Reap What You Sow
The Bible is very clear that you reap what you sow. For those sowing good seed, this is a principle that brings comfort. Such was the case for a recent new guest to the Food Pantry. Marleen is a volunteer for an outreach program that assists single parents provide essential items for their children such as basic food, clothing and shelter. As a single mother who was recently laid off from her job, Marleen was empathetic to the struggle of these parents. While volunteering her time while she patiently waited for a job opportunity to come up herself, she found out about the Food Pantry. Marleen instantly knew it was a blessing for all of the hard work she’d been doing since she lost her job.
Upon her first visit, Marleen said she cried over how beautiful the music was. Although she was raised in the church, she had left it years ago, and yet, she instantly felt God’s presence as soon as she visited the food pantry. When asked how this program changed her life, Marleen was overflowing with kind words. She was perhaps most grateful for the opportunity to maintain a healthy lifestyle for herself and her kids while still being on a budget. Right before she lost her job, Marleen had started a regimen which enabled her to lose weight and regain her health. Because of the fresh produce and groceries at the food pantry, she was able to keep up with the important changes she’d recently made for her family. She expressed endless thanks to the Valley Food Bank for their constant efforts to keep families like hers afloat in times of need.
Drought has Impact Beyond the Obvious
The current drought is a very real issue to anyone living in Southern California. Our lawns are getting browner, our showers are getting shorter, and our water bills are getting higher. And even at the food pantries, folks are feeling the effects of the drought. With the ever-increasing price of groceries, more Southern California residents are depending on the groceries they receive at the pantry.
One such recipient is Rosemary. Throughout the years that the food pantry has been going, Rosemary has come intermittently when she has a need. Due to the recent drought, grocery prices have shot up dramatically, and Rosemary was relieved to know that a local church was willing to help her put food on the table. She recently moved, and the cost of moving meant that she had a choice; she could either pay the rent or she could buy groceries. In order to put a roof over her head, as well as provide a place for her elderly mother to stay, Rosemary chose to put all that she had into her rent. This meant that there was very little for her and her mother to eat.
As a diabetic, it’s essential that Rosemary’s diet consist of fresh fruits and vegetables. When she arrived at the nearest food pantry, she was grateful for the bountiful groceries she had to take home. She knows that if it wasn’t for the generosity of the Valley Food Bank donors, she wouldn’t have fresh produce to cook the meals that she and her mother need. And although she expressed that she never wanted to take advantage of the food pantry, she’s able to feel peace knowing that help is just down the road.
First Time Visitors to the Food Pantry
Their names are Joshua and Hillary. About three years ago, Hilary's mother passed away, they lost custody of their child, and have been on the street living out of their car, which they share with three dogs. Still, when we spoke, they were full of joy and humor. Hilary's eyes sparkled as she spoke about her son. They make it a point to see their son regularly. His foster parents have been excellent about that.
I asked them about their faith. They are confident of Jesus' presence. Hilary said, "It's better to believe in Jesus than go crazy.” My thought is that it's a wonder that more people don't go crazy without Him.
These two are very aware of the services that the Rescue Mission Alliance provides. Through God's grace flowing through this sisterhood of ministries, this family has been relatively thriving on the unfriendly streets.
Last Saturday, they came to the pantry for the first time. I had spoken with them ahead of time and managed to provide them with a hefty chunk of turkey. It turns out that they have resources to do a bit of grilling. They told me that they were able to provide food for their friends and had enough to give away to more than five other families. It was a joy to be a channel of blessing for this sweet couple.
When asked about any prayer requests, they asked that I pray for their homeless neighbors in the area. It was a blessing to see the Lord's generosity flowing through their deep poverty. More and more I am finding that in my feeble attempts at being a blessing, I am being doubly blessed.
Rosie Loves to Help!
Rosie has been receiving food from Calvary Baptist Church's Thursday food distribution for a while, and she always arrives early. One very hot summer day, she was standing under a shade tree trying to keep cool while waiting for the food distribution to start. The director of the ministry saw her and invited her inside the air-conditioned building where the food is distributed. While Rosie was enjoying a drink of water and cooling off, she accepted a couple of tasks to help set up for the other guests. Rosie enjoyed helping and the rest is history. Rosie has become a valued and dedicated volunteer.
Receiving food from Calvary's food distribution has been such a blessing to Rosie and her family. Rosie has three children and six grandchildren. She's not sure what she would do without the help of the food bank. She loves the fact that she is treated with dignity and volunteers because of her love for helping people and for serving the Lord.
She also feels that no matter who you are, you are God's child and we are to love one another as we are instructed to do in the Bible. She praises God for being able to be a part of this ministry each week and is thankful for the wonderful food items she receives weekly.
Boris would visit our food pantry every Tuesday. He would walk from his home three blocks away and would always be wearing a pressed dress shirt, tie, and neatly pleated slacks. After speaking to him, we learned that he had lost his aerospace job in Nevada earlier in 2011. So, he decided to move back to California into his elderly mother’s home, where he had grown up. She had beginning stage Alzheimer’s disease and had been receiving regular visits from a nurse.
Boris told us that, ever since he moved back to California, he would wake up each morning proactively searching for a job. He would get dressed in his usual business attire and go to interviews. On Tuesdays he would search the classifieds in the morning until it was time to head over to the St. Bridget of Sweden food pantry.
Bringing in weekly groceries made him feel that he was a positive contributor to the household. From May through September, we would see Boris each Tuesday. Not only would he come for his share of food, but also he would always offer assistance to the ladies, whether it be sweeping the porch, taking out the trash, or helping others with their bags, he was always gracious and accommodating.
All of a sudden, Boris stopped coming to the pantry. In late October 2011, we received a letter from Boris updating us on his situation. He was still living in his mother’s home. The reason he stopped coming to the pantry was he found a job at an aerospace company in El Segundo.
Boris wrote,” The St. Bridget of Sweden food pantry was my Tuesday getaway. Not only did I receive some much-needed sustenance for the body, but my soul was lifted too. I was not able to help my mother with money, but it made me feel good that I was able to bring home some food for the week.”
Included with the note was a personal check made payable to St. Bridget of Sweden. Every month the food pantry can count on a check from Boris. He leaves an envelope in the mailbox with a simple note in the memo line: Thank You!