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  • Writer's pictureJules Arata

teach them like a friend

Syracuse, NY


my 50th event.


feels monumental by that number alone, but this one gained even more significance as it was my first event that i supervised alone. i had met this host, Janie, while in Fargo, so our relationship was established, something that i was clinging to going into this event.


we had decided together going into this week that prayer would be prioritized and central to this event. everyday we gathered with the host team to do what i like to call a "popcorn prayer of preparation". it became one of my favorite constants of the event, offering up praises to the Lord for what He had already done, and what He would do through this event. we surrendered every scoop to Him, knowing it was all for His glory && His purposes.


i prepared in every way that i could think of for this event: mentally, communication-wise, physically, all of my paper work, etc. i asked my team for grace && patience && understanding with me, but i also asked them to do something. i asked them to look for the little moments, the things that we sometimes witness alone or can forget in the chaos of the event. to remember the conversations or beautiful snapshots, && then share them with the team.

 

so this blog post is really just a collection of those moments:


we had four different school groups come to pack, which is always special watching kids feeding kids, but there was something different with this group. they had been doing it for years, came in with their own strategies and game plans, competitive and ready to pack. it was a fun, loud room, full of kids excited to carry on their tradition of a field trip that makes a difference.


it was so impactful to hear the journeys of our host team, of their travels && experiences in missions. one being when Janie was smuggling bibles into Austria, and all of the things she experienced while trying to bring His word to hard places. another being of the pastor going to one of our partner's (Convoy of Hope) warehouse, where our food is stored, ready to be distributed.

 

the story of a local car dealership has to be my favorite though: with the owner of the dealership being a church member, he had heard about the event and it was put on his heart to do something to help finance it. so he decided to donate a portion of each car he sold off of his lot during January and February (his slowest months of the year) to feed a child for a year.


he stepped forward in faith, expecting his normal sales numbers, but the Lord stepped forward too, making those two months his most profitable in the 30 years he has owned the dealership. he sold over 240 cars, which helped fund a large portion of this event, but also sparked community curiosity and involvement.


Isaiah 37 ran though this event:


v.20: "So now, O LORD our God, save us from his hand,

that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the LORD.”


v.26: “‘Have you not heard

that I determined it long ago?

I planned from days of old

what now I bring to pass,


v. 35: "For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for

the sake of my servant David.”


saying goodbye was the hardest part, hugging these people who had become our support system over the last 4 days. having each of them get emotional and speak Truth over us. my sweet friend Roy saying, "You know we love you, God loves you, and He made you for this". like tell me that wouldn't make you cry.


a lot of things happened with this event, obstacles trying to keep us from making goal. yet the enemy could not attack this event! when we thought the volunteers were not going to show up and we were going to miss goal, the Lord showed His providence yet again by making His number come to fruition.


what i learned


  1. the Lord protected these meals because He already has a plan for who will receive it

  2. no problem is too big to fix

  3. the Lord provides in ways we could not plan ourselves when we step out in faith to meet Him


how i grew


a new prayer on my heart: Lord, show us one more child. it changes the world for one child, and that alone is worth it.


favorite parts


babies talking to each other the whole flight


church motto: "come as you are"


the local YMCA singing the “YMCA” song, which felt very on-brand and brought such joy to the room


the pastor’s 2-year-old daughter using a push broom


being able to share something from the sermon from young adults on Tuesday with our host. the concept of defining instead of describing, which is shown to us by the discipline John, that he was able to define his friend Jesus, when most of us can only describe our friends. what a gift to live in the reality of a Savior who can be so readily defined, yet never fully known bc He is so vast, yet invites us into fellowship with Him!


a toddler in a cardboard box top coloring with crayons while her mom labeled


another church motto: Your Kingdom come!


STATS


volunteers: 1,880

boxes packed: 1,980

meals packed: 427,680

kids fed daily meal for a year: 1,171


to vineyard church


friends! thank you for letting us become part of the history of packing meals with your church. it was such an honor to be welcomed into such a long-standing event, but partner with a first-time host, who brought fresh eyes and passion to this event. y'all came alongside me in my first event, supporting me && encouraging me in every way possible. you were exactly the team that i needed around me for this, people who lifted me up, poured into me, && stepped up when things got crazy. thankful to be able to run this race alongside brothers and sisters in Christ like you! may we meet again!

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