We were on vacation visiting Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin when I received the call from Mike Kayser. When I saw the name on my phone I had an idea of what it could be; maybe help with the website, or something with the weekend. Mike did need help with something on the weekend. He invited me to be kitchen coordinator. I gave Mike a qualified “yes”, if I could get Tom Streefland to be my assistant coordinator. And thankfully, Tom said, "yes!"
I pondered how ironic it is that Tom would be my assistant. I should be his assistant!
On the Thursday of the weekend, with the last load in the car, I met Tom at Sam’s Club to make the final purchases. Then, one last stop at Walmart, and the weekend would be underway. After gathering all the goods into a cart, I headed for the checkout line. I picked the shortest line and began my wait. The people ahead of me were watching closely as each item was scanned. I began to regret my line choice. Then there was some confusion as to how they were going to pay.
About this time, a lady behind me asked what I was doing with all of the bread and eggs. I turned around and told her that I was getting the food for a men’s retreat. She asked when it started, and I told her that afternoon, and that it went until Sunday. She was impressed! “How many men?” She asked. I said, "54". “You’re going to feed 54 men for 3 days with this much food???” I chuckled a bit and said, "No, there is a lot more food, in the car and at the church." Then she asked, "Which church?" I said, "Mary Mother of the Church in Burnsville." "Oh, what kind of a church is that?" I said, "It is a Catholic Church". And she said, “My daughter wants to go check out a Catholic Church!” I said, “I think the Catholic Church has a lot to offer! I know there has been a lot of bad press about the Catholic Church, and I had to figure out how to deal with that before I joined the Church in 2013” She said, “Oh, you are new to the church?” And I said, “Yes! Once I started RCIA, it was a done deal.”
By this time, the cashier had finished with the other people, and I was thinking "Here we go!" Nope. It was time to switch cashiers. Ugh! The lady behind me still had questions and asked “Would it be disrespectful for my daughter and I to go a mass at a Catholic Church?” I said “Oh my, No! Not at all! You should go! But don’t just go to Mass and leave. Stop and talk to someone. Tell them why you are there! Ask questions! See if you can get answers to questions you have about the Church."
For some reason, I lost the hurry of getting through the checkout line. It felt "right" to talk to her.
The cashiers completed their handoff, and we were back to business. I wish I had gotten the lady's name. As my checkout completed, she wished me a good weekend in the kitchen. I said, "Thank you," and departed with the last of our weekend kitchen supplies. As I walked into the parking lot, I had a sense of peace about the weekend ahead. I knew I had a great team, and all the supplies. All the worries went away when God simply put a lady in my path to remind me why we work these weekends; to evangelize. Thanks to a simple conversation with a stranger.