When I arrived at the church I parked around the side. As I turned the key, I thought that I should probably park in the front in an effort to minimize the chances of a break in. Even though I’ve been robbed in this area of town before, I fumed at myself for such negative, judgmental thinking. After all, 15 feet can’t make that much of a difference. Besides, I was there to do something good; no one would want to break into my car.
On my way inside, one of the other women told me she’d feel better about my car’s safety if I parked in the front. So I moved and fussed at myself for being so naive and not listening to my gut.
That morning’s breakfast menu included eggs, toast, grits, thin-sliced ham, and seafood. Yes, seafood. When breakfast comes at the mercy of donations, you take what you can get, I guess. This was a lot more food than we had to serve the first time I volunteered. My first time we only served grits, a slice of deli meat, and some left over pizza.
The toast was in the oven, someone was frying the ham, and the pots of water were heating for grits. I decided I would help with the grits this time.
Grits Tutorial: Cooking grits just right is difficult enough, but cooking up two giant pots for anywhere between 100-150 people is a major undertaking. It takes about an hour for the two large pots of water to boil. But once the water is boiling it only takes a few minutes to have some yummy grits. While the water is boiling, slowly pour the grits in the water and keep stirring to prevent lumps (no one want to eat a lump of uncooked grits. Yuck!). It takes about 3 people working together to get it done right. One or two to stir and one to pour the grits into the pots. Keep stirring the grits, watch out for lumps, until they’re well mixed. Turn off the heat, put on the lids, and let them thicken. Add butter. It takes a lot of butter to flavor 10 pounds of grits. Lots of butter.
One of the other parts of this feeding ministry is to deliver breakfast to the elderly and handicapped who are unable to leave their homes. With breakfast cooked, a few of us formed an assembly line to fill up about 60 delivery boxes.
Things were a little rushed that morning because we weren’t finished filling the boxes before we had to start making plates for the people who were filling the tables and waiting for a hot breakfast.
Someone offered a blessing for the food, invited everyone to the church services the next day, and we started serving the first plates. In no time at all folks were asking for seconds.
The ugly part (to me) of this feeding ministry, one of the parts that is uncovering my sin, is the drug addiction aspect. Local bakeries donate their old sweetbreads to give away so that people have something to snack on the rest of the day. And sometimes people just need some sugar because it helps them deal with drug withdrawals. Right after eating two plates of breakfast, many people will down thick slices of cake or cinnamon rolls.
The church that organizes this ministry wants to do anything to help the people who come to eat. They let anyone who is hungry come and eat. I want to vet each person for their poverty level. I want to say, “You’re wearing a new North Face jacket. Get out of here.” “You’re young and healthy. Why don’t you have a job?”
But the example that these Christians are setting for me is to give and not ask for an explanation, to prefer being taken advantage of, to give til it hurts, to trust God to do what pleases Him in their lives. Christ’s command is to feed the hungry. Not fix them before I feed them. I watched a woman give a young man extra sweets — even if it was just because he was coming down from a high — because she understands she isn’t there to judge. She’s there to love. Me? I want to say, “Too bad. Suck it up and quit doing drugs.”
I’m not like Jesus at all.
I realized today that I’m a lot more like the drug addict. I got a little stressed out this afternoon and my response was to inhale a handful of Raisinets. The only real difference is that Raisinets are legal. OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but I think you get my point.
These experiences feeding the homeless and hungry have really caused me to do some soul searching and thinking about my relationship with my mother. More about that later…