I wrote a poem this afternoon titled “Cold Hash“. My mom would take leftover beef roast and grind it together with boiled potatoes to make hash. It wasn’t like corned beef hash. This hash was gray and mushy. My sisters and I would smash it on our plates and write our initials in ketchup to give it flavor. Thankfully, mom stopped making beef hash after my older sisters grew up and moved away from home. Beef hash was likely was a way to stretch our food budget with many mouths to feed.
I’ve been thinking a lot about people around the world who are without food. When our nation went into Covid-19 isolation, many scrambled to stockpile food and toilet paper. I guess you can’t have one without the other. In many parts of the world, both items are luxuries. At the beginning of the pandemic, this was the hardest thing to watch. As schools closed, my heart broke for kids that would lose their safe place and warm meals… my heart still breaks. I appreciate the good things that are happening. But I am emotionally braced as the carnage this virus may reveal– the toll may also be costly for many living in isolation so long. I would go without several meals if I could somehow change their world for good. [Sigh] I pray fervently.
Today’s poem references my trip to Africa. It was my first international mission trip in 2015. Our group went to Rwanda to serve the widows and orphans, survivors of the 1994 genocide. Every journey God sends me on is life-altering. This, being my first, set my perspective to see the world in a new way from that time forward.
My last international mission trip was in 2019, again to Rwanda. This time I traveled with my daughter to serve the next generation– children of the young survivors of the Rwandan genocide. Our friends were moving to the country, leaving their home and family here in the states. I traveled with them in 2015 as well as their adult son. They returned to Rwanda several times while God led me elsewhere. On a later trip to Rwanda, their son met a beautiful native girl who he later married. It’s a lovely story! More on that later…
Our U.S. friends and a friend who is a genocide survivor, started Hope for Children Ministries. Their organization helps the upcoming generation learn vocational skills and much more. Truly, they are teaching people to sow seeds and grow in community. Sienna and I enjoyed our time serving with HFCM. It was similar to the work we value with Royal Family KIDS Camp and Mentor Clubs in the USA. We held community events for the children. Puppet shows in Kinyarwandan teach the kids about hygiene and health as well as share the Good News of Jesus. Here is what I love about HFCM– they share the gospel and this gives new hope. But they also serve the practical needs of the people. After each meeting with the kids, we offered a small meal– a boiled egg, a banana, and juice. HFCM also facilitates sponsor children as many relief organizations do. Sponsorship affords the kids health insurance, education, and much more. We visited the homes of kids our friends in the States supported. On a few occasions, we brought an additional gift of oil, flower, and rice for the families. It is a blessing to see children come out of malnutrition and start to thrive!
I am hopeful the crisis we are currently experiencing will change the world. I hope food pantries will always be full and home pantries become less bloated. I hope neighbors will see their neighbors and the hungry will be known and fed. I hope families gather around tables more often– our small family has. May the countries that are also suffering appear closer to us [US] than ever before as we empathize hunger and so much more.
The potato— true story. The beautiful Rwandan girl knew hunger as a child. Sometimes all their family had for dinner was a potato. Sometimes, there was not. She lives in America now and I wonder what her perspective has been? I hope people will consider leaving the comforts of home to gain new perspective from the walls that have surrounded them for weeks on end.
One last memory as I close today’s backstory about my poem—
My mom passed away the year before I traveled to Rwanda. The night she passed away, I grabbed our luggage so I could pack her clothes. Our family had recently returned from a spring vacation so it hadn’t been placed back in the attic. A few weeks after her passing, I repacked mum’s clothes into boxes. The luggage returned to the attic. I brought it down for the trip to Rwanda. One bag was given to the team for supplies; the other was kept for my personal belongings.
The night before we departed Rwanda, I got my extra bag for the trip home. As I packed souvenirs into the spare suitcase, I opened the outer pocket and discovered my mothers crocheted prayer shawl. I hadn’t realized it was packed in the outer pocket! The missing prayer shawl had driven my sisters bonkers. It meant a lot to mom. It was a special memory that she had traveled with me for the trip. Mom was a widow too. A woman of faith who supported missions at home and abroad. How fitting to serve widows of the genocide on that trip. Mom came to mind quite often while I was there. In fact, a woman came up to my bus window in Mugina. She appeared out of nowhere in a sea of children. Her skin was dark but her brown eyes, her high-cheek bones, her lips and smile looked like my mum’s features. It was a challenging trip that God used for His plan and purpose in countless ways.
Here are two songs to reflect on the message today–
“Hungry” by Jeremy Camp
“I Am Not Forgotten” by Israel Houghton
The first song talks of the hunger many of us try to fill with stuff, but only a relationship with Christ can satiate. The second song is a special song from RFK Camp that I hope “our kids” have on their hearts during this time of uncertainty in our world. It’s a song I’ve had to sing myself in recent months. It helps to be reminded that God has not forgotten us. He knows us by name.
Thank you for the food that you have blessed us with. May it nourish our bodies so we can serve you. Help us to see our neighbors near and far who are in need. Be with those who are suffering. Lead them to people and places where they can be fed. I pray we are all fed spiritually in this time and never forget the impact this time has had on us. May we forever be changed from the inside out. Light a fire in those who have thought about serving in their communities or traveling abroad. Bless those who serve you in full time ministry. May they have support to carry on the great commission you gave all believers to love each other, serve for your glory, and make disciples everywhere– no exclusions.
In Jesus name,
John 4:13-14 Jesus said, “Drink this water, and your thirst is quenched only for a moment. You must return to this well again and again. I offer water that will become a wellspring within you that gives life throughout eternity. You will never be thirsty again.”
Sponsor a child through Hope for Children Ministries, support the mission financially, or join the next team going to Rwanda to serve! [CLICK HERE]
Serve locally by searching for ways to help and banding together with your friends. Near and dear to our hearts is Royal Family KIDS Camp and Mentor Clubs working with children who are or have been a part of the foster care system [CLICK HERE]. Connected with RFK, for teen years, a similar camp and mentor program– Teen Reach Adventure Camps and TRAC Life Mentor Program [CLICK HERE].