Del Mar to dumps

Today’s post is from SWH Leadership Team member David, who shares his feelings about his recent visit to Nicaragua to distribute our food.

I went from the dumps of Managua and absolute poverty to the bluffs of Del Mar, CA and its immense beauty and absolute wealth within a couple of weeks. There can be no greater contrast. As I am taking in the coastline there is a couple beside me drinking coffee and enjoying the beach, and I wonder if they have any idea about who created this. It strikes me that having this awesome environment with all the beauty and amenities can actually cause you not to see God. The forest from the trees thing. You’re too wrapped up in your own world and pleasures and don’t see God. I then think of the faces of the people of the dump singing praise songs and I think of the lyrics, “I can hear the rush of angels’ wings, I see glory on each face, surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.” I ask myself, which is the better place? Where would I rather be? I can’t answer. Both? Doesn’t that sum up my life? Torn between two worlds, metaphorically speaking. I don’t think God is asking me to choose one or the other in physical terms but I know he is asking my heart.

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Suzanne Yoh
Diana’s Story

Here we have a field report from our partners in Nicaragua, Samaritans International

Las Hamacas is located in Ciudad Sandino. It is a community far from the city and civilization, with roads that are very difficult to access. Health centers and schools are also far from the community. Once we visited Las Hamacas, we became committed to its inhabitants and their needs. Thank you to the donors who have made it possible to deliver food each month to this place!

Diana’s Story

Diana is 16 years old, and has a 3-month-old baby. She is a single mother and her baby's name is Ana Carolina García Fernández. The young Diana only reached fifth grade and because of her pregnancy, she could not continue studying. She is so grateful to Samaritans International and Servants With a Heart for the food they bring to her community and for the support they have given her with milk for her baby Ana Carolina.

Diana has started a beauty (styling) course that is taught by Samaritans school, together with the organization Beauti of Hope. This technical course is for young ladies who are looking for better opportunities in life and have an entrepreneurial spirit, and is a great blessing for Diana. She knows that these studies will be a tool to be able to get ahead and care for her daughter. She is grateful for the opportunity to be living under a roof provided by Samaritans, where she is supported with food for her and her daughter, along with the technical education being offered.

Diana thanks each person who volunteers so that her future and that of her daughter can be filled with opportunity.

Suzanne Yoh
It was a hit!

Below is a “field report” from one of our local partners that tried out our food for the first time last week…

I am excited to report that I cooked an entire bag on Wednesday morning and brought it to our center in a large crock pot. I enhanced it with some spices (salt, pepper, red pepper flakes) and herbs (chives, Thai basil, regular basil), and added a can of black beans (for additional protein). Then, I placed a few spoonfuls in a bathroom-sized cup and gave out samples (with plastic spoons/forks) to each of our 45 clients and their children who came on Wednesday. The response was very positive! I encouraged them to take a few bags home with them if they liked it (I didn’t want to put them "on the spot" if they didn’t like it), and by the end of our 2-hour session, all but two of the bags were taken. I gave the remaining two bags to a Loaves & Fishes client as she was walking to her car in the parking lot! I also encouraged our clients to “spice it up” with whatever spices they like to use and/or to add their own cut-up meat and vegetables.

A few of the Bhutanese-Nepali folks told me that they did NOT like it because it was not Jasmine rice, which is what they mostly cook with. One Montagnard gal told me it tasted more like porridge or soup than the rice she is accustomed to using in her meals, but that her kids seemed to like it, so she took some home; she also said she would try to cook it with less water than I used and see if the texture was better.

So, yes, I would say it was a “hit!”  And if you are available to deliver more to us, I think it would be great!

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Suzanne Yoh
🎶Here we go again🎶
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This post was written by one of our SWH Leadership Team members, Ashley, 14, who is excited to be returning to Nicaragua with our team this weekend!

Much of the food that is packed by Servants with a Heart goes to Nicaragua, but most do not know where Nicaragua even is, much less what is going on there. We ask students in schools, “Does anyone know where Nicaragua is?” and the first answer often is “Africa.” Nicaragua is actually in Central America, and it's the second poorest country in our hemisphere.

When people say “poverty” I used to think of hunger, but it is so much more. It’s only having enough food for one person in a family of five, it’s living underneath a cardboard box during the rainy season, and it’s digging through trash at the dump looking for something edible. When I went to Nicaragua I saw all of this, and it’s hard to live my normal life knowing what I saw.

Servants with a Heart is here to help, with a mission to deliver food to those who need it most. I try to share the love of God while working at packing events and distributing food in Nicaragua. People anywhere should never have to live starving for food or rummaging around a dump for something to eat. I met some people who had never taken a shower or eaten a decent meal, ever.

