Though all love originates in God and is for that reason God's own love, yet we are permitted to catch and reflect back that love in such manner that it becomes our love indeed, in much the same way that sunlight reflected from the moon becomes moonlight. - A.W. Tozer

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

If Toast Were Flexible, It Would Just Be Bread

The Twins - Unplugged and in Disgrace
When we first arrived in Crisfield last October, there were three words written on the white board in the MDS dining room. They were: Kindness, Flexibility, Patience. Our Project Director at the time, Mr. Alvin, always emphasized those three words, and how important they would be to a successful time for both the short-term and long-term volunteers.

He was right, of course, because when you have this many people coming in and out of an area, expected to pick right up with jobs that may be difficult or new, you must be willing to allow them, and yourself, the freedom to have opinions and do things their own way. We all still work within the parameters of the policies of MDS, and on the job sites things must be done correctly so that the homes of our clients are the best they can be, but here at the camp site we find that every long-term volunteer who comes to spend two weeks, six weeks, or sixteen weeks, comes with their own favorite methods and expectations.

No where is this more true than in the kitchen and dining room. We've now had the opportunity to be fed by four different sets of MDS cooks, and every single one of them has had their own take on how a kitchen should function, where the food will be laid out, and what constitutes a good meal. All of them have been wildly successful as far as I can tell. The food is always excellent, there is always enough of it, and my family is slowly putting on weight.

But - lest I leave you with the impression that it's always easy to change, be flexible, and have patience with your fellow volunteers, let me tell you about the toasters. Now, first you must understand that I really like a good piece of toast. There's something about toasting bread that makes it twice as tasty, and you just can't beat toast for spread-ability. You can put jelly on even the softest slice of bread when you toast it.

Every cook recognizes that the toasters need to exist. They understand that some of us will want toast at any given time during the day. (Most people use them for breakfast, but I'm not so bound by tradition.) However, they absolutely do not agree on where the toasters should be. Every time a new cook arrives, the toasters move. I walk into the bunk-house dining room and look over towards the end of the table, expecting to see the comforting gleam of the two toasting twins, and *gasp*, they're gone!

This begins the great toaster hunt as I carry my forlorn slice of bread around the dining room, prep room, and kitchen looking for the toasters. Once I came in to find that they had been put into a cardboard box! "Why are the toasters in a box?!" I cried in fear and trembling. They were returned to the table, and there they stayed - that is, until the next cook regime came and moved them somewhere else.

The toasters are now in the prep room near the kitchen. They are unplugged, because our cook (Ms. Pat, who is as nice as they come and will, I hope, forgive my youthful rebellion) believes in a socialist kitchen where the government will dispense toast to the deserving. I have started my own revolution by pulling a toaster out and plugging it in at the drinks table every time I want to make a piece of toast. Since I then return it, unplugged and forgotten, to its corner, my revolution affects the running of the regime very little, but I feel like I've held one up for democracy and the fight of the common (wo)man.

I'm trying to be flexible; I really am. Perhaps this struggle is the kind that will bring perseverance and the rewards of a life of sacrifice. Or perhaps I've come to be just a little too dependent on toasted bread for my peace and happiness. Further evaluation is needed, and for that, I will need toast.

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