Today we had the pleasure of attending a homeless ministry with our chapel community on base, in conjunction with a Japanese Christian church. I thought it would be a good way for the girls to learn service to others. The Japanese church asked for rice and cooking oil donations, and our base community stepped up in a BIG way!
We completely filled the bus cargo compartment with donations.
We headed to Ueno Park, which is a very large park in downtown Tokyo, very similar to Central Park in New York City. Upon arrival we had a quick break for lunch, and were of course stopped by several groups of Japanese schoolgirls for pictures. We are beginning to refer to these groups as the "kawaii club". Some of them even wanted ME in the picture. I laughed out loud at this!
After a quick bite, it was time to get to work.
There were a few tents set up for food preparation.
They were boiling up LOTS of eggs, and cooking up hot dogs and sausages. Also chopping up various kinds of lunch meat.
The girls helped wipe down stacks of plates and insert them into plastic bags. The food was placed on top of the plastic bag to make clean up easier.
My job was to chop up daikon (a mild Japanese radish) for use in a salad. They were VERY specific on the method of chopping and wanted a very thin julienne, a few guys were fired from this position. Haha!
We had lots to chop.
The other volunteer's enjoyed chatting with the girls and gave them Japanese candy.
Then we had the big job of peeling the hard boiled eggs.
All the daikon was mixed into a salad with soy sauce and mayo. It looked really good!
We unloaded all of our donations from the base and the Japanese pastor's wife was quite tearfully appreciative of the support from our base community.
There were mountains of bread donated by local bakeries and also a generous amount from Costco.
The girls found a new friend and had fun biding their time until it was time to serve.
There was a service and bible readings. I wish I understood Japanese better!
In addition to food, there was also clothes available, and a hair cutting station.
After they received the hot food, we handed out yogurt, fruit and bread for the men to take with them. The men enjoyed seeing the children, and the girls loved their 'job'.
The men were very polite and only accepted what they thought they would eat.
I was very impressed at how orderly everything was. The men (about 300-400 of them) waited in lines, and as each line filed through for their meal, the next line moved forward.
Interestingly, there were no homeless women or children at this event. I asked about this, and was told that it is the Japanese culture for family, even distant family, to care for women and children. Men are possibly too proud to accept care from family and therefore, try on their own.
As we were setting up, we felt a few rain drops. Oh no! I didn't want this service to be interrupted due to rain. A few of us said a quick prayer that the rain would hold off for these men to get what they needed, spiritually and physically. The rain held off until the very moment we finished up, then it was a DOWNPOUR with thunder and howling wind! You can't see the rain in this picture, but it was coming down!
This is the wonderful pastor of this Japanese church. What an amazing ministry! He also said that in 14 years of doing this (four times per week), weather has never stopped them from serving these men. Not even once. There is no doubt that God has had a hand in that!
We felt so blessed to be a part of this and the girls would like to serve again. Afterwards Ella said "I like working".