Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Quilt Block of Life

It Takes a Congregation
We've all heard the saying, 'It takes a Village'.
At St. Jakobi Lutheran Church, it takes a congregation.
We have been holding the Potato Pancake Dinner for as long as I can remember.
My earliest recollections are of a dinner that started in the afternoon and ran into the evening, most likely to allow the farmers to enjoy the meal.
We now hold it starting at about 10:00 in the morning, right after our worship service is finished, and ending around 1:00 in the afternoon. The first customers arrive before 9:00 a.m.
The amount of work to goes into such an event is huge. The planning committee starts working months in advance. They complete the scheduling of workers, and determine what donations will be needed. The food and all the supplies need to be ordered. 
When the date finally arrives, things get really busy.
Friday night finds workers setting up the tables in the gymnasium.
Others are in the kitchen, covering the floors and walls to protect from the grease. The grills are put in place, as are the fans that fit into the kitchen windows in order to draw out the heat and smoke that seems to clog the close quarters.
Saturday brings the next batch of workers who peel the potatoes and get them ready to go into the grinder. The grinding takes place as needed, while the mixer and the fryers are hustling about inside.
Still others are busy at home, baking pies that will be served with the meal. You name the kind, it'll show up here.
Finally Sunday morning comes around. The first shift starts at 7:00 a.m., preparing the sausages, getting the grills hot, cooking up the big pots of coffee.
The pies are cut, ready to be served.
There's a special recipe for the pancakes, and not just anybody is allowed the honor of the stirring and measuring. The recipe has been faithfully followed for years, the reason that throngs of people stand in line, patiently waiting for their turn to sit and partake. 
There have been years when the weather is quite warm, attracting the long-legged wasps. Other years have brought bitter cold or poring rain.
Some may wonder, 'is it really worth all the trouble, effort, work?'
The funds raised over the years have been used for numerous projects. Some years our bank accounts were low, and we needed the money to stay afloat. Other years found us in need of funds for special supplies and  projects that we would not be able to afford, were it not for the Pancake Dinner.
For most, it means a few short hours out of each year that they are asked to help.
When the last person has eaten, everything is washed up, packed up, put away for another year.
Each year brings a new quilt block of life; perhaps a bit grease-stained and a smelly. There may be splotches of syrup, or maybe a berry stain from that piece of  blueberry pie. 
We sit back and sigh, relieved that another dinner has come and gone.
Was it all really worth it? What have we accomplished, besides raising some money?
It has become a long-running tradition, that would sadly be missed by many folks in the area.
For the congregation, it provides friendship, fellowship, laughter.
We work hard; we work together.
And above all else,
We have the best potato pancakes ever!