Servants with a Heart is driven to make this reality ancient history; we want to feed hungry children. The children in Nicaragua are the same as the children in the United States: they love playing sports and hanging out with their friends. As much as people may not want to hear it, people and kids here in the states are often (not always!) spoiled. They come home from a free public education in their cars or on a bus, maybe going home to play Fortnite or watch television. Kids these days, me included, should go home and think about how lucky we are. Go home and enjoy life, because we are so lucky! If you want to make a difference come and join Servants with a Heart at one of our upcoming packing events. Check out our website or email info@servantswithaheart.org. We hope to see you soon!

Suzanne Yoh
A blip in time

Another exciting week last week as two more 40 foot containers of meals were loaded and sent to port, bound for Samaritan’s International in Nicaragua. As I was loading, it was awe-inspiring to see and realize the amount of love and hope that went into each and every bag, box and pallet. For most of us, a couple hours on a school day or weekend is a small investment of time. But each of those 2-hour shifts, coupled with other 2 hour shifts, creates a meaningful result that provides life-saving aid to a child or family that struggles so mightily to find even a morsel of food. In our busy world of school, work, sports, vacations, etc., a two hour blip in time can mean a literal lifetime for those who benefit from your generosity. So on behalf of our meal recipients, thank you!

If you have questions or are interested in finding out more about ways to be involved, please reach out to us at info@servantswithaheart.org

Brandon Faulkner, Program Director

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Suzanne Yoh
A tale of two lines

Two sides of the story...
We have been volunteering with Servants With a Heart for over five years now as a family. Packing meals with my family and friends is a fantastic way to serve and I think it brings my family closer together. As Christians, it gives us a chance to act out our faith. We help run events as a family but also get involved using our talents to assist in running the organization. It has really been a blessing for all of us. Delivering the food in Nicaragua provides a different perspective of the process.

Last month, I joined three other men for SWH’s first visit since unrest plagued the country one year ago. We wanted to participate in the delivery of food as well as determine if Nicaragua was calm enough to start taking groups down again.

The delivery process was different in each village we visited. Some of them have feeding centers where the food is distributed regularly, even daily. Other locations receive food as needed, rather than by strict schedule. The people are very friendly and grateful for the food. More than half of the people in Nicaragua who live in rural areas live in extreme poverty (less than $1.25/day, as we teach in our education curriculum), and the economy was decimated even more by the recent civil and political unrest. Our food is needed and appreciated

Our first village visit included a worship service and there was a lot of joyful singing. As a Christian, what struck me the most was the praying. This is not like a dinner-time prayer or routine occurrence at the end of a service. This prayer is a petition to God for needs. Real needs. The prayers I experienced during this trip meant the most to me and made me feel completely inadequate.

After the worship service the children got in a line for the food. I thought about how we pack the food on what we call “lines.” Two very different lines, yet so intertwined. And both have a great deal of significance to me and my family, and to all of us at SWH.

Tyler Reynolds

Suzanne Yoh
a little history...

The Perry Brown family is a big part of what we do here at Servants With a Heart. They own Furniture Factory Outlet World in Waxhaw, NC and provide for us the SWH truck, forklifts, warehouse space, and necessary help to operate our nonprofit. Our special guest blog writer is one of Perry’s sons, Dedrick Brown, who manages the furniture store as well as our involvement with Samaritan’s International, his family’s nonprofit.

Dedri

We believe our store is blessed because my Dad has always tried to bless other people with the profits we make. In 2005 a friend of my Dad took him to Nicaragua. He immediately saw the great need there, and decided to try to do something about it. He was able to start a nonprofit ministry called Samaritan's International. After several trips to Nicaragua, he bought a piece of property and built a compound outside Managua. After living there for many years, my Dad had to move home  because of medical reasons and the operation is led now by my brother, Patrick Brown. This compound houses our school, church, dining room, staff housing, and farm projects, as well as rooms for visitors to stay in. When SWH visits Nicaragua, it is where we stay.

I met Jeff and Suzanne Yoh when they attended a packing event led by another ministry. They immediately decided they wanted to start their own ministry to feed children. After meeting with them, we formed a great relationship between our ministry, our store and their ministry. Through this great partnership with Servants With a Heart, we have been able to pack millions of meals to help the people of Nicaragua and many other countries. We continue to work very hard at this, and the Lord blesses us every day. I am honored to be a part of these great ministries.

Dedrick Brown

Below are some photos of the compound in Nicaragua, as well as Dedrick and other SWH volunteers distributing food with Patrick in nicaragua last month

Suzanne Yoh
...how many pounds?

