Monday, July 25, 2011

The Contradictions of Manna

It can be complicated, serving a diverse community. Individuals and families come to Manna with a variety of wants and needs, and contradictions are apparent by the very nature of our works...
  • excluded = welcomed: many who sit at our table feel left out by society at large, but everyone that comes is greeted as an honored guest
  • poor = rich: our guests are far removed from material wealth, but enjoy the bounty of caring neighbors and friends
  • hungry = fed: not only the food fills them, but words of encouragement and hope nourish them for the day
It can be complicated, and yet very simple...

Monday, July 18, 2011

What's Left Behind

As part of looking back at the last 30 years of Manna's life, we reflect upon the vision and legacy of those that came before us:
  • Love for neighbors
  • Encouragement for the down-trodden
  • Service above self
Now we get to decide. What will we leave behind...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Wasted Welcomes

Bobby walks in the door of Manna for the early meal. His eyes have a far-away look, and when we greet him he doesn't respond. Bobby goes through peaks and valleys with his mental illness. Sometimes he's responsive and will share pieces of his life. Other times he shuts down, indicating that he needs to be left alone.

We never know how Bobby will be feeling, but we continue to welcome him in the same opening manner. Some would argue that we're wasting our time with the likes Bobby. Even though most of the folks that come to Manna are friendly and open, he and others like him can be distant and at times off-putting.

We continually remind ourselves, however, that every day there is the opportunity to break through, to show people that we care, to demonstrate to them that we are here for them, for the long haul, no matter what...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Small Impact

Manna's Summer Cooking Program for Teens began last week, with an average of eight students attending the classes. Three days a week they have the opportunity to learn about healthy cooking and help perform a vital community service by preparing meals for the people we serve.

Immediately, one teen (we'll call her Katie), stands out from the others. It is her third year of participating in the class. She does more then participate, however: she takes ownership. Katie actively engages with the other students and to a degree helps lead the class. When other students are heading for the door, she is helping to transport the meals from the church kitchen over to Manna.

Some may wonder about the impact of the program; eight to ten students a day, many of them attending multiple classes, perhaps 50 in total involved over the summer. Rather than being possessed with increasing the number of students, we focus instead on the difference it makes on those that attend.

Even if we change only one person's life, isn't that enough...