Children Feeding Children – A Short Story

It was an early Saturday morning in September, and Aubrey, Gage, and Levi were eager to get inside the building. Each of them carried a small plastic baggie filled with money they had saved for this very day. Their mom, dad, and younger brother trailed behind them. This was the 4th year they had come to the Michiana Event Center in Howe, Indiana, to help pack meals for starving children around the world. They were about to join almost 3000 volunteers for a Feed My Starving Children MobilePack event. Running ahead, Six-year-old Levi looked back and yelled, “Come on! We’re here to stop world hunger!”

Once inside, the 3 children easily found the registration table. The table was covered with coin banks and candy tubes filled with quarters, dropped off by other children. With big smiles, the three happily added their treasure to the bounty.  Something caught Gage’s attention, and he pointed to a map. “Look, the food we’re going to pack goes to some of the countries we’ve been reading about in school.”  As he leaned on the table, his finger traced over Ethiopia, Haiti and Nigeria. “Wow, it says the food goes to over 70 countries.  That’s a lot of kids.”

One of  registration volunteers handed them white hair nets and said, ‘you’ll need to wear these while you pack the food.”   Aubrey took off her ring and stuck it in her pocket, “I don’t want this to drop into the rice.”  Giggling, the 3 youngsters put on their nets and skipped off to the orientation room.

Once seated, the volunteers watched a  video about a little orphaned boy named Emmanuel.   At 2 years old, Emmanuel weighed only 9 pounds. “Ezra looks so much bigger than him!” exclaimed Gage. Hearing his name, Ezra, their energetic 2-year-old brother, scrambled down from Mom’s lap and ran to them.  Seeing the difference between the boy on the screen and boy by her feet made Aubrey sad, and she whispered,  “we’re here to help you, Emmanuel.”

After a few last minute instructions, the 250 adults and children, scheduled for this 2-hour shift, filed into the packing room.  “Look at all these tables,” said Gage, as he entered the large arena filled with 15 packing stations. All the tables were supplied with funnels, scoops, baggies and scales. At the end of each station, lined up in a row, were 4 large boxes. Each box was filled with one of the important food ingredients: rice, soy meal, dried vegetables, and a vitamin/mineral mixture.

As the volunteers took their spots, Aubrey stepped right up to the food scoops, her favorite job from last year.  Levi grabbed the station next to her, and chose the rice scoop while Gage headed to the end of the table to help his Dad with boxing.

Upbeat music began to play, and before long, their assembly line was working smoothly. As heads bobbed and toes tapped, baggies were filled with the food, and boxes were packed. At one point, the FMSC Team Leader, Danny, stopped the music and announced, “I hear we have a birthday boy here today.” Gage looked up, suddenly feeling shy. Aubrey pointed, and yelled out, “It’s him. It’s him. He turns 8 today!” As Gage covered his face with both hands with embarrassment, the entire room began to sing Happy Birthday.  Danny gave Gage a “high-five” hand clap and said, “Thank you for helping us pack meals on your special day.”

When their shift was finished, and all their boxes were packed, Aubrey, Gage, and Levi cleaned up their station, and followed the rest of the volunteers back to the orientation room.  “I think we packed a lot of boxes,” Levi boasted as he scrambled into his seat next to his brother. “Yeah, I think we packed hundreds of boxes,” Gage agreed.

When everyone was seated,  a FMSC staff member took the microphone and began quizzing the volunteers: “How many meals do you think you packed?”  A boy from high in the bleachers helled, “200!”  Another volunteer shouted, “300!”   “Oh, you did better than that,” the staffer said, “you packed 355 boxes! That’s over 76,000 meals!”

“Whoa” said Gage, we really did help stop world hunger today.”

At dinner that night, Levi climbed into his chair and set his piggy bank on the table.  “I know I was saving for a bike, but I want to give this money to Feed My Starving Children.  Kids need to eat more than I need a new bike.  When can we pack again?” Dad and Mom exchanged smiles as everyone bowed their head to pray.   Dad’s voice shook with emotion as he spoke, “Dear God, thank you for this food we are about to eat…”

Founded in 1987, Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) is a Christian non-profit that provides nutritionally complete meals specifically formulated for malnourished children.   FMSC produces three special MannaPack™ meal formulas developed by food science and nutrition professionals to supplement nutritional needs and reduce problems with malnutrition. Hope begins with nutritious food. FMSC exists to provide this hope in the name of Jesus. For information on an FMSC MobilePack near you, visit http://www.fmsc.org.

