happy that my application was approved. I was fortunate that since I do not have a
partner to pair up with the delegates from Malaysia , I was pair with a 23 year old brother from
the Singapore .
From now on , I will make it a goal to attend every international convention. During the
convention , I really feel like I am in a spiritual paradise . I shall always treasure this special
moment in my life . I encourage everyone if they can afford to attend the international
convention.
At first , I was worried that I may not benefited from the convention because they may not have English Session. But I was very happy , on our departure date , I learn that , only the location
that I am going , Yokohama , have the full session in English, Mandarin and Korea.
The Japanese are very hospitable people. They are very polite and one unique thing is that they
always smile. This really attracts me . Everywhere I walk around in Japan , the people is the
shops always smile to one another .
I was indeed very sad when we have to leave the host family and the translator when we depart
for our tour after 6 days of staying with them . Of course I kept in touch with my host family
and my translator by email , although we have some communication problem they do not speak
English well . I
I arrive back in Malaysia on Monday October 27. It was the most wonderful , enjoyable holiday I ever had in my life. I was indeed very touch by the kindness the Japanese brothers and sisters
show to us delegates from Malaysia and Singapore . Even now , I still feel that I am now in
Japan. The loving kindness that they show to us can never be forgotten . No words can describe
how I really feel . I keep telling other publishers about my experiences in Japan and they are
touch by what they heard .
I got to know Malaysian and a few countries delegates are were able to stay with the local
brothers and sisters while others stay in hotels. We are indeed very fortunate .
I was greatly touched by both the warmth and hospitality of our host family show to us during
our trip to Japan . They not only open their home to us but their hearts too especially by allowing us to use their room while the family of 4 persons slept in the hall.

Day 1 . 14-10-03 Tuesday . KL/Singapore / Tokyo
About 36 Malaysian delegates depart from KLIA by MAS to Singapore at 7pm . In Singapore ,
60 delegates join us , making a total of 96 publishers. We depart from Singapore Changi Airport
at 11.15pm by ANA airline.

Day 2. 15-10-03 Wednesday . Tokyo / Yokohama
We arrive in Narita International Airport at about 7.15am local time. Japan is ahead one hour.
First we claimed our luggage and went through immigration and customs. Once that was done
we went to the main terminal at about 8am . What an experience we now encountered . There
were many publishers waiting to welcome us . Many publishers holding the sing “Welcome”
and “Selamat Datang “. We were very touch . We were then directed to the appropriate bus
.We got into 2 buses and depart at 9am . When we got into the bus , the sisters came out to say
goodbye. I learn later that other delegates from other countries all arrive the same day. As it was still early in the morning, there were already many Japanese publishers who came to the airport to welcome us . I heard later in the day , there many more Japanese publisher came to the airport . Our bus trip took us 3 hours to the Bethel at Elbina Assembly Hall. When we reach at 12pm we were again give a very warm welcome and have lunch there. After lunch we were gather at the Elbina assembly hall to be assign the host we were staying with. I was assign to Japanese family with a Singaporean brother. The journey from the branch to the host home took us almost 2 hours. When we arrive , we were welcome by another 10 sisters.
They gave us flowers and gifts . We were overwhelm speechless. They chat with us for 1 hour
and serve us some food. We were very tired , but we talk to them and then took a rest.
Then in the evening at 7.30pm they serve us very delicious dinner. We chat with the family until 10pm.

Day 3 16-10-2003 Thursday . Yokohama . 1st Day International Convention
In the morning we left at 10am by bus to the Convention site which is the Yokohama
International Stadium . The congregation charted 2 buses . We arrive at 11.30am . In the bus a
Japanese brother came and ask me many questions . Almost everyone in the bus were looking at me and the other brother when the Japanese brother were ask us questions. Although the brother could not speak English , he try his best to speak word by word. My host congregation charted 2 buses for the congregation to go to the Convention Hall. When we arrive at the “ Yokohama International Stadium “ , I saw many brothers who were serving at Parking attendance. They stood at very strategic location around town to direct traffic. The stadium was so huge . Everybody was having their hands full. One hand was waving and the other was showing direction. They were bowing all the time.
The brothers and sisters prepare Japanese lunch box for all the delegates there. Our meals were all taken care off . The convention started at 130pm with Brother Oda who gave the welcoming speech. After the convention , in the evening , we were invited to another family house for dinner. They were putting 2 Singaporean sisters. It was a typical Japanese dinner table . The same brother in the bus came to join us and talk to us and made us laugh. Then at 10pm , our host came to pick us up and when we reach home , a brother came to visit us and talk to us until midnight.

