Monday, August 13, 2012

Labor of Love and Unity


Boy, have I got a post to write, and I hope I can do it justice. Yesterday we had a job to do that I wasn't excited about at all (in fact, I feared and dreaded it). As is often true when the Lord is involved, it turned out to be a spiritual experience the likes of which I haven't had in a long while. You see, feeding 2,000 young adults was my idea of a logistical nightmare. My husband and I did not begin to know how to do it, and neither did most of the people (experts all) we consulted. The number seemed to boggle everyone's mind, ours included, and we approached yesterday's assignment with considerable trepidation.

What I observed is that personal growth and the joy of service are directly proportional to time and effort expended (sweat equity, I guess you could say). And what I learned is that the Lord rewards sacrifice in coin far more valuable than our meager offerings. My almost tangible takeaway was a feeling of love, belonging, and unity so intense it will warm me for days to come (months and years, maybe). You see, 40 of our good friends got up at 6:00 am on a Sunday to come and spend all morning and a fair portion of the afternoon helping us make a delicious meal happen for a couple of thousand young people who had dedicated their weekend to learning more about the Lord, each other, and themselves. And what a wonderful spirit we encountered when we opened the doors of the tri-stake center (next to the Oakland temple) to begin our preparation for the conference. But that was only the beginning.

What touched me most (besides our wonderful speakers, of course) was the camaraderie of the amazing helpers at my side, along with the sincere gratitude of the young adults we served. (During sacrament meeting, which we took a small break to attend, one of the young men became very emotional as he expressed his appreciation to us.) As for our food-prep posse, we did our work in three small rooms with the dividers opened to create one very long one. Initially, we wondered if we shouldn't set ourselves up in the gym, but it was finally decided that these rooms would be our best bet, and boy, did that bet pay off. The intimacy of working together in close quarters allowed us to enjoy one another, hear most of what was said, and keep each other happy while we worked. We toiled together in perfect unity, our assembly line a well-oiled machine and our hearts filled with purpose and good feeling. At one point, an old and dear friend of mine broke into the song "Celebration," and it was. This was a celebration of the very best part of each person there, and I was proud that I belong to and with them.

I can't even begin to list all of the friends that, while not involved in the food preparation on Sunday, helped Dave and me in other ways by such things as renting a refrigerated truck, accompanying us to Restaurant Depot to purchase the supplies on their membership card, coming along to pick up the grocery order, washing (and packaging and crisping) lettuce for the hoagies, baking 2,000 cookies, brainstorming, listening, empathizing, and generally supporting us in every way imaginable. I'm quite sure they saved Dave's and my sanity (such as it is).

The entire event ran smoothly as clockwork, and when we walked out the door at 4:00 pm, I felt a feeling of joy and satisfaction that is impossible to describe. What a blessing it is to work for and with the young people of this marvelous church. And how grateful my husband and I are to belong a tightly-knit community like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with all the gifts and opportunities for service and friendship that provides.

Our hearts are knit together in love.

And now...for the picture show:

The gang...

a greater work crew you will never see.

It was incredible,

like an old-fashioned barn raising...

except we were raising gourmet deli sandwiches...

and sandwiches...

and MORE sandwiches.

And then we were feeding...

and feeding...

ham sandwiches,

cheese sandwiches,

turkey and roast beef sandwiches.

The line of hungry people kept coming...

and coming.

They began to fill up the gymnasium.

And once the gymnasium was full...

they spilled outside onto the temple grounds.
(Sorry, should have gotten a picture of that but never made it outside with the camera.)

Looks like this young lady lost track of her friends.

But that's okay, because she had plenty more surrounding her.

=)

What a wonderful, wonderful day!
Thanks so much to everyone who helped us.
We love you all.


28 comments:

Terra said...

You accomplished so much, with the help of many. How good to inspire young people in their faith, and feed them too!

Dixie Mom said...

Holy Hannah! Great job! That must feel good to have that done!

Anna M said...

that is amazing. and now I really want a sub sandwich.

jen said...

I can't believe the amount of work involved with this huge affair. Have you been able to even move farther than the keyboard since?

Jenny said...

Holy cats!

What an incredible event!

What an accomplishment.

Brian Miller said...

oh wow...i remember you talking about doing this...that is a lot of work...but you are right those are the ones you often get the most out of....very cool...

Nancy said...

Well done cousin. One thing for sure, as members of our Church, we could all get a job as professional caterers. You accomplished a great task with the love of many good people. I know how much you appreciate all of their efforts. Now.... put your feet up and relax for a bit.

yaya said...

Bravo! The loaves and the fishes works again! I did smile at all the workers in white shirts and ties...I bet going to subway for a sandwich isn't high on your list right now! I'm always amazed at how the Lord can take a "I can't do this" into a "Wow, I did this!" Congrats!

