as some of you know, every month, we take the youth group to the union gospel mission to serve food to those that come in off the streets for a hot meal. last night was our designated time to go. when we got there, the director told us that there was a convention (or something like that) going on, but they would love it if we went into the day room and ate boxed dinners with the men that live at the mission. they wanted us to interact with them and just encourage the men.
we walked down the hall and picked up a box filled with a sandwich, chips, cookies and an apple. there was also an ice chest filled with canned pepsi's. as we stepped into the room, there were about 5 tables surrounded with guys and many more around. some sitting and some standing. some were against one wall while others were watching a baseball game in the far corner. i spotted a chess set on one table and would soon realize that was going to be my demise.
the group that came with us sat down in a circle near the tv and starting munching on their sandwiches. they looked very nervous. it was good for them, to get out of their comfort zone. to see that there is more to life than just school and working (if they have a job).
rin split her dinner with me. i ate my half of the sandwich while i walked around, trying to find someone to chat with. some were already engrossed in heavy conversation while others watched the game intently. others were leaning back in their chairs with eyes closed. "this is going to be harder than i thought," i think to myself. i see one guy with a mighty ducks jacket on and say "hello" to him.
"how are you?" i ask.
then he walks away. "ok" i say to myself. let's find someone else. i again look over and see the chess board being set up by a lone man. i head over and ask if i can play.
"do you know how to play?" he asks.
"ok." he says as he pulls a chair from out of nowhere and let's me sit. i start positioning the pieces on the correct squares, but it seems that i have two kings.
"um, which one is the queen?" i say, jokingly.
"are you sure you know how to play?" he asks again, but with no smile.
"yeah, i do, but i have two kings here."
he points to a bin full of old chess pieces so i trade a king for a queen. he tells me that i have the first move. the match is on and we start contemplating each and every move. soon, the entire table that we were at start watching and talking about the game. back and forth, we move, battling and fighting until he says out of nowhere, "two moves is checkmate." sure enough, i lose.
"again?" i ask. he's already moving the pieces back to the starting point. my move. then his. mine then he says nonchalantly "checkmate." two moves. that's it. only two. i soon find out that he is a trophy winning chess player. i'm out of my league here. we play one more game and i soon realize that he is toying with me. he excuses himself after he wins the third.
after my defeat, i walk next to rin and tay as they are talking with a couple guys playing cribbage. i just stand there and watch as the youth are exiting their territorial bubbles and try to connect with the men. but the time goes by fast and we find ourselves getting up, shaking hands of those that we visited with. as we leave, they tell us to come back soon. "oh, we will."