and a little child shall lead them...
well, they really weren't so little at the time, but they were still children & they did lead! over 5 years ago, our daughters were preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation in our tiny parish - size of youth group = our 4 children + 3 others! Father T. was very sweet about the preparation, given that we were homeschooling (& covering the theology bases in our curriculum) & had easily met the community service requirements of our diocese through our regular volunteering at a local nursing home - he basically said just keep doing what you are doing.
Father was also the pastor of another parish too - much larger church, large Confirmation class. in their weekly bulletin there was an announcement that the Confirmation class would be assisting at a Sunday dinner for the homeless in our neighboring city. my girls latched onto that idea & off we were into a whole new world.
quick background on this Sunday dinner for the homeless...
it is a community service provided by a couple who are retired missionaries. they have not missed a Sunday in over 8 years. it started with the city's permission for them to pull their cargo trailer onto a vacant lot and serve hot dogs & soda out of the back to anyone who was in need. Pastor M. also read and preached on a passage from the Bible. this ministry has grown tremendously and now they are blessed to have churches & civic groups throughout the city taking turns on a rotating calendar - preparing yummy homemade things & providing people to set up, serve and clean up. a local pastor from an inner city church recently donated part of the church's land to the effort & his congregation pulled their resources to pour concrete slabs, build pavilions & add some basic amenities that now include an outdoor sink, electrical outlets, & a port-a-john. Yeah, Pastor J.!
we enjoyed our first experience helping & have been going ever since. the folks who join us are a rainbow of humanity. prior to doing this i had very little experience in the realities of their world (i did work for 2 years in an inner city hospital, but that is neutral ground compared to this).
i promised myself, the first time we helped, that i would look each person in the eye & offer a kind word to each person i served. i wanted to see past the reasons they were attending this dinner. i wanted to see the love in each one of them & i wanted them to know they are loved, not because of anything, just because they are.
i promised myself that i would hug whoever needed a hug, give accepting space to whomever needed it, & i prayed to say the words that needed to be said, in love. i love each & every one of them & i strive to convey this in that moment i have with them. & i pray for them everyday.
i love cooking for this group too. i have, over the years, fallen in to a seasonal routine with my recipies for them. the recipies have to be accomodating for a large group, but i feel very committed to making them something from my heart - seasonal, fresh, tasty ingredients. in the summer, by popular demand, this shrimp-lovin' crowd goes crazy for this week's what's cooking wednesday recipe. this past Sunday afternoon they enjoyed it & i hope you enjoy it too!
Shrimp & Pasta Salad
1 lb. shrimp, cooked & peeled
1/2 lb. cooked pasta (i prefer penne)
1/2 c. minced purple onion
1/2 c. diced sweet red pepper
1 c. tiny sweet peas (thaw, if frozen)
3-4 T. fresh lemon juice
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
4 T. fresh parsley, minced
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil
fresh ground salt & pepper to taste
pour olive oil mixture over the pasta/shrimp mix. toss well. chill, then serve.