Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thankful For The Wednesday Night Chefs

On Wednesday nights during the school year we have a huge AWANA children's ministry program going at our church. About 250 children come on those nights, and believe me, the building is rocking! Choir rehearsal is also on that night, and it's fun to wade through all those children and their young parents to get to the choir room. Through our closed door we can frequently hear the shrieks of delight as the children play games in the Crossing. There's no doubt, AWANA is one of the most exciting things going on at our church.

It takes a lot of adult leadership to pull off a ministry like that. To make it easier for people to volunteer and get there right after work, our Children's Ministries Coordinator, Ellen Dyke, decided we needed a meal for the volunteers at the church, so folks don't have to worry about supper, or run through a fast-food place on their way. This has been a real blessing to all involved, not just for the convenience, but for the time to visit with each other. I take advantage of it, too, because I'm often over there getting some conducting prep done before rehearsal. It's been a great way for me to keep connected with the younger families, since, once your kids are grown, you can easily lose track of the nursery set. We eat, talk, dandle babies, and laugh at the cute things the preschoolers do and say. Good times!

This wouldn't be possible without two unsung heroes, the volunteer chefs, Traci and Ana Marie, who cook it all up for us. Traci, who has a degree in dietetics, has been doing this for a couple of years now, and has it down to a system. She has meals planned out through the end of the year and posted on the church website, so people know what's coming up. She purchases the food needed for about 50 people, and gets to the church around 3:30 on Wednesday afternoon to get things going. Joined by Ana Marie, it is all cooked and ready for folks as they start arriving at 5pm. The meal is well balanced, interesting, and kid-friendly, since the workers generally have to bring their little ones along. Recently a switch from disposable plates and cups was made, to restaurant-style crockery plates and glasses, with real metal cutlery to boot. Traci and Ana Marie, and Traci's husband, Grant, then clean up the kitchen and run things through a dishwasher. (By the way, Traci is my daughter-in-law.)

It's so often the case that the best ministry at church is being done by people who get little recognition, and, for that matter, don't even seem to want it. This Wednesday night dinner, meant simply as a convenience, has turned into a real relationship builder. So that's what I'm thankful for- these two ladies, who make that all possible every week.

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