I’m sticky. I’ll explain why in a minute.
I stepped out with the clipboard, to begin registering our clients for the day, at 9:15; exactly as we’d planned.
Before that, we’d been in team meeting, 9:00 to 9:15, also exactly as we’d planned.
As that meeting ended, I shared how disconnected I felt to today’s serve. I’d been in professional development the last two days. Ten hours of my working week had been spent there, and I just didn’t feel ready for the day.
Deborah, a long-time volunteer, with a big heart and a deep faith encouraged me. “That just means you have to have confidence in Jesus for this.”
I said her reward for speaking up was that she had to lead us in prayer for the day. She gladly agreed. We stood and took each other’s hands. As I bowed my head, I heard someone in the circle say, “I love it when she prays.”
And before all that, I was in my office, trying to get something printed. Technology is probably the most fragile thing in our entire operation, but when it won’t do what it has promised it will do, I go a little nutty. I eventually abandoned the print task.
And by 9:15 I was greeting clients in the line.
This is one of my favorite things at the Storehouse. My spirit comes alive when I get to greet and welcome guests. And this was our new plan. We would not release the registration clipboard to our clients. We’d cut our team meeting short. And someone from our team would begin registration outside.
I still had to ask, “Okay, who’s next.” And there was one moment, between client three and four, when I wondered if we’d have a problem, but three was clearly three and four agreed.
I love to tease and cajole our clients. One man, who I’ve known through service for several years, gave me his birthday and the year was 1940. I said, “Man, that was a long time ago.” He smiled, and agreed, and we had a moment.
We had two new clients in that first 25, which is such an extraordinary thrill. I love being the one to thank a new client for coming and to explain the application process and offer assurance that they are in a safe place, and that we’re going to take care of them while they are with us.
And then the door opened and I lost my job to Candy, who worked the door for us today. She’s got the perfect skill set for that too. And also loves greeting our clients. She’s known them longer than I. Some of them get hugs.
I went on to focus my attention on the two most pressing issues of the day.
The initial one was internet connection with our computers. One worked, then the other wouldn’t. I got my own computer and it worked. Then Russell gave up his phone as a hot spot and the other one worked. Finally, Laura came over and worked some kind of magic, and our two Storehouse laptops worked fine the rest of the day.
The other pressing issue was the heat.
The electrical cord from our unit, under the building, to our condenser, is no longer sound and has to be replaced. That might happen on Friday.
But today the temperature in the hallway was in the upper 80s. It wasn’t quite as bad, but I was reminded of the first time we served in the new building. Today, our volunteers took their turns in the warehouse, the coolest room of all, and that with no A/C.
At some point in the last hour of the serve, I encountered a client who had sat down in the hallway while waiting to get into the cold food room. Her little girl stood not knowing what to do. I asked if she was alright, and she said she didn’t know. She doesn't handle the heat well.
One of our volunteers had brought a bag of ice cubes. It was sitting in our kitchen sink, a set of ice packs made with sandwich bags in the top. I got one for our client. She gushed her thanks.
A few minutes later, inside the cold food room, I asked her how she was leaving the campus. She was driving, she said. She’d be alright. She had brightened. My concern waned.
Earlier, I had been concerned about another client. I had met her when our warming station was open. She had recently become blind, and had been living on her own for a while, but not well. She and her friend had already left the Storehouse and were in our parking lot.
“How are you going to get home today,” I asked.
“Have you heard my great news?” she asked, totally ignoring my question.
She had been sponsored into the Arkansas School for the Blind. It’s a residential work-preparation program. She was leaving today.
“That’s great, but how are you leaving the campus.”
They had decided to walk. Her friend stood from her wheel chair. They put their groceries in the seat, and turned to make their way from the campus.
“You’ve got your eye on her, right?” I asked her friend.
I made my way back into the Storehouse, sweat gluing my clothes to my body, and I wondered about why we’ve chosen to do ministry the way we have.
A few months ago, the Ministry Center staff went on a two-day visioning retreat. On Friday night, we had dinner and hung out. On Saturday morning, after worship music and prayers, we sat down to plan the next few years. Spring opened with an arresting statement.
“There is a day in the future when none of us will be working at the Ministry Center.”
The room fell silent. We didn’t look at each other, choosing instead to focus our attention toward something on the table. Someone played with a pen. Another’s leg jiggled uncontrollably.
My eyes filled with tears.
She was right, of course, and the Holy Spirit, in accordance with his anointing over Spring as our leader, had led her to bring us there and plan how we were going to create programs with the specific plan in mind that they weren’t ours. They were programs we would one-day pass on to others.
And that’s one reason for the way we do this. The way we love and care for our clients, and the best-practices we hone and develop, all of it, is done with a view toward handing this ministry off to another.
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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