This week’s guest writers are students at the University of Winnipeg.
by Rebekah Grism and Serena Smith
We recently had the opportunity to go on a young adult food study tour with Canadian Foodgrains Bank, along with six other participants. The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of 15 churches and church based agencies, including Mennonite Central Committee. The churches work collaboratively as a Christian response to hunger, by obeying God’s command to act with compassion and justice towards people who are hungry (Micah 6:8). This is applied by improving food security, improving nutrition, and providing food assistance when needed.
We are both students at the University of Winnipeg and we are interested in social justice and international development. We are both strongly connected to the Mennonite church and are very thankful for having been given this opportunity by Mennonite Central Committee.
During the study tour, we travelled to Nicaragua with the objective to nurture a sense of community and people connections that Canadian Foodgrains Bank believes to be at the very heart of a Christian response to hunger. We achieved this by learning about a number of projects being implemented in rural Nicaragua, through conversation with project participants, and experiencing how they live on a daily basis. We were able to live with the families participating in projects that focused on improving food security in order to fully understand their daily struggles and how they have been affected by the projects they are involved with.
We had the privilege of staying with a family involved in an MCC project which focused on learning and experimenting with conservation agriculture techniques in order to increase food production with little environmental impact. We resided with a couple, Luis and Melba, and their two young boys, Luis Jr and Angel. Luis and Melba were able to double their food production using the conservation techniques they learned from MCC. They were thankful for the lower cost of inputs involved in conservation agriculture which meant the money they saved on buying chemical pesticides, could go to purchasing other necessities for their family.
Luis and Melba and their family have very few possessions; however, the experience that we gained from living with them is something we will take away and remember for a very long time. Although we had awkward moments due to the language barrier, they were so gracious and welcoming to us. Something that was very meaningful to us was how, despite our many differences from Luis and his family, we were connected by our Christian faith. Our favourite memory was reading our Bibles with them by flashlight, as they had no electricity in their home. We were able to read the same passage, each in our own language, and feel connected as a family in Christ. Melba’s favourite verse is, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). This was a reminder to us that no matter what type of circumstances we find ourselves in, God will never abandon us but will remind us of the truth of his unconditional love.
As we said our goodbyes to Luis and his family we felt as though they had given us so much and we were left wondering what we could do in return. We asked them what type of message they would like us to bring home to Canada about their family. They wanted us to share their gratitude to MCC and Canadian Foodgrains Bank for improving their food production. They also expressed their strong belief in prayer and asked that we pray for their family as they raise their two young boys.
There is great power in prayer, therefore do not forget to pray for those in our world experiencing hunger, as we are all connected as one family under our God.