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Hills and Valleys – Merlin Gonzales

Hills and valleys

My body was adjusting to my eating schedule this week. I was not craving lunch but dinner time was always hard since I eat my one meal for the day during breakfast.

My hunger experience last year taught me to be more mindful of myself. This year’s hunger (0-0-1) challenge was more tolerable than last year. I did not pick fight with my wife and I learned how to cope better with hunger. I became more aware of my surroundings as well.

Yesterday, 16 children walked with us. I have to be mindful of our surroundings to make sure the children are safe walking in the streets. We started counting our steps as we were getting close to our destination since the children were getting tired and 1 of them was getting hungry.

As I was writing this, I was reminded of a young mother I met at one of the food pantries we helped started. She was a single mother trying to calm down her child as she was approaching the pantry. I was also reminded of a parent in food pantry line who was trying to calm down her children because they were hungry. It’s hard to calm down a hungry child.

I woke up a little late this morning, probably eating less and walking everyday were catching up on me. It was hard for me to focus this morning but after a cup of coffee and good breakfast, I was ready for the day.

Today, Aarik and Sandy joined me. Also Mike, Bruce and Wade came in a truck to make sure that we are safe. On our way to our destination, we met several local residents. Greg, was a neighborhood leader in the past. He said that he grew up in the same house he is living now. He takes care of his yard and is proud of his neighborhood. We prayed for him.

Next, we met Jimmy who used to work for an automotive company many years ago. He was making good money but was cut off from his job and started using drugs. He is still hopeful that he would be able to start a small business growing weeds that would also help him calm down and relax.

As we were halfway to our destination, a person said that hunger is for real in their neighborhood. He said we are brave to walk the neighborhood since it is the most dangerous place in Indianapolis and in the nation.

Upon reaching our destination, I Googled which neighborhood in the US is most dangerous or violent. I found our that the neighborhood we passed is #2 in violent crime in the entire US!

We decided to walk back after a 3.2 miles walk. It was getting hot and our legs were starting to get tired. I was glad that I had 2 companions walking with me today, not only to keep me company but also for security.

This week has been a journey of hills and valleys. There were times that I was joyful and full of zest, sometimes I was down and discouraged. I have seen intimidating people and I have seen encouraging people. I have seen many abandoned houses and well maintained properties.

We encounter opportunities and griefs in our short lives here on earth. Our lives are fragile and every life is precious to God. Everyone matters.

This hunger challenge was rewarding and challenging. I am glad it is over (for now) but I am also sad because I will miss the God-encounters along the way and the people I met in the streets. I will miss the faces of local residents smiling and waving at me as they encourage me that what I am doing is appreciated. But I know I will not miss the growling stomach, the loss of energy and the pain of hunger.

I thank God for the opportunity that He provided me by experiencing how it feels to be hungry. I thank God for His provision and protection. I thank God for the different organizations that help the food insecure. I thank God for you for supporting me in this journey.

Thank you for those who have contributed financially. If you haven’t yet, please prayerfully consider giving to help those in need.


God bless you,

Merlin GonzalesHills and Valleys – Merlin Gonzales