Sunday, November 4, 2007

Feeding the Tokyo Homeless

I am the room mom for Preston's 5th grade class. Every year they do what they call the ASIJ Rice Project. Each grade takes a turn making rice balls with pickled plums in the center of them, sounds tastey, huh?!! They are called onigiri. On this Friday, Preston's class mates took turns coming into the faculty lounge and making the onigiri. They made hundreds of them. On the following Saturday we had the opportunity to go and help distribute the onigiri beside another organization that feeds the homeless each Saturday. I am told that the government claims there is no homeless problem in Tokyo so the churches and other charity minded organizations offer help and relief as they can.

On Saturday, we were not prepare for what we saw. There were hundreds and hundreds of homeless men. I don't know why there were no women, but there weren't... Aaron took Cloe and Tara Grace to Cloe's soccer game. So Preston, Jacob and I took about 125 onigiri on the train to get to Ueno Park. I had two big brown bags each of the boys had one. After a while the bags got really heavy, as you can imagine. We had to change trains a couple of times and then walk quite a ways to get to the park. I had to "ask" this older Japanese woman "Ueno Park?" The Japanese people are really so nice and willing to help...we could not really communicate in words, but we both got the idea and she walked us almost the entire way...When we got there all of our arms were tired and aching. The boys were able to pass out the rice balls with some of the other ASIJ students. It was very organized..the men were all in very straight lines and very polite. Many of the men were clean and well groomed, many were not so. The picture above is outside the park (we were asked in respect for the homeless not to take photos of them). The rolling carts with tarps are their belongings. They just push them around. After distributing all the onigiri and being relieved of the heavy bags, Jacob, Preston and I had our own parable come to life...serving others literally lightened our burdens!! On our way home we felt lighter in more than one way.......

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