Stories from Dr. Yukari, Story #20-2, Giving & Receiving Help

[ Stories from Dr. Yukari ]

Guided by the hope of St. Nichiren, we continue to work towards a peaceful society. Honolulu Myohoji Mission collaborates with Psychologist Dr. Yukari Kunisue, a trained and experienced therapeutic life coach, to offer a safe online space: Stories from Dr. Yukari


War Bride from Japan


“I don’t have anyone left in Japan or in Hawaii. But, people come to the post office because they send and receive letters and packages from someone.”

Sure enough, local people of all different ethnic backgrounds in Aloha shirts, muumuus, or shorts came and went. This is an everyday scene in Honolulu, Hawaii.


“I sit here every day imagining what kind of person sent that man a letter. And who received that lady’s package.” Rutsu smiled pondering with a youthful glow brightening her expression. 


Rutsu’s genuine joy showed in her face as she imagined the happiness of others when they sent and received packages. She did not seem envious in the slightest. While she did not tell me this, I assumed she was waiting for a letter from her husband who was missing in action. 


“Did you come by airplane?” 


She asked me to which I responded,


“Airplane? Yes, I came from Japan by airplane.”


“I came by boat from Yokohama Harbor. I was on a huge boat named Cleveland which was bound to San Francisco.” I could see through Rutsu’s eyes that she was reflecting back on the memory. “I have never had the chance of visiting San Francisco or any other place on the Mainland.”


This was my first experience with volunteer work. I learned that in the US, anyone can volunteer for volunteer work. Rutsu and others taught me about how precious it is to share experiences and spend time together by listening and being with others. 


Since the oral history project in Honolulu, I did different types of volunteer work. In New York City, I became a volunteer teacher of the America Literacy Program. This was quite an experience since a non-native speaker like me taught how to read English to native adult speakers. In Washington DC, I volunteered at a Rape Crisis Center learning to be a volunteer companion and telephone counselor. When I came back to Hawaii, I volunteered at local hospices sometimes singing children’s songs to a hospice patient or simply sitting beside them holding hands with terminal patients. 


I see many people around me engaged in different types of volunteer work. From delivering bento boxes to single seniors, cleaning up trash and plastic waste from beaches, teaching surfing to disabled children, helping disaster survivors rebuild their lives, accompanying non-native applicants to the social security office, and doing garden work in the organic garden at a local temple. All of these volunteers seem to be within their comfort levels offering their time and skills when needed. 


Harvard psychologist and psychedelic guru Ram Dass (he recently passed away on Maui) once said this when it comes to helping others. “Helping others is natural and instinctive human behavior which happens to a person with an open heart; it is not something you need to think about or analyze.”


Towards the end of his life, Ram Dass became incapacitated after the stroke. The former leader of the baby boomers later became someone who needs constant care from others. He said, 

“there are people who receive other people’s kindness and assistance without any emotional entanglement involved. When the recipient of the help has such a positive attitude, the helpers feel that they receive intangible gifts in return.”


For those who help others, I want to thank YOU. I also want to say thank YOU to those who are giving opportunities for others to help!


One good deed a day!