Remembering to Pray

A little while ago, my colleague Daniele said to me “I want us to pray more.”  I know I’ve been in situations where I could have taken those words as judgement (hearing only “we/you don’t pray enough.)  Thankfully, the Spirit filled me with gratitude that she had said it out loud.  Those words rang like bells in my head and my heart.  “Thank you for saying that! Let’s do it.”  

After all, it wasn’t that we weren’t praying.  I recently read a bit on Brother Lawrence, a carmelite monk in the 17th century.  In the book “Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals” (Claiborne, Wilson-Hartgrove and Okoro), we find that “by learning to perform his mundane [kitchen] tasks for the sake of God, Brother Lawerence turned every moment into an opportunity for prayer.” Much like the practice of knitting prayer shawls, our intention at Shobi’s Table is informed by Brother Lawrence’s words – that every onion is chopped in prayer, every dish washed in prayer, and every meal finished in prayer.  But even with this practice of unceasing prayer, there is something powerful about humbly pausing amidst the busy work to rest our words and silence on God. 

After Daniele’s request for prayer, I announced to some of our volunteers that we were going to try to pray more intentionally at Shobi’s Table – whether before a volunteer shift, during or after… just to stop for  a moment to tell God thanks and to ask for guidance, or just be still enough to remember that God is God.  Knowing myself, I knew that I would need help remembering to stop the busy kitchen freight-train long enough to pause to remember that all of Shobi’s Table – from the produce donated, to the grant writing, responding to emails,  to the rush to get all the meals ready on time – belongs to God, and God is the true force behind, within and ahead of it.  I knew if I were the only one responsible for remembering to pray, it would be spotty at best.  So, I asked for help, knowing that we’re better together – leaning into one another, because we need one another – leaders, volunteers, staff, customers – all of us.  

So, I’m asking you, too.  Will you remember to pray for Shobi’s Table, this community you are a part of?  Will you take a pause and ask that God guide us, challenge us and comfort us?  Will you pray that we will remember to pause to listen for God? 

I know God calls to us in many ways – often through each other.  About six weeks ago, Billy – one of our regulars, told us that we should go bring meals to a tent encampment nearby.  So, after we packed up at Bethlehem Lutheran, we drove the truck just across 94 and easily found the place.  We knew this was home to those in the tents, so we did our best to “knock” and ask permission to come in, and were graciously invited in by a man at the fire ring.  While we offered hot sandwiches and poured hot coffee, we shared our names and asked theirs.  We heard one say she was so grateful for a hot meal, and that she hadn’t eaten one in a few days.  We heard another say she was working on plans to get to rehab.  We asked what was needed, and promised to return the next week with more hot meals.  Over the six weeks we learned names and a few more stories, and felt like trust was beginning to build.  But, just the second week of January we learned through Facebook that the camp had been evacuated. While the city offered shelters, we’re not sure if everyone went to them, or if they moved on to another place to put their tent.  There is a good chance that some or many of these folks had social workers guiding them, but we had yet to build enough trust between us to know these things. 

To not know where these new friends are now is very sad.  We know that it is a complicated situation.  We know that the county is doing how they know best to give these folks shelter, but we also don’t know if their plans will work out the best for everyone.  We know that there were allies there the day of eviction, standing up for the rights and dignity of those living with homelessness.  We know that many conditions like addicition, mental health issues and broken families complicate the situation further.  We feel sad and frustrated that these new relationships we had been building slowly are now scattered.  We wonder how to move forward, and how to better be connected to folks who are unhoused.  We know that are doing the work we are called to, and that we cannot do or fix everything.  We desire more knowledge and partnerships – knowing that we cannot do it all on our own, but are better together with others for the sake of others. 

So, right now… we pause and turn to God, and ask you to pray too.  

God of all people, thank you for everything you have given.  Thank you for the opportunity to connect with the beautiful folks we met at the tent encampment.  Be with them right now, wherever they are.  Give them all the resources and connections they need, and if we can be part of that, please make that way known.  In your time, let our paths cross again and make way for us to meet new friends.  Humble us to know that it is not just them who need what we can give, but we who need their gifts as well. It is our privelege to serve you, and be served in return. Open our hearts and minds to go where you lead us.  Amen. 

– Deacon Kari Alice Olsen


From Scratch

The results are in!  With the abundant generosity of everyone who gave to the From Scratch fundraiser, we surpassed our goal of $10,000 and reached $15,123.84!  Thank you everyone who donated.  A choppy video feed couldn’t stop your generosity, and we are amazed. This will sustain our weekly lunches now, and pave the way for growth in the spring!

Food Truck Away – Pop Ups Today!

Our food truck has been put away for the winter. We found some friends up north who had space in their barn, so the truck is nestled among farm equipment friends. 🙂  We’re still serving each week – just from a table. We’ll definitely keep an eye on the weather, but usually we’ll head out to serve, even if the pavement is super icy! 🙂 The truck will be back in action in the Spring! 

