Tuesday’s arrival brought us face to face with the very large responsibility that lay before us - a mobile back to school event unlike anything either of us had done before. it was so much bigger than we were. Would it work? How would it work? Had we done enough work? Work. Work. Work. But the key was prayer. And we knew that. We prayed and attitudes changed. We prayed many people would come. Hope soared. We prayed people would be blessed. Excitement grew. We prayed for haircuts and food and clothing and for an attitude of celebration. Hope arose. And there was a terrible weather forecast we were determined to pray away. Severe thunderstorms and rain were on the horizon. And still we prayed. We asked for it to go around us. We asked for the rain to disappear. For miraculous intervention and prevention.
The sky opened up and rain began to pour, to gush, to roar down upon the truck. For an instant our hopes dimmed. Then, we refocused our attitudes and began to cook. And people came. In spite of the rain, they came, and they came, and they came. They smiled. They chatted. They got drenched, but they ate. The building was packed, haircuts were given, clothing was taken away, and we were blessed. See, God said, I can work no matter what the circumstances are. It was a lesson we needed. A lesson taken deeply to heart. I don’t need to pray the rain away. I need to pray God’s presence into the place. Finite human understanding trying to limit an infinite God.
Wednesday’s event was completely filled with curveballs we never saw coming. New people, new faces, new challenges, unexpected circumstances and conflicts. A propane tank that refused to re-light so we could continue to cook. One thing after another seeming to go wrong. And yet people came. People were blessed and they were a blessing. We pushed through. As we cleaned the truck late into the night, we laughed at the comedy of it all, at the realization so much is out of our control, and there was joy in the food truck.
Thursday brought a change in the schedule. Food service only that night. We opted to serve cold food for a change of pace. One of the beautiful things about the food truck is the unlimited possibilities for the meals we can produce, and we love the chance to try new foods. The event began and people lined up for snow cones, but nobody was at the truck. I was not worried for even a second. I knew they would come. And then they did. Over three hundred plates of food left the truck in an hour and a half. Faces both familiar and new blessed us with their visits. Time flew by and soon there was no more line, and we were on our way.
Friday arrived. It is amazing how bittersweet the final moments of a tremendous challenge can feel. The adrenaline rush brought about by the knowledge of the work that lies ahead is subsided somewhat by an early morning run. Mental lists give way to physical lists and soon everything is packed up and ready to go. The final day has been much-anticipated, but the expected feeling of relief is not there. A melancholy acceptance that something big, something amazing, something beyond your own human abilities has occurred settles in. And soon, it will be over. Unexpected obstacles appear as they have every day, but this time is different. There is so much peace in the knowledge they will be overcome. No matter what happens, this is a day to rejoice and be glad.
And all-too-soon it is time to pack up and go home for the last time. You are overwhelmed with the bittersweet melancholy that follows a journey filled with incredible highs and lows. For the first time in a week, you realize you are exhausted: emotionally, physically, and mentally - completely sapped of energy and strength. You savor the memories, pray for the beautiful faces that fill your mind. You know you were part of something that was good. It was very, very good. And you suspect you will never know all the lives that were impacted. You hope beyond your wildest hope that people who came and left and whose lives are now inexorably intertwined with yours feel loved, and that they know you care. What a week. What an event.