By Gunma News Group (Originally in Japanese)
Each year, following Supreme Master Ching Hai’s loving instruction to help those in need during the holidays, our local Association members in Japan distribute gifts to the homeless in the cities of Maebashi and Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture. In 2012, a team also went to Honjō, Fukaya, and Kumagaya in nearby Saitama Prefecture to gather information so we could distribute in more areas.
The team then prepared gift bags containing undergarments,hats, pants, gloves, pocket warmers, jackets, desserts, vegan bread and fruit.
Even though we gathered information in advance, the first area we visited presented a greater challenge to locate the homeless than we expected.
However, in each situation, we felt guided by the Divine. People who could help us find the homeless would suddenly appear,or homeless friends crossedour path through rare circumstances.
For example, in Saitama Prefecture, after receiving information from local people, our team went to the riverbank to look for the homeless individuals, but this area is vast and we could only see trees, farmland and tall grass. Luckily, a man came along who was walking his dog companion. He led us to the right area so that we could find our destination and distribute the gifts. This place was deep in the woods, and without a guide it would have been difficult to find.
Another time we came across a woman who stopped us and gave us detailed information on the homeless in her area. Actually, the woman had met one of our team members when the member was there earlier to do a survey. She remembered our yellow jackets, so she stopped to direct us to a park. There the team found a young, homeless man who happily accepted the gifts.
Our team also looked for homeless people staying under bridges and gave them gifts, which they gladly accepted. In other places, people who usually stay away from busy areas during the day and travel into parks at night to sleep were in desperate need of help. Some looked uneasy at first, but after receiving their gifts, their faces brightened. They were surprised and touched by Master’s loving generosity.
In Gunma, the winter of 2012-13 was colder than the previous winter, so the long jackets we provided delighted our homeless friends. Through God’s arrangements, we met a variety of people.
One man was helping his friend by letting him stay in his apartment while he lived in his car. And we also met a young lady who exclaimed, “A wonderful Santa Claus is visiting us this year,” upon receiving her gifts.
We noticed the situations of some of the homeless had improved since we last saw them. Some had found places to live or work. Each year there seem to be more positive changes and fewer homeless people.
One woman had received gifts from Supreme Master Ching Hai in previous years. This time she estimated when our Association members would arrive, and waited for us to tell us she had found a job and a place to live, and that her life was getting better. We were very happy to hear this good news.
While participating in the gift-giving activities, some of our Association members felt that we were not good enough in our spiritual practice. Sometimes we were limited by our own minds and could not let go of our egos to convey unconditional love to others. On the other hand, we also felt immense blessing from Master in doing this work. Each one of the homeless touched us deeply and enabled us to feel warmth, love and profound joy. We are determined to practice diligently each day to become better examples in conveying Master’s great love.
Expenditures by The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association
for Winter Relief Work in Gunma and Saitama Prefecture, Japan
|Description||Amount (Japanese Yen)||Receipt|
|Snacks, candy, sweet treats||24,237||A|
|Winter jackets and long coats||73,581||C|
|Winter caps, gloves, warm socks, and mufflers||33,028|
|Plastic bags and ribbons||5,137|
|Masks and pocket warmers||2,886|
|Total|| Japanese Yen 284,621