My church has made the commitment to feed the hungry downtown one Thursday a month. Different groups in our church sign up to prepare and serve dinner to a minimum of 100 needy individuals.
My small group took its turn last Thursday.
I’ll admit to a bit of trepidation at such a daunting task.
Over lunch last Sunday, we firmed up our plans. There were a number of trips made to Sam’s Club for supplies…
David, my friend Barb’s husband, and one of our small group leaders, Tracy, met at the church around 2:15 and began preparing the sauce. I got there at 3. Others slowly drifted in after they got off of work, and we also enlisted the assistance of Barb and David’s son and Tracy’s daughter (they are engaged, by the way).
David prepared twenty-five pounds of meat for the sauce, adding his secret blend of spices to the mix.
He and Jim, another of our small group members, cooked up thirty pounds of spaghetti.
I opened the packages of noodles for David. Please be impressed with my kitchen skillz.
Tracy proved to be the master of the garbage disposal/rinsing station.
We all have our special talents, you see.
It didn’t seem like long before everything was ready, and we loaded up our vehicles and headed downtown.
As we pulled into the parking lot, something stirred in my heart because, in front of me, was a line of people waiting for our arrival.
I’ve got a confession to make.
I’ve led a somewhat sheltered life.
The blinders are slowly being removed though…every year more come off as I teach the neediest of children in the direst of situations.
Still, looking at the people in that line and knowing that we were providing what would likely be their only meal of the day…perhaps their best meal of the week…well, I just don’t know that words can adequately describe exactly what I was feeling.
We had a lot of help setting up our table, and each member of our group assumed a spot from which to serve.
Before we began, though, Tracy spoke to the group of people, serving up the most satisfying food they would inhale that day…God’s Word.
A special thanks to this amazing man. Tracy and his wife have been godsends to the Mr. and me. They repeatedly invited us to their small group late last Spring. I didn’t really want to go because I’m painfully shy sometimes, but Tracy continued to find me at church, hug me, and make me feel loved.
That’s just who he is, and his wife, Lisa, is the same way.
After the devotion and blessing, we began.
This is when the fun commenced!
I know that sounds strange, but honestly, that’s what it was…fun!
As each person came through the line, I heard my friends, Jeannie and Barbara, both literacy coaches in my district and some of my biggest supports (not to mention mentors to me), interact in their sweet Southern way with each person as they served up the salad and dressing.
The Mr. and I served the spaghetti. As each person stood in front of me, I greeted him/her as I would any of my students…looked the person in the eyes…and asked how he/she was.
Some looked surprised to be acknowledged so personally. I noticed that people would stand up straighter after looking me in the eye.
We passed the plates down to Lisa and others serving up the bread, cookies, and drinks.
We didn’t skimp on portions, and the people in this group seemed genuinely surprised.
We had so much food that we encouraged them to come back through our line for seconds and thirds.
We began making to-go boxes for them.
We even served up spaghetti to the cutest puppy ever (don’t be judging).
Some of the members of our group interacted with the patrons as they ate.
It wasn’t long before the crowd began to disappear…where to, I have no idea.
We broke down the tables and made plans to go to dinner as a group.
We chose a Mexican restaurant. I doubt I’ll be able to look at spaghetti for a while. LOL!
Lisa took the leftover food to the Rescue Mission so more hungry souls could be fed.
First, though, we returned to the church to finish cleaning up and return the serving dishes and utensils to their proper homes.
We finally made it to dinner around 8:00.
The feeling was jubilant, and we analyzed things we could have done to make it better.
Overall, though, there was a feeling of joy.
We shared conversations we’d had with those we had served.
I cannot tell you what a bonding experience this was.
Over the last year and three months, I have grown to deeply care for those in my small group.
Each individual has his/her talents. We celebrate each others’ triumphs and cry for one another when things aren’t so good.
I, who was hesitant to become a part of this group, do not know what I’d do without it.
They stretch me, as evidenced by our experience with feeding the hungry.
They pray for me, on a moment’s notice, as happened last week when I requested prayer when Chicky was interviewing for a new teaching position closer to her house.
Feeding the hungry was an extension of what we’ve been doing for each other for the last year…finding joy through being selfless.
It’s love in action, modeled by God Himself when He sent His Son.