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  • Writer's pictureJules Arata

a bham special

Bessemer, AL



set the scene:


i haven't been to AL since i was 12, but i had a feeling in my gut that something was going to happen on this event, but we will get back to that.


early on in the weekend, i come across a picture of a sign that my friend posted. the sign read the words: “You Are Now Entering The Mission Field” && was posted on the door leaving his church. i thought this was such a beautiful image of what the Christian life is supposed to be like. that like the great commission in Matthew 28, we are being equipped to be sent out. but this sign was also something that finally allowed something to click in my head.


this job, one that i am blessed to be entrusted with the responsibility of, is a missionary one. i would classify this job as a "backyard missionary", traveling into other people's hometowns to feed His kids, fully trusting in His provision in order to do so well. we are welcomed into churches, schools, various types of event spaces, all at the mercy of the Lord && sent on His mission to feed the hungry (in body and spirit). we become part of church families, local communities, && trusted friends, if even just for a weekend.


it is a beautiful thing to me.


but back to that feeling i had: we flew in on thursday, and friday morning (about 10 mins before we are leaving to get lunch) my supervisor tells me that she has the stomach flu. then i get the phone call, i will be supervising this event (two months before i was supposed to start fyi). did i have a minor freak out? yes but trial by fire makes complete sense in how my journey in post-grad has looked so far.


these hosts were exactly who i needed in this situation! they have been putting this event on for 11 years, so they had a firm understanding of not only how we worked, but were used to getting different people from our staff to run it every year. this meant that they could roll with the punches and work together to solve problems well. and MAN was i so grateful for that.


this event is Bessemer, AL (outside of Birmingham for context) is the only event in the entire state! which in some ways is a badge of honor, && in others it is sad bc we obviously want to engage with as many people every single place that we can. but a beautiful moment that came of this, was that a family of volunteers from Tennessee drove over 4 hours just to pack with us. FOUR! HOURS! i mean if that isn't a beautiful picture of the body of Christ coming together, i don't know what is.


an event that i started with such stress and some feelings of imposter syndrome, became one full of joy (*insert memory of two toddlers hoping on top of a full pallet of food to take picture), laughter (*insert memory of lead pastor dancing to Frozen in the lobby), && a greater appreciation for my leaders that i get to call friends (*i didn't know that it could grow).


i am grateful for the opportunity to step up && lean in, especially when i didn't feel ready for it, bc the Lord used this weekend to show me how He had set me up to do well.


what i learned


  1. i am better equipped when i trust in where the Lord has placed me

  2. a pep talk from a man eating a pub sub in my passenger seat makes the difference

  3. a leader's willingness to answer the smallest questions completely changes communication


how i grew


this event was confirmation that the Lord has entrusted me with this responsibility && position for a reason. He uses His people to speak to His people, offering not only encouragement, but refinement.


favorite parts


hearing the most ridiculous sneeze i have ever heard && laughing w the stranger next to me on the plane


low key car chase


first time volunteer comparing event to cooking mama


a bunk bed in my hotel room, yeah you read that right


the surprising way that a dormant wasp nest can bond a team


Waterfall rock climber


STATS


volunteers: 440

boxes packed: 504

meals packed: 108,864

kids fed daily meal for a year: 298


to new hope church


sweet friends! a team who came alongside me && supported me well through every twist && decision to be made. thankful for your ability to go with the flow, to correct with kindness, or to work to find a new way to solve a problem together. your desire to serve was without reservation && full of joy, ready && willing to hop in and help in any way. the source of your character was so evidently the Lord && i am grateful that i got to be a witness to it. from dancing in the lobby, to laughing while trying to figure out the AV system, to sharing our hearts for our jobs, in just two days you took up space in my heart, quickly becoming brothers && sisters in Christ. may we meet again.

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