Pius Chi-Shing Lee
In 1988, I left Oslo for Tokyo with an early morning departure flight on a cold winter day. It was not a direct flight, but with a relatively short overlay in Hong Kong. My destination was a small agricultural town in Aichi Prefecture (愛知縣), Central Japan. The last leg of the journey was by trains from Tokyo to Aichi. Our plane approached Haneda Airport, Tokyo around 8:00 pm local time. The vivid impression of a foreigner newly arrived in the megacity Tokyo was indelible and resonating to this day. As a young man raised in Hong Kong and educated in North America, I bragged to myself as one who had seen aerial night-lights of large cities. Tokyo was certainly an echelon above all norms. There were lights and artificial illuminations as far as the eye could see when one gazed from the fuselage of an ascending or descending airline. The train ride from Tokyo to Central (中部) Japan was equally memorable to the degree of soul-haunting until today. There were many express trains and each with its specific fare tariffs. I could not afford the speedy bullet trains and took a second tier express train. It was a good 6-7 hour train ride with a few stops before the Aichi Stop. Before leaving metropolitan Tokyo, the express train would speed through the densely built city with what seemed to be an inundation of skyscrapers in elevated rails and tunnels. In one turn the train was speedily unswervingly-zooming towards an office building in its elevated rail around the building’s third and fourth floor — I could see employees working behind the tall glass building windows. I was scared as if the train was suicidally heading into the building. It turned just in time as a speedy roller coaster, and in my startle no other passenger was scared but me. My fellow passengers were relaxed and dozed as it was already 11:00 pm. I was the new-comer unapt to the pace of this sunrise land with many wonders.
Sleepy Atsumi Peninsula
I arrived in Aichi more or less on time, and the hotel front office lady greeted me in her sleepy eyes when I checked in very early in the morning. It was a short stay as I should check out in a few hours, having booked only one night. The air was crisp and the roaring wind was loud in this somewhat wind-swept stem of the Atsumi Peninsula (渥美半島). It was surreal to be a foreign student in a country without knowing the language, the culture, or the general mind-sets of the common people. I was anxious to meet my research supervisor as he had promised to greet me in the hotel lobby in the late morning that day. I only came to know my supervisor through his research papers and his fame in the fields of meteorology and air pollution control. I fidgeted and was still unconvinced with the fact I was physically in Japan while waiting for my only contact in Japan in the hotel lobby. Punctually at 10:00 am my supervisor gently entered the lobby. I had seen his picture on the internet on the university’s faculty introduction, but his in-person stately manner charmed me further with his handsome smile and assuring voice of a professor.
Wind Swept Aichi Coast
Japan gave me a very good first impression as I was unconsciously comparing that with my past experience when I first arrived in Canada, United States, and Norway. The airport was orderly, people were helpful, and the posted signs and printed directions on brochures were clear. Despite my importune hour of arrival in the hotel in the early morning on a weekday, I was greeted adequately even in a little wind-swept town in a remote location miles away from the nearest major city of Nagoya. All in all I felt throughout this wide geographical and metropolitical spectrum in Japan, everything seemed functioning perfectly — from an unthinkable gigantic mega-city of Tokyo to a remote wind-swept agricultural town in the sea-ward side of Aichi Prefecture. I had once conceived as a monoethnic and monolingual car-maker monopoly of the world was actually warm, friendly and welcoming. This first impression was reinforced and confirmed in my 7 years in the country as a Ph.D. student and later as an employee of the Japan Weather Association, a non-profit weather agency serving the public as well as a civilian liaison for the national weather bureaus.
Pronounced Land-Sea Breeze
I was fortunate to be given a temporary guest room in the university’s foreign scholars’ living quarters. It was reasonably priced and conveniently located inside the university campus. The University was situated in a somewhat elevated plateau tens of meters above the surrounding farmland and livestock husbandry. Being not far from the Pacific coastline, the night-time land breeze and day-time sea breeze was religiously punctual and powerful. Whenever there was gorgeous sunshine in the day, the contrast of surface temperatures over land and sea tended to be the largest resulting often with the strongest low-level sea-ward jet in the night-time and land-ward jet in the day-time. This happened almost everyday throughout my on-campus lodging experience of 3 years. The cool sea water near the Atsumi Peninsula was influenced by the Oyashio Current, a polar current originating from the Bering Sea. The exception from the strong winds phenomena occurred when the sky was under heavy overcast when the land-sea lower atmospheric circulation was suppressed by thermal inversions and thick clouds. The mountainous terrain of much of Central Japan also enhanced the mountain-triggered wind flow on both sides of the Main Island. My supervisor kindly walked me to the guest house. We were nearly yelling to one another as the roar of the wind was so thundering that we must talk above its deafening roar.