Day 4 17-10-2003 Friday .Yokohama . 2nd Day International Convention
The attendance for the convention was 52,899 in the morning and 54,320 in the afternoon. The
total delegates was about 4000 while the Japanese was about 50,000.
We left at 8am by bus . During the lunch period , I met my translator at the gate entrance It
was very pack . The Japanese brothers and sisters came to the foreign delegates session to meet with the delegates. They try to see the name tag that you are from other countries and give you
many gifts , shake hand , take photographs with you . One sister interview me and record me on
video . I was speechless . I feel like a movie star . Everywhere you see people take photographs
and talk to each other. Dinner time , my Japanese translator took us out to eat noodles .

Day 5 . 18-10-2003 Saturday . Yokohama . 3rd Day International Convention
We left by bus as usual . It was a wet day . It rain from 12pm until 4pm . I was sitting in the rain
with the umbrella . Our Branch Coordinator , gave the reports from Malaysia.
During lunch time, I walk out to give some documents to the lost & found department. On the
way, many Japanese publishers game me many gift . They just look at your name tag and give
you gifts. At 9pm 3 sisters took us out for dinner to a Japanese Restaurant until 11pm .

Day 6 . 19-10-2003 Sunday . Yokohama 4th Day International Convention
When the program was over , and clapped and waved for some times. The Japanese brothers and sisters again came to the foreign delegates section to meet with us. As we made our way out of the stadium , the Japanese brothers and sisters , stand in along line at the entrance of the gate , to say good bye and some shake hand . It was indeed very touching and moving.
We were invited to another host family for dinner. The host gave us some gifts and play card
games. We talk to the family and took photographs. The host family printed their pictures on
glossy paper. It was the first time I saw pictures printed in glossy paper and I ask them how did
they do it. The next day at the dinner , they present me the glossy paper. This was also the first
time I started to use digital camera to take pictures. I only have 16MB and 64MB XD card. I
was saying to myself , this may not be enough for me to take pictures for my trip. The host
family heard that and took out their memory card , which were the same like mine, erase the
pictures and gave it to me the memory card. I was speechless. They are amazing.
I met 2 sisters from Singapore who were staying the host family that we were having dinner
with. One of the sister in her mid twenties had spend all her saving to come for this trip. She face opposition from her father . She had to support her younger brother who was expel from public
school because of flag issue and had to study in private school which is expensive. She is a
regular pioneer and working part time teaching to support herself. I was touch to her
experience. When we return home , we chat with our host family and gave them gifts. A few
publishers came to visit us and chat with us.

Day 7. 20-10-2003 Monday . Yokohama . Day at leisure with host.
We spend the day outside at Kamakura Park at 11am . We walk and met many publishers from
other places and took photographs. Then we return home and went to the gathering. It starts at
5.30pm with the interview the delegates. During the interview , the host and delegates cry. We
could not eat as many of them came to give us gifts and take photographs. They sang Japanese
songs , play a bible drama ( Good Samaritan ) . At the end of the gathering , a elder from singapore was relating experiences from Singapore and a sister translated to English . Half way through ,while translating , she started to wept . I was surprised. When she finish translating, some publishers also started to cry . Then the publishers line up outside the restaurant to say goodbye to us . We took some photographs outside the restaurant . When we return home, we continue to talk to family host until 1am . Again , other publishers came to our host home and chat with us .

Day 8 . 21-10-2003 Tuesday. Yokohama/Elbina/Tokyo Accommodation : Sunshine City Prince
Hotel.
We left the house at 7am to the Elbina Branch and reach at 8.30am . Our translator told us that
normally visiting the Bethel is a happy occasion , but today it is a sad day since we have to
depart. When it was time to leave them and start the Bethel tour , our translator cry and say
goodbye to us. We have our own self tour at the branch since there are many other groups also
from other countries. We had lunch at 11.30am. When the bus was leaving , the brother and sister line up to say goodbye. After lunch we met with the tour guide and went to Tokyo Tower . In the bus ride everyone introduce themselves . When we reach Tokyo Tower , It was hazy and I did not see a good view. Our bus drove pass the Imperial Palace, home to Japan’s royal family. We have a view of the palace surrounded by ,magnificent gardens. We then went to a Shopping area call Ginza. It is a high-class and plus departmental stores lined the main thoroughfare. We then check in the hotel and went out for Chinese Dinner.
The picture on the front page of the booklet “ Look I am making all things new “ , is the taken
from the Japanese garden at the Japan Branch. The picture is above.

