Monday, October 29, 2012

How Peanut Butter Save Lives

November is Peanut Butter Lover's month, and I plan to celebrate! Now I realize that not everyone is as fanatical about peanut butter as I am, and that's cool. Some people just don't like it, others may have severe allergies, some just have never gotten in the groove of making peanut butter part of their regular diet, and some might be afraid of peanut butter due to well-publicized product recalls. All legit and respected.

Before you hit the back button on your browser, just take a look at the pictures below. Showing you what peanut butter can do might just change your appreciation for the golden spread.

Here's the story:

My little friend Dominique lives in northwest Rwanda in the foothills of the Virunga volcanoes. When he was 7 months old, he was diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition, a medical condition that affects 24 million children every year. A healthy 7 month old should weigh anywhere from 14-22 pounds; Dominique weighed just 10 pounds.

The globally-endorsed protocol for treatment of severe acute malnutrition includes Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), a specially-designed peanut butter product that includes powdered milk and minerals and vitamins. RUTF is purchased by organizations like UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders and distributed to health clinics around the world. RUTF is proven and incredibly effective.

While living in Rwanda, I conducted an efficacy study for RUTF, and that's how I got to know Dominique and his mother Constance. When Dominique was diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition, he received a prescription for a six week treatment of RUTF. I saw him every week and also visited his family in their home. 

Over the six weeks of treatment, I saw Dominique grow and grow. The peanut butter stuck to his ribs. The pictures provide the proof that RUTF works! I also saw a dramatic change in Constance. Just look at her expressions in the two pictures above! 


You can probably understand why I'm a big fan of peanut butter. I've personally seen how the lives are children are being saved with this simple concoction of peanut butter, powdered milk, and minerals and vitamins. 

Would you consider celebrating Peanut Butter Lovers' month by providing RUTF for kids who need it? Consider supporting our good friends at Project Peanut Butter who make RUTF in Malawi and Sierra Leone and deliver it to kids in Africa. For just $45, you can provide a six week supply of RUTF for a child. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hope rising from rubble

“If it weren’t for the food from the US,” Pastor St Cyr commented matter-of-factly, “Haitians would have eaten Haitians.” 

These words hit me hard in my well-fed stomach as a group of us sat just a few hundred yards from Tent City in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, listening to Pastor St Cyr recount the first minutes, hours, and days following the January 2010 earthquake that devastated the country. He spoke of trying to get wounded people to the hospital, only to discover a crumbled building. He talked about a visit from the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and he told us about the tremendous work of the US Army in the aftermath of the earthquake. He shared stories of the prayer meetings and times of worship to which thousands of Haitians flocked every day for months as they buried family and friends and struggled to survive in the midst of overwhelming suffering.

And he spoke again the common refrain by which he lives and breathes: “God loves us! We are not without hope!” One may wonder how these words, when heard in the context of intense grief, could possibly resonate with - even inspire - those who looked to this man for counsel and guidance. Another story from another country consumed my thoughts.

There was never a darker period in the history of the country.

Subject to a more powerful empire, the country’s king had been deposed and taken to the capital where he lived as a captive. The emperor placed the king’s uncle on the throne, and the country served the interests of the empire for a decade. And then the king rebelled against the emperor.

In 588 bc, Nebuchadnezzar, emperor of the Babylonian empire, brought his entire army against the city of Jerusalem where Zedekiah was king and laid siege to the city. After sixteen months, there was no food left for the people to eat. The Hebrew prophet Jeremiah was an eyewitness to the horrors of the siege and recorded these sights:

All her people groan as they search for bread; they barter their treasures for food to keep themselves alive. My priests and my elders perished in the city while they searched for food to keep themselves alive. My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within; my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed, because children and infants faint in the streets of the city. They say to their mothers, “Where is bread and wine?” as they faint like the wounded in the streets of the city, as their lives ebb away in their mothers’ arms. Young and old lie together in the dust of the streets; my young men and young women have fallen by the sword. 

Jeremiah pleaded with and called the emaciated residents of Jerusalem to prayer:

As each night watch begins, get up and cry out in prayer. Pour your heart out face-to-face with the Master. Lift high your hands. Beg for the lives of your children who are starving to death out on the streets! 

Beyond watching children starve to death in the streets, Jeremiah records this unimaginable atrocity.

Should women eat their offspring, the children they have cared for? 

Oh my.

These were surely the darkest days in the history of Israel. And I hear the words of Pastor St Cyr sting my ears, “Haitians would have eaten Haitians.”

The people of Haiti must have a profound understanding of the siege of Jerusalem. Like Jerusalem, I am devastated by the scene and its ... non-humanness. “How could a parent ever ...?” I wonder as I look at the sweet faces of my three children.

I see myself in the middle of the rubble of the city, with smoke rising and people collapsing under the weight of emptiness, and I too fall to the ground, weeping horrible, suffocating tears. And then I hear the voice of Jeremiah rise above the deafening wails:

The Lord loves us very much. So we haven’t been completely destroyed. His loving concern never fails. His great love is new every morning. Lord, how faithful you are! I say to myself, “The Lord is everything I will ever need. So I will put my hope in him.” 

This promise, this hope proclaimed by Jeremiah during the destruction of Jerusalem has been echoed by Pastor St Cyr passionately and regularly since the devastating earthquake in Haiti: “God loves us! We are not without hope!”

Though Haiti and her people face tremendous challenges in the days ahead, we were honored to meet and learn from Pastor St Cyr, a modern-day prophet who, like Jeremiah, boldly reminds us of God’s great love and enduring faithfulness. And as the pastor calls his people to complete dependence on and hope in God, we also answer the call and join the chorus, proclaiming, “God loves Haiti! They are not without hope!”

Notes: I was part of group that traveled to Haiti with Help One Now, a non-profit organization. You can learn more about Help One Now on Pure Charity, which is where I work. The story of the fall of Jerusalem is recorded several places in the Bible, including 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Jeremiah, and Lamentations. Direct quotations were taken from the New International Version, the New International Reader’s Version, and The Message.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Our Garden Adventure - 06

Today I worked for about 3 1/2 hours to spread the rest of the second load of wood chips. My lovely bride was kind enough to lay out the newspapers, so that made things go a lot faster. Well, the garden is ready to sit until spring now. Whew! Hard work but well worth it for how this will bless our family! As for tonight ... I'm going to sleep so well!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Our Garden Adventure - 05

Load #2 of wood chips from Larry was waiting for me when I got home from work yesterday! Thanks Larry! Mr. Bob from across the street offered me his wheelbarrow and pitchfork to use. So kind. I think he's as excited as I am! And I have plenty of newspapers from our friends and neighbors.

Luke immediately conquered the mountain. This also gives you a good idea of how big this pile is!

Johnna mowed the areas that we plan to claim as garden.

It was a beautiful day for working outside!

After about 5 hours of work much was accomplished! Lots of water throughout the afternoon was a necessity. Johnna fixed a delicious lentil soup for dinner.

Still some more to do tomorrow before the rain comes this weekend.

The big pile is much smaller now! Just a few more hours in the morning.

The peas in the current garden are looking great! Makes me excited to think how much we'll harvest next spring, summer, and fall!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A garden here ... a garden there

This project posted on Pure Charity today, and I know the folks at JAM. Since it has to do with gardens, I thought it would be appropriate. So if you're following our garden adventure, perhaps you'd like to help back this garden project in Mozambique!