Bump into a Foreigner Friendly Church
There was a six-week gap in my lodging. The reason being that as I was admitted as a graduate student, I was eligible to move into the foreign student dormitory next to the foreign scholars’ living quarters after a six-week wait was fulfilled. My supervisor was extremely kind and arranged for me to stay free for room and board with 2 families as a foreign student — three weeks with a broadcasting company top manager, and three weeks with an owner of a large construction company. Both experiences were eye-opening and I first-hand witnessed the kindness and generosity of a common Japanese person. The owner of the large construction company had a daughter who was one of the pianists of a local Christian Church. The church was quite a distance — within a bike ride distance, from the University but it was very foreign-student friendly and I began attending the church with fellow-students who gave me rides.
A Missional Church
Later I found out that almost all the Christians in the University attended that same church. All the elders and leadership in the church were fervent and dedicated to campus ministries in our technical university and the only other general university in this agricultural town. I felt the college students, including the foreign students, were well received in the church. The young-adults’ ministry pastor was an alumnus from our university. The church was practicing kingdom expansion for the Lord Jesus despite the dismal statistics that 99% of the students would leave the town for career opportunities. The church never hesitated to invest in campus ministry that seemed a losing business secularly speaking. I remembered that on my third Sunday at that vibrant church of about 200 members consisting of many age groups, one of the elders gave me a big envelope with his handwritten testimony. This honorable elder served in the church governance board and his son was a student of our university. The testimony was written in Traditional Chinese scripts. He quoted a large biblical segment from the Epistle to the Romans, and at the end of the letter he sincerely invited me to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. I promptly thanked him and shared with him again — I thought I introduced myself clearly that I was a follower of Christ three weeks ago.
Land of A Spiritual Wilderness
These honeymoon experiences with the Christianity presence in Japan were disillusionary. In the long seven years in Japan as a foreigner Christian the overarching feeling for me was isolation, out-of-touch and obsolescence. Being a hierarchically strict society, humanism and feminism did not infiltrate Japanese society as quickly as her counterparts in Europe and Northern America. By humanism and feminism I meant the overblown distorted philosophy of equity and entitlement that spearheaded defiance against the original orders and roles of all creatures defined in the Christian Bible. Unfortunately this extra layer of societal protection did not ease the inroads of the many Christian missionaries in Japan. The skepticism against Christianity was tall and the walls of self-pride and self-righteousness were even taller. Despite the large number of missionary societies which worked in concert with one another by dividing geographical responsibilities — Japan had the world’s largest number of missionaries per square kilometer, the country had barely one percent of her population called themselves Christians. It was my regular prayer that the Lord Jesus showed mercy to the leaders of Japan by converting them first so that they in turn would convert the entire populace into the faith. The Chietian-first evangelistic strategy of the tribal society might work well in Japan.
Japan had few Christian churches and few Christians. Christians must have strong faith. All odds shone negative lights on them. The monoethnic and monocultural society allowed only a few norms of Sunday behaviors such as sport clubs, hobby circles, and private tutoring on academic or cultural pursuits. Christians must have strong faith in Jesus to survive the relentless social battering of peer pressure. I owed great debt to two brothers in our campus fellowship who came weekly to my dorm to give me a ride and encouragement to attend church worship and prayer meetings. There were only five members in the fellowship — with a professor counselor. We all came from places far away from Aichi, Southern Island Shikoku, Western Island Kyshu, Northern Prefectures in Main Island Honshu, Manila Philippines, and me from Hong Kong. The brother from Shikoku pledged to study in a seminary as he felt called to be a pastor. His father sternly warned him that his sonship ended when he graduated from the technical university. He would disown him the day his son took a career path that was disapproved of by him. This brother helped me most and his name is composed of two Chinese characters “真理”, which means truth. What a hero of faith who died to his earthly sonship but truly committed to the eternal truth and the truth set him free to serve the Truth, Life and Way of the world — Jesus.