 

 

Chase Fear Away By Remembering God’s Faithfulness

Always about this time every year, I begin to get nervous about our upcoming  FMSC MobilePack.  It’s kind of like planning a wedding — so many details!  And if everyone just remembers his role, the “wedding” will be a big success.  We have a steering committee, yes, and those people plan, work and delegate.  However, there is only so much we can do when we are talking about inspiring 3000 volunteers and collecting over $140,000 needed to complete the task.

We can’t do it.

And that is where nerves and faith have a head-on collision.

The task is big.  I woke up several times last night with the Pack on my mind.

I’m worried.

Today’s topic in our church service was about FEAR.  fear“When we face our fears with FAITH, God gives us strength and courage.  And that strength and courage lend to REST”.  Rest.  Is waking up at 1 a.m. and again at 3 a.m., thinking about the MobilePack, rest?

I’m not talking about blind faith.  Absolutely not.  I have history to fall back on.  This is our 7th pack with Feed My Starving Children, and has God shown up?  Has He been faithful?  Did He answer our prayers?

12046860_10153602727484304_1693898762807127930_nThousands of volunteers have come to help pack meals in our community for the past six years.  We used over 2200 volunteers from our community just last year alone. 2200!  Where did they come from?  I have no idea. They just kept coming through the door.

And over half a million dollars has been raised by our Meals From Michiana event in the past six years.   Wait.  What?  How is that possible in this little farming community?  The only answer is God opened the hearts of His people to give.

12036689_10153601136429304_408744478935615099_nOver 2,000,000 meals have been packed — right here –in the past six years.  That is an incredible feat.

God HAS been faithful.  The Pack is not about us — and what we can accomplish.

We can’t do it.

But God can!  

God has done it!  God can do it.  

And I am trusting God will do it.

Fear breeds anxiety and unbelief.

fear-is-a-liarI have no reason to fear.   It is God’s will to feed the hungry.  We can walk boldly forward, and rely on HIM to work in His people.  He can urge them to volunteer.  He can burden them to give.  He has.  And He will.  Praise the Lord.

Tonight, if I wake up at 3 a.m., I will not worry or fret.  I will praise Him for what He is doing and what He will accomplish in September during our FMSC Mobile Pack.  I will lift my eyes to the heaven, and give Him thanks.

How about you?  What are you afraid of?  What fear is waking you up at night?  Trust God to work it out.  He has been faithful in the past.

He can be trusted for what is to come.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 14:27

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

He will give you REST as you turn your FEAR into FAITH.

Releasing Ownership — It’s Not About Me (Meals From Michiana)

I pulled my car into the parking lot for our first FMSC Prayer Walk of this year.  A Walk for our 7th Feed My Starving Children Mobilepack.  We, the core volunteers (and anyone else who’s interested), are scheduled to walk the perimeter of the facility and pray for the 6 Saturday mornings before the Pack.

The parking lot was empty.  Not. One. Single. Car.   Sigh.

I remember this from last year.  Not the empty parking lot so much, but the worry… Where is everybody??  Why don’t they come?   Don’t they care?

I’ve been working so hard on The Pack.

My husband and one other core volunteer soon joined me in the parking lot.  As I stepped out of my car, I made my thoughts known.  Where is everyone?

We began our walk, but no one prayed for the first fifty steps.  Just silence.  But as the sun peaked over the top of trees, God’s beauty, and faithfulness, was hard to deny.  My husband began to pray.  And I began to cry.

My work?  My prayer walk?  My schedule?

Yep, there it is.  That is what I remember from last year’s prayer walk.  (I’m a slow learner).  Last year’s walk started out a bit bumpy as well.  Connie needed a little attitude adjustment.  There is so much that goes on behind the scenes in the months before the actual Pack, I tend to take ownership of the whole sh-bang.  I take it personally when no one shows up to pray.  I am offended.

Wow.  Sounds like it’s all about me, huh?

As I grabbed my husband’s handkerchief out of his back pocket and wiped my tears, I knew God was asking me to open my hands and put this event into His.  It is not about me.  Or the core volunteers.  It’s not even really about the children who will receive the food.

It’s about God.

