It’s Just Us

A bump in the road alerts me and I stare at the sidewalks lined with sleeping bags, tents, and make-shift cardboard homes. Trash and debris lines the streets and the smell of smog and urine fills the air of our Toyota Camry. We weren’t in John Hillcoat’s “The Road,” we were on Skid Row – not even 15 miles from my apartment

To be honest, I forgot where we were going until we were already there and parking the car next to a man urinating in the street. Linell, myself and some of our friends were meeting up with a group of others to serve a hot meal for the homeless and dejected living on the streets of Los Angeles.

Our “kitchen” was set up outside of a warehouse – home to a clothing company called Love Nail Tree – but that didn’t stop us from grilling up home made barbecue marinated chicken with sides of mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet-rolls, and corn!

The grill was lit and our burners were on high and the food was cooked to perfection! Linell and Evangeline were playing some wonderful music in the background which provided a welcoming atmosphere to those passing by.

Soon the chicken was nicely colored and ready to serve and the line of approximately 50 hungry people moved down the serving line. Most of them acknowledged us with a “yes please” or “no” and “thank you” after being offered the different side items. One woman stood at a safe distance.  She seemed to be making sure it was ok for her to help herself to a free meal.

After filling his plate, one man came up to me and asked me a series of questions wondering why we were there. “Sir, we’re not part of any organization” I replied. In his disbelief he then asked what church we were part of. I told him that we weren’t there on behalf of any church. His next question seemed to emerge out of frustration: “Then why are you here?”

“We’re not part of any organization, we’re just here to serve you. It’s just us, wanting to give you a home-cooked meal,” I said. This seemed to puzzle the man. He said thank you and sat down to eat at the tables we set up.

After I finished serving what was left of my station’s food, I grabbed a plate and  sat down next to a man named Jared. We had a wonderful conversation and almost 2 hours went by. I just couldn’t stop listening to Jared’s stories and unique perspective. My friends were finished loading the car and we had to say goodbye but we’ll probably be seeing them again soon!

That evening we got together and served up a meal for the neglected and homeless. We learned more about the importance of a healthy, home-cooked meal and sitting around a table together.

I wan’t to challenge you to spend more time around the table with those you love and, if you can, spend some time serving others in need. You don’t have to be part of an organization or have a mission. Gather some friends  and just go.

Cook on.

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