Author: Pastor (Dr.) Pius Lee is the Director of the Development Division of NYSTM. In 2021, he retired from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States, and was selected the winner of NOAA’s Administrator’s Award for the Air Pollution Forecasting Research Group in 2020. Pastor Lee and Mrs. Ancy Thuyen-Anh, Lee have three sons and one daughter. The couple relocated from the capital, Washington, to New York to take up the post.
Pius Lee. “[Storm Buster series] Home-stay and campus fellowship in Japan” NYSTM Truth Monthly, March, 2023.
當我們一家被迫拋屋棄貨被驅逐到龍安省（Long An）的一個小鎮墟（Thu Thua）之後；我們的戶口被取消，孩子同時也被取消在城市內上學的資格。四哥與我、弟妹都要輟學。
Storm surge causes inundation of large swaths of coastal land. Eleven years ago, storm surge from Hurricane Sandy havocked large damages in New York (NY) and New Jersey (NJ). Today, some of those destructions are still noticeable and remain unrepaired.
The Vietnamese government had planned well ahead and prepared many makeshift-hut developments such as the one we were sent among all the villages and provinces.
Upon the confiscation of our family-cloth-business, there was an undercover policewoman stationed at our home for three weeks every day from 7:00 am till 6:00 pm. Our every move was scrutinized⋯⋯
Autumn is pleasant. It has many public holidays for the most populous countries in the northern hemisphere. In the U.S. we have Labor Day, Columbus Day and the Veterans Day. In China there are Mid-Autumn Festival and Double-Yang Festival.
We were all stunned by the apocalyptic scenes of devastation and destitution caused by wildfires in Maui, HI. The utter sense of desolation and desperation was overwhelmingly sad. It destroyed the idyllic Island of Maui. Many people are still in denial and disbelief when they look at the news reports.
Mom and dad ran a textile and cloth business for thirty years. Their humble street hawker beginning was never remote. Only through thrift living and hard work did mom and dad gradually expand their business and eventually proudly owned a retail shop in the middle of the vegetable markets.
Heatwaves in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere captured the public’s attention. The inadequacy of the central air conditioning units in many of the northern cities testifies to the unexpected increase in air temperature across Northern Europe, Asia and America.
Born in Vietnam, my siblings of six including myself, lived in a Chinese town called “Cholon”. Cantonese was the business dialect that even the native Vietnamese learned to speak. Many of the Vietnamese natives sent their children to Chinese schools.
Man is an adventurous creature. In the pre-pandemic year of 2019 the US travel and tourism industry generated 1.9 trillion dollars in economic output. That was a startling 9% of the nation’s corresponding GDP of 21.38 trillion dollars in 2019.
When the communists took over Vietnam in 1975, my second eldest brother (David), I and my younger brother (Kevin) were studying in the “Same Heart” middle-and-elementary school in Cholon, Vietnam. Originally a private school, it was changed to a public school under the communist government.
My parents ran a textile and clothes retail shop from our home. Under the new communist government after the Vietnamese civil war, every home was eager to sew the new national flag. Therefore, all of a sudden our home business was thriving beyond our wildest imaginations.
Pollen allergy is more commonly known as hay fever. Medically speaking, it is called seasonal allergic rhinitis —- a provocation of the immune system to overreact to pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds. Hay fever occurs mainly in the spring and fall when pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds are in the air.
In the May issue we mentioned the civil war between North and South Vietnam. It finally ended on the so-called “Liberation Date” on April 30, 1975. The North united the country into a communist country.
▪︎前美國國家氣象局 NOAA 氣象預測科研組長
▪︎現國際短宣使團 (義務) 總幹事
▪︎2022年9月起成爲 IFSTM 國宣跨文化訓練講師
▪︎現任 Fairlea Aged Care, Harris Park & Rosehill, Sydney 院牧