Monday, August 13, 2012
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:
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 MORE sandwiches.
And then we were feeding...
turkey and roast beef sandwiches.
The line of hungry people kept 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.