Eating for Kenya #7

I made it to the last day of my challenge to live on £1 for a week!

And let me tell you. It’s been a very long week.

Yesterday was the final day of my challenge, and it was definitely the hardest of them all. For the first time in my life, I was so hungry yesterday afternoon that all I could do was cry. I couldn’t have a conversation without bursting into tears, I couldn’t concentrate, I had no energy and all I wanted to do was sit and sleep. I think it also became more difficult because I knew how close to the end I was, but when you’re that hungry, 12 hours still seems a lifetime away.

Thankfully, I was able to keep busy yesterday because we moved Vicky back to university, so we were busy with helping her get settled in her new house, and then Mum and I were making cakes for the Church cake sale, so the day passed pretty quickly with only a few snappy moments of frustration and a few (okay…more than a few) tears.

But it’s now Sunday morning, and the challenge is over. My wonderful dad made me a bacon bagel and a mug of tea for breakfast, and even simple things like tea have never tasted so beautiful.

It’s one thing to think of poverty and hunger as a far off, “other-country” sort of thing, but this journey has also made me realise that there are people in our own communities, on our own streets, even sitting in our own churches, that have to go through this every day for real. My journey had a known start and end point, and I always had a way out, but for so many people here in our town, this is their real life, and that’s a lot harder to deal with than having to pretend to live off of £1 for a week.

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s supported me over this last week – for sponsoring me, encouraging me and praying for me. But I want to put Kenya aside for a moment and again plead with you to put something extra in your shopping basket this week (and maybe next week, and maybe even the week after) and donate to your local foodbank to help support those people who are closest to us who have to do this day after day, week after week.

Thank you so much for following along with my little journey. It’s been challenging, but I’ve also been so blessed through it too.

Eating for Kenya #6

If I’m completely honest, I can’t really remember very much about Friday. Or about this week in general. I was really beginning to struggle with my energy and concentration levels on Friday, and I was beginning to feel the effects of not eating properly for nearly a week. The food that I have left doesn’t taste as nice as it did at the beginning of the week. This is mostly due to eating the same food every day for six days, but also because the cereals are starting to go dry and the potatoes and broccoli aren’t as fresh as they were at the beginning of the week.

To make this day a little harder, Mum and I started looking at the cakes we were going to be making for the Church cake sale, which made this journey even harder! There are so many things I want to eat right now! But, instead, here is my yummy dinner from Friday evening!

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Eating for Kenya #5

Firstly, I’d like to apologise for the lack of photos on this blog post. Rest assured that the things I’m eating look {and taste} exactly identical to the photos from the previous days. Nothing exciting going on here.

If I’m honest, I’m running out of things to say about this challenge. Today was a struggle. I have a lot less energy than usual because I’m not eating as much food as usual, I feel snappy and grumpy and I’ve gone to bed hungry nearly every night this week.

I’m over-the-moon grateful that there are only two days to go on this challenge {it’s got to the point now that there’s a joke at home that I’m staying up until Midnight on Saturday just to have some proper food!}. I’m also over-the-moon grateful that this has been self-inflicted, if that’s even the right term. It’s definitely made me realise how hard it is to live off so little, and it’s opened my eyes not only to the millions of people worldwide who don’t have enough to eat, but also to those living on my street who face the same struggles every single day. I can’t imagine opening a kitchen cupboard and there being nothing in it – praise God it’s nothing I’ve ever had to face before. But because God has blessed me with the resources to be able to adequately feed myself, I should be part of the solution for those who are unable to feed themselves and their families.

Something to think about for the next couple of days.

Eating for Kenya #4

Lunchtime today marked the halfway point of my journey of living off £1 a day – only three and a half days left!

I could quite easily sit here and complain about the lack of {exciting} food and how difficult this is and how I don’t want to do this anymore, but I don’t really think that would achieve very much {even though it’s so tempting right now!}.

My meals are pretty much the same right now, because they have to work around food {and whilst I was at work today, the chef made some cheesy-bacony-chickeny goodness, which looked amazing!} so I thought I’d share a photo of my oh-so-exciting breakfast :)

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One of the main struggles of this challenge is knowing that there are people here in the UK who live like this every day. I’ve been so blessed to raise this money to help me travel to Kenya, and I can’t believe that people have been so supportive. But I want to take another opportunity to ask that you would consider donating to your local food bank to help people living on our own streets put food on their tables for themselves and their families.

