“How do you feel about being surrounded by all of these Baptists?” my new friend, Reed, asked me as we set up the white plastic tables early Sunday morning. The line snaked in front of us as more and more hungry people queued in the frigid temperatures, waiting for some warm food.
“I love Baptists!” I replied cheerily, watching several members of the Calvary Baptist Church donning white hair nets and plastic aprons. Other members of their congregation prepared to offer a Psalm and blessings on the food (first in Spanish and then in English) before dishing out the feast on the tables.
Reed seemed surprised. He had just learned that I was Mormon, and an active one at that. When he asked why I felt that way, I told him that I thought Baptists were good people. We only had to look around us to verify that statement.
Not far from the food tables piled with everything from eggs, fruit, and oatmeal to hot dogs and cakes, another table was stacked with warm clothes to distribute to the homeless people in line. All of it was donated (or at least collected) by members of the church. As we served the food, a cheerful woman with a brilliant smile sang and called out, “Have a blessed day!” to people as she handed them their trays.
It was a great way to start out a Sunday morning. Over the course of about two hours, I would estimate around 300 people passed through the food line. At one point, a man who appeared to be in his mid-twenties let out some profanity, and his friend quickly chastised him and told him to show some respect. Another woman called some of the members of the church by name, and they asked her about her daughter. One mentally slow man started to talk about something and lost his train of thought as he walked through the line. He stopped himself and said, “I don’t know what I was talking about, but I’m just so happy right now.”
At the end of two hours, the cold had painfully seeped through my shoes and socks and my hands felt like ice. And that was only after two hours. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be homeless in Utah in January. It was wonderful to spend some time helping out with Fill the Pots and getting to know some very good people.
I’d recommend the experience to anyone who might be interested in helping out (see the previous post for details), and I was so glad that my new friend, Mary, told me about the opportunity. Each Sunday, the homeless in Utah are a little happier, a little less hungry, and a little more warm, thanks to the efforts of the Calvary Baptist Ministry and the Fill the Pots project. And being part of that filled me with some warmth to counteract the cold.