Today was my first day on my church's spring break mission trip! Until next Thursday I'll be working with lots of Hope's partner ministries around Minneapolis. I'm really excited to do some inner-city ministry again after Milwaukee summer project, especially in my favorite city. I'll also get some great ideas for other ways to serve with Hope in the future since these ministries are all in the city--an opportunity I didn't have after leaving Milwaukee.
Anyway, I got picked up around 5 today and we made our way through rush hour traffic to Hope. From there we quickly got briefed on what we'd be doing--serving meals at a homeless shelter at First Covenant Church. There were maybe ten men and women there to help out, some for the whole week and others just for the weekend or day. We carried all the food out to the Hope van, piled in, and drove...about two minutes, a few blocks away, to the church. (It would almost have been faster to walk) It was kind of crazy how quick it was. This morning I was finishing up configuring my new laptop, Milton, now I'm at a Hope couple's house in north Minneapolis. In Milwaukee it was a 6-hour drive and a week of briefing before we got started--it was kind of jarring to jump in so quickly.
Anyway, we got to the church and carried the food down to the kitchen, a big industrial kitchen with tons of cool machines. We unpacked the delicious food, donated by Hopesters, and started assembling plates--at least fifty. We got the soup heating on the stove and then pretty much got to hang out until people started showing up.
Setting out the food for the people who came was honestly a really joyful experience. I remembered Christ's words, "Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me." I wanted them to feel cared for and accepted. After the first round of people had gotten their food, we took some and ate with them. I sat with three guys--John, Bob, and one guy with a more unusual name I sadly forgot. It was hard to figure out how to talk to them at first--we were so different, I wasn't sure what to say that wouldn't sound insensitive. Luckily they were actually pretty interested in us, so we talked about the U, the city, sports, the food. The chili I had was really good--I need to find who made it. I turned in to watch the kitchen and held down the fort for about fifteen minutes as everyone else was eating--it was really nice having something important to do and knowing that everyone else was out there talking to them.
As people finished, we hung out in the kitchen and talked for a while, serving any latecomers, then eventually started cleaning up. This place had a ridiculous industrial garbage disposal that looked like it could shred tree branches. Cleaning went pretty fast with so many of us. As we were talking with about twenty minutes before closing, a woman showed up asking for a meal. I was a bit taken aback--everyone else was already finished and we were putting away the food--but we made sure she got her meal. Again, it was pretty cool--the more we helped and loved on the people who came in, the more joyful--not just happy--I felt. It was a powerful reminder of God's heart for the city.
After our final cleanup we headed back to Hope to put away the leftover food and pack lunches for our workday with Urban Homeworks tomorrow--super excited for that. Apparently we're doing destruction; I hope I get to use power tools. Anyway, a hope couple and the wife's younger brother (Rich) have taken me and the other full-timer guy (Nathan) in for the week, and Rich destroyed me and Nathan at Modern Warfare II. I should get to bed soon--early day tomorrow.
May you find joy living out God's love for all people.