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Early in the morning, I was still thinking about how self-absorbed I was yesterday. I felt so bad. Then, I got busy preparing to go to an event.

Day 7 was a little hard for me. Jocelyn, one of the ambassador and I went to a Back to School event where they provided different resources for kids going back to school. Although it was not as hot as the previous weeks, the sun was intense.

After 2 hours being under the sun, I started to feel weak and dizzy. Jocelyn encouraged me to eat some cut fruits that she brought for the crowd. I immediately felt better. How could the food insecure walk in the middle of summer to go to work, to a pantry or do errands? What about the kids who did not have dinner the night before plus no breakfast the following day? How could they focus on their classes? What about the elderly who are on fixed income, deciding which they’re going to spend their money between prescription medicine and healthy food?

At the event, I met different community agencies. There were a few ladies from the same church who wanted their church to get involved in setting up Missional Food Pantry. Here’s a short video clip of one of the interviews that day.

Later that day, we had a celebration dinner for the week with several Ambassadors. We shared stories and testimonials. It was great to hear their hearts as they express their feelings beyond being hungry and in expanding their awareness about what’s happening in the neighborhoods.

I shared with everyone that I and a few other ambassadors will continue the challenge of eating one meal a day for the next 7 days until August 4th. For me, I would like to go deeper than experiencing how it feels to be hungry but to get me closer to God as I rely on His strength to continue on. You will hear more about this journey beyond being hungry for 7 days.

Thank you for all the ambassadors, the donors and for you who have supported us in various ways.

God bless you,
Merlin

Merlin GonzalesFresh perspectives
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Unaware

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After our interview at Ch. 8, I had headed back home to finish my work day. I was not my usual self. I felt cranky and frustrated. I shared with others that too much passion without much compassion is not good. Passion is good if directed the right way., otherwise, our passion makes us unaware of others. Our passion becomes our master, not realizing how we act or treat others.

Day 6 was another day of revelation about myself. Where ever I am, on my way home, working and meeting with people, who and what do I see? Do I remind myself that God created people in His image. That whatever we go through, God is watching over us. God holds us in the palm of His hands.

Do I listen what others are saying? Do I see what God is showing me or I just go through the day and not noticing the needs of others. I am not talking about now that I am hungry, but in my daily walk with God. Am I insensitive with others because my mind is focus on my task. Do I miss to treasure my experiences in life?

Hunger could help us to notice on what’s important in life, even the small things that seem insignificant. Do I even realize what others are actually telling me? Am I aware how I treat others or myself? Did I miss what God is doing? Am I aware how I live?

Merlin GonzalesUnaware
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Life could change in an instant

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Day 5: It’s hard to imagine that my body has been able to sustain having just one meal a day for 5 days!

Nineteen hours after my last meal, I walked to a bus stop. I missed the first bus, but I did not have the energy to run after it, so I waited for the next one. I wanted to share in the experience of those who are hungry and do not have a personal vehicle.

I was very late for my appointment in downtown Indy. Later in the day, I had the privilege of interviewing Rocky, a Dessert Storm veteran. He was sitting at a street corner asking for help. My friend, Todd, asked if he could bring him to a restaurant for lunch, but the veteran refused since his feet were aching. We later found out that someone had stolen his shoes. He ended up with a pair of shoes that were too small for his feet. One of my Facebook friends saw the live posting and offered to give him shoes.

Todd went to Jimmy John’s to buy lunch for Rocky. Meanwhile, I started the interview. You will see the live Facebook posting here: https://www.facebook.com/merling1/videos/10155672500228297/

Rocky’s life changed drastically when he retired from the Armed Forces. He said that 75% of the homeless are veterans. He also mentioned that in a certain area referred to as Tent City, all the homeless were veterans. He told me that some people spit on his face and throw beer cans, but he does not retaliate. I was shocked by his answer. I know I have a short fuse when I’m hungry. I realize that it’s much easier for us to say we forgive our enemies than when we actually experience it in the streets. Rocky has a strong faith in God, who sustains him. He can be calm in the middle of a storm. I have a lot to learn from him. I prayed for him afterwards.