One World Everybody Eats

Deacon Kari had the privelege to attend and lead a workshop on pay-as-you-can food trucks for the annual One World Everybody Eats Summit (OWEE is a national network of pay-as-you-can cafes – we follow their model.)  There were several folks who attended, some who are already running food trucks and others who are interested in starting one.  It was encouraging to see how many folks are making something like Shobi’s Table happen around the nation.  There is also piqueing interest among other ELCA Synods in food truck ministry.  Hooray! 

Spring Growth

We know it’s only January, but we’re beginning to make plans to add a third serving day in the spring!  More volunteers have been trained in, so we’ll have enough folks to spread out over another prep and serving day.  One of our staff members will become our full time Kitchen Manager in April, so we’ll have lots of support to make this a reality.  We give thanks for the ways you have all given to help make this a possibility, and invite your prayers for this time of preparation as we apply for grants to make this a sustainable reality. 

Notes from the Board

Greetings from the Board!  I have had the privilege of serving on the board for about a year now, and otherwise work for the Saint Paul School District. What a joy it has been to watch the ministry of Shobi’s grow, stretch and adapt over this past year. The ways in which this ministry has shifted from in-person winter cafes, to learning the maintenance and upkeep of our food truck, to serving meals at new locations with new staff, has been an unbelievable joy to witness. Did we mention this happened without missing serving days?? This ministry has been supported by the larger community in so many ways. Through volunteers, financial donations, and prayer, this growth was made possible, and we are so grateful! 

This past summer I was able to volunteer at the truck on multiple serving days. It was a joy to watch the ministry of Shobi’s grow in person over the course of the summer. Adding a second serving location. Welcoming the familiar faces of customers. Learning what foods work best as a take-away meal. The commitment to meeting the community where we are at, was truly humbling to witness. I am filled with hope and gratitude for the ways in which Shobi’s Table has become a mainstay in the neighborhood. Thank you for your continued support of Shobi’s Table. See you soon for lunch!

-Colleen Foote

December Newsletter

Dear Friends of Shobi’s Table,

Christmas greetings to you all in the name of Jesus, our humble Savior and Lord!  This year I am so grateful for our faith traditions of Advent and Christmas, especially the hope that they bring into our world through expectant waiting and God choosing a vulnerable entrance. I was recently listening to a sermon on hope and the future by the lead pastor Gregg Taylor at Park Avenue Methodist, where he explained a difference between optimism and hope, which he connected to two Latin words to express the future: futurum and adventus. For optimism he explains futurum as “my circumstances of the past and the present condition my optimistic outlook for the future” – I know something will turn out because it’s happened before. On the other hand, he connects hope with adventus – the word that gives us this church season Advent. Adventus expresses something that arrives from the realm of something not yet. This future comes from God. Our hope is not dependent on cause and effect, it is dependent on the faithfulness, possibilities and promises of God, irrespective of how things have been or are. (Watch Gregg’s sermon here: Sermon on Hope in the Future)

So much of what has happened and is happening at Shobi’s Table feels like living into an adventus future each season. At first, it feels scary because we begin something we haven’t done before, and there are questions about if we can make it work. Serving twice a week – will it work? I don’t know. Adding on another staff member? Serving three times a week next year? Can we do it? Will we fail? But then there is a reminder, a nudge with a surprising gift of abundant hope in a Savior who calls us forward into God’s future that is rooted in the faithfulness of God, born as a humble, vulnerable baby – the one who conquered death at last! And so, with humility in our hearts and courage to take vulnerable steps into the unknowns – we have hope that when we pursue God’s mission to feed the hungry, God will take us where we need to go. Thanks be to God!

In deep peace and gratitude,

Deacon Kari Alice Olsen


From Scratch

Wow!  Thank you to everyone who helped make From Scratch a smashing success! From all of you who generously donated to the amazing board members who helped organize all of the details – Thank You!  A special thank you to our fabulous emcee Paul Damico-Carper whose hospitable and joyous hosting set the tone for a fun and meaningful night. And to the gift of our tech team – Marshall Saunders and Barry White.  While the internet gave us some bandwidth trouble for those of you who joined us live, the generosity of the night was undeterred! I had originally thought we’d just be shooting the whole evening from our phones, but Marshall and Barry set us up properly with cameras and bundles of cords, and professionally ran and captured a great video of the night that you can watch anytime you like on our YouTube channel (From Scratch Fundraiser Video) See more about From Scratch in our Notes From the Board below.

The fundraiser was such a success we’ve added a stretch goal of $15,000 (we’re already at $12,433.46! Only $2,566.54 to go!) The donation links are open until the end of December, so if you’d like to give another donation or ask someone else to donate, please do so before January 1, 2021.

From Scratch Donation Page

Holiday Serving Schedule

For Christmas and New Year’s weeks, we will have an adjusted schedule – serving at both sites on the “Eve” day, Thursdays from noon-1pm. So, folks who normally come on Fridays to Bethlehem at the Midway will still come to Bethlehem, but you will come on Thursday instead. We’ll have two teams to serve lunch – one at each site, so even if you don’t see the food truck – we’ll be at a table with lots of food for everyone!


