With my purpose in mind, I took on the challenge of volunteering to prepare dinner for an outreach that we were having at church. We had invited the women from a section of Jacksonville called Newtown. These women live downtown in a poorer section of the city. Sisterhood at Celebration Church focuses on empowering women to reach their potential and teaches women how to live intentionally and with purpose. Sisterhood has started to do outreaches throughout the City of Jacksonville and surrounding areas in order to bring it's mission to women all over. We plan on bringing Sisterhood all over the world as well, to Northern Ireland, Costa Rica, Zimbabwe, and Greece.
Personally, I hadn't been able to attend any of the outreaches so far, so the Newtown Outreach was my first time! I was given a budget, I made my shopping list, I enlisted the help of some of the women that I serve with, and we set about with the purpose of feeding these women. I planned on about 50 people (women and children) to feed and I needed a cost effective yet filling meal to feed them. We decided to make spaghetti and meatballs, a simple, delicious, and filling meal.
I bought some organic beef in bulk plus organic salad, raw veggies, and fresh crusty bread. We made lots of spaghetti and homemade salad dressings. We served sweet tea and water to drink. Now, while I did not bake dessert, we did serve petit fours from Fresh Market after dinner.
The day of the event came and we brought crockpots, my meatballs, and cans of tomato sauce to the church. We set everything up, chopped up garlic, fresh basil, and fresh oregano for the sauce, and turned on the crockpots to cook everything. I gave myself enough time for the sauce to cook, before the women were set to arrive at 5:45. Then, we went shopping for the fresh veggies, bread, and drinks but by the time we got back to the church, the power was out!!
That meant the meatballs weren't cooking and we didn't have any air conditioning, any lights or media and we weren't sure what to do! We discovered that the other side of the building had power, so we moved the crockpots so the food could continue cooking. We decided, instead of cancelling the event, we were going to continue setting up and prepping just like the power hadn't gone out. We prayed for a miracle and waited on God!
The search was on for candles and we opened the blinds to let in the sunshine and we kept on decorating, chopping vegetables, and setting up the tables in the dim light. We had tea lights set up on the buffet tables, lamps were brought in with 4-5 extension cords attached, and we used carts to carry hot meatballs and sauce from one side of the building to the other. It was definitely a challenge, but instead of everyone giving up and cancelling the event, we decided that nothing was going to stop us from loving on these women and feeding them and their children. Someone had live worship music set up on the stage with a singer and a guitarist, and they sang while we worked.
At 5:45, the bus drove up with 21 women and 43 children! We received them with smiles on our faces and a positive outlook on the situation and explained that the power was out but we were going to go on with the event. We opened in prayer and started serving them by candlelight! The kids were not afraid but they were definitely hungry! My heart was bursting with joy seeing the little children enjoying my food and asking for seconds! I love to cook for people anyway, but this was so much different than anything I had experienced up to this point. I was so moved by the Holy Spirit in this moment and filled to overflowing with love for this group of people. When it came time for Charise Orozco to speak, the lights came on in an instant! Everyone cheered and we were so glad that we didn't give up! I think that spoke volumes to these women and the love in the room that night was overwhelming and almost brought me to tears. Chari spoke an awesome message that encouraged the ladies and me as well! I felt so blessed that night to be able to share in this moment in time with the ladies of Sisterhood and the ladies of Newtown!
We said goodbye with the promise of seeing them again! I can't wait until June when we do this again!
God is so good and He really showed us His faithfulness that night!
"But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love Your name may be filled with joy. For You bless the godly O Lord; You surround them with Your shield of love." Psalms 5:11-12