On my way back home, his words stayed with me, “Anyone’s life could change in an instant.” Yes, many people are only a paycheck away from being evicted from their homes and/or from suffering hunger. I feel so fortunate that I don’t have to sleep in shelters or beg in the streets for my next meal. Thank you God!

Merlin GonzalesLife could change in an instant
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TO START THE DAY

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TO START THE DAY hungry means that I’ll be thinking about food all day. What does that mean I WON’T be thinking about? When I’m hungry I think about myself so I won’t think about others. When I’m hungry I am consumed by what I will eat, not what I will think. When I’m hungry I think about my next meal, not my next job. When I’m hungry I think about my stomach, not my soul. I have been hungry like this for one week; I can’t imagine being hungry like this for one year. Donate to Faith, Hope & Love not because you know how daily hunger feels but because others do. https://www.fhlcommunity.org/beyond-this-hunger/

Mark EckelTO START THE DAY
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Mind, Body and Soul

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Sometimes, we look at a bag of food and don’t realize that not only will it ease the hunger pain, but it could also affect our entire being.

Day 4 was a little better than the last 3 days. It seems like my body is adapting to its new routine. I think it’s starting to conserve fuel and energy. My mind was more alert when I got to the office for an important meeting, and I did well during a radio interview later that afternoon.

It was a blessing to visit the newest Missional Food Pantry at Nu Corinthian Baptist Church and witnessed one person accepted the Lord Jesus Christ. In the process of receiving food, a person’s eternal destiny was changed forever!

When I got home, my wife was cooking taco meat. It was hard for me to concentrate; however, my soul (or my principle of life) kept me strong in the midst of the tempting smell of food.

When we give food at food pantries, let’s not forget that the food will only fill the stomach. Since food is one of the basic human needs, it affects our entire being. It affects how we think, how we behave, what our bodies may look like, our internal bodily functions and our emotion. Food is essential for us to live.

As I was eating my one and only meal late in the afternoon at Qdoba, I appreciated the taste; it seemed like it was more delicious than before. I am thankful that I am able to afford to buy food and have the freedom to eat good (healthy and tasty) food. I had a stronger sense of appreciation in eating, knowing that it not only would ease my hunger pains but would also nourish my mind, body, soul and spirit.

Merlin GonzalesMind, Body and Soul
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MENTAL HEALTH and FOOD

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MENTAL HEALTH & FOOD I often wonder how poor food consumption adversely impacts a person’s mental state. Vitamins and minerals from fresh produce are often missing from a poverty stricken person’s diet. What kind of connection, then, is there between food, mental health, homelessness, generational poverty, confrontations with law enforcement, the list goes on and on. Support our 0.0.1 campaign this week as we draw attention to the good work of Faith, Hope & Love. https://www.fhlcommunity.org/beyond-this-hunger/

Mark EckelMENTAL HEALTH and FOOD
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HUNGER HURTS OUR HUMANITY

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CONCENTRATION Imagine not being able to “think straight.” You snap at people verbally. Your hunger agitation gives you a “short fuse.” You are angry, not at the person in front of you, but at the fact that you cannot concentrate. The lack of food impacts our intellectual abilities, including our ability to control our temper and tongue. Next time you are in the company of a child who has not eaten that morning before school, remember: hunger impacts our humanity. I have experienced the emotions only in a small way during our 0.0.1 Faith, Hope & Love Week 2018. Support https://www.fhlcommunity.org/beyond-this-hunger/

Mark EckelHUNGER HURTS OUR HUMANITY
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A Day with the hungry

