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What I Learned From “Out Of The Cold”

Today marked the end of our church’s 2nd year of involvement with Out of the Cold.  Out of the Cold is a program where a church, synagogue or other facility, give shelter to some homeless guests overnight, feed them dinner and breakfast and help them on their way for the day with a bag lunch.  It’s a safe, loving way to care for the guests and do something practical for their needs on cold winter nights.

Last year I was only able to help out 1 night with the “entertainment” (playing guitar and singing with two of my kids) while my wife participated a number of other evenings.  This year I dove in with both feet and ended up ‘working’ 10 of the 11 weeks (I missed one because I was sick :( ).

We’d originally signed up for the of the Monday evening shifts — hospitality, registration and dish-washing — but ended up doing a few breakfast shifts on Tuesday mornings.  We loved the breakfast fun so much (and they were having trouble finding people to work at the church from 5:00am to 7:30am) that we ended up switching to breakfasts for 9 of the 11 weeks!!

Now, with today being the last breakfast, I’m already starting to miss it a bit.  I’m sure I’m going to miss getting up early on Tuesday mornings and help out making wonderful breakfasts — bacon, eggs (scrambled & fried), pancakes, french toast, oatmeal, cereal, coffee & juice — and enjoying the fun of getting together with 4 or 5 others to have fun a the same time.

So what have a learned?

  1. Making breakfast for that many people is great fun!
  2. Bacon doesn’t need to be cooked for 12 minutes per side at 425F (we found out the hard way the first week, that 5 minutes per side @ 352F is more than sufficient)!
  3. People like variety, but most take the same thing week after week :)
  4. Stores are amazingly generous!
  5. You can improvise a lot of different meal options in a pinch ;)  (like whipping up french toast when the regular bread didn’t come in that week and all you had were french baguettes for toast which they didn’t eat).
  6. Helping out and hearing stories is SO rewarding and satisfying!
  7. I know it’s just a little bit that we do for them, but the guests are always so appreciative!
  8. The guests stories are amazing, and sad.  The unfortunately situations they find themselves in and usually heartbreaking.  You want to do so much more!
  9. It takes nearly a lot of people to run OOTC each week (around 65 to 70 each week!)

What a blessing it’s been to participate this year.  I can only hope that my schedule next year will allow me to participate once again.

UPDATE: By the way, after I posted the above, I ran across this VERY interesting video of a social experiment around how we treat the seemingly homeless.  Watch it!  And think about how YOU would react.


Merry Christmas from The Lahn’s

Our 2015 Christmas Letter is here… http://www.thelahnfamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Xmas2014.pdf.


Snowy Mint Bark “Heaven in My Mouth”

Snowy Mint Bark

[I have to admit, this was not my original recipe, but over the years I’ve ‘perfected’ it and made it my own.]

Snowy Mint Bark is one of our family favourites around Christmas. It’s so easy to sneak a little bit of this delectable chocolate and it’s a wonderful thing to add to the Christmas . . . → Read More: Snowy Mint Bark “Heaven in My Mouth”

The Wonders of a Christmas Parade


I’ve been watching Facebook and I know some of you are stressing out about Christmas and noting that it’s their least favourite time of the year.

For some of you, I get it — grieving losses, disillusionment, disgust at the consumerism, the expectations of having to shop, etc — but for me Christmas is a . . . → Read More: The Wonders of a Christmas Parade

Monty Python Understands Government Bureaucracy

So I just got off the phone… for the third time… with Service Ontario, that wonderful branch of the Ontario Government responsible for mucking things up. Back in the Spring/Summer we had fun with them in the renewal of our drivers licenses and health cards, but this time the episode revolves around the renewal of . . . → Read More: Monty Python Understands Government Bureaucracy