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Marie’s three-week old son, St. Luk, had spiked a fever of 103. He was really struggling. She had been feeding him bread porridge or plantain mush—it was all she had—but she didn’t have any hope for his survival. She thought he would die.
Marie brought him to one of FMSC partner Children’s Health Ministries’ clinics in Haiti. They encouraged her to breastfeed so St. Luk could receive the nutrients he needed to stay healthy.
She rolled her eyes. She had no way to do that. Some days she ate nothing. Some days she only had a little bread and coffee. She couldn’t even find enough food to feed herself. How was she supposed to produce enough milk to feed her baby?
CHM asked Marie if she was able to eat healthy meals, would she commit to breastfeeding St. Luk? After several moments of silence, as if deciding whether this could actually be true and actually work, she agreed.
CHM gave Marie FMSC meals to take home. That day, she returned to her tiny one-room home in the foothills of the mountains above Carrefour, Haiti, with a glimmer of hope. Perhaps her son would live.
Eight months later, St. Luk weighed 18 pounds! He was now very healthy because Marie had done such a great job of breastfeeding him.
“I believe God sent you with this food to help families like mine that are struggling,” Marie said. “I feel much better about myself now that I am better able to provide more food for my family. Thank you very much.”
Marie accepted Jesus into her heart. CHM says, “It has been great watching Marie transform from a dejected, tired woman who thought she was going to lose her baby to a happy, glowing woman who is proud of her son and his health.”
St. Luk is a very energetic baby! He is learning to walk and likes to say “mama.”
This is the change YOU make through donating your time and resources to FMSC.
St. Luk is alive. His mother has HOPE. And it happened because of YOU.
David Pinto is an event team leader for Feed My Starving Children. He recently went to Haiti and shares his reflections from that trip here.
As I sit in a rickety bus winding through Haitian villages, I can’t help but think back to the one small decision I made three plus years ago that led me to this very moment.
In January 2013, I heard that my church was hosting a volunteer event to pack meals for starving children. I decided I would give my time that weekend. I had no idea that one small choice, one small yes would one day lead me to being in Haiti distributing food to the least of these.*
Six months after saying “yes” to my first volunteer event with FMSC, I became so passionate about this mission that I took a job with the organization, a job for which I moved 1,800 miles away from home.
After three years of plane rides, hairnets, volunteers, and everything in between, I made another choice to travel 2,000 miles — this time, to see the food in action in Haiti.
So here I am, riding away from my first experience actually handing out the food to those who need it most.
This morning we traveled to a small village about two hours outside of Port Au Prince. Down an easily overlooked narrow walkway, there was a simple mud house with a tin roof, no bigger than your average bathroom.
Here lives a resilient woman who has lived for more than 90 years seeing the best and the worst of everything; still through it all, her faith has not faltered.
She was so happy and overjoyed to have visitors, we were able to spend a little time singing in worship with her and it was very refreshing to see her joy as the translator tell her the lyrics in creole. As she understood them she would clap along smiling and making gestures of praise.
With the help from Kelly, who leads Grace So Amazing Ministries, we were delivering food and ministering to people throughout the village. While we did not speak the same language, I clearly heard her say the word “amen.”
Amen: such a simple, honest, powerful statement of God’s will and presence.
This word stuck with me that morning. We gave her 10 bags of MannaPack Rice&trade.; Of the tens of millions of MannaPack bags that I have been connected to in some way, I got to see this one tote containing just 10 bags (which are assembled in less than five minutes) have such an incredible, direct impact.
I often forget about how, after all the hundreds of thousands of meals we pack at a time, it always comes down to one bag, one choice, one story.
The Same Boxes
Next, we visited a school/small community assisted by Grace So Amazing. A group of farmers there had just undergone a crop failure; we were able to help them with 18 bags per family. They were incredibly happy to see us and very affectionate — many hugs, smiles and signs of gratitude all around.
Before we started handing out boxes, we paused to worship together for a few moments. As I looked around, I saw that despite language and culture differences, we were united in heart and mind.
The families then gathered for us to hand out the MannaPack boxes, the same boxes that have been unloaded flat, taped, filled and palletized hundreds upon hundreds of times.
I was amazed to think that over the last few years, I have been a part of producing well over 90,000 of these boxes.
As I handed out each box, I thought back to every volunteer, every hand that touched the bags, the boxes, the scoops, the carts. I pictured in my mind all of these volunteers’ hands reaching out handing out the boxes themselves.
