I listened to Roger Thurow, author of the book Enough, describe the problems of people trying to survive and grow food in Kenya. He described how our government’s foreign aid to help fund improvements to the food production system in starving countries has dropped—at one time, we provided $8 billion. That number recently has been $1 billion. As the problems of hunger in Africa and other parts of the world have escalated, our help has evaporated, eroded, washed away.
Below is an idea that can raise a LOT of money for FRB and FRB sponsored overseas programs. It starts at the same place all growing projects start---with U.S. farmers. No one will need to go ask or lobby for funding. It uses a relatively new agricultural program that’s available to all farmers. Here’s the concept:
"Tell me the weight of a snowflake," a sparrow asked a wild dove.
"Nothing more than nothing," was the answer.
"In that case I must tell a marvelous story," the sparrow said. "I sat on a branch of a fir tree, close to its trunk, when it began to snow, not heavily, not a giant blizzard, no, just like in a dream, without any violence. Since I didn't have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the next snowflake dropped onto the branch - nothing more than nothing, as you say - the branch broke off."
This past weekend, in a community in Michigan’s thumb where more windmills dot the landscape each time I visit, I attended a bittersweet event at the Pigeon River Mennonite Church: a harvest celebration coupled with a memorial service for longtime FRB farmer Merlin Yoder.
The day started out with two wonderful dramas, "The Empty Room" and "The Case of the Frozen Saints" during morning Sunday School and worship. Community members then shared a meal to celebrate their growing project's bountiful harvest. Growing project committee member Don Ziel battled the wind as he prepared enough chicken, on a grill he designed himself, to combine with the wide selection of hot dishes, salads and desserts in abundance for the enjoyment of all present.
It’s a good thing I don’t get all my information about the world from the media: if I did, I might feel negative and hopeless. Instead, my spirits are lifted just sitting at my desk here at FRB as I learn more every day about the countless, compassionate, caring, visionary people and organizations that are actually helping to bring about good will, justice, food security and a better life to their neighbors all over the globe.
A photo exhibit in the Kalamazoo-Portage MI area shows the good that four of these organizations are accomplishing for others based right here, close to home.
This charming entry was written by Joni VandenBosch. Joni is the daughter-in-law of Jan and Lee VandenBosch, FRB office volunteers from Byron Center, MI.
Our family of six children, including Abigail (12), Micah (10), and Lucas (8), were working on a school project on Tanzania last spring . They requested help from an FRB staff person for some of the needed props for their presentation.