Yomawari in the Park
Dear Family and Friends,
It is always good when I can find time to volunteer at Yomawari to help feed the homeless. This time Imai Sensei was busy, so could not make it. But his partner Aoki Sensei and his wife Junko were there, as always.
This time I went with three friends. Two of them live in Sendai, and one, a recent acquaintance named Austin, came up from Tokyo. He enjoys volunteering whenever he can. In fact, the first time I met him was in Fukushima’s infamous Minami Soma about nine months ago. He was helping to dig out places that were left behind because of the nuclear problems so close to the town.
Today’s “Soup Run” followed its usual routine. The food had been prepared beforehand, so everyone, volunteers and homeless alike, helped unload the trucks and get things set up. There were the usual mats with tinned food and clothes for the men and women to select from, and of course, the tables with the hot lunch of rice and curry.
There is always a short meeting before we start and another when we finish. That allows everyone to have the same focus and to know how things will be run that day. Austin told me he was impressed by how orderly the people were and how respectfully they were treated. That is one of the hallmarks of Yomawari, I feel. It truly lives up to the Christian ideal of brotherly love.
Austin is American-Japanese, so knows both cultures and languages well. He is also very outgoing, so immediately went to talk with Aoki Sensei to learn more about what Yomawari Group does. When he finished, he said, “I am very impressed with what this group is doing.”
I asked Austin to elaborate, and he said, “Not only have they done a lot already to help these men get back on their feet, but they are planning some good things for the future, too. The one they are currently working on is farming. It seems Sendai City has some land that they are thinking of using for agriculture. Yomawari wants to be in on that. It has hopes of providing farm work on that property for the homeless. The produce they grow can be used for the “Soup Runs” and the rest can be sold. That way the men and women can earn some money, which will be beneficial for everyone.”
As I said good-bye to Austin, he shook my hand and said, “I am so glad I came here to volunteer. I hope to come back another time when they are making the food as well as serving it. I really want to contribute all I can to this wonderful organization.”