Thankful Notes (#231)
It was supposed to be our annual Kid’s Spring Sing at church today.
And last week was supposed to be our annual Miracle Offering for new outreach projects.
And next week was supposed to be Easter Sunday with Krispy Kreme donuts for everyone and an Easter egg dash for all the kids.
But here we are, in a global pandemic.
We are on pause. We are on hold. We are a little bit locked down.
Of course, we’re not in a complete lock down. And for that I am thankful.
I’m grateful for the things we can still do. We can still operate our food bank. We can still work together following the social distancing measures.
This morning a small team of staff and some volunteers worked our Drive-Thru Food Bank. It was pretty busy today. In fact, it was so busy, Grant (who works at Costco) said he felt like he worked harder at the Drive-Thru Food Bank today than he did at Costco yesterday.
We went through a lot of groceries and toiletries and kid’s activity packs.
Someone came through and told us they weren’t needing groceries, but they needed the church parking lot for staging a birthday car parade. She asked where we wanted them so they wouldn’t be in our way.
I told her the east parking lot was all theirs. Then I told her about something that happened a number of months ago… there was a staging of police, bomb squad, SWAT, ambulances, etc. for a raid down the street. It was a Wednesday night, a youth night at the church, and there were guys putting body armor on and carrying automatic rifles in our parking lot. The birthday parade lady laughed at my story and said they would be far less intimidating.
Their cars lined up, with balloons attached and paint on their windows. There was even a window cleaning “bubble truck” pumping out bubbles in our parking lot. It was all very exciting. And eventually they left and paraded into the neighborhood with their horns blaring and shouts of “Happy birthday” coming from their cars.
One of the cars coming through today for a drop-off of grocery donations had my friend Kai in the back seat. Kai is 3 (almost 4) years old and he’s a character. He brought his piggy bank offering and wanted me to take it. I told him I’d be sure to write his name on the bag so he’d get tax credit for his gift. His parting words to me as his dad was starting to drive away were: “Don’t get dead! And don’t poop in your underpants!”
When our busy Drive-Thru morning session wrapped up, Shari and Camper and I went home. We ate outside in the sunshine and spent our afternoon relaxing at home. It wasn’t long before I needed to get back to the church for our evening session.
It was busy again, with lots and lots of groceries and toiletries and kid’s activity packs going out to people in need. One car pulled up and the lady announced, “I’m here for groceries and prayer.” We gave her the groceries and asked what she needed prayer for. She spent some time telling us about her need and then said, “Do you just take my name and pray later on your own or…. ?” I smiled and said, “Nope. We’re gonna pray with you right now!” She smiled and said, “Oh, good! Thank you.” It was church, in the church parking lot.
Another car came through and a young woman speaking softly, maybe a bit shy, said, “Can I have some groceries?” We smiled and said yes. We asked if she wanted bread. We asked if she had kids and wanted kid’s activity packs. We handed all the things to her and she looked grateful as she said “Thank you” and drove off.
I watched her car leave our parking lot and drive down the road in front of our church. It looked to me like she was wiping her eyes as she drove away and I wondered to myself if she was crying.
We went through a ton of groceries and toiletries today. Our Food Bank is currently all out of bread and toilet paper. I’m sure more donations will come in as we step up to meet the needs of people in our community. The church has always been generous like that.
Ashah told us to text her when we were on our way home from the church—she was making dinner for us… lemon pasta with toasted pine nuts and grilled chicken and parmesan cheese and fresh basil. I was eager to get home an eat. The pasta was delicious, flavorful, fresh, and it hit the spot. My girl knows how to cook.
An e-mail was forwarded to me from a staff member tonight. It was a thank you.
The author of the e-mail explained how she had been told about our Drive-Thru Food Bank by someone who goes to our church and she asked them if it was OK to come even if you’re not an attender. The friend insisted it was open to everyone, so she came today.
She described how she was too nervous to tell the workers/volunteers how much it meant to her, but she didn’t want the kindness to go without being thanked, so she sent this e-mail to us.
She said she was deeply moved by the church’s generosity. She explained that she left in tears as she drove away with the groceries and kid’s activity pack because it meant so much to her.
She said this season has been so heavy and this gift felt like a moment of relief.
She wrote about how she has been struggling with grief and exhaustion and anxiety during this quarantine while caring for her foster child who has challenging behavioral and emotional needs… and that it has been almost too much for her to bear at times.
She said the generosity and kindness shown today was a bright spot in her very dark season. She said her foster child loved the activities and she thanked us because, “Now I don’t have to worry about feeding my family this week.
And now I am crying.
I am so thankful for church in the church parking lot.
“Jesus Christ died for the whole wide world, not just for those inside the church. Therefore, a theological test for the fidelity of a church is hospitality.” —Will Willimon