10 hours to go and I will be done with my ten-day rice and bean fast for my personal ONE 17 Challenge. I chose my challenge specifically because I wanted to be reminded (in a very small way) of the poverty that once broke my heart and left me crying out, "this isn't right!" As a person who has done over 20 trips to Haiti now, I have become desensitized to poverty and human suffering.
On one hand, desensitization makes my life easier. I have become a bi-cultural individual who can switch easily between life in materialistic America and poverty-stricken Haiti without much thought. On the other hand, desensitization makes me feel as though I have lost something, that a piece of my heart has hardened. I don't like the latter. I want my heart to break for the poor and oppressed every time I serve them. So there you have it, the why behind my what.
Now to the actual fast... I've never been much of a "faster." I have "tried on" fasting a few times, but it was usually a pretty insignificant or even disappointing experience. Regardless, this fast has been different. For the past 9-and-a-half days, I have been able to walk barefooted down the dirt paths of Haiti with children that I love dearly as I imagine them heading home for their 2 pm meal. I have been able to sit at the table watching our students eagerly eat Gertha's (our cook) delicious rice and bean meals (with slightly envious thoughts ;-P) reflecting thankfully on how we, Project 117, get to provide a daily meal to them. I have laid restlessly in bed at night praying for the little stomachs that ache with hunger because my stomach has ached too. It has been a good, humbling, reflective experience.
When we challenge ourselves, God's voice in our lives usually gets a little louder (or maybe we listen better). Psalm 34:8 has been on my mind constantly as I have walked, sometimes humbly, other times like a little brat complaining every step of the way (my poor wife...), through my fast. Psalm 34:8 says, "taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." Through my fast, I have come to understand how much pleasure I take in the small things in life (i.e. food), and how they are not the things that actually satisfy. Through my fast, I have been reminded that only God can satisfy the desires of my heart. Through my fast, I have been able to walk in the shoes of the students that attend our school and remember more clearly why we are doing what we are doing in Haiti.
As for my heart, it is little bit softer than it was 10 days ago. It's not where it needs to be, but it is one notch higher on the gratitude dial. I am truly blessed to do what I do, daily. I get to love on beautiful, precious, potential-packed children each and every day whether I am sitting at a picnic table munching on rice and beans in Haiti with them in person or sitting in a restaurant asking a potential donor to join our movement through funding hope through education.
I'll tell you right now I am excited that this challenge is nearly over. My mouth is literally watering over the idea of pizza and peanut m&m's that I will be devouring at 12:01 am tomorrow. With that said (wiping slobber away), I will also tell you that I am thankful that God put it on my heart to do this kind of challenge. The true goodness of God and the depth of his blessing on our lives is often times revealed not in the fuzzy, warm moments of life, but in the moments of sacrifice, heartache, and challenge. That has been my experience for the last ten days and the first 29 years of my life. I have a feeling that isn't going to change.
To learn more about what other challengers have been up to or to donate, visit the the challenge page here! Thanks for reading.
ps- sorry about the bad grammar. my editor (aka wife) is out of town today....