Day 9. 22-10-2003 Wednesday . Tokyo / Hakone / Owakudani Valley , Lake Ashi, Mt Fuji /
Lake Kawaguchi Accommodation : Hotel Kawaguchiko
After Breakfast , we left Tokyo for Hokone area. Hakone is one of the most popular inland
tourist resorts in Japan. The principle attraction of Hokone is Lake Ashi – 723 meters above sea
level. The lake abounds in black bass and trout and angling is a main leisure activity here. It was
raining. We took a 10 minutes boat ride at the lake .
After lunch we proceed to Mount Fuji. At an altitude of 3776 metres, it is the highest peak in
Japan. Its base is strewn with lakes, waterfalls, virgin forest and various alpine plants, all
combining to enhance the beauty of Fujiyama. We went to the 5th Station which is the highest
point for tourist to drive up there. We arrive at about 3.30pm and stay on until 4.30pm . We
enjoy the panoramic view of the surrounding area.
Then we check in a typical Japanese Hotel . When we arrive there , a Japanese sister and her
daughter was waiting with winter clothing & overcoat to loan to a couple, Bro Nadarajan and his
wife . They have driven about 5 hours and got lost while trying to find us before we went up to
Mt Fuji because they were very concern for them. When they could not locate us , they went to
the hotel and waited for us. We were so touch by their kindness and concern.
After dinner we had our book study . After that at 9.45pm, a couple , my Japanese translator ,
who stay with us in Yokohama during the International Convention , came to visit at our hotel,
as their house were less than 1 hour drive from out hotel . To our surprise , our host family
drove 2 hours from Yokohama with another 2 sisters to visit us . They bring us gifts and talk to
us for 1 hour and we took photographs.

Day 10 . 23-10-2003 Thurday. Lake Kawaguchi / Toyahashi / Kyoto Accommodation : Kyoto
Holiday Inn
We left at 8am and took a 6 hour bus ride to Kyoto . During the bus ride, we relate our field
service experiences and have our magazine study in the bus. When we reach Kyoto, we went to
see a Japanese Tea Ceremony which was in a hotel. Japanese ladies demonstrate how do they
make and serve tea. After that we proceed to Gion. This is most probably the best known part of Kyoto – the entertainment district . Here we find geisha, well preserved hundred years old
restaurants and houses.

Day 11 . 24-10-2003 Friday . Kyoto / Osaka . Accommodation : Hotel Osaka Toyo
After breakfast, we visited a temple which is build by 368 wodden pillars without a nail. After
that we went to Kyoto Handicraft Center and Niohijin Kimono Center for a taste of traditional
crafts making by skilled artisan and see kimono fashion show.
After lunch , we visited Nijo Castle. It was built in 1603 and served as the place where
Tokugawa Shogun stayed when he was in Kyoto . At 4pm , we travel on Shinkansen ( Bullet
Train) from Kyoto to Osaka. The train ride took 15 minutes while our bus took 1 hour to drive
to Osaka to pick us up from the train station.

Day 12. 25-10-2003 Saturday . Osaka Accommodation : Hotel Osaka Toyo
After breakfast , we visited Osaka Castle. It is noted for it’s magnificent donjon and huge stones.
It was originally built in 1586. The castle commands an extensive view of Osaka city.
From 11am to 3pm , we gather together and relates our experiences .
Our tour guide , Mr Lee listen attentively when we were relating our experiences . After that we depart to Shinsaibashi , a famous shopping area in Osaka.

Day 13 . 26-10-2003 Sunday Osaka - Narita - Singapore
After breakfast , it was time to leave. We left for Itami Airport and took one hour flight to
Haneda Airport at 12.30pm . When we arrive at Haneda at 1.30pm , our bus pick us and drove
us to Narita International couch which takes 1 hour. We arrive at Haneda Airport and met with
the other 2 groups . We depart Narita International Airport at 4.30pm and arrive at Singapore
Changi Airport at 10.30pm . We have to stay one night at ANA Hotel as there is no connecting
flight to KLIA.

Day 14 . 27-10-2003 . Monday Singapore – Kuala Lumpur
After breakfast , Malaysian delegates depart to Changi Airport at 10am. We depart by Singapore Airline at 12.30pm and arrive at KLIA at 1.30pm .

