Original Entry Date: August 5, 2017
Written by: Jonathan Stufft

When a day starts at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 10:30 p.m., it is safe to say that you can count that as a long day. Fifteen-hour days can be exhausting for sure, but somehow, this fifteen-hour day left me rejuvenated, excited, and hungering for more!

Why in the world would a produce distribution take fifteen hours?! Why would that make me want more?!

Our board has been absolutely amazed by the work that God has been doing in this ministry. We have seen growth in both volunteers and in people we serve. We have been constantly searching for ways to reach more people while not leaving anyone behind. We have been building lasting relationships with the people we serve, and with those who serve alongside of us. It has been phenomenal and I want to share some things that have touched me this week.

While at a community dinner at church, I spotted Doris, one of our dedicated volunteers. We shared a hug and a smile as we began conversing like old friends. I asked if we would be seeing her this weekend at the produce distribution. She got very serious, almost somber, and informed me that she would be there, but that she would not be able to wear her Matthew 25 Outreach Center t-shirt that we had given her previously. She apologized. I laughed a little and reminded her that we only care about her, and that the t-shirt isn’t important.

She smiled, but was still bothered, so I dug a little deeper and asked why she wouldn’t have her shirt. It was then that she opened up and shared her story. She told me that she had been living in a hotel for a month now since a tree had fallen on her house! She wasn’t able to get back into the house to get her shirt because there was structural damage and the contractors did not want anyone inside until repairs were made. I was shocked! Thankfully, Doris was not hurt. However, I stood in amazement as she apologized to me about a t-shirt when she had been devastated by a wind storm. People like Doris, who turned 93 this week by the way, are what make M25OC amazing. We were sure to highlight her milestone to everyone at the distribution on Saturday!

While our volunteers amaze us, our clients amaze us just as well. The things that we learn from them each month are more valuable than we could have ever imagined. There is a phenomenal sense of community where we do our produce distributions. Neighbors look after each other.  Everyone is a friend. The people are tight knit and compassionate to one another. Here are two examples:

The first is that of a man who was walking to get food at our produce distribution. On his miles-long walk, he was recognized by a friend, who in turn offered him a ride since they were headed to the same place. As it turns out, the two were able to help each other.  The man who was walking got a ride. The woman who was driving was in poor health and was on oxygen, so when they arrived, the man checked in for her and gathered her food so she could stay in the car. He loaded both his and hers into the car, and then rode back with her to help her unload. A true neighbor and friend.

The second example of community is one that made me laugh. We had wrapped up the produce distribution at the school, but still had a fair amount of delivering to do. As we pulled out with our load, we made a quick loop around the neighborhood to pick up our signs before heading out to deliver. The third sign that I picked up was at the Church’s Chicken restaurant. I pulled into the lot, thinking I would jump out and grab the sign before quickly heading to the next sign.

As I pulled up, some of the employees of the restaurant came outside and asked what I had on my trailer. I explained that we had free produce to give away and told them how we do it. They asked if they could get some, so I gladly obliged. As I was helping them, I noticed a man walking by and checking us out. I invited him to come get some produce as well. After several minutes of conversation, his trust was earned, and his shock was gone. He loaded up and took the food two houses down where he lived.

Within minutes he was back. He seemed to know everyone that passed by the intersection, and began flagging people down to tell them about us. He even picked up his phone and called a few friends. Before I could even speak, he showed each person how to sign in, explained what food we had, and began helping them load up! It was over an hour later when I finally left the parking lot to get my next sign… and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

We always say that M25OC is about relationships. It is clear to me, on so many levels, that everything is about relationships, and all of us at M25OC are just happy to learn more about them each month. We are truly blessed by everyone we meet!