First United Methodist Church in Muleshoe celebrated Valentine’s Day this year with delivery of valentine bags filled with goodies as a way of spreading cheer to people we thought might enjoy a bright spot in their day.
Preparations began Wednesday, the night before Valentine’s Day, when the Methodist youth group helped by chopping onions, peppers and potatoes, and other church members cooked the hamburger meat and measured it out into the right amount for each of the six roasters the stew would be cooked in the next day.
Thursday, Valentine’s Day, church volunteers who came to continue the cooking found the rest of the ingredients measured and assembled for each of the roasters by Betty Innes, chief cook in charge of the kitchen for this year’s event. And the cooking began with broth, meat, peppers, and potatoes going into the roasters to warm up before adding the rest of the vegetables and spices. After that it was an afternoon of visiting, stirring, and checking potato doneness until time to start ladling out the stew into containers.
Church members made cookies and cornbread to compliment the stew, and Carolyn Johnson decorated the bags and the valentine note that went in each bag along with the food.
Carolyn was the person in charge of last year’s soul stew and for her, decorating the bags and making the valentine notes last year as well as this year was a labor of love and a way of giving back after she and her husband Buck Johnson had been recipients of the soul stew a couple of years ago. She said they had spent that particular day dealing with hospitals and doctors and came home exhausted. As she plopped down on the sofa, it dawned on her she needed to do something about supper. About that time the door bell rang, and upon opening the door she was greeted with their supper: soul stew and warm wishes from her church family! She said that kindness was such a blessing and big help to them that night that she wanted to make sure others would continue to be blessed as well in the future.
Members of the Methodist Church felt the same way, so for the past three years, the Outreach Committee, led by Berta Combs this year, has worked to provide many people, church members as well as non-church members, with a soul stew supper. Senior citizens, the disabled, those fighting serious illnesses, Meals on Wheels recipients, shut-ins, people who have been dealing with trying situations, and others have been surprised with a warm meal and smile. Names are added to the list every year as the committee is made aware of someone else in need of something to brighten their day.
Toward the end of the afternoon, the stew was all cooked and ready to go, and the volunteers got to work putting everything together in the bags.
Magann Rennels provided the names and addresses of those to receive the stew to more volunteers who then delivered the meals.
By the end of the day, 219 meals had been served to the people on Magann’s list along with the nurses at the hospital, first responders at the EMS Station and the police station.
Not a bad way to spend Valentine’s Day, I must say.
Thanks to Magann Rennels, Betty Innes, Donna Green, and Carolyn Johnson for their input for this story, and to all the volunteers who made cookies, cornbread, and gave their time and helping hands to make the day a success.