Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Do unto others . . .

Luke 6:31 -- Do to others as you would have them do to you. I've heard that all of my life. I grew up in a small church (compared to where I am now . . .but it was a decent sized church!) of another denomination.  I remember giving money to two different missionary funds at different times of the year . . .and I remember a box in a hallway where you could drop off eyeglasses . . .but I don't remember many "hands on" mission projects.  (if I have any readers from that church . . .and you have memories of some projects, please let me know -- I may have just forgotten in my old age).  I don't think we did many though because I remember when I joined the United Methodist Church, I was amazed at all of the ministry/mission opportunities.  I was amazed at how many ways there are to be the hands and feet of Jesus on earth.

So . . .with that in mind, we try to help our young adult group connect with missions and ministry.  After we complete a study, we have a mission night and a guest speaker night.  Most of our guest speakers have been connected with the various ministries. 

We had mission night two weeks ago and had a GREAT CROWD that night.  I don't even remember what I cooked and served for dinner (but of course, I could tell you if I pulled up my spreadsheet - yes, I have a Tuesday night spreadsheet of menus, etc.).  I CAN TELL you about the three mission projects that we worked on. 

Here is a picture of some of our young adults while they were eating dinner in the kitchen.

Project number one - we do this project almost every time.  There is a local United Methodist Mission congregation here in town -- Church of the Reconciler.  The pastor at Church of the Reconciler is Rev. Matt Lacey and he grew up at Trinity so that is such a cool connection.  What is this project??  We make 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and put them in individual bags.  We put peanut butter on both of the insides of the bread so that the jelly doesn't go through the bread and make the sandwich soggy.  How does the Church of the Reconciler use these sandwiches?  As I understand it, they feed everyone a meal on Sunday through Friday.  There is no lunch on Saturday so they send a PB&J with the homeless folks so they will have something to eat.

In this picture, it looks like Wyatt is studying the peanut butter.  They had an assembly line all worked out.  As soon as dinner is over, we take away the centerpiece from the dining room table and cover the table with a plastic cloth.  A plastic cloth makes for easy clean up!!!  I NEVER purchase the right amount of PB&J.  I can't quite get the ratio down right.  I've tried purchasing enough for the "serving sizes" on the sides of the jars but that is never right either!!

The group at this table was assembling hygiene kits for Church of the Reconciler.  The John Wesley Sunday School class (the class that Mark and I attend) is so faithful to help the young adults with the supplies.  The young adults have the hands and are willing to take the time to make the kits but most of them do not have a lot of disposable income yet.  Many in our Sunday School class are willing to give money or purchase some supplies to help out.    The kits contain Hotel-size hygiene items- Twice a week they offer “hygiene packs” to the community consisting of various items: shampoo, soap, safety razors, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and other items.  This ensures that our community stays as clean as they can if they are on the streets, and presentable if they are lucky enough to get a job interview. (that little blurb was from their website!)  We've been told that the demand is so great for these hygiene kits that they can't keep them in stock.  They even use them as rewards for good behavior.

The kitchen table housed project number three.  This group was assembling baggies of sunflower seed kernels with a cute notecard.  (a copy of the notecard is below . . .on my computer screen)  These baggies were for an apartment complex where people with  mental illnesses live.  Many of them are diabetic so we don't make sweet treats for them.  I heard today that the folks LOVED them.  We are the only group that has ever made anything for this group of people.  We just don't know enough about mental illnesses (though our group now knows much more because of our guest speaker last week).

The seeds were to be eaten as a treat . . .but the play on the word "seed" went well with the idea.

I had purchased the supplies for a fourth project but passed that project along to another young adult group.  They were not able to complete the project so some of us in the church office finished them.  I purchased boxes of microwave popcorn at Target and a box of clear plastic gloves and a couple of bags of Brach Candy Corn.  Instructions are easy - pop popcorn.  Put a piece of candy corn in the bottom of each finger (as a fingernail).  Fill glove with popcorn.  Tie a knot in the top.  We made 75 of these hands for Community Church Without Walls.  Every Wednesday night at 6PM, Community Church without Walls welcomes 40-50 youth from the West End neighborhood of Birmingham for dinner and Bible study.  The John Wesley Sunday School class provides dinner for this group (which has now grown to 75 - 100 people - that sentence above was from the UMC conference website) of people on the fourth Wednesday of the even months.  It takes about 200 chicken fingers and a couple of big pans of mac and cheese and other stuff to feed them.  The young adults have made little treats for the children.  Many of these children have never had homemade cookies with icing (last year's Halloween project) or something as silly as a popcorn hand.   I know that treats aren't necessary.  I know that treats aren't going to end poverty.  I know that treats aren't the answer to a lot of problems BUT I DO KNOW . . .did I get your attention?  I do know that a homemade treat shows love and LOVE - especially the LOVE OF CHRIST can solve a whole lot of problems!!!

So . . .this might look like a silly popcorn hand . . .but the more I think about it, this silly popcorn hand was made . . .by someone who was in the process of being the hands of Jesus Christ!  That is a good thing, folks.  That is a good thing!!

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