Yesterday was one of those days where nothing went as planned, but all went better than any planned out scenario could have! Yesterday morning we heard that there had been an explosion, a fire in a manhole on the campus where we minister. At first, there were reports that students had gotten injured, but it was soon confirmed that it was four workmen that had been going down in the manhole that had really gotten hurt -- one badly enough to have been transported to a burn unit in another part of the state.
There had already been some electrical problems on campus and whether or not this incident made those problems worse, we're not sure. However, all classes were cancelled and most classrooms and office buildings were locked for the day. Our regular group Bible study is always on Thursday nights in one of the main buildings on campus. When we heard everything had been locked down, we immediately started calling students and making tentative plans. While we knew that several of our students would be going home for Easter weekend, we had already gotten two calls by students who wanted to know if we were still having Bible study. We decided to reroute everyone to our house for the study instead of cancelling altogether.
After calling as many of them as we could and having them call others, we set out to redefine our day. My daughter had a soccer game in the afternoon, so before I went to that, I bought spuds and the fixins. Jeff and I debated about how many baked potatoes to cook. We knew that it was going to be a low number, but I always have the fear of running out of food. And with potatoes, you have to be pretty precise. Last year when I did potatoes, there were 8 left over. That's a lot of potatoes to have to recycle into something else!
I wanted to bake 20 (just in case), but Jeff (always more practical than me) said that 12-15 would be plenty. After remembering the low attendance this time last year, I conceded that he was probably correct. So 15 spuds had been put in the oven to bake slowly and I went off to the soccer game.
A little before 7 the doorbell started ringing (for those who had never been to house before). Most students and friends know that if we are expecting them, to just try the door and come on in. It gets loud and we don't always hear the doorbell. They just kept coming. By 7:30, spud #15 had been put on a student's plate, and I began a frantic search for some other kind of nourishment to put on the counter.
By person number 22, we had gone through my homemade chicken noodle soup, clam chowder, and had resorted to making impromptu wraps with ham and cheese. The ice cream sandwiches and frozen juice bars were all over the place. Everyone seemed in a festive mood!
We had a great time of worship, prayer, and then a Bible study on Catholicism in view of biblical Chistianity. The students asked good questions and seemed really into the study.
I'm sure there were several times I needed to take my hand and close my gapping mouth. I was amazed by the turn of events and by the spirit of fellowship that was flowing freely in my house.
So, I've learned two important things by this unplanned gift of spontaneous ministry: 1) always go by my instinct when it comes to food and the amount of it -- Jeff can stick to the theology of it all! (and if there's potatoes left over, then I'll make potato soup the next day!) 2) always be willing to enjoy and open ourselves up to the deviations in our lives, revel in them, and watch what God can do with or without the right amount of potatoes!!