One evening, a while back, we took the boys to Feed My Starving Children, an organization that sends specially-formulated food packets to malnourished children around the world.
We signed up through our homeschool group. I thought maybe we’d make some friends while serving together. Our “team” was comprised of our family (before adopting Autumn) and another homeschool mom and her two sons. I use the word “team” because a “friendly” competition broke out among the stations to see who could make the most packets. Each station was set up with three bins containing different ingredients, a scale, and a packet sealer. The other mom worked the sealer (Sealer Chick), while one of her sons packed the bags into boxes and the other was stationed at the bins with Steve and Josiah. Sheehan and I were left with scale duty. We had to make sure the total packet weight was in a specified range and we would add or subtract rice (the filler) as needed.
We put on our sanitary shower caps – we looked like a little family of mushrooms – and then someone screamed, “go!” The scoopers dumped ingredients into the bag, making sure the food didn’t fall on the table because then it would be considered unsanitary and couldn’t be used. The first bag came to us and we put it on the scale. It was too light, so Sheehan added rice. Then too heavy. Ugh. We did this for three more bags. Then I noticed that bags were piling up next to our scale. Sealer Chick noticed too because she let out a big sigh and, I think, an eye roll. I ignored her…who am I kidding. I didn’t ignore her, I was ticked off and did the most passive-aggressive thing I could. I pushed Sheehan to weigh faster while I punched her in the stomach inside my head. Then I passed the bag to her and put the next on the scale.
Sealer Chick was whisper-screaming, “Come on, come on! They’re flying through their bags!” No pressure. Now six bags were leaning next to our scale. I felt like Lucy and Ethel at the chocolate assembly line. I considered shoving some food packets down my shirt or just saying, screw the weight range and throwing them at Sealer Chick.
We put another bag on the scale and it was low again! Can’t the scoopers (Steve, Josiah, and Sealer Chick’s stinking son) get the weight right?? Sheehan scooped more rice into the bag, but half of it fell out onto the table which meant the sloppy people at the scale were negligent and just wasted money that could have been feeding starving children all over the world. Sealer Chick noticed the spilled rice and the six bags piled next to our scale and, as she looked to the competition on her left and right, said in a sing-songy voice, “if he wasn’t so slow with the rice we could get more done”.
Oh no she di’int.
Did Christian Homeschooling Sealer Chick just call my son slow? I looked down at my scale and sincerely prayed, Lord, help me to love this Friend of Satan because right now I hate her. And Lord, please give me self-control so I don’t kick my foot through her teeth.
Once 10 packets were piled up next to our scale I suggested Sheehan and I switch to scooping so we could win the freaking food packing game and to ease the pressure Sealer Chick was putting on me, and I was therefore putting on Sheehan. We switched and Sealer Chick took the scale. We filled a record number of bags. I hated her more.
After an hour someone yelled for us to stop and clean up. We took off our shower caps and sat in front of a TV that showed a video of people who have benefited from the packets. Seeing the starving children and the gratitude they had for the food packets melted the stone rattling around in my chest. Then God reminded me of a time when I served at a homeless shelter with a youth group and was barking at the kids to speed up because they weren’t moving fast enough. We weren’t even “competing,” I was just pushing efficiency more than the spirit of service. I saw myself in Sealer Chick. I saw how sometimes we can so easily forget the reason we’re serving: to help and show our love for others.
Click on the button below to learn more about Feed My Starving Children. They have permanent locations in the Twin Cities, MN, Chicago, and Tempe, AZ, and have mobile packing sites all over the country. Kids are enjoying the packing so much they’re even bringing their friends and having their birthday parties at the sites. Minimum age to volunteer is five years old. It’s a great opportunity for the whole family to serve together…and to learn self-control.
And, No, our “team” did not win for most packets packed.
Have you ever served at Feed My Starving Children? Have you ever hated someone you were serving God with?