So I’m munching away on a delicious bagel from Einsten Bros Bagels with some interesting vegetable cream cheese pondering on what the subject of my blog should be. There was some rather devastating news this week about an investigation into Greg Mortenson’s charity and the integrity of his books. Its such a let down to hear that the book that gave my semester such a jump-start may not have been entirely truthful. I found his story so inspirational because I believed it to be true events he struggled through. However, as I’ve learned from watching more animal cops shows than is healthy, those accused of an offense “are assumed innocent until proven guilty”. So instead I’d like to base my blog on a lighter, happier note of my supply drive at Reformation Lutheran church in Lakeland, FL.
On Monday I unloaded a full trunk and back seat of supplies donated from the church. The supplies alone could have taken up one cart. My mom actually suggested the idea of asking my grandma’s church to do a school supply back in January. I didn’t approach their pastor, Pastor Wise, until late February. I’d only attended Mommy Skip’s (yes it’s different but that’s what I call my grandma) church a few times on special occasions and my most vivid association with the church was my grandpa’s funeral. I’d also never been very religiously oriented since I was younger and over the years I’d just become a little uncomfortable around churches and the idea of organized religion. When I finally emailed Pastor Wise about the supply drive and gave him background information of what it accomplishes he responded quickly about how he thought it’d be a great project for the church to do. Then later he called me and I spoke to a woman named Eva Johnson who said she’d help head the drive at the church and I told her the first Sunday I could make it to bring boxes.
The Sunday morning I walked in with my mom and Mommy Skip, some of the congregation members of the adorably quaint church already recognized me and they were handing out a double-sided information sheet that I’d sent to the Pastor in an email. I also realized in that moment that they were expecting me to stand in front of the congregation and speak about the supply drive; something that made the pop-tart I’d eaten that morning stir around. It’s real easy to hide behind the internet and write this blog with lots of time, and the chance to re-read everything, but when you speak, you get no take-backs and the awkward pauses and “Ummms” are all heard. I did it anyway; with lots of pauses, mumbling and staring at the ceiling, but overall a decent job.
Just leaving Reformation Lutheran Church after its service, a few women came up and handed me cash towards the shipping fund. The kindness and warmth that radiates from all the members of the congregation is astounding. When Mommy Skip called me a couple weeks later saying she had a ton of school supplies for me to pick up, I thought she was exaggerating about how many garbage bags and Publix bags worth they’d filled. However, when I got to her house and saw almost the entire floor of her office covered I couldn’t believe the amount of donations that had been generated from a congregation of less than one hundred members. The atmosphere I feel of just visiting the church is so open and comfortable, I feel silly now for having been nervous of asking them to participate. Looking back, I can’t believe I’ve completed a class like this. Honestly, this doesn’t feel like a class, more like a self-help project yet you’re also helping deserving and desperately in need children in Afghanistan at the same time.