Well, as I am writing this, it is 3:15 AM Atlantic time and I am 30,000 feet in the air. When I look around I see many people sprawled across their rows, several more snuggled up with a blanket, and some are utilizing every sleep-aid known to man. As for me? I cannot sleep. For this reason, I will take the remainder of my flight to catch-up my blog.

Training camp concluded with a personal service that included communion. The worship was lead by two of my fellow participants. As we gathered into a circle, there was prayer time for each team. In addition to my team that is going to Argentina, there are teams going to Ghana, China, Mexico, Dominican Republic, India, and Moldova.

It’s amazing how 20 individuals with a common goal can grow so close together in such a short amount of time. I have already developed positive relationships with my team, which I can only see growing even deeper and more meaningful. The last evening of training camp, Sunday, the staff allowed us all to have some free-time. This was rare! For the week prior, every minute of the day was consumed with lessons, worship services, Q&A, preparation, team building, activities, and more. The several hours that we were given for fellowship was a true blessing. Constant laughter filled the corridor. I have not had that amount of fun in a long time.

World Feast June 7th, 2011
Preface: The following description cannot adequately describe my experience, as with most of my blog posts. Words simply fail.

Did you know that…….

If food was distributed differently, there would be no hunger?
20% of the world’s population holds 80% of the world’s wealth?
The United States only accounts for 4.5% of the world’s population, yet we consume 33% of the world’s resources?
Nearly 22,000 children die each day from preventable diseases, most linked to malnutrition?

If you did not know these facts, it’s okay many do not. I too was ignorantly unaware of the truth about poverty until the Youth In Mission staff prepared a World Feast activity. This workshop’s design brings awareness to poverty and its detrimental impacts on society. Upon entering the dinning hall, all of the YIM participants were distributed into one of the following four groups. Each group represents a different culture and socio-economic class within that culture.

Group 1 = Average American family. This group’s setting portrayed a restaurant or a home dinning room, and was served a four-course meal.
Group 2 = An American’s classification of ”lower-class.”
Group 3 = Absolute poverty. Consisting of 7 members, this group had enough food to satisfy their hunger. However, the food was low in nutrients essential for development and growth. This group had to consume its food off of the floor and was given no utensils.
Group 4 = Extreme poverty. Consisting of 9 members, this group was given one bowl of rice and one cup of water to split. This resulted in each member consuming only three bites.

After a PowerPoint presentation that revealed the above statistics, and many more, each group was served. Initially, no one wanted to eat because of our disgust and anger toward our world’s injustice. However, we all realized that to truly comprehend reality, we had to participate in the activity. The normal laughter-filled conversation that occurred during dinning times was no more. Many faces expressed sorrow, many shed tears, and many faces portrayed the sense of guilt that flooded each person’s conscience.

Several truths were rapidly revealed. The first truth is that American’s don’t know the truth. This exercise clearly demonstrated the stark contrast of our country’s culture as opposed to the daily lives of those living in second and third-world countries. The second truth is that the American’s classification of “lower-class” is skewed beyond explanation. What we consider “lower-class” is in fact, richer than the majority of the world.

I was a part of Group 2. Although we represented the “lower-class,” we were served large portions. There is no way to explain the feeling of guilt that I experienced while forcing food down my throat while clearly seeing others literally starving. The time of revelation occurred to me when my group’s leftover food was taken and disposed of in a trashcan placed in the center of the room. The food that my group wasted was more than enough to satisfy the hunger of the other groups.

Wow. This workshop gave new meaning the the term “eye-opening.”

As stated earlier, I cannot adequately explain my emotions with words. For that reason, I will not try. Instead, reflect on this issue. I know that I will never look at poverty the same way again.

Until next time,

Eliott