Exactly what I did to deserve being called a heifer three times (once was a double-heifer!) and forced to mop an entire church fellowship hall — all by my Savannah Missions friend Vicki Clark — well, I’ll get to all that in a moment.
This past weekend, along with being Father’s Day, was the regular trip to Savannah, Ga., for the mission of feeding a portion of the homeless there and in any way possible sharing the word of God with folks who desperately need to hear it. There were also about 400 pairs of socks, collected during the drive at the Bladen Journal and sent by Miss Bladenboro Outstanding Teen Anna Grace Allen, delivered to the Savannah Baptist Center’s Clothes Closet.
As often is the case on Father’s Day weekend, the group was small. Only nine of us made the trip, but it was a group that was a good mix of veteran missions travelers and energetic newcomers ranging in age from 8 to … well, let’s just say I was the oldest. Or eldest. Whatever.
Perhaps the highlight for me, anyway, was two-fold: I was making my first trip to Savannah in at least several months; and for this one, I was bringing with me my 10-year-old granddaughter and buddy, Kaylee, as well as my girlfriend Tammy and her 16-year-old daughter Cheyenne. All three were first-timers.
If there was a lowlight, it was the fact that two folks who had planned to go — Frieda “Frito” Adams and Lauren “Hopalong” Clark — were unable to make the trip. I was hoping to see and chat with them both, since it has been quite a while.
But the others who did go — Vicki, Mary Caitlin Clark-Campbell, Hayley Baxley, Michael Butler, Caleb Clark — proved that a small group can pull off a miracle of feeding more than 100 people. And we had enough food to feed a lot more than that.
Let me just say, one of the regular questions I get asked about this mission trip is, “why do you go all the way to Savannah to feed the homeless? Surely there are enough here to feed.” Yes, there are. But different people are called to serve in different areas. The point isn’t where, but when — and when should be now. We’re not feeding Savannah’s homeless as much as we are feeding God’s children.
This trip was a bit different than most, because we weren’t able to get into the Savannah Baptist Center — our base of operations, so to speak — until after 9 p.m. on Saturday. Normally we can unload our things when we arrive at about 2 p.m., but because there was a youth group there until later that night, we steered clear.
My foursome drove separately and arrived in Savannah at about 12:30 p.m., giving us plenty of time to do some sightseeing. First stop … Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. What a place this is. Dating back to the early 1800s, it’s a must-see for anyone regardless of denomination. Your jaw will drop and you will be left in awe of the architecture, decor and history.
From there, I took the group to Franklin Square, where there resides the best pizza joint in the entire world: Vinny Van Go-Go’s. If you like great New York-style pizza, this is the place. But be prepared to wait, because there’s always a line. However, it’s well worth the time.
The rest of the afternoon and early evening were spent mostly down on River Street visiting all the shops and enjoying the entertainment at the pavilion. We also took a round-trip ride on the free ferry. When we left there, we made our way to the famous Leopold’s Ice Cream place, where another long line awaited us — but we managed to get in quickly enough and enjoyed a homemade ice-cream recipe that’s been used since 1919.
We took a walk through Chippewa Square, where a portion of the movie “Forest Gump” was filmed, and then headed to the Savannah Baptist Center to settle in.
Although I looked forward to this mission for some time now, I became a little disappointed at just how much the Savannah Baptist Center had deteriorated since I’d first started going almost four years ago. So much of the equipment in the kitchen area was either gone or unusable. The decline was also quickly evident in the loss of staff, congregation and even the homeless crowd.
But it was still our responsibility to provide the best possible breakfast and experience on Sunday for anyone who came. So that’s what we did — and it was probably the smoothest breakfast project we’d had in a long time.
I know the trip was enjoyable and rewarding for those in the group participating for the first time — the three in my group all want to go again — and whether we feed 250 or 100, for me it’s just all about serving. Hearing the thank-yous and bless-yous from folks who struggle with everyday life is nothing short of heartwarming. Seeing the pure thankfulness in their eyes simply make you wish there was more you could do.
If there is a church group — youth and/or adult — that would like to experience a rewarding mission trip, I urge you to contact Vicki (910-876-7093) and ask about scheduling a spot. You will surely be spirit filled.
Now, about being called a heifer and mopping the floor …
Since my group was apart from Vicki’s group most of Saturday, she would occasionally text and ask where we were. When I said at the church, I got back a “heifer;” when I said later we were getting pizza, I got a “double heifer;” and, when on the way home, I told her we were at Steak n’ Shake getting milkshakes, I got a “heifer…that’s not right, Curt. I’m with the salad-eaters!”
I felt bad … until I remembered the mop.
After we had cleaned up the church kitchen, the guys who take care of the dining hall came in and Vicki asked one of them, “Is there anything WE can do to help?” I heard the word we very distinctly, I promise. She was told, “someone can mop if they want.”
Well, something led me to grab the mop and Kaylee came right along to push the bucket around. And while I mopped the entire dining room floor, the rest of the WE gang leaned on the counter … watching.
All I can say, Vicki, is that milkshake tasted awesome!
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.