Hunger Among Other Things

As of 2011, 20,000 children under the age of 5 died from hunger and hunger related causes. To put that into perspective, that is 250 filled school buses of kids that died every single day. That’s nearly 14 kids every minute. To say that there is a problem is a little bit of an understatement. And it’s not just a problem that effects third world countries. Hunger also effects children in the United States. So what can we do about it? Through an organization called World Vision, people all over are participating in an event called the 30 Hour Famine. World Vision hosts several Famine events every year, but not only that, they offer child sponsorships in order to continue caring for the hungry after the Famine events. You can visit and learn more about World Vision at worldvision.org.

This will be my eighth year doing the 30 Hour Famine. When I first began doing the Famine in my 7th grade year, the number of kids dying every day was nearly double what it is today. Through efforts of World Vision and The 30 Hour Famine, the number of hungry kids are decreasing dramatically. I’ve been able to see students grow closer together, but more importantly closer to God. Being able to be apart of that is something special.

So here’s how it works: students and anyone else who wants to participate raises money to send to World Vision so that they can distribute food and resources all over the world. Our group will be fasting for 30 hours at the end of April, hence the name 30 Hour Famine. We do this in order to get a little feel for what it is like to be hungry and use it as a tool to raise awareness by telling people why we aren’t eating for 30 hours. While fasting we are going to be doing service projects around our community to help students see the need that is in their own back yards.

This is just a brief overview of what The Famine is about. If you want to learn more, or even get involved, you can head over to 30hourfamine.org. I also ask that you would consider donating to a great cause and organization that is helping the hungry all over the world. If you would like to donate, you can find my donation page here: http://30hf.worldvision.org/site/TR/30HourFamine/30HourFamine?px=1466796&pg=personal&fr_id=2540.

God bless you all!

In God’s grip,
Alex

The Philippines Part 3: A Thing Called Feedings

©Demure Photography/Angel Yoder

While in The Philippines, we would do these things called feedings. We would go out to a community and feed them. My very fist feeding was at a tent city. It was one of the hardest things I have had to do. When we first got into the city, the poverty there was very apparent. Many of the kids and even the adults didn’t have proper shoes or clothing. And as the picture above depicts, malnutrition was a very big problem. One of the first signs of malnutrition is a bloated stomach. This occurs because of a lack of protein. Seeing all this was one of the hardest parts of the trip for me.

While the feeding was going on, I stood back and observed for a little bit. There was a woman performing basic medical procedures. There was a child she was attending that had sores all over his feet. She was cleaning the sores with hydrogen peroxide and then putting neosporin  on them. Because of how poor these people are, they can’t afford shoes to protect their feet and they don’t have access to clean water in order to clean the sores.

A few of us decided to walk around and just observe the condition of the city, and see how the people lived their daily lives. We observed women washing their clothes in the river, children washing in somewhat of a bathtub made out of brick where the river water would run into it and fill it up, and people walking around, talking to neighbors. The thing that hit me hardest, was that despite all the things these people had to be sad and bitter about, they weren’t. They were filled with joy for what they had. This has been a constant thing that God continues to show me on every single mission trip I have been on. He constantly shows me that it’s not about finding satisfaction or joy in material things. That satisfaction and joy, isn’t real. True joy and satisfaction is found in the Lord God alone.

Later towards the end of our trip, I went to another feeding. It was in a smaller community. The people and kids all lined up to get some food. Giving these people food was one of the coolest things I have ever done. These people were filled with joy that they were getting to eat. And that in turn filled me with joy. A few minutes later, a few kids showed up late from school. We were nearly out of food. My heart sank. I knew that there wasn’t going to be enough food for these kids. It broke my heart that I knew kids were going home hungry, not knowing where their next meal would come from.

Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” We are called to look after others. I would like to ask you guys to pray for the people in these communities. Pray for provision and healing. Ministries such as Kids International (which is who we partnered with for this trip) are helping to break the cycle of poverty. I also ask you to pray for Kids International Ministries, that they could continue to serve the people of the Philippines and help break the cycle of poverty.

