Thursday, May 15, 2008
At Salt and Sea Mission, we always assist with the morning worship service before handing out food for the food pantry. Then students need to be prepared to hand out clothes, visit with the dozens of regular attenders, clean the kitchen, sort and repack food, or whatever else the mission's pastor needs.
The other day at Salt and Sea, however, really challenged me to continually ensure that my "servant's heart" is in check: I stood in front of Pastor Debbe (trying desperately not to laugh) as she demonstrated how to scrub two HUGE marble staircases and the landings/doorways that accompanied them with.... get this.... BRILLO PADS. Like, those little two inch square metal scrubbers with the pink soap in the middle. I mean, when I asked if there was anything we could do to help in the next 20-30 minutes before we left, I certainly didn't mean crawl on our hands and knees on an old grimy staircase in Coney Island and scrub every little crevice with a tool barely bigger than a toothbrush!!
Again, trying not to laugh, I organized my "troops" (a hard-working, loving group of high school upperclassman from Morweena, Canada) and explained the task that we had been given. They all kind of stared at me blankly before glancing over at the staircase and doorways behind them, before looking back at me like I was absolutely insane. Then we all laughed together and got to work.
Barely half an hour later, we had swept, scrubbed (ahem - remember? Brillo Pads?), rinsed, and mopped 2 marble staircases and their related doorways and landings, before calling it quits. We pretty much laughed about it all day, but felt good about our job well done.
It wasn't until the next night at debrief (after the second half of our group had volunteered there the following morning), that I truly began to realize that it wasn't about cleaning stairs with Brillo Pads. It was about a group of Canadian teenagers willing to humble themselves down to the point of selfless service, and truly showing the owner/patrons of Salt and See Mission TRUE acts of servant-hood by being more than willing to kneel down into the grimy stairs of a beach ministry - AND with a smile on their face, nonetheless. Cause you know what? If Pastor Debbe had asked Christ to lather up a Brillo Pad and join us on those grubby stairs caked with the dirt and grime of the world, I have no doubt he would sweated, scrubbed, and laughed right alongside us.
-Katie Filkins, CSM New York City Host Spring 2008