to begin with eating seems most appropriate, considering how central it was to our experiences in Toronto. we ate meals as a family, tasted all kinds of diversity, and went without to better relate to those less fortunate all around us.
our guide, Larry, stopped us on the side of a busy street. holding a box in his hands, he told us to circle up. slowly, he withdraw one Tim Horton’s doughnut after another, and passed them around the circle. we each took a bite and passed it on. it was not only an incredible to way to taste a variety of doughnuts, but we quickly saw how beautifully bonding sharing food can be.
sharing was the story of our meals together. often, we were not given enough money to each have our own sandwich or other item, so we passed them around. for lunch, we would each buy something for minimal amounts of money and contribute them to a family-style picnic. despite the leanness of our budget, we always had enough.
there is never enough. the is ALWAYS enough.
knowing that Toronto had a Chinatown, i set off the first day in the city jonesin’ for a Bubble Tea. it’s a Taiwanese tradition of combining tea with tapioca balls that get sucked up by a big round straw. our first meal together was Indian, and second from Ali Baba’s, which is Mediterranean. the markets we visited provided the opportunity to sample and purchases all kinds of foods, from Polish pierogi’s to wonderful cheeses and chocolates and mustards. we were never wanting for amazingly diverse foods. one of the guys in our group even made us an incredible Costa Rican meal of fried plantans, fajitas and salsa.
on our last day, we focused on the fact that most of the world lives on $2 or less. we had a humble breakfast of bread and water, then had only a looney ($1) or tooney ($2) to spend the rest of the day. i decided to fast, and gave my tooney over to the rest of the group. after church, we were locked out of the place we were staying so we each did our own thing. i ended up sleeping outside the building, where the homeless often stay, my belly growling, and feeling extremely exhausted after days of poor sleeping. that was a powerful moment as i began to understand how it must feel to live on the streets…optionless, hopeless, lonely.
in the end, food became the center of building community on this trip. we made friends with the guys at Ali Babi, felt comfortable to be more vulnerable as we shared schwarma after schwarma. i can see now why breaking bread was such an important part of the disciples experience with Jesus, as well as why “community” is so intricately related to “communion.”