This was a post I wasn't sure if I was going to write. I started and trashed it a few times. I sometimes struggle putting up photos from my time in Africa because I never want it to come across as me being self righteous. My hope is that this post isn't read this way. This week, my church here in Richmond (Hope) has embarked on an adventure. Its called "Meals With Hope." In short, for the week, we are to eat bland food similar to that in which others in third world countries may eat....rice, beans, oatmeal, a piece of fruit every once in a while, and tap water. The money I would have used to spend on other food will be donated to Feed My Starving Children. Its a genius idea...I love it. When I heard about the challenge I was ready for it. I'll admit, I did have the attitude of "Eh, I've done this before when I lived in Africa, I can do it again." I don't love rice, but its just 5 days. 983,000,000 go to bed hungry every night. Um, yes, you read that right. I only have to go to bed hungry (ish) for 5 nights. This week, a few times, my blood sugar has dropped, I've gotten shaky, and I can tell that I've been short with people. Through this challenge I've felt as though I'm supposed to feel the pain with those who are starving in other countries. The thing is, though... its not the same. At the end of this week, I know there is food at my fingertips, wherever I want, whenever I want.
This week has had my mind slipping back to my life in Africa. I remember the first few months I was there, there was a famine in Kenya. Even that word seemed so foreign to me...like something you only read about in the bible. I walked into the grocery store one day and asked for some chicken from the butcher. He replied "Pole sana." (so sorry) as he pointed to a sign that explained that there would be no chicken till further notice due to the famine. It just wasn't there. I didn't get it. In the US, you walk into any grocery store and there are 5 kinds of chicken: with skin, without skin, boneless, organic...you name it, its there. The next week I went back to the same store and there was another sign saying there was no sugar due to the famine. I started to get used to this. I thought I had it bad until the pastor at my church preached on the famine in the rural parts of Kenya. We began taking a weekly offering to buy food for those suffering from the famine. Those weeks turned into months, and months into a year. The pastor one day asked if I would like to join him and some members of the church to drop off food to some villages. I joined them.
The further we drove, the worse the effects of the famine got. When we finally stopped in a village, I could see that everything seemed dead. The trees were bare and the animals were scarce. The one thing that was not dead, though, was the church. As we arrived, the whole village was inside singing praise songs at the top of their lungs. They were dressed in the most colorful outfits, ready to praise the One who provides for them....despite the famine. This was one of the most significant lessons I learned. Despite their hunger, despite death, despite not knowing if and when their next meal will come....they praised God.
While I looked through these photos from this trip I asked myself how many times this week I've praised God. ...Not enough.