I'm starting this year's project in the same place that I started last year's: Second Helpings at my church, First United Methodist Church of Lubbock. Three days each week, the church serves a hot lunch to anybody who is hungry. Some of the best memories from last year's project were made in the kitchen of our church outreach center, and I really wanted to make Second Helpings a part of this year's project, too.
Although I haven't been able to keep up the same pace of helping out at Second Helpings that I kept last December, I've been able to visit a few more times this year. I've also found a different way to contribute. I was in a coffee shop near my house one Tuesday evening a few months ago, and asked them what they did with the leftover pastries at the end of the day. The manager told me that there were a few days each week when the food bank comes to pick up their leftovers, but on Tuesdays they throw them out. They don't anymore! I come by each Wednesday morning to pick them up and take them to church.
Thanksgiving meal this year, which really disappointed Blake. I decided to take him along today, and he was really excited to join me.
We arrived at about 11:30, a half hour before the serving line started. We rolled some silverware into napkins, and then helped set out bowls of salad, fruit, drinks, and dessert. Mrs. Edwards, who coordinates Second Helpings, told Blake to stick close to her when we started to serve, and she'd show him what to do.
(And I just have to pause a moment here to make an aside. I've been the vice-chairman of our church council this year, and because our church is starting an initiative to attract more young families, I've heard a lot of information about church demographics. I know that the long-term vitality of any church depends on bringing in families, but I've also come to see that no church can run successfully for very long without dedicated grandmas. Mrs. Edwards is awesome. She just had a hip replaced, she's turning 77 next Wednesday, and she still plans a meal for over 100 people three times each week.)
So, while I was stationed at the very start of the line, serving rice to each person who walked by, Blake joined Mrs. Edwards, and helped her carry plates and drinks to a few of the guests who were in wheelchairs. Once they'd all been served, he went to the end of the line and poured drinks. I was so proud of him. He really worked hard, and was so polite. Check out this picture: it's not very great, but I love it anyway. There's Blake, eight years old, nearly as tall as Mrs. Edwards right behind him. He was carrying a drink to one of the people in attendance.
After everybody had been served, Courtney texted me to see if we could come join her and the little ones for lunch, so Blake and I cleaned up a little and then left. First day of Project Advent was a success!
Affirmation Project: As I mentioned in yesterday's project introduction, part of this year's experience will be taking the time to provide an affirmation each day to somebody in my life. I know that some people are embarrassed by praise, so I'm going to try and not make this part of each day's post too much of a gush-fest.
Today's choice was really clear to me, because it was not only the first day of Advent, it was also the ordination ceremony of Paige McKay, the chaplain at All Saints Episcopal School! Every school has people on staff who handle discipline, administration, and budget, but how many schools have somebody on staff whose full-time job is to love the children in attendance? That's what Paige does. She instructs and guides the students of All Saints, but first and foremost she is there just to provide them with a living example of Christ's love in action. Thank you, Paige, for the love that you show to so many others. Congratulations on your ordination, Reverend McKay!