This is how I feel...
- I'm exhausted.
- My feet hurt.
- I'm excited.
- My heart is full.
- I'm sad.
- My arms are like jello.
- I'm exhausted.
- I'm happy.
- I'm thankful.
- I'm in awe.
- I'm heartbroken.
- I'm happy to have a long weekend break.
- I can't wait until next week.
- Did I mention that I'm exhausted?
This last three days have been a roller coaster of emotion. I'm so thankful and blown away by the help that I have received from those that I know and even strangers. On Tuesday and Thursday I had four different family and friends show up to help me. On Wednesday I had four ladies from church that serve the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month. Everyone was willing to help out in anyway possible. Some did dishes, mopped floors, served food, wiped tables, cleaned up spills, made food, etc. The list could go on and on. Then some of the ladies went above and beyond and just went to work cleaning around the kitchen. The toaster, microwave, sink and counters have never looked so good.
I've also had a couple people donate some money so that I could purchase some needed items. Some just put it in my hand and others have had a message waiting for me upon waking up in the morning to let me know that they've put a check in the mail.
I've also had strangers come into the pantry and volunteer. It's pretty typical to have people that come every once in awhile, but one person today was definitely a gift from God. He came in this morning, introduced himself, said that he volunteered occasional Thursdays and asked me to put him to work. Some volunteers are more skilled in the kitchen than others, so I asked him what he was comfortable doing. He said anything. I asked him if he could cut salad fixings. He said he was a chef at a local restaurant so he was sure he could handle salad. Hallelujah! My next question was "Have you ever made macaroni and cheese with yogurt?" as I'm standing over a pot looking confused. He laughed and then he asked me how I normally made macaroni and cheese. I admitted that I opened a box labeled Stouffer's.
His next question was "How did you get this job?" Ha! He gave me suggestions, helped, made a great salad and stayed to help us serve. He's even planning to try to come back next week to help me make pork belly. That will be another new one for me. (By the way...the yogurt mac and cheese went over well.)
I've also had heartbreaking moments. I've seen people come in to eat carrying all of their belongings on their back. I've seen people come to tears over a simple glass of milk or cup of coffee. I've seen teenagers come in filthy and starving with no place to go. Most heartbreaking is hearing the story of a gentleman who volunteers five days a week and sorts donations that are given to the pantry. He's diabetic and also disabled. Many years ago his first wife died. He turned to alcohol. He attempted suicide. He got the help he needed and has been sober for 25 years. He got married again. Again his wife died. Again he attempted suicide. He sleeps in a van that he borrows for the night. He has been sleeping in the van for several years. He has no hope. He feels he has no reason to live anymore. He volunteers at the pantry because he has no place else to go.
This week has been exhausting. I'm tired. But I wouldn't change it for the world. It's life changing to hand a plate of food to a dirty starving teen. It humbling when I help a homeless person find a place for their backpack of items in the corner while they eat. It makes me count my blessings when I see someone tear up over a cup of milk. And each time I pass the gentleman with no hope I am reminded why God has me here. Serving food is good and necessary, but more than anything this man and so many others need to know that they can have hope and eternal life with Jesus. I pray that each time I pass him in the hall, speak to him in the warehouse, smile at him as I hand him food...that he will see Jesus in me.
So thank you for all of your prayers. Thank you to those that have volunteered their time or given money. You too are all apart of those hope giving moments. Thank you.