Wednesday, March 04, 2009

5 Day Hunger Challenge

Much to my family's dismay, I like beans. I try to make them a lot because they are good for you! I'm not sure I like them this much though! These are some thoughts from my friend Jenn Johnson after her family took the 5 day hunger challenge. I think the last line is so amazing...

This week our church challenged everyone to take on a 5-day Hunger Challenge. Basically eat like half the world eats everyday. The menu is rice, beans, flour tortillas, and oatmeal. Besides experiencing what it is like for so many they encouraged everyone to take what they would have spent on groceries for those five days and bring it and it goes toward hunger needs in our area as well as overseas.

Today is day five for our family. It has been extremely eye opening.

  • It was harder than I thought.
  • I realized how blessed I am with so many choices and conveniences I take for granted. I have the luxury to be picky.
  • I found I ate slower. I didn’t like the food so I took smaller bites and I didn’t have as much so I wanted it to last longer.
  • After the first day, I realized that rice, beans, and tortillas are void of so much nutrition. Before I thought, “Well, at least they have food.” During the week I found myself thinking, “This is so WRONG! No wonder children don’t grow like they should. I don’t know how they even survive on this.”
  • After two days of eating so much white flour (tortillas) and white rice I started having major headaches. By the night of Day Two my sinuses started filling and I felt awful. My headache was so bad that I had a hard time getting to sleep that night. The last 2 and ½ days I just ate oatmeal and chicken broth. I felt much better by the night of day three, but can hardly stand to even smell oatmeal this morning (Day five).
  • This week I’ve been tired, cranky, and irritable. I went to bed the first night barely speaking to Joel. I couldn’t believe how upset I got when Grace dropped her tortilla on the floor and Lady beat her to it. I worked hard to make that! One day I commented to Joel, “I don’t know how people who live on this food even have children! I am so not in the mood!”
  • I expected my kids to whine and complain and give up after the first day. They amazed me. Even though we added a fruit, vegetables, and peanut butter into their lunches after the first day - there were no sweets, crackers, snacks, etc. and it was still oatmeal for breakfast and rice and beans at supper. They never once complained. I learned that my kids can do hard things.
  • I became much more aware of money and other resources being wasted. I was always sure that the dishwasher was as full as possible before I ran it. I was super conscious of lights being turned off in rooms when no one was there. I hate to admit it, but I didn’t really care much about it before. If a light was on and I’d have to walk all the way up the steps to turn it off I’d probably have left it, but not now.
  • I was broken over seeing my kids hungry after just one day. My heart just couldn’t imagine what it would be like to not be able to feed your own children. I knew at any point I could just go to my cupboard, fridge, or freezer and find plenty of food, but what if the cupboards were empty. I can’t imagine that pain.
  • I found myself trying to think of other ways that I could pinch pennies and change little things to even have an extra $20 a month. One thing I want to try is to have one meal a week be as cheap as possible (no beans and rice or oatmeal for that matter for a while!) but spaghetti is cheap and there are other meals that don’t include meat and can be very cheap. Could I save $5 a week on groceries? That would be $20 a month to give.
  • We had interesting conversations at meal times. When we discussed giving money so the church could buy rice and beans for people in other countries, Grace exclaimed, “I don’t want to buy other people rice and beans! I want to buy them something else - that’s better!” I had to agree.
  • On the TLC channel this week they showed the family from the show 17 Kids and Counting go on a mission trip to El Salvador. It was so good. We watched it together as a family and I think it really helped the kids to see the meager homes and bathrooms and to hear the mission leader talk about how sometimes families go one or two days without any food. They went to an orphanage there and talked about how El Salvador has the slowest adoption process… 6 years! The family went to one of the local stores and bought rice and beans and other supplies to give to families out in the rural parts of this area. Luke wondered why God didn’t make enough so everyone could live well so we got to talk about sin and God’s character. I think it helped the kids to see that even one family could help others.
  • Today as I gear up for our celebration meal and plan to break from the challenge tonight I became very unexpectedly sad as I put away the staple tortilla ingredients that had been sitting on my counter all week. With tears in my eyes I thought, “Will I still think about and pray for the impoverished as often next week when I’m back to eating my usual diet?” May God continue to work in my heart.
  • How sweet will the banquet feast of the Lamb be for those who have eaten rice and beans all their life!
Thanks for the great perspective Jenn!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Would I Rejoice?

There was a Christian doctor that was returning home from his second medical missions trip to Bangladesh. He was bringing home a few things that he bought in a market, mainly things kids make out of what they find in a dump. When he was coming back into the U.S. he was detained, arrested, shackled, put in solitary, questioned aggresively and not allowed a phone call. His wife, waiting for him at another airport was confused and wondering where on earth he was. When she got home, she received a phone call from a detective rudely asking her all sorts of questions. She asked to speak to her husband which they would not allow.

His bail was set at $500,000. So she began trying to come up with some money to get him out. He was treated terribly. It seems a little pot he bought at the market had dirt and clay that they thought might be drug related. That coupled with the prescription medications he had with him made them think he was a drug dealer. Apparently they disregarded the M.D. behind his name! Finally, after they tested the materials and found them to be harmless he was released. He's had a hard time dealing with the aftermath of his ordeal and has sought the help of a therapist to try to deal with the experience.

My friend told me this story about her uncle on Sunday. Do you know what my immediate response was? How dare they? That should NEVER happen in America! Is he going to press charges?

And to some extent it's true. That shouldn't happen in America. And his rights certainly were violated, at least I think so from what I've learned watching Law & Order!

But this week I was reading in the book of Acts and I realized how radically different Christianity is from our culture. I usually don't even realize that my reactions are totally opposite of a biblical response.

Acts 6 tells the story of the Pharisees questioning Peter and the other apostles. They were jealous of their powerful teaching and miracles. Acts 6:40-42 says,
"They called the aposltes in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ." (NIV)

I think it might be time to un-americanize my faith.