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Compared to Day 2, I felt better. I am more alert, have more energy, and more clarity of mind. I had the energy to walk for 3 hours to share FHL Week’s Beyond This Hunger Campaign along Massachusetts Avenue. I spoke with several people about hunger and poverty in the city. Some people were surprised to know that Indianapolis is one of the worst cities for food deserts. Approx. 80,000 children in metro Indy go to bed hungry. Indiana is one of the hungriest states in the country. How could that be, in the greatest country of the world? One of the topics of the Beyond This Hunger program is empathy. As I spoke with the people, some were very empathetic, and some were judgmental. When I got tired of walking, I sat on a bench next to a lady whom I thought dropped something under the iron bench. So I offered her help and she said, “Could you pick up that dime under the bench? You’ll be surprised how many coins get dropped under the bench, and that’s what I do every day.” Another person nearby who just woke up from laying on the bench waved at me and he said he asks for money every day. I told him “I’m not able to give you money.” He said, “No, I’m just telling you what I do every day.” As I prepared to walk again, I saw him pull his toothbrush and toothpaste out and proceed to one of the shops, where I assumed he would ask for water. I can only imagine how hard it is to sit on a street corner smelling bacon, ham and eggs while; all this while watching people walking and snacking, and all you have in your pocket is a dime. It was hard for me, because I know I can just go into one of the restaurants on Mass Ave and purchase a good meal, but I chose to be hungry. Later, I met the rest of our group at the circle in downtown Indianapolis. We interviewed people live on Facebook , so you can check my Facebook https://www.facebook.com/merling1 for some interesting conversations. One thing that resonated with me, was the feeling of loneliness and separation from society that the people I spoke with expressed. A man I met who lives on the street goes to a technical school and is not losing hope, even though he has to scour food from garbage cans. This has been a different day, experiencing being with the people who are hungry, but do not choose it. When it was mealtime, I heard my wife say, “slow down,” because I was devouring the food out of hunger. After I ate my meal for the day, I was so thankful, and I felt blessed. I regained my strength within an hour, and actually ended my day vacuuming the house.

Merlin GonzalesA Day with the hungry
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Food desert

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Day 2: it was a challenging day. I started the day with low energy and feeling cold almost the entire day. I did not want to move and it’s hard to focus on my work. I was feeling hungry the entire day and all I can think of is how many more hours till my next meal.
A thought came to mind. I know I have food at 5pm, plenty of cooked food and
More in my refrigerator and pantry. What if I don’t have food waiting for me?
Recently, I read posting from someone I know who lives more than 10 miles away from a supermarket, no means of transportation. As I monitor the social media conversations during that time, the person said that all she needs is a jug of orange juice to balance her blood sugar. Later on, a community church came and brought her to town. A day later, my wife and I brought her groceries from one of FHL Missional Food pantries.
I live 2 miles away from 2 supermarkets. My wife and I visit one of the stores a few times a week.
Food desert, what is it? Find out more about it here.

Merlin GonzalesFood desert
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Only the Good Stuff

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What would it be like to only eat processed food? What if I were only able to afford the cheapest boxed carbohydrates to feed my family? What if I were unable to afford fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats? How would my mental abilities be affected not only by the lack of food but by the kind of food available? I have been pondering these questions as an Indianapolis non-profit leader telling everyone to support Faith Hope & Love, an organization who helps to address these questions for the good of others. https://www.fhlcommunity.org/beyond-this-hunger/

Mark EckelOnly the Good Stuff
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The Second Day

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The second day of my 0-0-1 campaign. (0-breakfast, 0-lunch, but 1-supper) has been tougher than the first! Sunday morning, I was prepared to miss my usual breakfast cereal, but was tempted by the smell of bacon that Sandy was frying for our 3 grandsons who are spending the week with us! Fortunately, I was able to avoid the temptation, and the day went pretty well. I was hungry at dinner-time, and probably ate twice as much as I usually do.

I thought about that this morning, when I still felt full. That is probably normal for folks who are missing meals. They would tend to eat as much as they can, when food is available. That can’t be good for one’s health!

Today, I got off to a good start with a meeting at Panera, where I drank my usual coffee, but had nothing to eat. Then, it was off to Washington Township Park in Avon, so the boys could enjoy some time with their 4 cousins. I drank a lot of water, and had two meetings in the afternoon, and felt hungry much of the time. I was tempted to suck on my favorite cinnamon candies, but didn’t. I realized that I was resisting the temptation to eat snacks that were available, as opposed to wishing that I had something to eat. Those are two totally different thoughts! So, this experiment of skipping meals doesn’t really replicate the activities of those who are missing meals regularly. Hopefully, it will cause you who read this, to realize how good you have it, and to pray for those who don’t!

This evening, a friend pointed out that I wasn’t as patient dealing with a cohort as I usually am. He asked me if that was because of the disruption of my eating habits. I don’t know! This is not the best week for this experiment, because of the disruption of my schedule, with the grandsons in town. For one thing, I didn’t get my afternoon nap! But, it does illustrate the issue that food-insecure people are dealing with, constantly. Life goes on! Many are working more than one job, trying to feed 3 generations of family members, not getting enough rest, and having to deal with the problems of others. That’s what this campaign is all about! Awareness of those in need!

