Our church has had multiple missions trips in the history of its existence and I believe that their most preferred way to raise the money that they need is to provide a fundraiser meal. I have attended several of these meals already and truly thought nothing much about them. They were well planned out and quite organized events and there was absolutely no reason why I would have had to think about them overly much, the missions trip maybe, but not the meal.
That all changed this past week. Our church is preparing for a trip to Thailand and obviously money was needed to be raised so they decided on a fundraiser meal. Since Valentine's Day is just around the corner they thought that it would be fun to do a themed event. I heard a lot of different ideas but eventually someone decided on doing a salad bar and naming it "Lettuce love one another." Thus began all the puns.
It's a missions trip for the youth of the church and even though Diane and I won't be going along we still chose to help with the bringing about of the big meal.
Decorations needed to made, food needed to be supplied, willing hearts and hands needed to be offered in service and Diane and I were simply happy to be of any help. On Saturday Eldon drove us over to the church and dropped us off. Diane and I hustled indoors (it was really cold outside) and we spent the entire evening chopping vegetables, making bread, and washing dishes. It was some of the most fun I've had in a very long time. All of my friends gathered around several truly long tables and chopped away at vegetables for hours. It was such a bizarre thing that I couldn't help but enjoy myself thoroughly. The conversations had between the adults overseeing all of us and the youth were highly entertaining. It was nice to realize that the elders of the church were every bit as lighthearted and human as the rest of us.
The pastor's wife, Diane, and I all cried together as we chopped onions.
Nevertheless, all of that work was just a taste of what would follow on the very next day.
On Sunday morning I had to get up early so I could bake cupcakes. Once we were all ready for church we left and Sharon and I nervously anticipated the event. We were to work in the kitchen and tend the food tables and serve anyone and everyone who needed any help of any sort.
Once at church we munched on doughnut holes as one of my favorite people taught us all how to greet and thank people in Thai. I can honestly say that our accents held a lot of room for improvement, nevertheless it was so much fun greeting people in Thai that no one was overly concerned with the little flaws in our performances.
As the church congregation filed into their seats we rushed to work. My first job was to set up the dessert table and so one of my friends and I set out on a mission (pun fully intended) to cover the surface of the pretty table with cookies and cupcakes until it overflowed.
Some members of the church stood around sipping coffees and watching all of us bustle around the place as we set up and I didn't mind it since I didn't really notice them until I ran into a bit of a difficulty.
We had large trays of cupcakes to carry out to the dessert table. Our job was to remove the lids from the trays and place the cupcakes onto lovely plates and arrange them in a pretty way. It was easy peasy until I had to remove the lid from a particularly old fashioned pan.
I tugged at the lid, I yanked on the lid, I pulled, pried, and poked, all to no avail. I glared down at the stubborn obstacle and then looked at my friend who was having a jolly time of arranging her desserts out of her well-behaved pan.
"You know, if I were in a movie some fine gentleman would come to my rescue." I told her mournfully. She laughed a little and nodded, but I was still stuck with my problem, or so I thought. Remember those church goers I mentioned that were just standing around, chatting, and watching us work? Well one of those members in particular, a blue eyed, bearded, middle-aged man had been watching my struggles and after my distressed statement he stepped up with a smile and offered to help.
He effortlessly removed the lid and I thanked him profusely. He walked away with quite a heroic air and I decided that fine gentlemen help damsels in distress every bit as much in real life as they do in movies.
The rest of the morning and several hours into the afternoon we worked, but never once did it feel like work. I had the best time ever and left the church having grown much closer to all of my friends and a bunch of other people I had never really talked to before. I don't think I'll ever be able to look at any fundraiser meal the same again. It's not just a nice array of food provided for donations, it's a whole team of people giving selflessly of their time and energy for a cause that they believe is greater than them.