HomePlate Volunteers: And They Multiplied

Serving dinner for couch-surfing youth follows a formula. We need a lot of man-power prepping dinner and serving the initial wave of hungry kids. After about 45 minutes, the serving line slows down and we volunteers split up to dine and hang out with the youth. The workload remains pretty light until the end of the evening when we pack up leftovers and clean the kitchen.

Many months ago, we had a situation. The volunteer list dwindled to almost nothing due to last minute cancellations. 2 friends and I manned the dinner that evening and it SUCKED! was unpleasant. I swore we wouldn’t get in that situation again. We started recruiting a bigger lot of volunteers, knowing last minute bail-outs are inevitable. 

Sandy, me, Kim
I can promise you, this is the only time we smiled that night.

I assumed volunteers would be scarce for our New Year’s Day dinner, but I was pleasantly surprised to see 7 names signed up. My confidence wavered by Sunday, however. The flu has made its presence in our Portland community and seems to be taking everyone out. 

Kim (see above photo) and I put the word out and a few people said they’d come. Then I started getting emails from friends who wanted to participate. The number of 8 volunteers needed for a smooth night turned into 17 adults, 11 teens, and 1 baby. (Okay, the baby really didn’t contribute, but that kid is cute. He was our “awwww” element.) 

Once I got over the overwhelmingness of it all, this Bible story from John 5 popped in my head:

Simon said, “Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I’ll let out the nets.” It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch.

I admit. I didn’t think we’d have enough helpers last night. I stand completely humbled by two observations:

  1. I prayed for enough volunteers. Why am I surprised the number serving is over triple what we needed?
  2. Entire families served together on a holiday. A day off where most of us want to sit on the couch in our pajamas for 24 hours watching parades and football. I gazed around the kitchen and realized how blessed I am to know so many with Jesus at the core of their hearts.

I sat in my touchy-feelyness for about 30 seconds and starting sending people home -but not before swiping their donated dinner offerings. 

The woman who arrived after working a full day and hadn’t seen her kids for 24 hours – gone.
The woman who looked like she wasn’t feeling all that well – gone – and her carpool with her.
The woman who needed to take her kid to a sleepover – gone. Well, after she prepped a large part of the dinner.

Notice I didn’t let any men leave? Huh. Think of that what you will.

The rest of us served chili dogs, nachos, veggies, and dessert, played card games with the youth, washed dishes (thanks Kay!), and shared 2014 plans.

I wasn’t sure I’d have an official “resolution” for this new year, but you know what? Last night proved to me I’m in need of something specific. As I stressed about cold hot dogs and the line of kids out the door, my friend, Brenda, pulled me aside and calmly reminded, “God is in control.”

Something so simple, yet a command I rarely heed. So this year, I vow to trust Jesus. Of course, I should be doing this anyway, but I don’t. I want to be like Peter blindly throwing his net to seemingly empty waters. 

This year I resolve to Let the Lord show He is in control, not me.

(Okay, we all know I’m just asking for trouble with this one, right? Sheesh. Keep me accountable, will you?)

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