Several weeks back Kayla, as our Outreach Coordinator, wrote and asked me if the Elders would like to prepare and share a meal with the guests of our shelter. We discussed it at our November meeting, and decided we could do the meal in place of our opening devotions in December. Instead of “reconnecting with one another and with God” for the first thirty or forty minutes of our meeting as we normally do, we would come in early, cook together and then eat dinner with the guys from the shelter.
And I really enjoyed the experience. In all the years I have been at Old First, I had never done a shelter meal before. I loved getting to share a recipe that my godmother used to make when she had an army of kids in the house to feed because my sister and I stayed over her place. OK, I’ve “souped up” the recipe a bit over the years, gave it my own thing but still…
The rest of the Elders were quick to contribute food and to help prepare the meal. And it turns out we work well together in the kitchen.
I have friends who are chefs and I must say there was an exhilarating fun/fear/danger element to having a zillion BTUs going with every burner lit, and the clock ticking and 40 people waiting to eat:-)
I had a really good conversation with one of our shelter residents. During our chat, I thought about how God can speak through the people we interact with. He asked me if I had experience with the homeless before. I said, “no,” and he thanked me for being honest. I asked him, “What if cooking dinners at the homeless shelter isn’t enough?” He responded that it was enough for me, and not to worry… that it is plenty and has a real impact. He also warned me to be mindful in helping: some people can get hurt trying to do too much.
I asked him how he maintains his faith, and he said by praying and thanking God. Also, being aware of where he wants to go, namely, to live in a house and be alcohol-free. And trusting that God will get him there.
It was a deep experience, more than just cooking. I’m going to think about all of this for a while…
Kayla thanked the Elders for preparing a shelter dinner. She told us how important it was for the residents to see people and leaders from the church involved. And she reminded me that there are still dinner openings to be filled…What say ye?
Larry Waddell, Elder and Moderator