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FHL Week 2019 : Community Gathering

We touched many people at the ending of FHL Hunger Awareness Week with our Community Gathering at the Indiana Interchurch Center including prayers, recognizing the services of missional food pantries and fellowship.

Thank you to all the volunteers, sponsors and friends who prayed and supported the FHL Community and Hunger Awareness Week 2019.

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mereedFHL Week 2019 : Community Gathering
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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.

DONATE HERE

God bless you,
Merlin

Merlin GonzalesHills and Valleys – Merlin Gonzales
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Detours – Merlin Gonzales

Detours

We had a great walk yesterday from FHL to Cleo’s Bodega and to “You Feed Them” MFP.

Halfway to our first stop, a local resident waved and stopped her car to say Hi. She told me that her mother passed away. We detoured to a nearby parking lot and prayed for her.

We had a great visit to Cleo’s Bodega, a grocery store with Cafe. This establishment is needed and a solution to food access in the local area.

Our next stop was at You Feed Them Missional Food Pantry where FHL’s MFP Director, Lydia Davis shared with the walkers about the difference of this kind of food pantry as compared with traditional pantry.

Today, Wednesday the 24th, Neil walked with me from Shiloh MBC to Community Cupboard food pantry. I had the honor to help it get started a few years ago.

There were areas along 38th St. that do not have sidewalks., dangerous for walkers since this street is a major street. We walked on the grass and noticed foot tracks that are being used by people who do not have transportation. On our way there, we had a detour. A bridge was under construction and there’s no way for us to cross it.

We decided walk through a small neighborhood next to a railroad track. Fortunately, we saw a clearing in the middle of thick bushes and were able to cross the railroad tracks going to the main road.

This journey today is eye opening for me. I experienced being hungry and experienced the process of accessing food without your own transportation.

The Pantry Director at the Cupboard was very kind to show us their operation; she had chilled bottled water for us to take. This pantry serves 1600 families per month. They have a very good system, computerized check ins and large facility.

After the interview, I felt tired and ready to take a nap. I thought about big lunch but I cannot; I have to wait till tomorrow morning. I know I will have breakfast again tomorrow which is an assurance for me. But for the food insecure, they may have to allocate their resources to make sure they have enough for the next days. For the seniors who are on fixed income, it is always a decision to see how they would spend their money – prescription drugs, other necessities or healthy food.

There are detours in our lives and we never know when it may happen to us. Many people do not have enough reserves to be sustainable for several weeks if they got cut-off from their jobs, sudden sickness, etc.

Detours in life happens. We can prepare but for the food insecure population, it’s a matter of “Do we have enough for today, just for today.”

Merlin GonzalesDetours – Merlin Gonzales
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Hunger Challenge: Day Four – Eldon Kibbey

Hunger Challenge 2019

Day Four

This was a pretty good day! I think the 800 calorie cookie that I had for dessert after lunch yesterday, was enough to tide me over till dinner time today! Hunger was not the issue today, but lack of energy was! I had some good meetings, and felt good while I was engaged with someone, but I didn’t get much work done in between.

I started the day with a friend at Panera, so I had plenty of coffee to get me started. I was successful in getting some writing done after he left, but didn’t accomplish much until two afternoon meetings. The nap around noon was very appealing!

I was finally able to finish a project after a nice dinner on the back porch. Haven’t these last few days been delightful?

I don’t know about you, but I am energized by meaningful conversation. Maybe that’s why I love discipleship so much! I can come into an Operation Timothy meeting feeling tired and lacking motivation, but leave full of energy and enthusiasm! I don’t feel hungry during the meeting but often have a cinnamon disk as I drive away. I have been missing those this week because I didn’t think they were appropriate if I’m restricting myself to one meal a day. I have sworn off snacks this week and that has been a little tough.

Well, one more day and I can return to normal!

I feel for those for whom normal is my last four days. I am sure I could get used to it, but it would not be my desire. I would like for everyone to have the freedom and the resources to choose to eat when they want to, rather than forced to eat when they have to, or scrounge for food just to survive.

Please pray for the food-insecure people and for Faith, Hope & Love as we seek to “Shorten the Line.” Your generous gifts to FHL would help us achieve that!

Donate

Blessings

Eldon

Eldon KibbeyHunger Challenge: Day Four – Eldon Kibbey
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