Our food truck will be put away for the winter sometime soon, but that doesn’t mean it will stop us from going out and bringing meals as long as the weather is manageable! Just keep an eye out for our big blue sign in our normal spots (Faith Lutheran in Frogtown, 499 Charles and Bethlehem in the Midway, 436 Roy), and we’ll be there with lunch!


We are so excited to announce that along with the generous support of From Scratch, we are now able to make some next steps toward adding our third serving day in the spring of 2021. As of mid-April 2021, our Assistant Kitchen Manager Daniele Maeder will step into a new full time position as Kitchen Manager which will support more days working with volunteers to serve more meals. Thanks be to God!

Did you know?

When we have food left over at the end of the week, we often bring them to Safe House – a mental health rehab center in St Paul. The other week, one of our regular customers Billy told us that there was a tent camp close to our Midway serving site that might be another good spot to bring food. So, at the end of the day, we packed up two boxes – one for Safe House and one for the tent camp. It was a humbling and hopeful experience – like meeting new friends with whom we wanted to build trust, from whom we looked forward to what we could learn, and find out how we could continue to be of service. I don’t know how long they will be there, but I hope we get to continue to walk alongside them long enough to build trust and stay connected. We are grateful for the new places God calls us. 

Notes from the Board

What a fun time to be a board member in the life of Shobi’s ministry. I get to serve as Vice President of the Shobi’s board and pastor at Memorial Lutheran Church of Afton. This month I had the honor of curating all the content of the “From Scratch” fundraiser. It was amazing to see how quickly and enthusiastically people were willing to say “YES!” to supporting Shobi’s Table. From podcast professionals who ran tech for the fundraiser to the musicians, bakers, and cooks who offered the songs and cooking demonstrations during the fundraiser, we were blessed with an abundance of support for the future of our beloved food truck. And we surpassed our fundraising goal! With this financial support and God’s grace, I believe we’ll be able to feed more people and bring more staff into the truck to make it all happen.  
Being a part of this event taught me that even in the middle of a pandemic when so much of our lives feel disjointed and out of our control, we are still led and inspired by the Holy Spirit to do things like feed our neighbors and feed our souls by supporting Shobi’s. So much of our current existence is really complicated right now, but the call of God is actually still clear and basic: love God, love neighbor. Just the like food at Shobi’s, it’s made with the most basic ingredients the earth can give us and is brought together with so much knowledge and love from the Shobi’s staff and volunteers — they know how to make a simple meal into a lavish banquet for those who get to enjoy it. That’s how to feels to respond to the call of God, which is often so simple and straightforward, yet when we respond with generosity and love, an abundant feast of mercy can be found for all.
Thank you for giving and volunteering — I hope to see you at the truck sometime soon!
Peace, Pastor Elizabeth Damico-Carper

You’re Invited! From Scratch, Nov 22nd – 7pm

Dear Friends of Shobi’s Table, 


As a generous supporter of Shobi’s Table, you are invited to From Scratch, our online fundraiser on Sunday, November 22nd at 7pm!  We are so excited for this event!  Our program will be much like a PBS-style telethon with guest artists sharing their talents, but it will only be one hour (instead of 6!), so even better.  Here’s how to watch with us: 

    Facebook Live – go to the Facebook Event page From Scratch Facebook Event

    Youtube Live – go to the Shobi’s Table Website , where you’ll find the YouTube link available on Nov. 22nd at 7pm. 


Our donation portals are open as we speak!  Our From Scratch goal is $10,000 – and you can visit the website now to donate directly – click on this link: Donate to Shobi’s Table From Scratch Fundraiser  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could report that we were half way there on November 22nd? Wouldn’t it be even more amazing if early generosity inspired even more giving that exceeded our goal?  Spread the word! 


We have been awarded the ELCA World Hunger’s Daily Bread Matching Grant.  To unlock this $500 grant, we need to fundraise an additional $500 through their grant portal.  The total ($1000, or more!) will go towards our From Scratch goal.  Here is the link: Donate to the Daily Bread Matching Grant

We have big dreams at Shobi’s Table – big dreams that will nourish and strengthen continued ministry through shared meals.  We are so grateful to have you alongside us to make the dream of all having access to good, nourishing food come true.  


Traditionally November is a month where we focus on gratitude.  But it’s been a hard year for so many people.  The pandemic has exposed economic inequality.  Many more people are experiencing food insecurity.   Other people have risen to the challenge of caring for neighbors by volunteering or donating money.  Some others are complaining and saying “when are we going to be back to normal”.  Unfortunately, normal was not good enough.  We have to do a better job of taking care of each other.  

 C.S Lewis wrote: “You can’t go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

 This November I am grateful that Shobi’s table is growing.  This summer Shobi’s was serving two days a week.  Next year there is hope of serving three days a week.  I see the generosity of volunteers, donors, churches and organizations who support this ministry.  I am moved by the dedication of the staff who set the table each week and invite all to enjoy a delicious meal.  I am grateful for the community who gathers each week to share a meal.  We are writing a new ending to this story.  A story that focuses on hospitality, generosity, and a sense of abundance.  Let’s set a place for everyone.

 P.S. Please join me in giving generously to the From Scratch fundraiser on November 22 @ 7:00 PM.   

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