Hearty Helping of Hope

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good and His loyal love endures!”  – Psalm 118:1
What is your favorite food?  When you think about your favorite food, what starts stirring in your mind?  Maybe the incredible flavor combinations of your favorite dish?  Or maybe it conjures up the people you typically join to eat your favorite meal with?
In this thanksgiving season, I am constantly reminded that food and thanksgiving are synonymous.  You can’t have one without the other.  Turkey makes me thankful.  Stuffing makes me thankful.  Sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping, makes me extra thankful.  Mashed potatoes, make me thankful. Tofurkey, hmmmmmm.  Yes, we did have Tofurkey (Tofu Turkey) one year and I am sorry if it is your favorite, but I am definitely not a fan.  Hahahahaha
But what makes me most thankful is the people I get to spend time with eating all these wonderful things.  Our family loves to be together.  It isn’t always perfect, it’s family.  But it is my most memorable times.  Especially when my mom would pull out big leaves she had collected from the yard for us to all write the thing we were most thankful for this year, and then we all put them on a branch in a vase at the center of the table.  And then it turns in to a game for each person to pull a leaf out and try to figure who wrote it.  Now, that is when the thankfulness kicks into high gear.  After all the yummy food is eaten, and we express gratitude together, joy is at its peak.
Believe it or not, River of Life Mission got it’s start with food, and for that we are incredibly thankful, because we get to provide what I described above for over 700 guests every single day. It may not look exactly like what I described above, but it is community, it is hope, and it is a life-giving meal for many each day. 
Our founders, Jack and Audrey Stankus, started it all when they decided to take PB&J sandwiches to Waikiki to just share love with people in need. But they also had a bigger purpose, and that was to extend hope through Jesus.  Jack and Audrey found out very early, that providing a simple meal for people, gave them this incredible foot in the door to share Jesus.  So we now say that River of Life Mission started around a simple sandwich – PB&Jesus!
And that recipe has never changed and has grown to a level that only God could do. We still believe that a simple meal gives us this profound foot in the door to share Jesus and so much more.  So this year especially, we are extremely thankful that God continues to allow us to be there regardless of the number of meals we serve every day.  Last year we were blessed to serve a staggering 193,825 meals.  And this year we’ve surpassed our single month record month where we served 18,483. And through that we have seen many people come to faith in Jesus Christ, we have seen people on the streets reunited with their families, we have seen people transition into a home, a church, and discipleship programs. Even last month sharing with you about Benny’s transition from the streets to a place where he is getting his doctorate degree and working directly in a job of helping people in need. I truly thank the Lord, that He continues to move in us, and in you, to help those that need it the most.
And while we are on the food and thanksgiving theme, there are several things we are incredibly thankful for right now at the mission.
We are thankful for our guests who make the daily journey to the mission, to receive a hot meal and spend some time with us and remind us of the importance of helping someone in need.   And we’re especially thankful for our guests who come back to share about the miracles God has done in their lives.
We are thankful for our partners in ministry.  Our friends that serve alongside us to give hope to people desperately in need.  Our supporters who give sacrificially, so others can have a simple meal and survive another day.
We are so thankful for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Who spared us from a wayward path, and gave us the ability to have a restored relationship with our Father and a permanent place in heaven forever.
And lastly, we are so thankful for you.  Thankful that you took time to read this letter, because you care.  We’re thankful that you have prayed for the River of Life Mission, and watched God respond.  We’re thankful that you support us, because you have a deep desire to make a difference in this world.
Our formula has stayed simple: Food + Jesus = a Hearty Helping of Hope.  And in its simplicity, it is pretty amazing to think that just one meal can change the world.  And change a life for eternity.  It is that simple and each month you help us keep doing what we love to do.  So thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!
On a fun note, we are going to do a Live Event on Tuesday, November 30, 2021.  We are calling it “A Day in the Life of The Mission”.  The live event will run from sun up to sun down, so you can tune in anytime.  We will be showing, sharing and showcasing the mission, our guests, the staff and our volunteers – and Jesus at the center of it all. I think you will love it and I would love for you to tune in.  To tune in is simple, just go to www.riveroflifemission.org/live and you will be right where you need to be.
Mark your calendar now and see you all Tuesday, November 30, 2021.