We began February with a fast inspired by Jen Hatmaker’s book Seven. She chooses seven healthy foods and eats them for a month as the first of seven fasts, in an effort to try to begin to live simply and shave off layers of excess in her life that may be fogging her view of Christ. I loved the book, it made me laugh out loud on numerous occasions and after recommending it to all my friends, several of us decided to take on our own modified version of her seven fasts.
North America is not the only continent facing price increases and fear. Here in the DR a typical staple is plantain, which normally runs around 4 pesos each. The other day I saw them in the grocery store for 17 pesos each. It has the women in a panic and full of fear wondering how they are going to feed their children who were already often going hungry.
In an effort to grow in compassion, shave a layer of excess that might be fogging my view of Christ, and looking for ways to encourage the women I work with with recipes and ideas for healthy cheap ways to feed their kids; I took on the challenge of eating on 50 pesos--$1.22 US a day for a month-- and five other women joined me! (That’s a typical food budget for a working mom living in poverty.)
I had lots of ideas of what the fast would look like and what I would learn—they were all wrong. I didn’t feel healthier, I didn’t have many creative ideas, I too went into panic mode and I wasn’t feeling closer to God. In fact about half way in I had to ask for forgiveness as I was so focused on the fast I had completely lost sight of His face.
I did learn a lot though. I grew in empathy for those I work with, serve alongside and love. I now understand why when the noon hour arrives they just can’t go any longer, they are out of fuel. I understand the glazed over eyes and strong need for sugar. I understand the true pain in watching food go to waste or watching someone spend a days worth of food money on a snack in the grocery line. I am more than ever in awe of the generosity of these women who will never let me enter their homes without offering me coffee or part of their lunch. I also now understand why everyone is always fighting some illness. (I got sick and couldn’t recover and my friends begged me to eat. Another women participating failed her basic blood test required for swim lessons.)
I can relate to the panic and the overwhelming feeling of looking at scraps and trying to make dinner from it. But praise God I have never had to look in the eyes of my own children and tell them there was nothing to eat. I have never had to try to appease a hungry baby when there was not even money for sugar water. It was based on these truths that only a few days into the fast, we decided to step out in faith for the girls at New Hope.
We could no longer feed only those that lived there. How could we watch a few get fat while the others were facing malnutrition, chronic illness and struggling to learn? We decided to do exactly what we had done with our current breakfast program and everything else at New Hope. We would be faithful with the little God had put in our hands and believe Him to entrust us with more. We would share to the point of sacrifice believing there would be enough.
We made this commitment to God and our girls with one condition. We needed a day nanny to help us cook as Greici was currently teaching full time and cooking too!..We are now convinced that God will NEVER cease to amaze us with His grand care for us regardless of our conditions for our simple prayers!
A friend suggested we apply for government subsidized food and during our investigation we told our story. The woman helping us shared how her sister runs a safe house in the United States and had asked her to find a safe house here in the DR to donate food to, but she couldn’t find one in La Vega so she had done nothing. God had sent us to her.
She gave us all the details to complete the process of receiving the donation and offered to subsidize our meals in the meantime…SO beginning Tuesday New Hope Girls Academy will provide breakfast AND lunch to its girls and staff Monday through Friday even though we continue to pray for a day nanny!