As each box trailed off into the distance, I was so touched by how these boxes from Libertyville and Eagan traveled thousands of miles to the hands of one family that had endured hardship, and yet they chose hope.
Love and Joy
One of the gentleman in the crowd was thanking Kelly for having a “steward’s heart and being a shepherd of God.” I tried as best as I could to explain how hundreds of thousands of people every year get together all over the U.S. to help put these packages together.
My coworker Jeff passionately explained this to the crowd and ended with the catchphrase on every package: “packed by volunteers with love.”
It was indeed love — love in action, love in smiles, love in choices.
In the words of Mike and Carol, two of the volunteers on the team, “unconditional love” is God’s love. This love is also “boundary-less”, as another one of our team expressed last night.
Lastly, we visited Mr. and Mrs. Francois Perrie, an older couple in the village. Mr. Francois, who was sitting on a pink wooden chair that read “Mrs. Francois Perrie”, had unfortunately lost his sight. However, he seemed blessed by this moment when gathered around him. He may not have been able to see our group of thirty, but he surely felt everyone’s presence.
As we gathered around the elderly couple, Mrs. Perrie was beaming with happiness and joy.
Kevin, another team member, used this powerful, simple word to describe this incredible couple.
Her smile was so genuine and so happy, it was hard not to smile when looking at her. She was truly the face of joy in that moment.
Again we worshiped and prayed over them and ended by shaking Mr. Francois’ hand. He insisted on touching each person’s hands before we parted ways.
As he offered me his hand, although it was only a second, I felt every wrinkle, every callous, marks of years of hard work and dedication to his family.
Yet I also felt it as a sign of affection; it was a gentle touch but also a firm touch, a sign of respect and gratitude in my mind. A reminder that no matter what we may go through in life, “No one is beyond God’s reach.”
*The least of these is a term that comes from the gospels:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 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
Adam Hanson is a senior team leader at Feed My Starving Children.
I spent ten days with Sevina.
At an orphanage in the northwest region of Haiti, a 15-year-old girl yelled out, “Hey Jesus! Hey you, Jesus!” It took me a second to recognize she was referring to me.
At the time, my long hair and scruffy beard made me look enough like Jesus for her joke to land home.
Each morning there-after, from across the orphanage compound, I would hear, “Hey Jesus!” and Sevina would come running over.
For those 10 days, Sevina, who could speak three different languages, spent a lot of her time outside of school being my guide to her little corner of Haiti: showing me around the orphanage, translating for me and helping get to know many of the other kids.
We talked about music, her friends, my family and her dreams for the future. Turns out, Sevina is smart as a whip, playfully mischievous and goes out of her way to care for the others in the compound.
By the time I had to leave, Sevina and I were BFFs. All the kids gathered to see us off and I vividly remember how difficult it was to say goodbye to all the kids but especially to my friend Sevina.
Before I left, I asked the missionaries at the orphanage to tell me the stories of how some of the kids’ had come to be there. From them I learned that Sevina had been a slave in someone’s house.
Her parents, desperately poor, had made the decision to sell some of their children rather than watch them starve.
Brilliant little Sevina had spent years of her life barred from school, keeping someone else’s house. About her daily life in this home, the missionaries would only tell me she was “treated badly.”
When the missionaries at Northwest Haiti Christian Mission learned about Sevina, they rescued her from that home and brought her to live at the orphanage.
There she was cared for, well fed and safe. Soon, she was excelling in her studies and making lots of friends.
She roared to life like dying embers suddenly stoked.
Though caring for starving people in one of the poorest places in the world means danger, hard choices and sometimes just scraping by, those missionaries chose to rescue a young girl trapped in darkness and take in one more mouth to feed.
And because they did, Sevina is a blinding light, reflecting God’s glory.
YOU Helped Sevina
It has been almost four years since I have been to Northwest Haiti.
Since then, every time I remember Sevina I am suddenly aware of the overwhelming preciousness of life.
I hold my breath when I think about how close an irreplaceable brilliance came to being snuffed out by hunger. And I marvel at Christ who would not let Sevina be left hidden away and hopeless.
While I was there at the orphanage, the kids ate Feed My Starving Children food.
I love knowing that in some small way, the family birthday parties, the local businessmen, the brownie troops, the volunteers that I see everyday, helped Sevina get to be the beautiful girl she was made to be!
