One of the benefits of being part of a mission team at the Sager Brown UMCOR Depot is the wonderful food prepared by the Sager Brown staff. The depot is where the work happens, but right next door is where we sleep and EAT! (And the administrative offices, outreach office and the shop are there also...I'll tell more about that later in the week).
The buildings are actually part of the former campus of a school and orphanage begun in 1867. The Sager Brown mission school served families and children of Louisiana for over 110 years before it closed. In 1992 when Hurricane Andrew devastated the gulf coast the buildings were placed back into service during the recovery efforts and UMCOR Sager Brown was born. If you'd like to read more of the history, click here.
Some of the buildings are used as dorms. The simple accommodations are clean and pleasant, but no expense is wasted. The groups that come to volunteer in the depot or doing work in the community pay far less than a hotel and meals would cost and are rewarded with bounteous feasts thanks to the skills of the kitchen crew.
Yesterday's breakfast was biscuits, gravy and sausage links. Lunch was Ham with Pineapple and a lovely concoction of cheese and spaghetti (sort of like mac and cheese but with a higher cheese-to-pasta ratio), dinner was burgers and sweet potato fries. There is a great salad bar at lunch and dinner that includes pickled okra and there are always delightful desserts. I'm hoping they could start catering the Kiwanis lunches I attend twice month!
But today was a special day - sweet potato pancakes for breakfast and crawfish etouffee for lunch. And cheesecake for dessert.
One of my blog followers (and Facebook friends) commented while I was in the midst of writing this "quit telling us how very, very well you are eating! Tell about how very hard you are working!" Yes, we are working very hard. But part of the experience is the fellowship and camaraderie of meals, devotions and even sitting around playing cards. It is the total package that makes this experience unique. We laugh and sing and work and sweat and tease and cajole and support and pray for each other. I want my readers to know that being part of a mission team isn't a monk's life.
I think that is a misconception that we need to break - being Christian and serving others is fun. It is a joyful existence. You don't have to be serious all the time. You still get to have fun AND believe that God loves you. You can serve others AND smile and enjoy life. We focus hard on the work at hand but when we have the opportunity, we also get to embrace the great talents that God has given the staff in the kitchen. Today's crawfish etouffee was probably the best I've ever had. After a hard morning in the warehouse opening cases of toothpaste to be included in the health kits (toothpaste is heavy!) - the staff greeted us with smiling faces and delicious food to get us refreshed and ready to go back at it again. Even Jesus took time to recharge his batteries.
It is a great time here. We are meeting new friends, serving people in the community with home repairs and cleaning, providing assistance with a monthly food distribution for seniors and yes...verifying and packing a LOT of health kits (3 pallets today alone)! But equally important is the fact that our entire team is being reminded that Christianity isn't a gathering of sourpusses wonking each other over the head with Bibles and pointing out each others' shortcomings...we come in joy to serve the Lord because we have received so much. My favorite artistic rendition of Jesus is a picture of him laughing - it reminds me that God loves us and delights in us.
Now...to bed, to rest and prepare for another day. Morning will be here before long!