In God’s grip,
Alex

 

The Philippines Part 2: A Request for Prayer

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While we were in The Philippines, we met an amazing child. His name was Arvin. Arvin wasn’t part of the orphanage program, he was just a kid who we met while playing basketball on the street. A few of us had been hanging out with him and when it was time to go he started crying hysterically. A few of us asked what was wrong and someone told us that he had an abusive mom. It really broke our hearts for this little boy because there wasn’t anything we could really do for him. The legal system in the Philippines isn’t like what it is in the US so we knew that he would most likely not be taken from his mom because of child abuse. Arvin is a child of God, a child that God loves so much. God’s word says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13 & 14). God knows Arvin, before he was even born and He loves him, more than he could ever imagine. God loves Arvin even when his mom chooses not too. The Bible also says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). God has a plan for this amazing boy. Whether it be that his mom sees that what she is doing is wrong or whether he is taken away by another family member. Or some other possibility. Only God knows. But I ask you to pray for Arvin that he would be shown God’s love and that God does great things in his life.

In God’s grip,
Alex

The Philippines

Instead of writing one big post on my experience in the Philippines, I will be breaking it up into different topics to make it less taxing for you guys. My first post will be about orphans; how does it feel? Why they might act a certain way. And I will also be talking about a brother and sister who we met while playing and loving the kids at the orphanage. Hope you guys will enjoy it:)

Philippines

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God has blessed me with an amazing opportunity! This summer, June 4-18, I will be going on a mission trip with my youth group, Fusion, to the Philippines! I am really excited about this opportunity.

Here are a few facts about the Philippines: as of 2010, the population of the Philippines is 92,337,852. Most of the population is about 15-64 years old. The sex ratio for the entire population is about 1. The main religion there is Roman Catholicism, about 80%. People over the age of 15 and over can read and write. On June 12 1898 was when the Philippines declared independence from Spain and on July 4 1946 they declared independence from the U.S.

God has blessed 30 people with the ability to go on this mission trip. While we are down there we will be doing kids ministries, minor construction, and evangelizing. I pray that God does amazing things in and through us as we embark on this journey. I ask that you would pray that we could make our financial goals. We each have to raise about $2,000 for this trip. I also ask that you would pray for our safety, but most importantly, please pray that we could grow closer to God and that we could do the work He has planned for us. I thank you for your support.

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

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Mission Trip to San Francisco

My youth group and I recently went on a mission trip to San Francisco this past October. I love these inner city trips because it is not only helping others, but these kinds of trips really open eyes to how much poverty and need is in our own country (for those of you who are American anyway).

Some of the things we did were: work at various food banks, working at the Rescue Mission, doing a few prayer walks, and kids ministries. One child ministry we went to was called King’s Club. It is one of the only after school programs that incorporate Christ into its daily activities. King’s Club is a place for K-12 kids to hang out in a safe environment after school. The people that run the club help the kids with their homework and various other things, as well as helping them get to know their Saviour, Jesus Christ. The day we were there we played with the children and helped them with their homework. A few kids from our group led VBS for the little ones while a friend of mine, Rachael, and I led worship for the teenagers. I also gave my testimony while we were there.

One experience that I wanted to share with you guys is how my group met a woman named Monica. We had bought some things at a convenience store to make sandwiches and such and we were looking for a person in need to have lunch with. We had been walking around for a while and we weren’t getting much in the Spirit in where God wanted us to go. We walked by a woman and she asked us if that was food in the bag we were carrying. Our leader, Laura, and I exchanged glances and we knew that this was the person God wanted us to have lunch with. So we told her that it was food and that we would like to have lunch with her.

After eating a few sandwiches, we started to talk to Monica a little bit. We learned that after her parents separated, she ran away to San Francisco and had been there ever since. After talking for a bit we headed back to where we were to meet afterwards, leaving Monica with the remaining food. It was amazing to see how God had led us to this woman with just a simple, “Is that food in your bag?”. It reminds me of a few Bible verses. “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:37-40 NIV).

That’s how I think that we should treat others, the way we would treat Jesus.

In God’s grip,
Alex

Experience in Haiti

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How do I explain my experience in Haiti? If I really tried I could probably write a whole book. But for now I am going to try to talk about all the things I did and experienced in the poorest and richest country in the western hemisphere (more on that later) in this post.

Just by flying into the country you could tell how bad of a situation that Haiti is in physically. Before I even stepped foot in the country my heart was breaking for the Haitian people. Flying in was one of the biggest culture shocks I have ever had. There are these things called tent cities and they were everywhere. You could fit at least six or seven tents in my living room to kind of give you an idea how of small and packed together these tents were. For miles all you could see were tents. That really got at me because I realized that entire families lived in these tents and I have a room that could fit four or five tents in my bedroom. It just shows how much abundance we Americans have compared to countries like Haiti. When we were in Vegas waiting for our plane, we were walking through a casino and my youth pastor, Brent, asked us to take a mental photo of all that was happening in this casino. Flying into Haiti, that mental photo was brought to mind, and it made me sick. Americans have so much in abundance that we can go and gamble away our money, and the people of Haiti and many other countries live off two or less dollars a day.