The whole event is about Him.  And His faithfulness.  His promises.  His will.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.   And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.    1 John 5:14-15

Is feeding the hungry His will?

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…  James 1:27a

So many verses talk about feeding/helping the poor. God desires for us to take care of the starving children in the world.

We can ask boldly.

We can ask confidently.  

He will be faithful.  

He has promised to answer our prayers.

The worry, the discouragement, and the irritation are all about looking at what I’ve done, and what I hope to accomplish.

And if this event depends on me, we are doomed to fail.

Thank you, Lord, for the wake-up call this morning.  I lay my attitude at your feet, and humbly thank You and praise You for what You are going to do.   To You be the glory.

As the three of us continued our walk, and looked up into that sunrise, my husband began to pray, “Lord, when two or more are gathered….”

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”  Matthew 18:20

Packing “Manna” locally to Save Children Around the World

Did you know over two million children die every single year from starvation?  2,000,000!   That’s a really big number.  I’m not even sure I can “see” that number, can you?  What does 2,000,000 look like?   We could fill the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis every 11 days with children — who are doomed to die because they do not have enough food.

6200. children. every. single. day.

But that number is still hard to visualize.  Can we even see that many children?  Well, how about one?  … one child?

Moses

Can you see this one?  This is Moses, and he was found in an outdoor toilet in Haiti.  A man passing by heard his cry, and lowered himself down into that filth to save this sewage-covered baby.   The baby was taken to Love A Child Orphanage, where he was named, Moses, because it means, ‘drawn out of the water’.  (I, myself, think that was a very generous name.)

But even still, Moses is on the other side of the world.  Does he touch my life?  Can I really “see” him?  Are you a parent?  A grandparent?  What if, for just a moment, you imagine the face of your child or your grandchild on that photo.

You can see  him now, can’t you?!  I know I can.  Seeing my grandchild’s face on that little body makes it personal; makes it hurt.

It is only by the grace of God that it is NOT my child…or yours.

Love A Child Orphanage is a recipient of Feed My Starving Children MannaPack food.   This orphanage was able to divert some funds and give Moses a special formula.  Four months later, the picture of him shows a remarkable difference.7085519099_0889dc7cae_zLook at that baby now!   Contented, satisfied — even chubby cheeks.

And after the formula, Moses received FMSC MannaPack food.  In the picture below, he looks like a typical 3 or 4 year old.  Look at that smile and sparkle in his eyes!

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What would the world look like if starving children all over the world had enough food?  If they could stop thinking about food ALL THE TIME, and think about… well, 95fa53a7164314ca1271eb812179a633school, for instance.  Or play.  Or friends.  Or any thought other than ‘is there any food?’

 

 

What would happen if we could change these kids…

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Into these kids…

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We have the power to prevent thousands of children from dying every single month.  Feed My Starving Children sent  over 229 million meals to malnourished children last year.  My community helped pack over 700,000 of those meals.   Yours can too!

James 1:27 says,  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Proverbs 22:9 says, The generous will themselves be blessed for they share their food with the poor.

Nothing is more important than children having enough food to…. just survive.

You may not be able to go to Haiti or Honduras or any other foreign country, but your mission field can be right here, close to your community — at any FMSC MobilePack.  Click the link to find a Mobilepack close to you.

If you help pack the food,  someone’s child gets to live.

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Click on link to find a FMSC Mobilepack close to you

 

 

Meals From Michiana — Crisis in Haiti!

michianafmsclogoslantedWe are about 10 weeks out from our 6th annual Feed My Starving Children MobilePack.  That sounds like a long time, but really, we have a whole community to canvas and make aware of this amazing event; the time is short.  You’d think with it being our 6th year that FMSC MobilePack would be a household phrase in our area.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  We have just barely scratched the surface of the hands and funds that can provide food for these kids.

Each year we have “upped”  the number of meals we pack, and therefore, the amount of funds we need goes up as well.  In 2011 we packed 257,000 meals and raised $56,000.  In September, we 10429360_10152708892339304_7644639926082300316_nhope to pack 650,000 meals and raise $143,000!  Those totals are daunting to me.  The task is too big.  I’m not sure we can do it.  Thankfully, its not about me.  I’m not the one in charge of who helps and who gives.  God has faithfully taken care of that part.  Each year, to the amazement of those of us on the leadership team, the people come to pack and the people come to give.  Every year we’ve met our goal.  And every year, we thank God for moving the hearts of the people.

