I've been real busy since I last wrote and it's taken me some time to find time to write... so here goes...
The weekends are always the laziest because we only serve on meal Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (well, Mondays too, but it's set up differently). I've gotten to spend a lot of time with my housemates and with my friend in Camden, Joanne. It has been really nice to relax and just hang out, I didn't get to do too much of that when I was at school!
Mondays are kind of a strange day because the Team has a meeting in the morning which one of us attends (this week it was Emily), and one of us goes to Saint Benedict's Thrift Store (which was me this week), and someone is in the office at the Inn to answer phones and other random things.
So at Bennie's (the thrift store), I was there for the first time by myself!!!! Eek!!! Our goal at the thrift store is not to make a profit, but to simply cover the rent for the building so everything is reallllllllyyyyyy cheap! But mostly the prices are subjective and depend on whoever is working. I ended up making $112 for the day, which is pretty high, since most people come home with around $50. We tend to charge less for guests of the Inn than for regular customers and, in fact, at the Inn on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, we give out a clothing voucher to the first 25 people who request them. It includes one top, one pair of pants, one pair of underwear and one pair of socks, and then they can request anything they want on top of that. So, especially on those days, we give out a lot of free clothes and shoes to the guests.
At Bennie's there is a volunteer, Bernice, that is there every day, she helps to bag clothes, hang clothes on the racks, and is generally a very crazy fun lady! Each time I am at the thrift store, we talk about how she doesn't like grapes and apples... extensively. I don't quite have the heart to tell her that she already told me, but I just laugh!
After working at Bennie's all day, I came back and worked the meal. I was maitre'd, which is one of my favorite jobs!!! The meal was going really well, I was helping the bussers and talking to the guests as they came in. All the sudden one of our guests, Donald, started fighting with another man whom I've never seen before. Donald was punching the man in the face because apparently that guy sneezed all over Donald's plate. Now Donald is normally a very amiable and pleasant guest; he never gives us trouble and is always very polite. But he is partially deaf and has had to fight for respect his whole life because of his disability so sometimes even the smallest things can set him off. And in Donald's defense, the other man was very high on heroin (I believe) and had been falling asleep in his food for about 15 minutes and Donald kept trying to help the guy out, keeping him awake. There was a lot of excitement after that and trying to get things under control after a fight like that was rather difficult. As far as Donald is concerned, he's been banned for some time because we don't tolerate any kind of violence... we now will give him some food at the fence so that he can still eat, just not inside with the other guests.
Yesterday morning I got to do the clothing vouchers, which is always fun... hahaha. People were very grumpy and thus, making me grumpy, but the meal went okay and had very few problems. I was one of the dishwashers for the meal last night and then quickly headed over to Camden to help in one of their ministries, ESL classes. Joanne has decided to offer child care for the children of the ESL students so I'm helping her out because I've decided I really miss kids! It was a lot of fun and I got to speak Spanish for 2 hours straight with a little girl!!! It was really fun to do something that is so familiar to me (child care) and to hang out with Joanne! I'll be heading over there every Tuesday night to help her out!
Today I am working in the kitchen with Sr. Jude. Cooking dinner for 400 people is quite daunting and you cannot imagine the amount of cucumbers and tomatoes and celery need to be cut for pasta salad for 400 people... working in the kitchen is not my favorite job, but Sr. Jude is incredible and is so sweet and really likes the help, so it's not so bad!
Each week the FVMs plan 2 masses, so we were broken into two groups (Emily and myself, and Paul and Maureen), so Emily and I plan mass on Monday nights (after the meal, before our community meal) and it's sooo fun!!! We get to set the altar and pick the songs. The Gospel for Monday was from Luke where he talks about how we each have a candle and it is our job to light the world... I'm not sure if any of you know the song "Go Light Your World" (for those who have done SBA, it's one of the songs at the retreat), but we played it during Communion because it just seemed so appropriate!
One of the lines in the song says "Take your candle, run to the darkness, seek out the lowly..." Sometimes I can't help but feel like we are clouded here in Kensington; this is the forgotten part, or the part people try to forget. It is literally "dark" because Kensington Avenue is underneath the "El" (the train), but I am doing my best to lighten the darkness that seems to exist here, to show the Light of Christ to our guests, or at least be a light to them when they come to us. But I think Luke, Jesus, and Kathy Troccoli, have it right; it is my job here to light the world using the grace and love of Christ.