Eldon KibbeyThe Second Day
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Lonely and Hungry

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Day one of the Beyond this Hunger has been eye-opening. Yes, I was hungry. However, what impacted me more was the feeling of loneliness and isolation.

I cooked dinner for my children but could not sit down and eat with them. I was on the outside looking in while they ate. I was different. I wasn’t a part of the group.

I am a teacher. As I scooped mac ‘n cheese and fruit onto my children’s plates last night, I drooled a little (lol) and then silently wondered how many times a student has come to school feeling hungry. I wondered if they too felt left out because they simply couldn’t afford to buy an ice cream or share their well packed snack with a friend. Breaking bread at a family meal or with friends at school doesn’t just feed our physical bodies. It nourishes our souls to dine with those we care about and love. When you’re too poor to eat with others, you feel left out and sad.

I personally have experienced the isolation of poverty. It makes you feel different than everyone else. I couldn’t just decide to go to the grocery store to feed my family like my neighbors could across the street. I had to plan family meals VERY carefully and track every penny I spent to make it to the next Friday (payday). I used to stretch expensive items- like a pack of chicken- to last for three or four meals instead of just one. Fresh fruit… fresh ANYTHING… was a luxury.

When I did go to buy food at the store, I used to die a little inside when the person in line ahead of me spent $8-$9 on something like name brand laundry detergent. I would have spent $1 on detergent at the Dollar Store and then fed my children for a few DAYS on the $8 left. I used to think, “What’s it like to go through the checkout and not even think about the money being spent?” Or, “What’s it like to have meat at every meal?” Again, poverty is isolating. It just makes you feel different… because you ARE different.

There were a few times when my family was entirely dependent upon others to eat. I had to plan my week and activities very carefully so I could be sure to make it to the local food pantry when it was open. Again, I couldn’t just decide to get groceries. I was told when to go because of the pantry’s limited hours. When I got to the pantry, I usually had zero say in what is given to me. DO NOT GET ME WRONG. I am grateful for every bit of help that I have ever been given in tough times. However, there is something truly humbling about not being able to choose. Poverty strips you of choice and dignity.

So, as I watched my children eat last night, all those feelings I had from tougher times came flooding back. Isolation. Humiliation. Loneliness.

The Beyond This Hunger campaign isn’t just about going hungry. It is about trying to empathize with those who suffer. I remember your pain: your physical hunger pains and your emotional pain.

Julie hamnerLonely and Hungry
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All I Can Think About

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My stomach is constantly rumbling. I find my thinking is interrupted by my desire to eat. As an author, a professor, and a non-profit leader I depend on my mind. I identify in only a small way with those who are hungry like this every day, every week, every month. Take a moment to consider my words and donate to Faith Hope & Love, an organization who serves those whose stomachs rumble every day. https://www.fhlcommunity.org/beyond-this-hunger/

Mark EckelAll I Can Think About
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Experience is a great teacher

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Within an hour after one meal the entire day (Sunday, 7/22/18), I went to the bathroom with diarrhea; maybe my stomach is not used to receiving food just once a day. To avoid the experience of hunger pains and growling stomach, I went to bed earlier than my usual schedule. However, I woke up at 3am, feeling cold. Eating a meal in this first day of FHL Week 2018, I lost half a pound and felt week (I drank more water than normal to ease my hunger).

Time is crawling when you are hungry and it reveals a different reality as compared to our common experience. One of the topics of Beyond This Hunger (BTH) curriculum is being aware of ourselves. The Bible tells us many stories of transformation when people fast such as Moses and our Lord Jesus Christ. Somehow, in the midst of distress, our spiritual eyes are sharpened and we are more receptive to revelations. Maybe this is one of the reasons why the Bible tells us “blessed are the poor…”

Please support me as I journey through hunger to raise awareness of this perpetual challenge in the cities of the greatest country in the world and to raise money to send 100 individuals to a 20-week transforming program. Click here to Donate https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/Beyondthis/MerlinGonzales

Merlin GonzalesExperience is a great teacher
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