Eating for Kenya #3

Today marks day three of my Kenyan eating challenge. I can’t believe that this time tomorrow I would have just passed the halfway mark! This week seems to be dragging by. Work was particularly challenging today because I’m getting incredibly bored of the food I have available to me, and I get to make lunch at work. Today I went to work with my little box of chicken and tortilla, so it wasn’t fun watching everyone else make some delicious looking (and smelling!) lunches.

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And for the record? This is probably my favourite thing for lunch (although I’m sure that will change again come Sunday!).

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s prayed for me during this journey, and for those who have donated. It’s so encouraging to know that there is a group of people behind me on this rather difficult journey. I’m really beginning to struggle with this challenge, and the idea of going to Kenya in just 85 days is just about the only thing keeping me going right now!

 

Eating for Kenya #2

Yesterday marked the second day of my eating challenge, and the food is already getting pretty boring. When I came downstairs yesterday morning, I could smell the bacon that dad had cooked for breakfast, and my small bowl of cheap cereal suddenly seemed less than appetizing.

Being at work was another struggle. We were really busy so I didn’t notice too much, and we didn’t have time to stop and eat until after the cafe had closed, but I was beginning to feel hungry (after only having a plain tortilla and the smallest amount of chicken you’ve ever seen!). I was ready to get home and have dinner.

Whilst everyone else was enjoying a roast-style dinner, I was eating this…

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Let’s be honest for a minute.

I don’t like this challenge. I want “proper” food that doesn’t taste of cardboard. Forgive me for sounding so ungrateful for the food I have – this is challenging me in so many ways about being thankful for the wealth of food we have that’s so readily available here in the UK.

It’s also showing me more about what millions of people around the world face. For the first time ever, I went to bed hungry yesterday. It’s not only the food I’m eating that’s changed, but the amount I can eat. If I finish the food I have before Saturday, I don’t have any money left to buy more, so I’m really having to ration the food that I have available, which is another difficult lesson to learn.

As most of you know by this point, the idea behind this fundraiser is to help me raise money for my trip to Kenya in November, but today I would like to make another request of you. The next time you do your food shop, would you consider putting an extra item or two into your shopping trolley and donating it to your local food bank? You can find your local food bank by clicking here. I’m sure they would be so grateful as they fight to provide food for individuals and families here in the UK who are struggling to put food on the table.

Eating for Kenya {again}

Some of you may remember that I started a crazy journey of following the diet of one of my sponsored children in order to try and raise some money for my trip to Kenya in November. It’s been an incredibly difficult journey and it’s been a real challenge.

One of the things that we learned when I was studying at Bible College is that history is always written by the winners. You never near the losers of anything give away too much information, but you can rarely get the winners to be quiet. I guess the reason I’ve been so bad at updating everyone about my sponsored eating challenge is because I didn’t want to admit how hard I’ve been finding it.

As I now approach the final week of the forty days, this challenge has taken on a slightly different spin so I could announce it to my church. For the next week starting today, not only do I have to stick to the diet of a Kenyan person living in poverty, but I had to buy a week’s worth of food for just £7 (and for my American friends, that’s just over $11). Walking around the shop yesterday was a nightmare because I constantly had to make sure I wasn’t going over budget or buying the wrong food.

My shopping list for the last week of my challenge is this:

1 box of cereal

1 pack of tortilla wraps

Passata

Broccoli

Rice

Potatoes

Milk

Chicken

Mango

Today marks my first day of this, and it’s already hard.

I had a wonderful opportunity to talk to my church about my trip, and I showed them this video, which tells the incredible story of a boy who lives in the Massai land and is a registered Compassion child. I took in my food and spoke to my lovely congregation about how I’ll be eating this week, and people from my church came forward and sponsored me, so I’ve raised another £250!

For a bit of fun, here’s my sister’s dinner {on the left} and mine {on the right}. I can’t help but feel a little hungry when I look at this picture!

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For another bit of fun, we were looking at the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand at church this morning, and there were bowls of popcorn being passed around the church. Popcorn has never smelled so good!

I have just 87 days until I go to Kenya, and my last payment is due in on September 19th – just 25 days from now. I was feeling a little hopeless when I arrived at church this morning to find it to be a quiet morning, but God surprised me so much when I found out just how much money I had raised! All of a sudden, the next 25 days don’t seem quite so daunting anymore.

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I’ve been to India.

I’ve been to India.

I’ve been to India.

I still can’t believe it actually happened. I was talking to a friend about it this evening. About how God has blown my dreams out of the water this year and done more than I could ever have imagined He would.

All in the space of about ten months.

I’ve wanted to go on overseas mission for years. Ever since I became a Christian when I was thirteen, sat on my sister’s bed reading a little leaflet about deciding to follow Jesus, I wanted to go somewhere that wasn’t England to do something amazing. I didn’t know where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do, but I wanted to go.

