Tuesday, January 03, 2006

What an amazing week it was!

It was inspiring to hear the stories as everyone filtered back from their day, clean, tired and hungry! A kitchen crew of seven fed the never ending line. My day started at 5 am as I slipped back into the clothes I left next to the sleeping bag when I took them off last night. Then off to the kitchen where Chef Mike already has the water heating. Fill the coffee pots first thing. Note to self: do not plug them in near each other, the circuit breaker will blow. Set up the lunch line, and then start some small pots of coffee so the crew chiefs will have some ready while the big one perks. In the kitchen Jane was making orange juice and lemonade, Jan was cooking sausage, Laura getting the eggs ready for Mike to cook while he finished the grits, Phyllis was cutting up the coffee cakes and Marsha was getting out the cereal and milk. By 6:30 the line was open and it was time to keep an eye on the need for refills of the fruit, cheese, ham and turkey as everyone fixed their sack lunch. As the buses and trucks rolled out to work I got my breakfast and it was soon time to put everything away again, grits pan and egg pans and sausage trays to clean.

Time for a shower and clean clothes! Head back to the kitchen, 36 dozen cookies to bake for evening snack. The stories we hear as our groups come back make us want to see what is happening first hand. On our road trip to Biloxi-what devastation there was, yet how wonderful it was to see our kids and new friends working on roofs and cleaning houses and yards. I was truly amazed when I asked Sylvia McCray where she had been during the storm and she told me she “Right here on the porch,” with the water rising eventually to chest high. Hearing stories first hand has such a completely different impact than listening to the nightly newscast does.

I got a call from Bri, who has my van on the job site. It’s not an emergency she said, just a nail in the tire. Pastor Dave put on the spare and took the car to a station to get the tire patched. A local gent observed Dave’s Presbyterian T-shirt, declared that he himself was a Presbyterian and paid the bill. Volunteers are appreciated!

By late afternoon dinner prep is well underway. Kids are straggling back, comfortable in their evening gear and the cooler of soft drinks is soon empty again. Make more coffee and more lemonade. At 6:30 open the doors and watch the faces light up. Steak! Roast pork! Turkey and dressing! Hamburgers! Yum! The lines seem never ending, but as worship time nears the kitchen crew finally sits down to eat. But the day is not over yet, there is still dinner cleanup and evening snack to set out and clean up again. Finally it is bed time at 11:30. The room is quiet, the snoring gentle and the kitchen crew is soon asleep.

Mary Roberts
for the Kitchen Crew


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