You may have heard by now, but while in DC we had a small mishap in the form of theft. That is why I didn't blog about the rest of our trip. I kept my journal though, so I will come back to finish writing about the trip when I get my replacement laptop.
In the meantime, here's what happened:
Monday morning we had gone to a soup kitchen called SOME (So Others May Eat). SOME provides breakfast and lunch (and maybe dinner, but I don't remember) seven days a week, 365 days a year. They are open on holidays and never close, the one exception in forty-three years was during Hurricane Sandy. They also provide housing, education programs, work placements programs and many other services.
We worked two breakfast shifts and two shorter lunch shifts. Earlier we were told by our city host and the director not to leave anything at the housing site, which happened to be a church. We had our belongings with us at SOME and they were locked in a closet. Because we had left very early that morning to go to SOME, we had our devotions there, during our break.
I was in charge of devotions and had chosen to use Micah 6:8, "He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does The Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?"
I had written my devotion on my laptop, so I had it with me. I had it in a bag.
At SOME, the discussion around the devotion went really well. I was impressed by the questions and encouraged by the sharing.
The staff and patrons were kind and appreciative. SOME was the best experience I have ever had at a soup kitchen.
We had a late lunch at Pollo Granjero, an El Salvadorian restaurant. The best way to explain what we ate is to call them quesadillas. We could choose between bean and cheese or pork. Just like every trip, there was sharing. I split mine with Precious so we had one of each. I think I preferred the bean and cheese.
We left there and stopped at the Capitol building to take pictures. We had enough time to go through the Botanical Garden as well.
Our evening site was the DC Central Kitchen. We had a brief orientation, which included a description of the site. DC Central Kitchen is a commercial kitchen that provides high quantity meals to schools, shelters and other places. They provide culinary training to those coming off the streets to provide them with skills so they can find a job.
The kitchens were high-end and pretty impressive.
Several from our group worked on an assembly line of making trays of rice, beans, and another layer of a sausage bean mixture. Brenna scooped rice into the tray, Jen layered beans over the rice, our new friend Sutan put a row of beans and sausage down the middle, I covered the top with plastic wrap, Mike put the lid on, Clarence wrote the description and carried the trays to a cart, and eventually to the refrigerator. Nick and Cait (and eventually Sarah and Brenna) were opening the packages of sausage and beans for Sutan.
Sutan is from Turkey and came to the U.S. because his mother was here and to go to college. He works for the government in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sami was snapping pictures and his back was to her. The joke became that his butt was in all the photos. So next time we see a statistic on the news we can not only say we know someone who may have worked on those numbers but we also know an a$$ in the government (get it? because his backside is in our photos).
We were amused.
Our group filled 107 trays. We went on to fill fifteen more of the sausage and bean mixture (we ran out of rice).
Sami and Sarah had counted milk and oranges for a school. Precious and Shawn cut onions.
By the time we filled our trays, everyone else had finished so we sat down to eat our sack dinners. I had asked to get into the locked cage so I could take some medication. Clarence came over and needed to get something out of his bag. I took my small clutch with me. Then I told him to lock it back up. That was around 7:20pm.
At 7:50pm, Sami got up to use the bathrooms, which were in the same hallway as the cage. She noticed the cage was no longer locked. She came back to the room where we were all eating and told us to go get our stuff. The minute I saw my bag, I knew my laptop was gone. I had put my scarf and hat over it, and then put my coat on top of that. There was no way anyone would have seen my laptop unless they went through my bag. When I walked up to the cage, my bag which had been leaning up against the side, was tipped over and my scarf and hat weren't just laying there as if the bag had been tipped over; they were strewn across the shelf and my coat was bunched up on the other side. Sami had a new Canon in a camera bag, in her zipped purse. The camera bag was gone. Two of our students had money taken from their purses.
We called the police. Sami and I were able to get our serial numbers and the police were able to write a report. Everyone who was working at the kitchen were very upset and kept asking what they could do to help. The night supervisor, Chef Mike, was on the phone immediately with the CEO. While the police were there, Chef Mike had the officer who was not taking our statements go search through the employees lockers. The security officer was also there and was also as helpful as she could be. They have records of all the volunteers, and their addresses.
While it sucks and we really don't know who did it, we are grateful that no one was hurt. It was just stuff. Stuff can be replaced.
Officer Israel took our statements. He also told us, because of the value of what was taken, this is not a misdemeanor charge, this is a class one felony charge. This is serious. What did this person, these persons need so desperately that they needed to steal things. It was a theft of opportunity because the one student had more money in her purse than what was taken.
What I found ironic was the discussion that I was having at the time of the theft. I was talking to a couple of our students about forgiveness and judging. I stand by what I was saying which is that it is not for me to judge others. Yes, we have laws and we should follow them. If you break the law, you pay the price. But as far as what happens to that person when it comes to the pearly gates, I have no say.
I wish the thief had heard that.
Another lesson from this is to back up your files. Everything I had on the computer... none of it was backed up. I feel so foolish for not doing that. I no longer have photos from the last six months, those are gone and lost forever. My hours for work, gone. The library of books I had spent hours scanning for Pastor Tish, gone (unless I really did somehow save it to the church server). All of my stuff for work, gone.
I wish the thief knew that.
The last lesson I am taking with me is the one I am teaching on Sunday to my youth. It sticks out the most. We read the Bible and try to follow it. One of the ten commandments is do not steal. And then we learn from Jesus to forgive and love each other.
I hope the thief knows that I am forgiving them and I'll be working on loving them.