After return from my trip in Japan, I continue to keep in touch with my Japanese host and
translator by email . They told me that they were going to the 2003 Hawaii International
Convention in December 2003. A couple from Hawaii who attended the Yokohama International Convention , visited Malaysia and invited my sister to go to Hawaii and attend the International Convention there. So my sister went with her sister in law there for 3 weeks and attended the International Convention there. I wrote to my Japanese host and translator and told them that my sister will also be attending the same International Convention there. I send them my sister’s picture and ask them to look out for my sister there and I also gave my sister, my Japanese host and translator picture. The attendance for both the 2 international convention held in Haiwaii during the last 2 weekend in December was about 22 thousand. My Japanese host and translator try their best to look for my sister there, as I have inform them and sister to look out for each other. There are holding a sign board with her name . When they could not find her , they went to the information counter to ask . On the second day , they call my hand phone from Hawaii and inform me that they could not locate my sister. I gave them my sister’s contact number in Hawaii and they manage to contact each other and met up on the last day. When my sister met them , they were so happy to meet her and hug her. They went for meals together . After the convention they went to the place where my Japanese translator stay , at the Waikiki
beach and met with hundreds of brothers and sisters who were singing songs at the beach.
My Japanese host and translator , treat my sister like they have already know her , even though they have just met. After dinner, my sister mention that she has to leave because the last bus is at 8pm. They did not want to let my sister return home yet as they wanted to spend more time with her. They told her , not to worry about the transport back home. When it is time for my sister to return , they call a taxi and paid for my sister’s taxi fare ( USD65) . Can you imagine that ?
My parents and I was very touch and move because of the effort put forth by them to look for
my sister and take care of her. My sister really enjoy meeting my Japanese host and attend the
International Convention. Truly , the Japanese hospitality is amazing .

After having the opportunity to attend the International Convention, I make up my mind that , I will attend every International Convention no matter what it cost. It is far worth than anything this world can buy and any other holiday tours in the world. It really give me the opportunity to see the world wide brotherhood in action and gives me a lot
encouragement that I need especially in this time of the end. This 14 days tour to attend Japan International Convention was the best and happiest time of my
life. It was worth more than what we paid for it. I have no regrets of spending the money to go
there . Some publishers were reluctant to go to Japan because of the language problem , but that no problem at all ,because the Japanese brothers and sister make sure that were English
translator for us so that we will not be lost. I heard , there were many Japanese publishers who
went to take English courses so that they were able to communicate with the delegates. Almost
every Japanese publishers , prepare many unique gifts themselves, to give us delegates It was
just magnificent . No words can describe how I really enjoy it. If you have the opportunity ,
don’t miss it . Apply to attend the International Convention. I guarantee you, you will not regret
it.

