Feeding the Hungry


Beads of condensation roll off the plastic cling wrap as it’s peeled away from the white Styrofoam trays. Stacked high with 10 kg of mozzarella and 21 kg of mortadella, the four trays are ready to be sliced. This makes about 750 sandwiches, so some of it is refrigerated for the next day. With a firm hand, Inacia halves the mortadella rounds and quarters the mozzarella rectangles. She separates the pieces of meat and cheese into two silver bowls. Here the assembly line begins.

Inacia sets the two bowls at the head of the wooden picnic table on the back patio. Lori and Mark sit across from one another, each with a red plastic tray in front of them. Reaching for the bowls, they take one piece of mortadella and a slice of mozzarella to match. They pair them, cheese on top of meat, forming neat rows on the tray.

The girls sit next in line at the table, each with a giant green Tupperware bin to one side. They are filled with 500 fresh rolls sliced earlier that morning. Caroline grabs a roll in her left hand, and in her right, a pair of meat and cheese from off the red tray. She stuffs the roll and slides the sandwich down the table. Across from her, Katie does the same. When the sandwiches start to accumulate, I stack them into rows at the head of the table and begin to form a pyramid. We work efficiently, enjoying the morning breeze and the heat of the warm sun on our faces, while singing along to the music playing from Caroline’s iPod.



When Katie and Caroline have gone through half the rolls in their buckets, we combine what remains into a single Tupperware. I dismantle the pyramid on the table, taking sandwiches by twos and threes to form tight rows in the empty bin. At the base, only ten sandwiches fit across. As the bin widens, twelve or thirteen can fit without flattening them beyond recognition. The green bin holds six levels with four rows in each. Each level has extra space on one side for an additional nine sandwiches packed perpendicular to the four rows. Approximately 300 sandwiches fit into each green bin.

Once the bin has been completely loaded, we put the lid on, securing it with a bungee. While I package the last bin with the sandwiches, the others begin cleaning up. Mark and Lori bring the silver bowls and red trays to the kitchen while Katie sweeps the patio free of breadcrumbs and chunks of fallen mortadella. Caroline degreases the table, scrubbing vigorously with a yellow dishcloth.



We load the sandwich bins into the truck and fit the pickup bed with the juice apparatus. Each of three 20-liter water jugs is filled with 20 packets of powdered Tang mixed with fresh water. We’ll stop to buy ice at Pedro’s corner store on the way out to make sure the juice is cool and refreshing. Before leaving, we bow our heads by the truck and thank the Lord for the opportunity he has given us to prepare these simple sandwiches. We ask that He will bless the day and that the people will accept the food to fill their stomachs and more importantly, the Savior to fill their souls.

At each of the stops the people come running, their faces lighting up when they see the truck. Adults and children stand waiting for the food to fill their empty stomachs. At the back of the truck, Katie and Lori keep busy passing out juice and refilling the carafes. They hand out paperback booklets of the gospel of John to the older kids and adults. One young man tucks it into the back pocket of his shorts as he holds out his plastic cup for more juice. This will satisfy his thirst temporarily, but we pray he will reach for the word to quench the real thirst in his soul.

Caroline wraps two sandwiches in a gospel tract and places them into Isaque’s outstretched hand. His fingernails are caked with dirt and his feet infested with bichos de pé. But more than these physical ailments, in his eyes is an emptiness that only the Savior can fill. The gospel tract, titled Perdão Completo (Complete Pardon) will tell him of the Savior who loves him. It will tell him the Lord will never leave or forsake him and a peace he can have in Christ. The Lord Jesus gave his life on the cross to pay for his sins. He can be free from his life of guilt and misery if only he will accept God’s gift of salvation. We watch as he walks away and sits on the curb to eat his sandwiches. As he begins to read the tract, we silently pray that the truth will set him free.

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