(Start at the beginning)
“The Things You Have”
Christmas is always a time of year when the things we have grow in amount – gifts being given to us by friends and even by relatives we won’t see again until December of next year. And it’s so easy to feel like we are kings and queens.
But not everyone has such good fortune as that. There are some who try to stay warm during the holidays, some who hope they will find something to eat tomorrow … because they found nothing to eat today.
These were the deep thoughts in Noel’s mind as she and Nick drove to The Water Street Rescue Mission, preparing to help cook and serve the free lunch meal of that day. They were planning on just helping to serve the meal. The director of that soup kitchen, a sweet older lady named Georgia, called Nick very early that morning, asking them to also come in and help cook the meal as well. The rescue mission had become massively understaffed on that day.
In discussion with Georgia, they got the sense that she wasn’t a go-getter and could easily be pushed around. Well, that wasn’t going to happen to her today. Noel would see to it personally. And that soup kitchen was going to run more smoothly than ever before. Noel was determined, motivated and ready to put in the leg work needed.
The rescue mission had a rundown-looking outer appearance, the building itself having been converted from an old apartment building. Georgia met them at the back door to the kitchen and ushered them right in. She was already a bit unnerved by the disorder of the day. And upon setting one foot into the kitchen, Nova scoped out the circumstances.
This was another one of those roads Nick had been down before with her. There were moments in time when the often timid and sometimes saddened Noel put a bold step forward and shined like no other. He knew to follow, in such situations – never wanting to interfere with Noel when she was about to rule the roost.
Everything in the kitchen was so old that it barely passed health inspection. And it wasn’t because of a problem with cleanliness. It was just that everything, including the very pots they used to cook with, had seen years of very heavy use.
Seeing the serving table at the window had a broken foot on one of the legs, Noel jumped into action.
“Daddy,” she said, point to the broken leg of that table. “… fix that.”
Nick went straight to work, fixing the leg as Noel went straight around the kitchen and corrected everything she could find that would hinder their ability to have this meal ready by noon. And then they all got cooking, Georgia beginning to find a bit of comfort in knowing that the meal was going to happen. And once Noel was able to tend to the remaining food prep projects by herself, she sent everyone out into the small social room where they would serve this meal – charging Nick to lead the way.
In short order, the room was swept and mopped, with table set up and wiped down … and with chairs, done the same.
Then Nick watched as Noel began to think outside the box, having the kitchen crew set up a silverware and condiments table, a table for drinks and one more table where the food would be placed to then be carried out to those who came to eat.
Noel had decided that this would be no buffet-style lunch. Instead, it would be served by hand to each individual table. This would be a lunch they would never forget, despite how little they had to work with and despite how massively understaffed they were that day.
Then the people arrived. The doors opened and they came in droves, homeless people who were chilled to the bone, poor people who children. It took the breath right out of Noel’s chest and put tears in her eyes to see how skinny the fingers were on those children’s hands. But it also charged her to do something about it, not just stand there and cry about it.
On this day, she would not be a baby. She had everyone serve the meal while she and Georgia went back into the kitchen to cook up more food. And that soup kitchen filled the belly of every hungry soul who walked in for three hours.
Noel would speak with each and every one of them, hugging them all goodbye when they left. Then she turned and walked straight into Nick’s chest, embracing him as she was overcome with emotions.
When you meet people who have nothing, it reminds you to be grateful for the things you have.
Continue on to Monday, December 13th