Seeing is believing. We were lucky enough not only to be sponsored by this wonderful group of people but by their friends, family and companies.
This was the morning of the kick off. I, as a support driver, had already been lost and it was within 1 km of the first hotel in Takasaki. The weather was wonderful and it was the great beginning for what ended up being an eventful and spectacular ride over 4 days and 500 km of stunningly beautiful Japanese countryside. Some places where you just wanted to stop and stare forever.
On the fourth day, when we reached the home in Fukushima, the children had been preparing for weeks to cut out and make flags of the different countries represented by the riders. As they knew, that for many, it would be the first time they had visited Fukushima and wanted to them to feel welcome.
They also spent those weeks online researching about the countries which they visited online as members of the Digital Citizenship club at Fukushima Aiikuen. This home is over 126 years old and was started by a woman in 1893 whose bronze statue is at the base of the climb to the home.
The climb was not an easy one, certainly not for the dozens of riders who had come to the end of the 500km ride. Knowing the children were waiting at the top, everyone mustered every last bit of energy to keep pedaling passed the cheering staff and children and high fiving every little hand that was out-stretched.
The children at Fukushima Aiikuen range from 2-18 years old. Over the years donors have bought them needed vans, installed geiger counter permanent stations and portable devices to measure hot spots after the rain.
We were then lead into the gymnasium where the certificates of appreciation had handwritten thank you notes attached by the kids who made them on the laser cutter printer. Presentations and quizzes were done on each country of each rider. A slide show of the courses funded by KIWL in Tohoku and Tokyo as well as footage from the rider was shown followed by a song by the Echo-sensei Hasegawa-sensei.
YouMeWe volunteers Gerhard, Victor, Mayuko and Juna (including Hide who rode on our behalf) were there for when we gave the speech to thank everyone for everything they have done to help us and continue to support us in our journey which was once just a thought.
You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?
There are those who give little of the much which they have--and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space….
…It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;
And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.
And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.
You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving."
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.
And you receivers... and you are all receivers... assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the freehearted earth for mother…