This past weekend, as I prepared promo materials to hand out in our community for our upcoming MobilePack, my daughter sent me a news release about the Dominican Republic and Haiti.  There is a crisis on the border even as I type this post.   Love A Child, an orphanage located in Haiti who is a big recipient of FMSC MannaPacks,  wrote this on their blog,

“The Haitians, who are mostly children of illegals and were born in the Dominican Republic, are now being removed. They have no birth certificates for either country and are being DEPORTED out of the Dominican Republic.   This is the only home they know and in Haiti they have no family and don’t speak the language. They ARE NOT RETURNING ON THEIR OWN, they have no place to go, and most of them speak only Spanish. It is a nightmare.”

I emailed my contact at Feed My Starving Children to see what they knew about this situation.  I didn’t have to wait long for a reply,

“FMSC is monitoring the DR/Haiti immigration issue very closely.  We are in communication with some of our largest Haiti partners as they determine their role.  So far, one of our largest partners has diverted 4 of their allocated containers to Haiti for this specific need”.  

That’s over a million meals!

And THAT is why we pack this food.

In another email, a Love A Child representative said,

“the best way for you to help is to pray and keep on packing those meals — they are getting to us!”

So it is with renewed vigor and energy that we promote our MobilePack for September.  Every meal counts.  Every one.  There is a Pack close to where you live.  You can find one by going to fmsc.org and searching for MobilePack locations.  Grab your children, your parents, or your neighbors and get involved!   It is an awesome experience and you’ll be glad you did.   Comment here if you pack — I’d love to hear about it.

“The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.”     Proverbs 22:9

untitledIf you’d like to know more about Feed My Starving Children, go to:  fmsc.org

If you’d like to donate to our community MoiblePack, go to: fundraising.fmsc.org/Michiana

If you donate, I would love a brief, general comment here — and thank you!  God bless.

Meals From Michiana!

MobilePack-Logo_PMS-647It all started with a phone call from our daughter who had recently taken a job in Chicago.  ‘Dad, you should see what we are doing at our church!  You would love this.  I wish you were here!’  She was talking about a food-packing event for Feed My Starving Children.  FMSC is a Christian non-profit organization committed to feeding hungry children around the world.  Her church was sponsoring a FMSC MobilePack, a program that connects local volunteers to starving children by packing food or donating funds.   As stated at their website, The approach is simple: hand-packed meals specially formulated for malnourished children sent out to mission partners running orphanages, schools, clinics and feeding programs around the world.

My daughter knows her daddy well, and as she continued to share her excitement about this program, she explained that one of the main ingredients in these MannaPack meals is soy.   Well, that was all it took — my husband was in!   You see, my guy is a farmer — of soybeans.  And my guy is a giver — of anything God graciously gives him.  He is one of the most generous men I know.  So a program that feeds starving children, uses soybeans, and connects local people in a generous mission-type project was like a recipe made in heaven to him.  It only took a matter of weeks before he, his two farming partners, and a local pastor had a FMSC MobilePack scheduled for our area.

A MobilePack in process -- hair bonnets and all!

A MobilePack in process — hair bonnets and all!

Our small farming community raised over $44,000 and packed 205,000 meals that first year, using almost 1000 volunteers.  One of the wonderful aspects of a FMSC MobilePack is the variety of “jobs” available to reach the goal.   My 83 year-old mother sat at a table with her friends, putting labels on food baggies while my 5 year old grand-daughter stood at a packing table, stacking MannaPack meals with her Papa.  It was an amazing event, and our community loved the opportunity to be involved.

My grandson helping attach labels to MannaPack food baggies

My grandson helping attach labels to MannaPack food baggies

Not everyone can go to an orphanage on the other of side of the world to feed a starving child, but most of us have a couple of hours on a Saturday to help pack a few meals.

michianafmsclogoslantedIt has now been almost 7 years since that phone call from our daughter.  We are still packing meals every September for FMSC.  The event has had its challenges and rewards.   It has been a learning experience for all of us.   Join me here each week as I share some of those stories and take you along on the adventure as our community provides Meals From Michiana.  

If you’d like to know more about Feed My Starving Children, go to:  fmsc.org

If you’d like to donate to our community MoiblePack, go to: fundraising.fmsc.org/Michiana.  (If you do so, I would love for you to leave a short comment here).