Mt. Olive Brethren continues going to Friendship House to feed the homeless and hungry in Harrisonburg, VA. We have been partnering with Blessed Sacrament Church in Harrisonburg for almost two years now and we go three or four times a year to serve a meal. In Harrisonburg, the hungry are able to get one hot meal a day from different churches in the downtown area. Most of those churches do all the work themselves. Blessed Sacrament allows other churches to come in and use their fellowship area and kitchen to serve those in need. For a church like Mt. Olive, we need to partner with Blessed Sacrament because we are out in the country and unable to provide the physical location. So it is a blessing that we are able to serve in the downtown area. In October, we had an extra special experience and we just wanted to share in how God showed up in the midst of this time and this day.
We have a group of 30 individuals who cook and/or serve on the days we have chosen. Most of the time we feed anywhere from 40 to 55 people. On this day (October 10th) we fed approximately 80 people. With those who were wanting extras, we probably served 100 plates of food.
Just recently Harrisonburg has seen an increase in number in homeless and it is not clear where they have all arrived from yet. We typically feed 60 at the most and that is all we really "prepare" for. Most of the days we have extra, which we take to the homeless shelter for the evening meal, but we don't prepare for 80 much less the second helping for them. The food went the extra plates as needed. When the need was done, we looked around and the food was gone! All that was truly leftover was about 10 plates of pumpkin pie. God knew the number of plates we would need. One member was asked to wrap a man's second helping, he told her he was sleeping in the woods and needed the food for later.
We had been given a donation for the meal and went the extra mile and cooked spiral hams. They were so excited to get ham! We are probably like most churches and try to be the best stewards of our resources and get what can stretch the farthest and be responsible for our money. We will definitely do ham again. They loved the green bean/potato casseroles and the "pretty" salad. One of our members took the time to do cucumbers, carrots, etc. to make bagged salad more special.
We always take care packages to give out: toothbrushes, washcloths, band-aids, antiseptic cream, a candy treat, etc. This time a local dentist office donated toothpaste and they were so excited to see the toothpaste! One of our members had an old sleeping bag that the zipper was broke. We took it just in case someone would want it. Right away a man came up to me and asked if that was a sleeping bag in the bag. I told him yes and that the zipper was broke. He told me he was new to the streets and didn't have anything to cover up with and that would be wonderful for him. Some of our members donated old baseball caps and they took those quickly.
I had crazily scheduled work on my car for that day and was driving my husband's truck. I had wondered prior to how I was going to get everything into that truck and out to Harrisonburg. One of our members texted shortly after that and wondered if I needed any help getting things loaded from the church. HE provides.
It was just one of those times you look around and say "God was here!" even in the feeding of less than 100.