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  • Writer's pictureJules Arata

upstairs

Broken Arrow, OK



when i found out we were flying to tulsa, i thought it was a joke. like seriously. in high school, we would drive up here to play sports. but it was a short little hop of a flight up to the attic and we were on our way.


we knew we were going to a church that had been a long standing partner with us, this being their 10th pack. they were all so pumped bc they had two years of energy and excitement all gathered up from waiting. you could feel it in the air, the joy was palpable. they were such pros that it felt like we were all on staff.


with there only being 3 shifts, each one had its own memorable personality, yet they also fit into the normal vibes. that may sound confusing, but what i mean is that the first shift 7-9pm on friday night was the super productive, happy, energetic one. then the morning shift on saturday was the competitive one who get really engaged. the last session always tends to be the smallest one bc of the time of day, but they always are the ones who beat the odds and surprise you.


a really cool thing about the timing of this event was that it is mothers day weekend, so when it was my turn on the mic, i really got to highlight that. i got to see families loving on their moms by coming out to serve with her and point out how a lot of our artisans are mothers who are earning living wages to be able to keep and support their children.


we also got to work with the varsity football team, which isn't always the easiest thing. but this team was cut from a different cloth. their coach is coming up on his second season with the team, and before he got there, some would say there was a culture problem with the team. so his solution was simple, their mission was to make them into men, and then football players. he focuses on character building, having them do one hour of character training sessions a week, while also teaching them to younger guys as well.


you would think that a bunch of high school boys would be sluggish on a saturday morning, but no. these boys were all excited to be there, to have the opportunity to serve something bigger than themselves. they were competitive and wanted to prove themselves. they were hard working and they made that middle session such a special one for me. (especially since that was the one where i was in charge of orientation and running the room) they truly encountered me with joy and humor and just kindness. it was refreshing.


this pack was one that was good to end on, one where we met our goal feeding 276 kids a meal a day for a year, one where my heart was filled by the new people i was able to encounter.


what i learned

  1. how much your mental presence can effect your mood

  2. how fun it is when groups get competitive

  3. how beautiful genuine curiosity can be

how i grew


with this pack being my last one before my summer in the mountains, i found myself realizing little things that i would miss doing, like ringing up volunteers at marketplace or acting like a flight attendant in the orientation room or filling out the production sheet and even doing the dishes. just really learning the little things i love about this job.


favorite parts


being in the labeling room with a bunch of seniors who were having a shooting competition with their wrappers into the trashcans and cheering each other on


teasing the football guys who were on warehouse and them explaining their competition to me


asking a table how they are doing and a grandpa looking me directly in the eyes and saying, "we are movin & groovin! rockin & rollin!" with the biggest grin on his face


dismissal from my orientation feeling like a gameshow


learning about Tacos4Life


to northside christian church:


what a group! thank you for letting us come in, for so graciously hosting us yet again & also FINALLY after all of this covid fiasco. you were a joyful group who made the event so easy to run. you guys lead each other with servant hearts and it was a beautiful thing to witness. thank you for making our job even more enjoyable by making it fun!

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