Sunday 5th May we had Sunday Church in the Jordan Café (the Church Hall) – to kick off our Mission Month of May. As we met in the Jordan Café for Church, we looked at Compassion, God’s Compassion and how Newtown Mission lives out God’s Compassion. Both the morning and evening Gatherings were a great time! There were stories and testimonies of what the Jordan Café means to people and what God does in, and through, His ministry of Compassion here at the Jordan Café. Thank you to everyone who was involved and helped out.
Below is the story of a ‘typical Jordan Cafe Friday lunch’ I shared during those Gatherings:
(Names are removed for privacy purposes)
The dust has settled on another very busy Thursday night, there must have been 70-80 people in Chapel and we must have served around 120 meals.
What a night, what a vibe.
And now to back it up the next morning and get read for Friday lunch … The team must be exhausted.
I don’t know how they do it but Steve and Sini open up the kitchen to get the day started.
There is planning for the day, ordering, cleaning up and catching up.
Dave, Elle, Donna, Tanya, Lizzie, Jo will start making their way in and help out.
We chat about Thursday night, have a bit of a laugh and with her usual huge smile, Sini says: ‘God is good.’
‘All the time’ is the reply. God is good all the time.
Just then there is a knock on the kitchen door it is the crew to set up the Chapel for AA.
Food is being cooked, sandwiches prepared, salads made, dishes are washed.
The kitchen is a hive of activity.
There is a knock on the door: It is a delivery of fresh fruit and vegetables from Velutis’.
The hall is being set up: Chairs are being put down; the urn is being filled up.
There is another knock on the door: A lady who lives local, whose neighbor works for a bakery, wants to donate bread! Sure.
Back in the hall, cutlery is being wrapped, plates are being put out.
In the kitchen: The preparation of lunch is still happening.
A knock on the door: There are a couple of housing case workers who want to work together on a priority housing application. Great, for sure.
We are getting closer to opening now, it is about 12:30.
Another knock on the door: It is a team of 4 students from St Andrews and 4 students from St Paul’s (Sydney Uni.) here to help out. The teams are always a big help/
The food is now ready, tea and coffee are ready to go.
We are all good to go.
A knock at the door: It is Ross! Ross would have to be one of longest serving volunteers. Over 10 years coming along, quietly serving and catching up with people.
We catch up as a team: Everyone together. We have lunch together: Are there any issues? Any questions?
What do we have to look out for today: Well: There is AA, the Legal Team at 1:30 and also the Bible Study will run. Wanda the hairdresser is coming next Friday.
Everyone is tired after a big Thursday night but we are ready to go.
Ross prays for us.
… The calm before the storm.
Then it is battle stations. Everyone gets set, into positions: 1:00 pm is coming.
The call goes out: Are we ready to open up.
1:00 pm. We open the foyer doors to the lane: Wow. The line snakes out the lane past the florist. A sea of people.
A couple of Sydney Uni. Students join Lizzie to open the gate.
One after another we shake each other’s hands, we say hello, g’day or nhi hao and there might be a hug.
R, Ch, Br and L are usually at the front of the line.
R tells me much he loved last night’s Chapel service: How about Meg and April with the music.
L then tells us how much he loved Gab’s leading and Simo’s message.
Then there is Ch who has been coming for such a long time: What a character.
Some people are coming straight from the hospital, some are coming from the Neighbourhood Centre.
A couple of people tell us that it was great to pray with Alec, Amy and Kim last night.
There is a definitely a buzz after Thursday nights.
The line of people is huge.
We welcome Mr H, Ms C and Ms N.
Everyone is now in.
People are patiently lining up for a meal or for tea and coffee.
Plenty of chatting. Plenty of laughter.
The beautiful food is coming out fast: Fresh salads, cooked hot meals and the much-loved curry-egg sandwiches.
After collecting his plate: Pe calls out to Steve: ‘Nice feed!’
People have found their spot. Inside the hall or in the laneway.
Some people like the exact same spot!
A has arrived collects his meal and Sini gives him a big hug.
Pa comes in, Elle goes over and chats with him … Sees how he’s going.
Donna goes and says hello to M.
We welcome another Pa.
Pa says: ‘It’s just like Cheers: Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.’ So true.
Aunty Kay has arrived – everyone knows Aunty Kay: She slowly makes her way around the room and says hello to everyone. She ends with Steve: Who gives her a big hug.
AA has now finished up: The crew are such a great bunch of people and they tell us how it all went.
A bunch of people from the AA meeting join us for lunch.
Uncle B, Uncle J, Uncle Ra, Uncle G, Uncle Ro are all sitting at a table talking about who the Bunnies are going to beat this weekend!
Lizzie and Tanya are making their way around the room sitting and chatting with people: Seeing how we can help.
Crikeys that was quick – it has hit 1:30.
The Homeless Persons Legal Service team have arrived: It’s Pav’s team this week. They are great.
There are a few updates for people and there are also a couple of people waiting to see them for the first time.
Someone has had their Centrelink payments cut; Another person’s boarding house landlord has just jacked up the rent with no notice – the Legal team will get on to it.
Also 1:30: Bible Study time!
The shout goes out: Bible Study: If you would like to join us.
Co cannot help himself: He calls out too: Bible Studies over there: Co studies here.
Br and Ma are cracking up.
Co has been coming along for a long time: He even remembers the old Newtown Mission bus the Church used to have! A bus!
We get a great turn out at Bible Study as we continue to go through Luke and today it is Luke 18: The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.
It can be a bit chaotic and random though but we don’t mind, Br is sharing, To then asks a question.
There are interruptions.
Others will stop and see what we are doing.
Some will come and go.
But and we don’t know how, it works and it is always a great time. Even in the midst of the noise and the chaos.
To finish we have this beautiful time of prayer where we can pray for each other.
It’s now coming to 2:30: The legal team have to finish up:
They have been a great help. Pav provides a debrief and some things we can help with and follow up.
Dave and Jo make their way around the hall handing out loaves of bread for people to take for the weekend.
There is hardly a seat free in the place.
A comes in to check if it is ok for him to wash out the bins and the floor mats. For sure.
Washing the bins and mats is how he wants to help out!
A is another one who has been around for a long time: He remembers coming in the early 90s when the drop in was out the front of the Church.
The lane is now packed full of people enjoying the sunshine, chatting away.
Our friends are all there.
Telling stories of Newtown in the old days, they talk about growing up here together.
Getting close to 3, people are slowly making their way out.
Back in the Hall there are groups of people just hanging out, chatting away.
We are going to find it hard to close at 3!
As a hint, we start packing up the food and the tea and coffee (the call goes out: Last Coffees!).
The teams from St Andrews and St Pauls help clean and tidying up.
Cl and Li are chatting away in one table, Ro and Da at another; Br, Jo and Js too. Even while the chairs go up on the tables around them.
It hits 3 and M is starting to move everyone on – the only way M knows how to: M knows everyone. Everyone loves M. What would we do without M!
3 o’clock! Gate is closed. Phew. Another week done.
The Team, the wonderful Team: Another big effort. How do they do it?
We are not finished just yet, there is the cleaning up, the tidying up, the washing up, we have to wash the tea towels.
Even though the Team are exhausted. There are still great conversations, there is still laughter, there is still fun.
We laugh and cry about the week: The Community, the people we love, the people we help. There is never a dull or boring moment.
It is tough-going but it is a joy, an honour, a privilege to be part of the Jordan Café.