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Stories of Feeding God's Children Hungry in Body & Spirit

In Haiti: Love in Action

In Haiti: Love in Action

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 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.

Amen’

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.

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
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