“Chris Brown, the Catholic not the rapper”
Four years ago I was a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was serving in the Manchester New Hampshire Mission. I had recently been assigned to work in the greater Ellsworth/Mount Desert Island area in Maine. The work was slow, many people would swear at us rather than talk with us. It was hard, even some of the local Christian Churches were hostile. One time while shopping at Wal-Mart we were accosted by a fellow Christian for about 5 minutes! He swore at us and told us that we were going to go to hell for serving a mission. In the midst of this, we decided we would follow the example of Christ and serve everyone.
This desire to serve led us to the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Bar Harbor Maine. I found myself and my companion knocking on the rectory door not knowing what to expect. I mean, what would they think? Two Mormon Missionaries knocking on the rectory door? Our fears were false and as we talked with Father John O’Hara he invited to come help with a community dinner entitled “Food For All” that happened every Thursday night.
The Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, in Bar Harbor, Maine.
The next Thursday we arrived at the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, we entered into the side door and walked into the basement.
“Can I help you?” asked a man in the kitchen.
“We are here to help with the dinner” I replied.
“We don’t need any help right now” was his reply.
Defeated and disappointed we started to walk towards the door when it opened and a bearded man walked in and said, “Who are you?”
I then explained that we came to help with the dinner but they don’t need any help.
“I am in charge here, we can use your help!” He replied.
I reached out my hand a shook his hand saying “Elder Goff.”
And he replied “Chris Brown, the Catholic not the rapper.” And as we walked into the kitchen he introduced us to the man and said, “This is Art Gowie.” He then turned to the sink and asked if we knew how to do dishes? We replied that we did and started doing the dishes.
Food For All
That first week I asked Chris where all the food for this meal came from? Did the Catholic Church provide it? He replied that he gleaned it. just like Ruth in the bible. He explained that every week he would go to local stores and collect the food that was nearing expiration and sort it, if it was good he would use it for the community meal and if it was bad he would feed it to his pigs.
Produce at Food For All.
An intense amount of time and energy was put into Food For All. From the sorting to the cooking, and I learned that Chris was staying until 11 PM on many Thursday nights cleaning the kitchen. What started out as only washing the dishes for 60-90 minutes every Thursday turned into a 6-hour weekly service project. We would show up early helping Chris sort the food and then Art cook the food, it was so much fun we became his sous chefs. We would help serve people their meals, do the dishes. And after the meal, we would help clean up so everyone could go home by about 8:30 instead of 11.
At first, people looked shocked when they saw Mormon Missionaries in the basement kitchen of a Catholic Church. One of the old Catholic members even came up to us and asked, “You won’t get excommunicated for doing this will you?” I replied laughing and saying “Not a chance!” The more we served the more walls started to come down and people started talking with us…
Read the rest at My Life By Gogo Goff