It was cold and sunny yesterday morning and I was glad we wouldn't be working in the rain. We had almost double the food that we had for the food bank the week before and I had extra volunteers. So far so good - right?
The people had been assembling since 7AM, we open at 10AM. The crowd grew and grew. We were attempting to give out numbers and take information on those that had not been there the week before. Within minutes that became impossible. We gave out food to about 80 families and then had to stop. We couldn't open the gates as they were pushing so hard and trying to rush in every time we tried. One of the people that came to help has a friend in the Gendarme and she called him. He came and then called for a wagon and reinforcements. I felt really bad. I had the food and the people needed it and I couldn't give it out.
When the Gendarmes arrived they did bring order out of chaos. The rromi are afraid of them. They were very nice but I did expect to receive some sort of fine. I told them what I was doing and they asked if I was out of food. No, I had plenty more. They stayed while we gave out food. When they had to leave I had to close.
I am not scheduled to open again until Mar. 28. Without large food donations and more help with buying and stocking I can not do this myself every week. The Gendarme said with notice they will show up to help next time. I may have lost a couple of volunteers. Most people have not been involved in situations like this but I have. This was not my first riot! The Gendarme told me not to be afraid, and I wasn't. I told them I have been doing this for almost 12 years. Several people were saying that those people are animals and that really bothered me. It takes quite a while working with a new group to get them to understand that that behavior will stop the project. The landlady at the building was beside herself also.
I was able to talk to to many people outside as well as volunteers to explain why I am doing this: because God loves them. I have paid for the building for 3 months and await the lord to provide for the continuing of this project. The scope is truly huge but I did feel that the Lord wanted me to start. Other groups may join in. Two high school students came and they said their high school has a team of volunteers so perhaps they can come and pack boxes in advance. A neighbor came for food and stayed to help, she was a courageous little thing!
I wish I could have taken a video or some pictures, it was wild. The whole street was closed for a time due to the crowds. When I had to shut it down the first time I really was sad and sat in my truck feeling defeated. When the boxes of food were again being given out I told Paula "this makes me happy, this is my passion".
A pastor from California, Craig Turley, is involved in Joseph's Storehouse in Redlands. During a telephone conversation several years ago at a time I was very discouraged. Other missionaries don't have fights in the streets and riots. Other missionaries do not seem to be the victims of so much deceit and theft, I must be doing something wrong! Craig said to me "Jackie, Kingdom building is messy business". It sure is!