Enjoy this testimony from a mother who attended a Family Day with her children:
The YES trip is really about Monday morning.
Perhaps this was the most powerful memory I carry with me from my experience during the YES Family Weekend, held recently in Oklahoma City. Since 2007, I have been grateful to the Church for the serving opportunity offered to my children through YES. Now, I was also provided the chance to serve, and this time alongside three of my teenagers.
Before serving and sharing lunch with approximately 200—250 homeless people at Sister BJ’s Food Pantry, we gathered at St. Elijah to prayerfully prepare for our experience. We discussed the differences between helping, fixing, and serving, and we made it our goal to serve, to be fully present, to do and to be what God wanted for us in these hours, individually and collectively.
As we filled tummies with hot dogs, hamburgers, the fixings, and the extras, we also poured into each other’s hearts the love of Christ through smiles, gestures, and fascinating conversations. Meanwhile, powerful thoughts were swirling our hearts and minds. We were reminded that, through this experience, we were all in community together–that we ARE all community—those served and those serving, moms and dads and children, alike. We were encouraged to consider the challenging notion that perhaps homeless people are so because they are strong enough. We were encouraged to not feel guilty if, personally, we have plenty; instead, we should be grateful to God, as, through our bounty, He gives us the opportunity to consider what of our own property and belongings might actually better suited to belong to someone else.
I am humbled and grateful to be grappling with these ideas and experiences right with my children. Honestly, I think they understand and accept these ideas with greater ease than their parents. I heard our children share their thoughts and ideas about shattering stereotypes and realizing that we are all more alike than we are different. The YES program allows our children to learn and show the mercy of Christ and recognize that we all belong to each other. YES shows our children how to be the Church in our community.
On a personal, coincidental note, while serving buns on plates, I looked up and saw going though the lunch line the face of a woman that I recognized from high school. I had not seen her in nearly 30 years, but I knew her, and I called her by name. She looked up and knew my name, too. We shared pictures of our families on our cell phones, and we “friended” each other on Facebook. We messaged a bit later that night. Who knows what, if anything, will happen in the future, but in that moment of seeing my classmate across the table, in serving her and chatting with her, the idea crystallized for me that we are all connected. For our salvation and for all eternity.
After a few hours at Sister BJ’s, our YES family group left the premises and returned to St. Elijah for a brief reflection of our time together. I remember questioning whether our time at the pantry was valuable in any meaningful way. We weren’t there long enough to build substantial relationships with the individuals we served. I will never again see most of those people, although they live all around me. That is when I realized that our job is to give to God our moments at Sister BJ’s. They are our humble offerings; He has already determined what He will do with that time and those interactions. However, I am challenged to consider what I do moving forward, on my own, outside of the scheduled service experience. It was vitally important, but even more so, what I do with it now is perhaps what matters most. I was given that brief time and space and experience over the weekend so that I will utilize it to craft my own thoughts and actions towards serving everyone in my community, starting with my family, and extending wherever God leads.
Beginning Monday morning. –Katy Powers, Norman OK