Grandma Honey said...

Oh thank you so much for sharing all this with us! You shared the spirit you felt and now I feel it too.
I've never fed that many before, but I do remember when I was RSP, getting to feed about 200 missionaries. I was in tears just being in their presence.

Connie said...

"With God all things are possible!"

It's fun to hear of the spiritual experience you had while serving the young adults of the church. I can't even imagine all the work that went in to this event!

Well done!

Darlene said...

So amazing. I'm so grateful you had such wonderful help. Of course I know that it was a real trial for you getting it all together. You'd think that if you ordered something and were assured that it would be there for pick up that it would be. It's not fun to have to run around getting more supplies. I think I would have lost my mind. No,I'm sure I would have. I'll bet your back really hurt after bending over that table making that many sandwiches for so long. Do you know that 2,000 sandwiches divided by 40 means that each person made 50 sandwiches I would hate to have to make 50 sandwiches for anyone. It was a great idea to have an assembly line that worked so perfectly together. If only you had just that part of it to do. But it is over, my dear, and I know the joy you have in your heart to have had everything work out so well in the end. And yes, you will remember this forever!!!

Donna said...

I love the working together part....and it is amazing what we can do with the Lord...one plus God is enough

Stacy Crawford said...

This is awesome. I'm so glad for your spiritual experience and sharing with us. It is always amazing how it all works out when we are doing our best to serve the Lord.

Amy said...

Wow, that is incredible that you pulled it off. Call me impressed because I am. And so happy for your spiritual confirmation and boost. Service really is the best feeling ever. And how wonderful that it all worked so smoothly. I can only imagine the stress involved.

Lesley said...

Wow!! What a feat to accomplish. I can't imagine feeding that many people... and I am a manager of a family owned deli. My husband is also a YSA Bishop so I can feel of your love for your young single adults.

karen said...

I'm so happy that everything turned out so well, but I'm not surprised. I don't know how you did it - one day soon you'll have to explain it all. But I'm in awe, and I'm so thankful for all of the wonderful people who helped you (wish I could have been one of them!) It seems sometimes that the more daunting the task, the greater the reward on the other end. No wonder you're feeling the glow! Rest up, my friend...

Laurel said...

Oh, how I loved this post! You and your husband are amazing with amazing friends for support. I can't even imagine feeding 2000. Kind of like the loaves and fishes :) I've helped with plenty of RS Broadcast dinners which always felt a bit overwhelming. I can't even imagine the logistics involved in feeding this many people. Great job!!

Jim said...

You did really good, Sue. For a bit I thought that perhaps you lucked out and found a little boy with five loves and two fishes.
..

Annmarie Pipa said...

oh my gosh..I love this post!! I love to see our youth show their love of others and the Lord...very inspiring and hope filled. good for you for your time and efforts..God noticed!

Mormon Women: Who We Are said...

This gave me a lump in my throat.

And yes, I, too, am now wanting a sub sandwich! ;)

Dina Lettre said...

We do the summer lunch program here every July and it's such a great event. Nothing like seeing those sweet smiles from the kids after all the hard work.

Pondside said...

I found this post very touching. We seem to have lost the idea of service, for the sake of providing service. This was beautiful - and I haven't even got my head around the idea of 2000 young people gathered NOT for a rock concert!

LeAnn said...

Wow, I felt the spirit on this one. What an adventure and a lot of hard work. What an experience to enjoy the company of good friends while serving those wonderful young men and woman. No wonder you felt the spirit so strong. Blessings and hugs for this one. It brought me to tears today.
Hugs!

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Sue I never doubted for one minute that this would not be such a success with you there helping it succeed.
What a true blessing for all involved and I believe this will be something you keep in your heart and mind for a long time.
Congrats for such a successful event.
Great pics too.
Love ya
Maggie

anitamombanita said...

Sue, what an amazing feat. I got tears in my eyes when I saw some of the people who were helping in the kitchen....for reasons you may or may not know. Many blessings happened that day...most of which will never be known to anyone but the individuals to whom they happened. You and Dave are heroes and are deeply loved by those great young people!

charity said...

Hi! I am the girl from the host committee that oversaw food at the conference, and this post was incredibly wonderful for me to read. I am completely overwhelmed with gratitude for you, your husband, and your team of volunteers. I have learned so much about church service in this assignment, and your post really hit it home for me. Thank you so, so, so, so much for all that you did to make this happen. I wasn't at the conference, but all I had heard is "such success"! - especially with Sunday's food. I am so inspired and blessed by your example. Thank you. Thank you. Did I say -- THANK YOU!?

Reading Champions said...

Ron and I (Pepperman)were so happy to have been able to be a part of this day. Thank you for your hard work and great spirit

Lisalulu said...

wow it looks like it was such a success, and of course it looks like your attitude was a big part of the prep work!!

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