There are so many reasons to look forward to the every-other-month trip to Savannah, Ga. Bookending each and every trip is the anticipation of what will take place, along with the rewarding feeling once it is accomplished.
Not every trip, though, lives up to the anticipation.
Yet, thankfully, the reward is always awesome.
Last weekend, my eighth trip, was perhaps the most unusual — or interesting, depending on how you look at it — there has been for me so far. And there are a number of reasons for that.
First, my chauffeur was Darrell Hester in a pickup truck. That’s significant only because, usually, Vicki Clark is my driver in a van filled with several other females (they had gone to Savannah the day before; I couldn’t go because of the football jamboree that, by the way, was canceled … thank you, Mother Nature. Grrrrrrr). So the chatter on the way down Interstate 95, and back again, was a little different.
Guy talk versus … not guy talk, ya know?
Next came the news that we would have a total of 29 people on this mission. Now, let me just put this into a little perspective here: My first trip, in June 2012, had a total of FOUR people.
This trip included 18 folks, mostly youth group members, from Galeed Baptist Church in Bladenboro and another 11 members from Broadway Baptist Church near Sanford — pastored by Larry Pittman, who along with his wife Kim had previously spent five years at the First Baptist Church in Clarkton. All told, I think we had 19 youth and 10 adults.
And before I forget, it was especially good to see Miss Freida on the trip with us!
Something else just a bit different was the weather. It was crummy. Most of Saturday was rainy and Sunday was as hot and muggy as it could possibly be. That, I think, would play a role in the turnout for breakfast.
When we all finally converged on the Savannah Baptist Center, after seeing Mark’s happy face to greet us, I found that the shopping for our Sunday breakfast menu had already been done. This pleased me to some degree — until I realized there would be no chance to get a bucket of 1,635 gourmet jellybeans at Sam’s Club.
Another realization was that my usual “bedroom” — which is really a Sunday school classroom — had already been taken. Now, I’m not so much a creature of habit. I like change. Lord knows that, in my line of work, things change more often than I change my socks. For goodness sakes, “ain’t” is actually in the dictionary now!
Anyway, my coveted corner “bedroom” that is the closest to the kitchen and men’s bathroom was filled to capacity. So I went on a quick search for a space — and found it a door or two down the hall. It had a fan and a glow-in-the-dark solar system on the ceiling, so all was good.
Anyway, after dinner at Cheddar’s (a favorite spot for the Bladen County gang and me), we returned to the Savannah Baptist Center to start setting up the kitchen, assign breakfast duties for the next morning and have a devotional in the sanctuary.
Once the assignments were handed out, it really began to sink in just how overloaded we were with people.
Things got going early Sunday morning, with the initial part of the group getting into the kitchen by 6:30 to start the coffee, begin cracking and whisking eggs, and packing belongings to be put in the vehicles.
As always, I was on the eggs — and I had four youth to assist me. The trio of Iyana, Joy, Morgan and Crystal did the majority of cracking and whisking of the 360 eggs before the scrambling began. Here’s where there was another difference: Usually I scrambled the eggs in an 18-inch heavy-duty frying pan on the stove. But the stove was … well, let’s just say a couple of its burners were, um, unusable.
So, I was relegated to using a skillet.
It worked, and the eggs got done. Again, I’m not really a creature of habit, but — laugh if you must — going from a round frying pan to a rectangular skillet bugged me. I’ve already informed Vicki that the frying pan will make its return in October!
Anyway, with so many people in and around the kitchen, it was quickly evident that there wasn’t enough for everyone to keep busy with, and that began to show when jobs were finished early and there wasn’t much else to do. Then, when the line of homeless folks began to move toward us, it was evident there weren’t as many this time around.
Perhaps it was the weather that kept them away. Who knows? But we fed far less than 200 that morning. That was discouraging, but there WAS a tear-jerking moment along the way. Cassidy, one of Galeed’s folks, was told a story by one of the homeless men — how he had been voted Most Likely to Succeed in high school and now he was on the streets; plus his daughter was also homeless and using crystal meth.
That and the rest of his story really got to tender-hearted Cassidy and it affected her for a long while after — along with a prayer request during church services from a woman who wanted prayer for her son and his adoptive parents.
For many folks who make the trip to Savannah, it’s easy to focus just on the mission at hand and not take the chance to actually speak with some of those they are blessing. But doing that only gets you half of the story. Looking for those opportunities to talk with those we serve gets us, as Paul Harvey always said, “the rrrrrest of the story.”
Cassidy got the “rrrrrest of the story,” and now can fully understand why we make this trip.
That alone, despite everything else, puts this one into the success column.
— W. Curt Vincent is the general manager and editor of the Bladen Journal. He can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.