Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Mission Story #2

On Tuesday, we served lunch at the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Oakland. We started the day folding napkins and aprons, pouring juice, and interacting with the other volunteers there.

Karina had a long conversation with one in particular - Nivana, a high school girl from Oakland, who serves there to fulfill volunteer hours necessary for graduation.

Around 11:00 we began to serve lunch to homeless and low-income men, women, and families in the area. I found myself on the serving line, standing between Nivana and and our own Kate McCourt. Kate was dishing up a chicken cassarole, I was scooping on the salad. Nivana handled the peaches.

As we served up the food, the conversation continued. Eventually, Nivana said "My grandmother lives in Washington."

"Where?" I asked.

"Somewhere near Gig Harbor."

"We live near Gig Harbor. Do you know where exactly she lives?"

"Um, it starts with a W I think."

"Not Wauna?"

"Yeah - Wauna. That's it."

For all you non-locals, Wauna is the tiny community at the Purdy Spit, a mere 15 miles or so north of Lakebay. We all regularly drive through Wauna to go into town. Ask 100 people in the greater Seattle-Tacoma area where Wauna is, and 99 won't have a clue. Yet here we are in Oakland, California, serving next to a young lady whose grandmother lives there. What are the odds?

But it gets better.

"She sometimes leads Bible studies at the Purdy Women's Prison."

We have people in our church who sometimes serve/minister at the Purdy women's prison.

And then it got really freaky, or cool, depending on how you look at it.

As we worked it all out, we discovered that Nivana's grandmother graduated from Tacoma Community College last spring. Kate graduated from TCC last spring. In other words, they graduated together. And Nivana was there, to see her grandmother graduate. So. unbeknownst to each other, they were at the same graduation in Tacoma last spring. Nivana saw Kate graduate. And now, in late July, they were both standing on the same serving line at St. Vincent de Paul in Oakland.

If you ask me, that's pretty neat. Almost like God's sense of humor shining through for a brief moment.
Postscript: Later that day, our team had a scavenger hunt-type activity throughout the tenderloin and Market districts. Part of the activity was designed to force the team to interact with locals, seeking out information and directions. The first person the team interviewed was a librarian at the SF library. Turns out she's from Shelton, another small Washington town about 30 miles away. The second person they interviewed was a woman sitting by the fountain at the bottom of UN plaza. Only she was from Seattle, so didn't have much to say about life in SF.

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