Experiences from 2 sisters who were in the same group with me..
From the Elbina Bethel we were driven to the Kingdom Hall . At the Kingdom Hall , we were
surprise to be greeted by many brother and sisters . We only expected to change cars but instead there was also a table beautifully lay out with lots of food. After that we were greeted by brothers and sisters though we have little knowledge of each other language. Somehow we have some conversation going on . I went to a little room behind the Kingdom Hall and found some sisters who were preparing Japanese Green Tea for us to drink. After a few minutes , an elder gave a welcoming speech after which we were presented with a bag of presents. Then we took a
photograph with the whole congregation . It was really very unexpected. We were all very
surprised . We would describe our situation like being treated like Kings and Queens.
Regarding the welcome gathering which they gave us ,there were so many conversation that
took place , that we did not have time to try to Japanese food that they prepare for us .We were
just talking all the time and they were trying to teach us Japanese and we were trying to talk to
them in Japanese and English There were a lot going on .We were surprise. Everyone is coming
introduce themselves including children .We were really taken by surprise by the attention that
was given to us.
I was personally very tired. We were pack into the car. Were arrive at the host family house.
Upon arriving we did not there to go into our rooms but we sit down and chat with the family.
We talk and talk. After an hour or so, we were inform that we were going to a party at
6pm.Withou being able to do anything , not even a wash up we pack ourselves into the car and
were driven to the dinner place which was actually a restaurant. We though it was just between a few of us , the host family and us. We were surprised to meet up with the other 8 Malaysian
delegates with a group of many brother and sisters in a special room in the restaurant. They
prepare 2 translators for us. Later we realize there are other brothers and sisters from Ezima
Congregation who were seated outside that room. We could not fit in the room. Even the district
overseer came and said hello to us. They were outside the room .They just come to be part with us, bow. During the convention, the first day, we were driven to convention with 2 other brothers and sisters who were staying nearby. We were very impressed who serve as Parking attendance. They stood at very strategic location around town to direct traffic. There hands were moving around. It was all the way to Yokohama Stadium . The stadium was so huge . Everybody was having their hands full. One hand was waving and the other was showing direction. They were bowing all the time. I cannot imagine how much stress they would have put on their body. Anyway , we reach the convention site. We were early. We have brothers and sisters all line up all around the stadium.. They greeted us in Japanese and when they ask where we were from and we said we were from Malaysia. They try out their Malay on us.
On going towards where we were seated, we met many Japanese as we go on and everyone
looking wants to say Hello with and take photograph with us . When we come of the bathroom,
they gave us gift and say selamat datang. Our hands were full of gifts. I got no place to put them.
And they did not expect anything from us. They just want to give they gift and say hello. It was
strange but loving atmosphere. The next day we have the same thing going next day . Everyone
wants to take pictures with us , give us their card and gifts . Like Bro Rajan when we headed for
the bathroom it takes us 1 hour to go that way because we met a lot of people who say hello to us and who want to gift to us. We also decided that we do not want to make eye contact because we so embarrassed that we do not have any gift to give them in return . So we that we made a straight line to the bathroom and come back . But then , people held their hands and said you from ? and they will give us something and want to take photographs with us. Thank you so much. I have so many. And this was what we experience all the way for 4 days. There was a time, when I even told a sister I did not want any more gifts. We feel embraced. She said we want to gift you gifts because they could not speak English to us. But they feel that by giving us gifts , is like expressing they are welcoming us and show their love for us . The love just overflow. Everywhere was they were so full of love, they are so full of hospitality , they are so kind to us that we do not know what to do .
A sister gave me a ties. She have many ties She ask me if I am married. I said no. She said ,
take this tie and go to your congregation and give to the brothers there and say this is from us .
So they were so full of love that they even share their love with us to bring home to the brothers
in the congregation.
When I was about to have lunch , I gave the meal coupon to one Japanese sister. When she
realize my lunch was a Japanese food, she took the trouble to go outside and get 2 Japanese
Lunch box for us. The next day, I exchange my lunch for a sandwich instead. The same sister
saw me again, hold my hand, took me all the way around the corner , give me a sandwich bag .
They give so personal attention. I want to make sure you have your lunch . If you don’t have
lunch I worry for you. I was so touch by this sister. Every time at the meal time , she made sure
we have our meals. They gave us a choice during the free day on Monday , if we want to go to Disneyland or Kamakura. They were so obliging. 4 of us went to Kamakura and the other 4 went to Disneyland. We have other brothers and sister who we have not met join us. Even the Presiding Overseer came along and the service overseer as well. Along the way , we met up with a brother who works there and he took time off just to join us and explain things to us. It is such a privilege That the overseer took time of just to be with us. They took us for lunch and ask us what we like to have for lunch . We said we could eat whatever . We broke into 2 groups. We went for Japanese food which was expensive and they went to Mc Donald’s . We met up and went home and have to get ready for farewell party. Before that, every dinner, we have been accompanied by different brothers and sisters and we were taken out to different restaurants. Western, Chinese Japanese. And they make sure, every night there is someone who speaks English . During the convention nights, we have another brother who was from another area , who was staying with one of the host family house. He was our entertainer and translated . We got ready for our party. We dress our house in Malaysian costume. They were very delighted. We walk to a hall nearby . We were told that we have 1 ½ hours of party. They rented the place. They brought a computer and other equipment . I was wondering what are they going to do with it. They pack us girls in and put Kimono on us and then it was photo session. While were doing that , some sister were playing Japanese instrument call toshio koto . They entertain us. . They sand beautiful songs. All the overseer sang also. We feel that we have to do something for them. We actually compose a poem for them. We have Peter to give the last speech and sing Rasa Sayang . When it was finish, they pack everything and we were presented with a photograph of ourselves with Kimono all done up, big picture of it. They were so efficient. I realize the equipment were printer and computer to do everything for us. One of the overseer came and squat down and gave us the foto. We were embarassed We eat very little. Earlier on during all our meals , we girls eat very little and the host got worried because we only want salad, salad. We are always full because we have a big lunch at the convention. This time I went to sister and look up a dictionary for the word hungry and show her and we laugh and laugh . She could not believe it for once we were hungry after the party . That was what happen.
So what we want to say is that they went to a lot of preparation and organization and for us they
show so much and the whole congregation was involved. There are a fund set a aside . We have
no words to describe what they did.
We suggested that the balance fund not utilized to be put into the contribution box. But they say
no , we have already set aside. So do what you like. They took good care of us despite of the fact
we did not speak much to them . It was really big experience for us. We were given 2 Kimono.
After that one sister with unbelieving husband came to give us more kimonos. They gave us
summer kimono and summer kimono . They have the shoes, stockings and the bag to go with it.
We try not take it because our bag was bull with present. She said she brought a big bag. Earlier
she miss us at the gathering and she will send it by mail to us. And we try to discourage her and
said that people might do something to it. So she decided to bring it to the house for us. She said
one of the kimono she wear when she was 20 years. We have no choice but to take it.
We cannot say no. It does not exist in their vocabulary . They do not understand what is no.


