Yesterday was the last Thursday in June. So, you guessed it, we served in the evening.
It was our third evening serve.
And we served 64, the most for an evening serve, and it was a good night. But numbers aren’t what make it good. Of course, they’re important. At the end of a serve, you can hear the question being asked by volunteers all over the Storehouse. How many? How many?
But it was good because people who care and love ended up in the same place with people who need care and love. And, of course, food.
And that’s always good. When the people who love Jesus are paired with the People That Jesus Loves, it’s good. The Holy Spirit shows up. He gives the givers grace to give. He gives the receivers hearts to receive it.
But not everyone shows up in a good mood, you know. Or with a grateful spirit. Or thankful. Most of them do, nearly all of them. But some of them are indifferent. Shopping with us is just another thing they have to do, possibly between two other things they have to do.
They’re tired, and harried, and last night, they were hot.
I stepped out to register clients fifteen minutes before we opened. I worked my way down the line, greeting clients, explaining to new ones, and basically enjoying them all. Then I stood in front of a lady who was covered in sweat.
I got her name and birth date, and then she said, “I think I’m going to throw up.”
I hustled her into the building and to the restroom. Then I was back outside with the others.
It’s so much fun to speak to brand new clients in the line. Here’s what I tell them:
“When you step through the door, tell the person who hands you cookies that you’re new and you need an application.”
I can tell I lose some of them at “cookies.” Do they come expecting to be treated like a number, or even a bother?
Well the Spirit won’t allow that. We endeavor to treat our clients the way we are treated by the Spirit. Loved, looked for, cared for, listened to, supported; we give it our all.
Later, I spotted our nauseous client. “Oh, I’m much better now. Thank you.”
Sometimes I get to hear our volunteers at the computers share how the process of the Storehouse works.
“You’re going to leave here and go to the cross there in the hallway. We all go to the cross.” The rest of the instructions are explained so tenderly. We don’t say these words, but our clients hear, “You’re going to be safe here, you’re going to be cared about, and your dignity is going to be honored.”
And sometimes our clients surprise us. We have an older gentleman volunteering with us. At 78, Al moves kinda slowly, but his heart is quick and young, and he loves our people. I was in the hallway at the end of our client’s first half. They come out of the dry food room, and wait in line for a cold food room volunteer to pick them up. This is where their first personal shopper says so long.
I watched as Al led his client out of the dry food room. As he thanked her for letting him shop with her, she said she wanted to pray for him. And then Al disappeared in her hug as she spoke to Jesus about him. It was a rare moment in our pantry: a client praying over a volunteer.
But things like this happen when the Spirit shows up. He has a way of turning things inside out.
At last month’s evening serve, we had several people show up who had already been served that month. We served them again, in effect, giving them their June distribution. We decided in team meeting that this month we couldn’t do that since next month isn’t until next week.
So I brought over snack bags, the ones they give away on the admin side on days we aren’t serving. I put them in the fridge where we had stashed some sandwiches we just couldn’t get inside our serving refrigerators.
We had occasion to use five of those bags. And we’d throw in a few sandwiches too. We are so good at giving! We are not so good at not giving.
But the Holy Spirit has a way of turning things inside out.
The Summer Cereal Drive ended this week. I spent two days picking up cereal at churches and businesses that agreed to be collection points. We did this last year, on a smaller scale, and kept good records. I knew, or thought I knew, where the big donors were.
But last year’s big donors weren’t this year’s. And the one place that absolutely out did themselves was the Walmart Fresh Market on Prince Street. We filled several large boxes with cereal, oatmeal, breakfast bars, and pop tarts, and still had an entire well-packed, no-space-wasted watermelon tote full. Finally, someone suggested we drive around back so they could just use a lift to put the whole thing on our truck.
Again, the Holy Spirit was at work, turning things inside out.
If you contributed to this year’s cereal drive, then thank you so much. If you missed it, it’s not too late. We’ll accept your donation at the Storehouse any day but Friday, 9 to 4.
But be careful, if you let the Holy Spirit lead you into donating, He might just turn you inside out. Or your heart anyway.
We don’t serve next week because of the national holiday, but you’ll still hear from me. I’ll be writing from St. Louis.
I didn’t want to, but Spring said I had to take a vacation. Now I’m so grateful for a break.
I am the Storehouse Director and get the privilege of writing about the people that Jesus loves.
Contact Mike Rush at firstname.lastname@example.org for all things "Volunteer".
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