After landing in the airport, getting through customs, and getting our luggage, we met our group leaders, Josh, Jenny, and Tiffany. We got on a bus and started the long drive through Port au Prince to Carrefour. Driving through these two cities, I noticed that a lot of the buildings were still in ruin and the rubble had not even been cleared, even after eighteen months. Haiti doesn’t really have people hired to pick up trash so there was a lot of that laying around. Of the whole time I was there I saw one garbage truck. But the whole country is not like this. On one bus ride we were out of the major cities and got to see the country side. Haiti is a very beautiful country. Right now I am trying to paint a picture of the physical description of Haiti to you. To get the full picture you would just have to experience it for yourself.

In the physical aspect Haiti is a very poor country. But in a spiritual aspect, Haiti is one of the richest countries in the world (this is what I meant earlier). The Haitian people are so full of life and they have a faith in God like I have never seen anywhere. They know that God will provide for them. And I think that because the United States and many other richer countries are so independent that we have lost the ability to depend on God for the things that we need.

Throughout the trip we would go on prayer walks. We would walk around Carrefour to pray and talk with people. We would also do these in the tent cities. I remember one time we were in a tent city and a woman walked up to us and told us that there was a sick man and the she wanted us to pray for him. We learned that the week before this man had had a stroke and had lost all feeling in the left side of his body. So we prayed for him and he was very thankful. Another time we were walking around Carrefour and we were talking to a young woman. We prayed for her and afterwards an elderly man, who was blind in one eye, walked up to us and asked us for prayer. We asked him if he knew anything about Jesus and he said he didn’t. So I talked to him about how Jesus was a man but he was also God and that he came to Earth to die for the sins of the world on the cross. I also told him that Jesus was resurrected three days later. After I was finished one of my friends, Austin, told him about how Jesus healed the blind man because he had so much faith that Jesus could heal him. He decided to accept Christ as his lord and savior that day. Our very first prayer walk, another group was approached by a man and he told them that his wife wanted to know Jesus. So they followed him to his tent and when they got inside he told them that him and his wife wanted to accept Jesus. I heard it was amazing and I wish I could have been there. I got to meet them though because they were at church with us on Sunday. God is moving in amazing ways in Haiti.

Church was definitely a different experience. People were dancing and worshiping the Lord with such passion. You don’t really get a lot of worship like that in the states.

We also did Vacation Bible School at the local church and at an orphanage. These kids were amazing. We had a lot of fun with them and we also got to teach them about God. The orphanage was run by a woman named Madame Gustave. The kids there were so full of life, even though some of them had come from bad backgrounds. They loved bubbles, jumping rope, and playing soccer. We also broke out the sidewalk chalk and construction paper and crayons. These kids loved to draw. These kids were so amazing and the spirit of God was alive in them.

My first experience in a tent city was something very hard to see. As we were walking around, we saw many people did not have shoes. There were also many kids who did not have clothes. Many of the babies did not have diapers. The tents were very hot and very small. These tent cities are all over and all the people are displaced because of the earthquake. A few nights it had rained really bad and Josh was talking to us about how he was wrecked at how these people and children had to sleep in a flooded tent city. We take so many things for granted that we don’t even realize how easy we have it. We have food and a place to stay to keep us out of the rain and other types of weather. Most Haitians don’t have these comforts.

Even through all the stuff the Haitian people have been through, they still have a very strong faith in God. And this is what I think is the most amazing thing about them.

One of the things that we learned is that all the money that was donated to Haiti after the earthquake only 10% made it into the country and of that 10% only 3% was used to aid the people. Haiti’s gov. gets 75% of its budget from foreign countries, so throwing money at the country is not going to help.

Haiti is a broken and hopeless country. It cannot be fixed with money. The only thing that could fix this country is God. Thank goodness God can do things that we humans cannot.

Coming back into the US was one of the hardest parts of the trip. Just in the airport alone there were stores dedicated to perfume and purses and many other things. After seeing Haiti and how much need that there is, I was disgusted by how greed has taken over the US.

I hope I have given you a glimpse of what it was like for me to be in this amazing country. If you ever get the chance to go to Haiti, I would take it. It is something that will change your life forever.

In God’s grip,

Alex