Do you believe there is nothing you can do to help starving kids?
Today, someone will volunteer to pack meals at Feed My Starving Children, someone will support a missionary bound for a desperate place, someone will sponsor a child through a partner like Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, and these will rescue a girl like Sevina out of hunger, out of hopelessness and into the light where she will shine!
Be one of those people.
With sparkling eyes and food smeared all over her face, this beautiful five-year-old ate MannaPack Rice™ out of a container she brought from home, a Children’s Cup missionary recounted.
Our partner, Children’s Cup, first met Tembelihle in 2009. A CarePoint in her community had just been built and she was coming in to eat.
From that day on Tembelihle has been faithfully attending the Carepoint and receiving nutritious FMSC meals. Her family no longer has to struggle to provide for her nutrition.
She is flourishing and growing every day, Children’s Cup said.
Tembelihle is rarely sick. When she is seen in medical clinic, it is only for a runny nose or scrape from playing.
“She is a great example of what FMSC is doing in children’s lives — providing full tummies and nutrition so kids can be kids,” Children’s Cup said.
Children’s Cup provides more than 4 million FMSC meals a year to children in need in Swaziland, Africa.
Since 1992, Children’s Cup has set up 38 CarePoints in Swaziland. A CarePoint is a place where FMSC meals, medical care, character development and education assistance are all provided to the neediest of children.
Ultimately, CarePoints are where lives are changed. Children who came to CarePoints hungry and desperate for food have now grown into bright, hope-filled young adults, leading the way in their families and communities.
Your support provides HOPE to children like Tembelihle every single day. Thank you.
More Stories of Hope From Swaziland
Christiana Coleman was exposed to FMSC through a MobilePack™ event in Duluth. She recently went to Haiti with FMSC and shares her reflections here.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” — Matthew 5:5
I recently returned from an FMSC mission trip to Haiti. It. Was. Everything.
The trip challenged every aspect of me: my heart, my mind, my faith, my body, my patience, my soul. God opened my heart, undoing years of work I spent building up walls, and tore down my (unwanted) sense of entitlement.
I also learned it was a most special trip for all involved, the first of its kind. Not only was it the first Haiti trip open to the general public, but it was also the first time FMSC was to visit some of the smaller partners: the 3D partners that can’t take a whole container of food.
We visited seven partners over the course of four days. It was all you could imagine. Joyous, hilarious, heartbreaking, overwhelming, eye opening, tiring, inspiring and anything else you can think of.
One of the things that struck me was when we were sharing our thoughts about the day. Someone mentioned something about undoing what was done back home.
I took that to heart, and the next day we visited Children’s Health Ministry, a clinic that services moms and their babies.
The moms would come into the room with a piece of paper with a number on it, and that was the number of MannaPacks we were to give to them.
We opened the boxes that volunteers, thousands of miles away, worked tirelessly to pack with love. We undid all their hard work so the FMSC mission could actually do what it intends to do.
I met a 10-year-old boy named Jean Claire, who stole my heart when we were at Grace So Amazing in Mirebalais.
We could not give him food because he wasn’t with the farmers we were there to serve.
I was so worried about him when I found out he was an orphan, and it tore me apart to have to leave him with nothing. I prayed and prayed for him, and found out only a week after my return to the States that Grace So Amazing is now signing him up to receive food. God has broken that chain for Jean Claire.
Andy is a teacher we met at Talie’s Youth Center, an after school program. He prayed to God to figure out how to help the kids in his town, and he said he was walking through a field and found an FMSC box, realized it was the answer to his prayers, called FMSC and now has 65 kids a day eating MannaPack meals. Wow!
We visited an orphanage that FMSC partner, Chances For Children supports, and the children were so excited to sing for their American friends, despite living in conditions most Americans would consider deplorable.
We may be rich in a material sense, but the Haitian people are rich in spirit. They began to undo how focused I used to be on trivial matters, like buying another outfit or having a tile back splash.
They told us you could not go to Haiti and come back the same person. They were right.
In the end, the Haitian people did so much more for me than I could ever do for them. Their stories of hope and courage challenged my faith for the better. I saw God working more in the four days in Haiti, than I usually do in a year in the States.
I could go on and on. This was the tempo of the undoing. Relentless. Powerful. Beautiful.
I got to see the FMSC food in action, saving and changing lives everywhere we went.
Thank you FMSC for fulfilling a life-long dream of mine, and opening my eyes to those in need.