The way it worked out is I worked with the three guys on the far right of this picture; the ones staring off into space. They are from Discovery and so not knowing their names, as the adult who is not very good with remembering names, I gave them names. I called them Stan, Chuck and Henry. They didn’t mind, early on they started calling each other by my names for them.
My job was taking the dishes from the guests who had just finished eating. It was busy but I try to make eye contact with most everybody and say a, “Thank you.” What is awkward is what do you say after that? I mean saying, “Have a good night.” to someone who is going to spend it in a homeless shelter seems insensitive. So I don’t say much more.
There was this one woman last night who stood in the serving window (which is just like ours at EPUMC) like she had to talk to somebody. She said something into the kitchen so the three boys standing next to me could hear it like, “I’ve been coming here long enough to be able to say this, this was the best meal ever, really I mean that now.” Now the food was what we always bring; several dishes of lasagna and other tomato based pasta dishes. We did bring a whole lot of broccoli and most of the people got either a slice of roast pork or some meatloaf, but it really wasn’t anything special.
I’ve been thinking about this woman today. I’ve been wondering what her name is; she has a familiar name. She reminds me of several people I’ve known one named, Bernice and the other named, Judy who often exaggerated compliments to youth. I think they did it for the same reason this woman last night did. They and she care about youth knowing that their efforts to care for others is important, that it helps to shape them and to form them at depths that it’s hard to describe. And that even though this is a strange place; it can be a place God can help you grow up.
You see it didn’t matter if our food was the “best meal ever.” What matters, if you ask me, is that whatever this woman’s name is, she is in some ways like Bernice and Judy (who let me assure you never spend a single night of their lives in a homeless shelter or anything close to it). You never know where or through whom you are going to hear a word that can help you grow. I hope Stan, Chuck and Henry (whatever their real names are) heard that loud and clear. I hope that woman, whatever her name is, knows how much I appreciated what she had to say.
Keep the Faith!