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"Get Up, Cook and Eat"
This took place at the SALUDS project in the Philippines, and was provided by Gospel Outreach.
The best way to describe the situation was that there was a famine. What was left from our last stipend was just enough for fare back for the next reporting. Our rice container was empty and the breakfast we ate that morning was just two pieces of sweet potatoes as big as our thumbs. The usual scene of students and parents coming to our cottage every morning bringing root crops, and veggies had come to an end. Rats had plagued the farms destroying everything. What was left of their still young corn were cobs with just a few kernels left on the tips.
Chief Asang warned us and the people that this was terrible and advised that we should go home now because they could not supply our food. That would seem to be unfair for the little ones who still came to school. The bigger students went with their parents to some distant villages searching for food.
Anyway we still held classes. Pupils came with empty stomachs and listened to their teachers who also had empty stomachs. We ate only when the parents came in the late afternoon to cook whatever they had gathered for the day. We hated to leave the village because of that situation so we stayed to serve in our capacity.
But it could not be denied that we felt the pain of the hunger pangs. One early afternoon, having only a little ﬁnger-sized piece of sweet potato for breakfast and no lunch, my teammate gave his students some work to do at their seats. He then asked me to just peep and check his students periodically because he wanted to take a nap to forget his hunger.
Seeking Help Through Prayer
There he prayed. “Lord, I’m sleeping with an empty stomach please wake me up to eat. You sent the ravens to feed your servant Elijah. You can also do something for us, your SULADS servants here. I do not know how You will do it but I believe that You will never let us go hungry as we continue to serve you in this mountain.” Then he fell asleep…
The afternoon wore on. I continued my class as my teammate slept. By 4:30 the mothers and bigger students arrived. Some brought a handful of food but others came with empty baskets. I dismissed my class and that of my teammate’s and I prayed. “Lord, how long will this famine continue and when can we ever eat? Please save us Lord from this situation.”
Opening my eyes there stood a mother who had just arrived. With a sweet smile she said, “Come with me, Maestro, to my house. I have something to cook.”
“Lord,” I whispered, “thank you so much!”
There she cooked ground corn and made it into a porridge with just plain water and no salt. Nothing else. I was imagining and salivating for some fresh fruits from the farm. I wanted bananas or whatever vegetables and rice. But just plain ground corn grits? Then I realized. This is food. Why should I complain? Didn’t I ask God for food? And now, with this food He provided, why should I complain?
“I’m sorry, Lord. I’m sorry.” But I could not deny that my taste buds were really looking for rice. Some others may not understand how precious rice is to a Filipino like me. It is our staple food. A Filipino has never had a hearty meal until he has rice. So I just imagined that what I was gulping spoon after spoon of much watered ground corn was well cooked rice.
I could not eat until I was full either because I was invited to share with the six children and the whole family. Whatever was placed on my plate this one time was just it. But, alas! I forgot all about my teammate who was in our cottage sleeping with an empty stomach.
I excused myself to check on him…… then….BANG BANG BANG came the bell from our cottage calling all the children for the evening worship. Who was ringing the bell? It couldn’t be him because we usually worship after supper but he had not had supper and even worse, he had not had lunch. When I got to the cottage sure enough he was there and still ringing the bell. He looked good and alive.
“Where have you been,” he asked. “You may have supper now because we will have worship soon when the children come.”
“SUPPER? Did I hear it right?”
“Yes,” he said. “I’ve just had my supper.”
“Where and what did you have.”
“Check the stove,” he said pointing to our kitchen. And there was our kettle full of cooked rice.
“Where did you get this?”
“From our container.” I checked the container and it was half full of uncooked rice.
“You said you have eaten but this kettle is full.”
“I have eaten and I just left enough for your share. How can it be full?”
“You see this?” I showed him the kettle and this time he was the one who was surprised.
“Why? I ate almost halfway down because I was so hungry. Why is this full?”
“Now tell me where did you get this special expensive variety rice?”
The Rest of the Story
“This is it! Listen. Today I have just witnessed a MIRACLE.”
“What do you mean?” I was all ears.
“Before I slept this afternoon, when I asked you to look after my class, I slept with an empty stomach because our rice container was empty. I prayed, ‘Lord, I’m sleeping and I’m so hungry please wake me up to eat.’ He did!”
“Why? How did it happen?”
“During my sleep I dreamed. In my dream I saw Jesus waking me up saying,
‘My faithful SULADS servant, GET UP, COOK AND EAT!’ I pinched myself wondering whether this was real. When I was fully awake I went straight to get our rice container. It was heavy and when I opened it, there was rice.
‘Thank you, Lord,’ I said. I was looking for you but I could not ﬁnd you. I cooked and ate. And now it’s full again!”
We inquired from every person in the village if they had stealthily sneaked to our cottage to put rice into our container. Nobody had done it.
Yes, our God is our provider just like He provided for Elijah during the famine in Israel. From that time on our kitchen has always had something for us to eat.
This story comes from Gospel Outreach regarding their SULADS outreach in the Philippines