This evening I have been working on the video for the Costa Rica mission trip, and as such have been thinking about the children we met at La Carpio.
There was one moment on this trip that really broke my heart. We were at La Carpio and I was serving juice. Each kid received one glass of juice, and after we finished pouring the last glass, a little boy came up and asked for more. I asked the woman if I could give him more, and she said no because there was not enough for everyone to have more. All he wanted was more juice. Something we all take for granted. Another kid wanted more food. And the same answer. There was only enough for one bowl per kid. This was probably the only meal these kids would have all day. 70-80 children who get one bowl of food a day.
The Wednesday after we got back from Costa Rica, I was at Be 5:6 (SUMC's 5th and 6th grade ministry). There was plenty of food and drink for everyone to have as much as they wanted. And I found myself thinking back to that moment of the little boy asking for more and being told no.
Hunger is a very real problem in the world. In poor areas like La Carpio, and right in our back yards. When we took all that food to Big Walnut Friends Who Share from the Upwards food drive, they told us it would last 2-3 weeks. It can be easy to forget when we have plenty to eat every day. When we can afford to spend money on junk food just because we want it. Every time the teens did the 30-hour famine I always tried to bring the point home that even though we were not eating for 30 hours, we still knew when our next meal was coming, and that there would be plenty. That is not true from those dealing with real hunger.
The problem is that for most of us this hunger doesn't have a face. When it's boiled down to numbers, it doesn't seem as important to do something about it. The personal connection is what makes it really click in us. My time in La Carpio reminded me that hunger does have a face. It's the face of the little boy asking for more. It's a little boy asking for water and it's a simple request that you can't fill. When you experience these moments, you realize how much it matters. Because it really, really matters.
And it's not just about filling their bellies. Because while these children are the faces of hunger, they are so much more. If you look at these pictures, especially the one below (which is my favorite), you see true joy. They melt my heart. Even with the challenges that life has dealt with them, these kids are still just that - kids. They know how to smile and laugh and dance and love. And it was truly my honor and joy to help serve them and to dance and draw and play with them for just one day. These children will be forever in my heart. They changed my life, and I will be forever grateful.
P.S. If you ever have the chance to experience anything like this, do it! It is worth whatever time and money it costs you. You will never be the same.
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