Spring has sprung and the bees aren’t the only thing that are buzzing. Our Waxhaw distribution warehouse has been buzzing with lots of activity over the last week. We loaded over 125,000 pounds of much-needed food aid for our partner in Nicaragua, Samaritan’s International. Members of our team just returned from Nicaragua and God’s timing is perfect as the warehouse has about 30 days worth of food for our recipients—which is about the time it takes to get to the facility for distribution, assuming no hiccups!

Special heartfelt thanks from Servants With a Heart to our volunteers, US partners, and donors for your continued generosity with your time and financial support. If your school, church or company is looking for a great turnkey project that provides life-saving support for our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua and here in the US, please contact us at info@servantswithaheart.org for more information.

Brandon Faulkner, Program Director

Suzanne Yoh
Everyone's tired—but a good tired.

I remember driving all the way from Durham to Charlotte on a cold Saturday morning several years ago with my family to volunteer for some kind of food packing event. We didn’t know what to expect. None of us had any experience with this type of ministry before, but we were prepared to serve. We had also heard from Jeff and Suzanne Yoh that this particular event was kind of a big deal as there was a milestone of sorts that was going to be surpassed that day. Upon arrival, we could sense that there was a buzz in the air.

Servants with a Heart packed their One Millionth meal that day.

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One. Million. Meals.

We stopped in the middle of the event to celebrate and I remember Jeff and Suzanne were so excited and proud of that achievement and rightfully so. One Million was written on the special box of food.

The media took notice and we watched them on the national news!

Fast forward. Waaaaay forward to February 2019 and more than 15 Million meals later, not only is the ministry thriving, it has grown in size and scope. So much so that it has spread well outside of the Charlotte area, with food packing events here in the part of NC that I call home. I was so excited to be asked to lead the annual event on the Duke campus with the Duke Center for Christianity and Scholarship. I enjoy working with college kids. So much energy.

As a group, we came together in spite of the cold rain. College students have significant competing priorities these days, but about 120 of them came together that day, some from as far as Raleigh. Several groups of philanthropic Duke students showed up. A track team from NC State. A few grizzled adult food packing veterans. A volunteer fork lift driver. Representatives of Duke Athletics and Facilities.

Remarkably, in spite of the rain, there was a lot taking place on the Duke campus that day. Baseball games, Lacrosse game. Tearing down Krzyzewskiville in the mud. A huge event celebrating Women and Girls in Sports.

What I enjoy the most about these events is the ability to make such a huge impact. During our event, we packed 50,000 meals. And we did it in just a few hours. Everyone stepped up. What we hadn’t experienced, we figured out on the fly. Everyone there was willing to do whatever was asked of them. And always with a smile and a servant’s heart. There’s a sense of purpose and accomplishment as these events wind down that is like no other. Everyone’s tired – but a good tired. 100s of people will have access to food when they may otherwise go without. So as the last pallet was loaded on to the truck headed back to Charlotte, as the cold, soaked shivering forklift driver headed home and I walked the empty gym, I remembered the smiles and laughter of the volunteers who came together and made a difference that day.

Jeffrey Husen, Newly Minted SWH Eastern NC Event Manager!

Packing at Duke during a sunnier year…

Packing at Duke during a sunnier year…

Suzanne Yoh
Free Packing Events!
Teaching at St. James Elementary in Denver, NC.

Teaching at St. James Elementary in Denver, NC.

Did you know your school’s first packing event could be done for free? We love to pack in greater Charlotte-area schools and are happy to go into any local public school and provide an educational program and pack 50,000 meals. For subsequent events, schools and/or students raise 15 cents per meal to pack food with us. We have many schools that have already packed with us for years!

Our teaching includes information about hunger, nutrition (both the nutrition of students and the nutrition of our food, and why needs are sometimes different), poverty, and Nicaragua (where we ship 90% of our food). We also talk a bit about Servants With a Heart, explaining that we are a completely volunteer-run nonprofit with no overhead; all funds we receive go directly to packing food.

We try to make things fun and relatable for students of all ages and seek to enhance the food-packing experience, making it more meaningful because the students learn that what they will do will make a big difference in another child’s life. Packing meals can be very impactful and we hope that by doing tangible volunteer work, students are instilled with a sense of the importance of having a servant’s heart. We are truly blessed and it is wonderful to share that blessing with others!

Recently we packed with St. James Elementary in Denver, North Carolina. One student said the experience “was way more fun that I thought it was going to be!” and Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Heffner shared that three of her students proclaimed at the end of their packing hour that “this was the best day of their lives!” We hope that many schools will follow the lead of St. James and choose to pack with us.

If you have a school in mind that might like to work with Servants With a Heart, please contact us at info@servantswithaheart.org

Suzanne Yoh