Saturday, January 28, 2012

Open Arms

Stop the presses.... it's a MIRACLE!!!!

Yes, I know it has been like FOREVER since I have sat down to write on here. And I even really miss writing, but life has been.... well LIFE!

But today I just can't contain my excitement and my feeling of DOING what God asked me to.
Not just praying about it with my feet stuck in the mud.
 Not ignoring His call.
 Not using excuses why I can't or am too busy or too tired (and seriously? I AM busy, I AM tired and I AM fighting gloom... but life goes on!)

And I AM going to share it...
I AM going to find the energy to write a few words.
I AM going to find the time to post.
I AM going to shout from the roof tops "It feels GREAT to do what He asks us to!"

And I want you to "get this" right here and right now.
I am NOT bragging, I am only a lowly servant to Him.
 I am NOT telling anyone else what to do with their life or their time, that is between you and your higher power.
I AM sharing what I am passionate about and how it blessed my life today!

For MANY years I have felt a tug on my heart to be involved in a food ministry.

 I have prayed for YEARS for God to reveal to me HOW He wanted it to look, and for wisdom and discernment. I have searched my heart, His word, and pleaded for His leading.

In the last year I have gotten involved with a group at church that distributes meals weekly to the homeless. For almost a year, the kids and I have been making dessert twice a month for the BIG meal that our church group prepares. And for the past 2 Christmases my sister, Faline, and I have overseen the Christmas Eve meal that is cooked for our church family and the local needy.

And yet through it all I have felt Him saying over and over to do more. There is this specific "group" I feel called to bless, a specific hole I feel lead to pour into.

In the time I have been working with this group at church another woman and I have totally "jelled!" on what we were passionate about. Susan and I have known each other for a number of years, and been in church groups together for a very long time. For many months we have discussed a food pantry that would be available to the specific group, plus anyone else God leads to us. Susan especially has poured countless hours into getting all of the paperwork done, the red tape waded through and the details nailed out. Me? I am the worker bee! I carry the boxes, pack the car (because we ALWAYS buy too much for the car we are driving!) and provided whatever support I can to her.

Last weekend we were able to open the doors to Open Arms Ministry's Food Pantry for the first time!!

It was such a joy to finally be DOING it! Not talking about it, but DOING it! And we were totally blessed!

We didn't shout it from the roof tops, but we did hand out fliers to our congregation to use and to share, and we took 25 fliers to a local school. From that we were able to bless 14 adults and 9 children!! I thought it was a GREAT first day!

The most amazing think happened that first day. While we were handing our food items we had 2 people come in and donate food to us. Those two people brought in as much, if not more than the food items we handed out that first day! And we handed out a LOT of food! God totally blessed our works that day! We connected with dear people, and He gave us loaves and fishes!

So this week, during the week, Susan and I prepared again for a open pantry. It was a little hard to know how much we would grow this week, and therefore how much food to get, especially the perishable food that would not hold until next week. This morning was the day, and I was excited to see what God would do!

This morning I think we had close to twice as much food to give away. The fridge was STUFFED full and we had LOTS of frozen meats. It was crazy. I thought we were well prepared, but I also had this nagging little thought in the back of my mind.... what if? What if we only gave out for 20 again this week? Would the food hold? What could we freeze? Where could we distribute the stuff that wouldn't hold?

But then I opened the door for something and saw the people lined up.....

(Thanks Audrey for taking a team picture for us!!)

We had a wonderful team of volunteers, and we all ran our tails off.

I wish I had thought to take a picture when we were done because this week God brought us 49 adults and 20 children!!! AMAZING. We were OUT of food. Seriously. We had enough for the last people through the line, but there was almost NOTHING left. It was crazy!! Crazy GREAT, but still crazy!

I can not wait to see what the Lord has in store for us next week!
(although I might be just a little terrified too!)

It is SUCH a GREAT feeling to be DOING something to bless people in our community. I can't tell you the high I am on tonight. But then again, just that I am blogging in the midst of my January gloom when I haven't written in a month or so should tell you something, right?

What can you do to make a difference in the community you live in?


Tracy Jensen said...

That is amazing.....I am so proud of you for going outside of your busy, stressful life to help others. That is how we grow...and thank you for sharing and inspiring. <3

Cindy said...

Gretchen, I am involved in something like that here in South County. It's called the Five Cities Christian Women Emergency Food Pantry. It was started over 30 years ago by some moms who wanted to feed hungry people. We are mostly women but a few men (great to have to lift heavy stuff) from several local churches. Two of those Founders still help out. They are my heroes!! We rent a small building that a church owns for a $1 a year, we pay utilities. We distribute food Monday through Friday for a couple of hours in the afternoon. We usually serve a round 2,000 people a month. We keep track of who comes and they can get food twice a month. We have food donated M-F from our local Von's store and once a week from Solaries and Trader Joes. Also we pick up produce from the Farmers Market on Saturday and Starbucks donates goodies twice a week. People donate food and money. We are able to buy food (canned goods,meat etc) at the Food Bank in Oceano.

I think it is wonderful what you are doing. There are so many needy people in our community and they are very appreciative of what we do. It is very humbling to help out. If you want a tour of our facility sometime let me know. I would be happy to show you what this wonderful group does.