A couple of weeks ago we were working hard in the kitchen, preparing a nice dinner for some friends and getting ready for a seminary lunch that we were hosting at our house the next day. Kevin walked across the street to buy some dish soap and pop (you can't have people over without having pop and/or juice) when our five year-old neighbor boy Pablo (name changed for confidentiality) told Kevin that he was hungry. He asked if he could come over and climb up our mango tree to pick some mangoes that he and his family could have for supper. Kevin welcomed him over and they worked together to collect a bag of mangoes for Pablo to bring home.
I stood at the sink, washing our dishes with our newly acquired dish shop with tears in my eyes. No child should go hungry, no adult should go hungry. Here we are right in the heart of it, needs all around us, but our kitchen always seems stocked and our bellies always have more than enough. I put together a little bag of bananas and other fruits that Pablo could bring back to his house. And yet, I knew that we aren’t getting to the root of it.
Pablo and his family live in the corner "house" of our street. "House" doesn't really give justice to what they live in. Basically it is a room for rent system. Families who are moving into the city generally rent a room until they can find a more stable place to live. There are dirt floors, a shared bathing area and a very primitive kitchen (no fridge, no stove, firewood for cooking). They share their home with ten to twenty other people, depending on the day.
As I continued to reflect I began thinking of a birthday party that we attended back in December. Pablo was invited to the party, but his family was not. The party hosts were serving Arroz a la Valenciana, a special Nicaraguan dish. Pablo had a plate in front of him, but insisted that he was not hungry. After a while, when nobody was looking, I saw him run his plate of food over to his dad who was standing out in the street. It seemed like they had a mutual understanding of what needed to happen. A couple hours later, when we left with a plate of warm leftovers, Pablo was standing outside. I offered him what I had and he gladly took it. I hope that it filled his tummy that evening.
When Kevin and I discussed the situation after he and Pablo picked mangoes, he reminded me not to feel guilty, but to act, to remember why we are here, to share and love those around us. There are people hungry and hurting in all of the corners of this earth, and though you most likely do not have a mango tree growing in your front yard, I am sure that you can find a way to offer your blessings and gifts to those around you.