Most of us see hunger and poverty as something that needs a solution. It’s a physical problem right? Poverty: something I can fix for myself by working harder or fix for others by buying them the things they are missing. Hunger: my children seem to think hunger is 20 minutes without food.
Hunger in the physical sense became even more real to me last month. Due to an extended dry season, many families in our region lost both their bean and corn crop. People were desperate. We had many patients in our clinic saying that all they have been eating was tortillas with salt. How do you help a patient be healthy and recover from an illness when they have limited nutrition coming in?!? As a mom, I can’t imagine having hungry children and having nothing to give them.
So we did some research and learned from the experts – the leaders of the communities and the local farmers. Through them we learned that most families were able to replant beans (not corn) but they didn’t know how to survive for the 8 weeks until harvest. Those leaders helped us identify the 67 of the most desperately physically hungry families.
Here we are: almost at the end of an 8-week food relief program. Each week we deliver about 12 pounds of grains (corn/beans/rice) to each family. We also bring a time of spiritual encouragement and nutritional education. We’re getting to know these men & women who come weekly to learn and receive their food and then make the trek to their homes carrying a baby on one hip and their bag of food on the other. They talk about how they share with their neighbors, how it’s given them hope, and how their babies aren’t hungry, and then they give us food (bananas, squash, and oranges) and completely humble me all over again by their generosity in the midst of crisis.
I am learning that although many third world countries are poor physically (some living on less than $1/day) they are rich in other ways. They are rich in peace – not pulled by the stresses or busyness that consume first world countries. They are rich in relationships, in family life, and in enjoying the simplicity of working hard with their 2 hands to produce food for their family.
This is the closest view I’ve had of hunger, and yet I also see the richness my beloved mountain friends have. Their view of not only the incredible landscape, but also of life and its priorities.
Hunger and poverty can mean many things. My belly may be full, but am I finding the richness of a life lived in Christ? I know that I need more of a hunger for God and his Word – that desperate: I. Need. More of God. Feeling.
I pray both for my mountain friends, and for you & me – that our God will supply for all that we hunger for – both physically and spiritually – better than we could ever hope or imagine.
By: Elizabeth Mohagen