Experiences from a couple who were in the same group with me.
When we arrive at Narita Airport, the brother and sisters gave us a warm welcome. The sisters
were dress in Kimono . Even the young ones were present . From the time we got of the gate
until when we went into the bus ,they were giving us a moving display of their emotions to
welcome us . They welcome us with banner written in different languages, English, Malay,
Japanese, English and Chinese. Even then when we were is the bus, they were waving hands
until we disappear . When we arrive at the branch, another welcome group were waiting for us,
When we get down from the bus , they were greeting us. They want to help us with our bags .
There were so many buses coming. They just come and make us feel welcome. We were told to
wait at the assembly hall before we can meet out host. Before that we were treated with
performance. We witness our brothers and sisters perform for us. It was really a moving scene .
When we depart from the assembly hall, we were taken to the Ezima Congregation. The elders
there speak little English. When we got the kingdom hall we see another group giving reception
with desserts. We could hardly have time to eat anything. The brother and sisters just come to
greet us. We see how they make green tea.
The Japanese sisters were wearing kimonos. To the Japanese, dressing in kimono for an occasion is an honor and respect to their guest. We treated with a warm welcome . We were in the hall for 1/1/2 hour. We took pictures with them . It was time for us to be taken for our host residence.
They were there to welcome. We have time dress up. We were taught how to use the place. The
homes were small compare to our. That evening we were taken to restaurant where they book a room to welcome us with dinner. They brought a interpreter . They were trying to communicate.
They were planning for our trip on Monday ,what we were going to do. They ask information
what we want to do on Monday. We write down the information for them The brothers and
sisters gather around us and ask us many questions, took many photos of course.
Next day is the assembly. We have breakfast with the host. It was western breakfast. When we
arrive at the assembly hall we thousand of people dress in their traditional costumes. There was
hardly any space to move around in the hall. Because we were visitors, they could easily
recognize us . One Indian brother who were traveling with us together. We were all given so
many gifts . The first day we were late to find our seats because the brothers swam around us
ran to us and speak to us and give us gifts. . Then we sat down. When the session finish , the
brothers again swam around us. It was very moving environment . This kind of situation is very
hard to tell you how it is like unless you are there to feel how is it like for yourself. It is
interesting to view the Japanese brother and sister, their warm, kindness and their earnest in
trying to welcome everyone. The other interesting thing is that it was very well organize. It has
tremendous amount of traffic flow under the stadium . It house 60,000 people.
We have many many experiences to tell you. On Monday evening we were given a party. This
time the brothers rented another hall. There were so much food and treat . They have many
things. Japanese music, Japanese singing. They were so well prepare, they bring their color
printer . By the time the photo was taken , they process and give us right at the end of the
gathering. Imagine going home after the gathering and have to buy dinner. The reason the
brothers like to do so many things. The kindness of the brothers the way they express
themselves. The next day we left for our trip and taken to the branch . We were given a warm
welcome. Every section has something special. They have a board put up for publishers to write
on it. They have souvenirs . When we finish our lunch we were invited to a Japanese couple to
their room overlooking the scenery of a beautiful pond where the look brochure drawing is based on this scenery. You just cannot tell the feeling over a recording You have to be there to
experience the special treatment, truly undeserved kind of treatment . The brothers were still
thinking of us, our host family. They drove all the way from Yokohama to a place near mount
Fuji about 2 hours place to send their overcoat , winter clothing because it was very cold. They
miss us at a certain place , they left in the morning but they only manage to see us at 6pm in the
evening where we arrive at the hotel .It is very touching ,special experience . Many other
brothers express the same . There are many more things we could say but somehow you have to come here to see it.