Monday, January 2, 2017

Welcome New Year

Norie, Leia, Hero and I enjoyed an end-of-the-year party with extended family, my husband's half sister and her children and grandchildren.

We don't have an occasion like this often so this year was very special to have the gang together.

That was Friday ... then Norie's family was off to Hiro's parents and I returned to Nikko's side.

This year, other than hang a new-year's quilt, I didn't do much else in the way of preparing for the new year. That was something Paul always did with great joy and polish.

Saturday, volunteers met at the church basement .. and fellowship hall to prepare a special New Year's meal for the homeless ministry.

This had been a tradition begun by Paul, and our family had donated money from his memorial service to keep the tradition alive.

There were mutterings that it was too much trouble and not enough help, but just the opposite was true.

Saturday there must have been nearly 40 people working to prepare packs of the special new years treats.

In the kitchen were those slicing pink and white kamaboko,
preparing the black beans and creamed chestnut and other things that are part of the meal.

The tables were set out in a big U shape and the plastic trays, like those that hold the usual onigiri for morning delivery,

traveled in a constant train, picking up items down the line, to be closed with a rubber band at the far end and stored in bags for Sunday's meal ... numbered and put in the refrigerators.

My job was just beyond this bowl of cooked carrots, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms...

adding little foil cups of black beans.

As the packs were complete, some of us stayed to chop carrots, mochi, and other items for the Ozoni soup that would be served hot along with the meal.

The white bag on the table was filled to the brim with chopped carrots by the end of the afternoon.

I got to experience the frustration of using right-handed knives ... the beveled edge on the right that makes the blade go crooked when used with a lefty. It was only luck that that bag contained no finger parts.

The meal was given in Paul's memory and he attended in spirit

... his picture above the apron ...

Norie cut jonquils from her garden and brought those along with other gardening trimmings ...
plum branches, pine branches, and some branches from the nandina that had begun to turn red.

I was given a huge vase to make an arrangement and it was the first time for me to use blocks of foam rather than a kenzan ... another challenge.

Leia supplied the caligraohy on the left saying Ohshogatsu or New Year.

Our sextant brought out the folding screen and there was a guest book that many of both helpers and homeless signed. I was rather surprised on Sunday morning to find the arrangement and screen had been brought to the sanctuary for the service.

Sunday, from two pm, the homeless came through the line to get their bowls of hot soup which had been in preparation from the morning service onward.

That was also an assembly line of workers, arranging items in the bowls and passing them along to the last table to be filled with hot soup.

The tables had been set with cups , chopsticks, and the packs that were put together the day before.

The homeless could come back as many times as they wished for refills of the soup.

I usually wash dishes at these meals but yesterday I was in the line passing prepared bowls to those filling in the soup.

There was a second seating and some of the helpers joined the meal with the guests.

There was a mad rush between the sessions to clean and re-set the tables.

In all, maybe 200 or more were served.

and this great gang of kids were not only showing off their juggling skills, but handing out fresh sweet mikans to the departing guests.

I don't know how many of the helpers had gone to parties or stayed up late to watch the new year arrive on TV ...

I only know the service was well attended and lots of people stayed around to help prepare and serve the meal.

Some left early and some were still in the kitchen when this commemorative picture was taken but Paul, whose photo is behind Norie must have been smiling down upon these servants of the Lord, doing the very thing he spent the last day on his feet doing.

I might add that some of these are experienced dedicated helpers in meals month-after-month but there were also those who chose to start their year with a new experience... a true global team, working together to serve others.

What better way to welcome in 2017!


  1. What a joyful way to remember Paul, and the helpers and those who received a meal, all make this a huge success. Julie, this is so special, and the floral arrangement, apron and words all contribute in a huge way.

  2. I think that is so wonderful and such a generous thing for all that helped with the meal and I know Paul would be smiling down on all of you. Love seeing you with the family celebrations too, it is so nice to have an extended family and be able to be together.


  3. Happy New Year, Julie! What a wonderful way to welcome in 2017! I'm sure that Paul is smiling down on all of you - continuing his tradition. Leis's caligraphy and the apron were very special touches. I remember kamaboko from our time in Hawaii - and I can certainly relate to the frustration of using right-handed knives - ;))

  4. Oops - I meant to type "LeiA's caligraphy" - ;))

  5. What a great thing Paul started, and I'm glad it is being continued. Paul would be pleased. Happy New Year!

  6. Happy New Year! May it be a peaceful year for you and your family.

  7. You have started the New Year in such a special and positive way. Lovely to see you all together as a family and then to see all the amazing people involved in the food preparation. And wonderful credit to you and Paul.

  8. I am so glad you got to spend the New Year surrounded by family and friends .. and what a wonderful way to remember your husband x

  9. This is really truly lovely. You almost made me to cry. You have got brilliant family and friends around you.

  10. What a wonderful community!! What a living legacy. It is so heartwarming... the service given and just seeing that you are surrounded by so many good folks. xxoo