Our kitchen here at the Mission runs primarily on donations. 80-90% of everything we use comes from donors. Manufacturing plants give us meat ends that we take and turn into hundreds of sandwiches and sack lunches. Local grocery stores and bakeries provide baked goods for our guests during meals and supply our monthly birthday parties. In the fall, local farmers will share fresh produce left from farmer’s markets which give our guests the opportunity have healthy meals.
Frankly, we rely on these donations. Without them, we could not do what we do every day. The Streets of Omaha team wouldn’t have anything to give to the homeless and low-income neighborhoods we have the opportunity bless each day. And what Midwest meal is complete without bread and butter? The Mission’s meals would be incomplete without the bread donations we get.
Still, running on donations has its drawbacks. Often we have to get creative with what we have. We don’t have taco Tuesdays or pizza on Fridays, but you’d be shocked with what our chef’s can do with the odds and ends we have to work with sometimes. Everyday is like an episode of Food Network’s “Chopped”. There are weeks where all the fruit is canned. There are days where all I can do is pray that desserts will show up.
Prayer is one of the few things at the Mission we don’t run low on. Yes, we pray before meals, but it’s more than that. Walking through the halls, you can see programmers praying with each other. Everyday I receive multiple emails about joys, concerns, and updates that staff have come together to lift each other up in prayer. Although this is not a unique phenomenon in a Christian community, never before have I seen prayer answered in the way that prayer is answered here in the kitchen.
For example, a couple of weeks ago all three of our cereal containers bit the dust. These containers are used everyday (save hot breakfast on Fridays) for our guests to have cereal for breakfast. Using containers that pour easily allow us to maintain a hygienic experience and keep sickness at bay. Although it’s not the end of the world, it is a problem when we didn’t have any cereal containers and an expensive problem at that. Shortly after praying about this need, he received a call. A donor had four new cereal containers and wanted to know if we could use them.
We eat stir fry at least once a week in the kitchen. Two weeks ago, two of our chefs were talking about how great it would be to have a certain ingredient for stir fry. It wasn’t a priority though, so it didn’t make the list of necessities. Later that day, a case of it was donated.
Salad is a staple at all hot meals. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been short lettuce to last all through the next meal. I’ll begin to wonder what the plan is and how I’m going to fill this need. Then someone will donate three or four big salad bowls untouched from an event.
Every single week in the kitchen there is a moment where the Lord shows up through a donation. These are only samplings of answered prayers that happen here in the kitchen. These are moments that in our weakness and need, we can see a reflection of God’s abundance and glory.
If you found this blog encouraging today, please take some some to consider if you could be an answered prayer. It’s the untouched boxes of donuts from your staff party, it’s your presence during a walk-in time at the kitchen, or even that check you’ve been meaning to bring down. That is the Lord trying to work through you. And who knows, while you’re here maybe you’ll find that we’re the answer to your prayers as well.