Sunday, November 2, 2014

Timely Blessing

The  blessing is coming just in time.

For the last month, our church small group members have been working to provide Blessing Bags for the students at my school. First we were challenged by our pastor to volunteer as a group somewhere in the community. Next, we determined the students in my school were certainly deserving of our time, money and anything we could provide for them. Finally, we came up with a list of foods and toiletries to purchase at a local superstore.

Other groups helped us to stuff 80 bags with boxes of macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, spaghetti sauce, cleaning supplies and other basics that are staples in my own kitchen. Items always on my pantry shelves. They're not fancy delicacies, but things that are easy and inexpensive enough to replenish on a weekly basis, or whenever we're running low.

The students at my school get free breakfast and lunch. Here's how the early morning meal works: Students come into class at 7:40 and get their breakfast and milk out of insulated, red pouches. Sometimes it's waffles in a bag, cereal in a box, ham and egg sandwiches or muffins. After the 8:00 morning announcements, breakfast is over. The pouches are put outside in the hallway for cafeteria staff to remove and teaching begins.

On Friday, one of my students -- we'll call him Tyrone -- asks if he can have a few extra pancakes on a stick -- the menu item of the morning. School rules say that after breakfast is over, all the remaining food has to be disposed and students are not allowed extras. I reminded my little friend of these rules and he was none too happy. The principal happened to walk by as he and I were having this discussion, so I wrote a note to her and gave it to Tyrone. "If she says yes, then I'll let you keep one to eat for lunch," I said.

I took this route simply because I knew he wouldn't stop with me until he got what he wanted. This little guy is street smart and only listens to the highest authority possible. With me, he has extremely selective listening. I was almost sure the principal would say no, he would have to abide, and I could go on with my lesson.

I was surprised when he came back into the classroom with the little note and the word "yes" circled in black pen. So I gave him the plastic-wrapped pancake on a stick and told him where to keep it until lunch time.

A few minutes later, my principal walked by to check on my classroom and I questioned the note. She pulled me aside to tell me that there was no food in the boy's home, and he was stockpiling food in anticipation of a long night of hunger pains. All this from a small 8-year-old boy who was seasoned in evenings without dinner. Needless to say, I felt awful, not only for doubting him, but also for knowing that my pantry is overflowing with cans and boxes and bags of food ... so much that often I don't even use it until the expiration date comes and goes.

So when the members of my small group come to my school this week and deliver Blessing Bags for each student in our grade level, I will praise God that "enough" is being provided for these small survivors. He always provides just in time.