Mission opportunities came and went, and God kept the doors firmly closed. I became really frustrated and angry at my lack of ‘going’ and ‘doing’ that I decided that I just wasn’t going to go anywhere. Ever.

Because I was a very stroppy, over-dramatic individual at seventeen. Seriously.

Because of all these doors closing and me being my over-dramatic self, I was crazy surprised when my trip to India all worked out (ignoring the journey there..!) and I actually got to Frishta to spend time with twenty one of the most amazing children and young people that I have ever met ever.

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Now, before I can even finish processing all that God was trying to teach me in India, I’m off again.

90 days from now, I’ll be in Kenya with Compassion, working alongside them, learning more about this wonderful ministry and meeting my precious sponsored child, Dorcus.

What. Even. Is. This?! I remember when India was 90 days away, and I’ve been back on English soil for nearly six months already. And now I’m getting ready to go again. Less than ten months after my first ever mission trip.

The weird/worrying/wonderful thing? It just feels right. I’ve been struggling in so many ways since graduating from Bible College. I’ve been craving a ‘grown up job’ for so long, but when I read the job descriptions and actually think about applying, I suddenly feel like a little girl playing at being a grown up. But when I’m planning fundraisers/sorting out flights/on the plane/at the destination, I don’t feel like I’m pretending, and probably because it’s one of the few areas of my life where I feel I don’t have to. I honestly don’t think this whole mission thing is a long term thing (I would like a ‘proper grown up job’ one day, please and thank you), but right now I can’t think much past November.

As I was talking about this with a friend, I was reminded of that great verse of Scripture in Joel 2:25, which says “”I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten– the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm — my great army that I sent among you.

Of all the years that I felt angry and frustrated and lost, God has been planning these wonderful opportunities for me, and they have been perfect in every way…even traumatic travel plans going wrong in every sense possible! I can now honestly say that God is the God of restoration, and that’s a beautiful thing to come to realise.

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Let’s Talk About India: 5 Things I Learned about Myself

I’ve been back in England for nearly five whole months now, and God is still teaching me so many things about my time in India. One thing I know for certain, right here right now, is that I’m aching to go back. I miss that beautiful country so much, and there are some very special little faces that I just have to go and see and hug again real soon.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking more about what I learned about myself, and what I learned about God, during the five weeks I visited India, and I feel that there have been five things highlighted about me since coming home and having time to reflect on…well…everything.

So here are five things I learned about me.

1. I’m instinctively selfish. There were times when I was in India where I didn’t want to be surrounded with kids and I wanted to be able to shut myself away from them and their smiles and their cute little “Jesus loves me” singsong voice and just be in my own company. It’s not that I didn’t want to spend time with the kids and watch them being all cute and lovely and learn more about them, but being in an environment like that can become overwhelmingly intense pretty quickly, and there were times when I wanted to shut myself in my bedroom and pretend that I was back in my first-world world where we had good food and comfy beds and central heating. There were honestly times when India wasn’t enough, but other times when the whole thing was just. too. much.

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2. I’m materialistic. Whilst I was in India, I didn’t have access to first-world necessities: wifi, chocolate, food that wasn’t spicy. I could go on. My lovely friend Sarah sent me off with a box of rations, which included some sweet treats (that I just about managed to make last the five weeks I was there!), so I did have some home comforts. I had occasional access to wifi to update people back home and spend some time on social media, and my wonderful hosts made me some English food (and let me tell you…toast and butter never tasted so beautiful!). There were times when these things were nowhere on my mind (I have to say it was sort of refreshing to be able to leave my phone on airplane mode for most of the time and just use my phone as a camera!), but there were times when my Western mind craved instant: instant wifi, food, sleep, space…I found myself becoming so wrapped up in what I didn’t have that I nearly missed moments like this…

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3. I’m unfaithful.  Before I left for India, I read so many blogs that had been written by missionaries who each had a defining moment of faith on their trips, and I was so excited because I wanted that moment where God would speak in a booming voice directly into my situation/life/trip/whatever and I would come back from India being a ‘better Christian’. Let me be honest with you. That’s not quite how it worked. I can see that now I’m home, but when I was there, I attended morning prayers and read the Bible and prayed for the kids and for the staff and I did everything that a ‘good’ Christian would do, but I couldn’t help but feel it was all a little bit fake. I didn’t know why God had led me to India, to this little orphanage set off the beaten track, and it didn’t seem that God was about to reveal that information to be either. There were days where I was so exhausted that I would crawl into bed in tears because I just wanted God to do something and I felt so abandoned that my Bible lay in my suitcase unopened and my prayers were never spoken. God wasn’t doing what I wanted Him to do in the time I wanted Him to do it, so I didn’t want to engage with Him. I am so glad that our God isn’t like this.

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4. I’m unworthy. In Western culture, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in everything that screams status. The children I was working with at Frishta had nothing when they arrived at Frishta, so are considered pretty worthless by the world’s standard, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. These children have so much to give. They always ran to give me huge hugs when I walked into the room, they wanted to sit with me and hold my hand and play with me. They wanted me to read to them and then they wanted to read for me. They sang to me. They danced for me. They loved me from the moment I arrived in the village. They had no reason to love me. They had no idea who I was, or what I was. But that didn’t matter. They didn’t know how much money I have in the bank or what grades I got at A level or what I wanted to do after I left College. None of that was significant. And that was like a gentle slap in the face.

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5. In the end, it’s really not about me. There’s quite a ‘status’ about going overseas to do mission work, even in Christian circles. Both leading up to my trip and then again when I got back, I had people asking so many questions about my trip, and the phrase “what you’re doing is amazing!” was thrown around a few times too. But, even with all of the struggles of this trip, and even when I didn’t feel that God was doing anything, God showed up in beautiful ways on this trip (and many times I couldn’t even see these until after I returned!). I didn’t go to India to make me feel good. I didn’t go because I had to for my degree. I still don’t know why, but I went because God was leading me towards something that was bigger than myself, and I think we often miss what that is truly like here in the west. I got to introduce these children to the love of Jesus, and they did the same for me in return. We worshiped together, studied scripture and prayed together. We shared what God was doing in our lives and we were able to celebrate together when God came through and answer prayers, and join with each other when one of us needed God’s intervention. I saw kids change because they had the opportunity to get to know Jesus, and if that was the only reason I went to India, then I’m okay with that.

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A Place at the Table: Week One

So today marks a whole week that I’ve been following the A Place at the Table devotional and have been eating a similar diet to that of my sponsored child, Dorcus. And let me tell you – this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

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Now, I’m not particularly adventurous when it comes to food. I don’t like spice or very strong flavours, so I honestly thought this would be a pretty easy journey for me in terms of the food. But it’s been a real struggle. There are only so many days you can eat just potatoes or rice or porridge (and let me tell you…I hit that day about three days ago!). I’m missing really simple food like cheese (I’m not joking…what I wouldn’t give to have a good old fashioned cheese sandwich!!). I’ve not been eating for enjoyment for the last few days, so I don’t feel like I can eat very much food because there is absolutely no flavour to anything I’m eating, which means I’ve had this lingering feeling of hunger for the last week.

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Over the last week, this is what a normal meal has looked like…some tomatoes, flatbread with chicken in it and some potatoes. If I wasn’t doing this fast, I’d be pretty happy with that. But for more than two or three days in a row is not fun.

Last Monday, just three days after I started, I had my first feast day (which will fall on every Monday) which was absolutely beautiful. I’m so much more grateful for the food we have in England that is so easily accessible. Mondays are very quickly becoming my favourite day of the week (and I have a feeling they are going to be full of bacon and cheese and other delightful things that I’m otherwise not able to eat!).

God is teaching me so much about the art of thankfulness during this journey, and the importance of not relying on what we know. Eating the diet has been one thing, but learning more about God through this journey has been such a blessing. The devotional I am using focuses on the Exodus. I’ve been learning that this isn’t just something that happened all those years ago with very little relevance to the here and now, but I’m learning that I’m in need of my very own Exodus. We’re all slaves to something, and this week, I’ve felt like a slave to my eating habits. It’s been so easy to get legalistic about this journey and lose sight of the bigger picture. But the truth is I’m just as in need of an Exodus to the slaves in my life as the Israelites were to Pharaoh. This isn’t a distant, far off story anymore, but one that I can see into and learn from.

This journey isn’t nearly as easy as I thought it would be. But I’m so grateful for the lessons that God is teaching me through these forty days. I can’t wait to see my sweet sponsored child in Kenya, especially after experiencing the smallest glimpse of what her life is like. There is nothing that can prepare me for what I’m going to see and learn and experience when I travel to Kenya in just under four months’ time, but I’m so grateful to be on this journey.

Your prayers over the next forty days would be wonderful, that God would continue to teach me all that He wants me to learn. Also, your prayers for God’s provision for the trip would also be so valued. You can visit my GoFundMe page here.