Our first food distribution was an incredible gift. It went so smoothly and was received so well. In the week following, we had three women come separately to tell us thank you, each with their own stories of waking up without rice and unsure what they’d do on the very day the youth showed up at their door. It was so clear that God had led us in the exact day to distribute the food, and we were thankful, awed, and hopeful.
But I’ll be honest, all the things we feared about beginning food distributions came true the following week. And I didn’t know what to say. So I didn’t. But that doesn’t seem right or truthful.
We did pack up another set of food for forty families last week. There were three not-to-be-forgotten highlights.
First, I ordered rice in pre-sealed bags. This was the wise idea of Stephen, who was over the idea of hand-scooping 300 kilograms of rice with a three-year-old. I went on my own to order it on Friday: I got 40 bags of 10 kilograms each, all packed and sealed. Then on Saturday, after buying all the eggs and oil and vegetables in the market, Thida and I went to pick up the rice. I told her on the way, “Look, I went and tried my best to pick out the best one. We usually buy it at the other shop, where I can say, ‘The one my auntie always buys.’ I couldn’t do that here. I went ahead and bought 400 kilograms, in forty bags. It might have been the wrong kind. I may have way over-paid. It might have been a really bad deal. But I tried, and we’re just going to take it this week. Then, you show me which one is the best deal, and I’ll get that for next week so I know at this shop. I’m sorry if I picked the wrong one and spent way too much money.”
Sometimes, if we are “wasteful”–I cut off too much peel off a pumpkin, throw away the skin on chicken, or pay a few baht more for fruit at this market versus that one–I get scolded. I was nervous I’d gotten the wrong rice or paid a horrible deal; but I was also loving the idea of picking up forty already-packaged bags.
Well, here’s the win: we got there, and Thida was so pleased! She said I’d picked just the right one, and it was cheaper than the other shop! She thought it was wonderful they had bagged it and it looked so nice; it was such a good gift for the community.
She did scold me for not telling her before she’d bought a bag of rice at the other shop 🙄
But this was a big win. Maybe one I can’t really even express, but it was like “an arrival”: I can go to a shop and pick out the “right” kind of rice for our community (of like twenty kinds!) and even get a good deal. WOW.
Second highlight: I got a headstart while Oak napped, which made the whole process much smoother.
And third, he helped for about thirty minutes the second week and did so with glee–an improvement.
Then Monday. It didn’t go smoothly; it was stressful. And those who are helping us–our dear Thida and the three teenage boys–they got the flack with us. They get blamed for being our friends, for not doing enough or not giving enough themselves. It was messy. I ended in tears, far too aware of the situation surrounding us.
The week continued in this, as we had families coming nearly every day to ask for rice. This was people we didn’t know, who had walked kilometers to tell us that they didn’t have any rice and heard we gave some. Could we please help?
This was entirely my fear. We completely ran out of rice by Wednesday, without anything to offer. We spent the week getting help from Lun and her local church.
We had multiple requests for medical help this week; for now just ear infections and prenatal check ups and fevers.
But it felt endless; it felt heavy. On multiple occasions I felt terrified it was only the second week of food distributions, with five on the calendar and unsure how long this really will last. On multiple occasions I felt guilty, trying to enjoy this time as a family or baking something for dinner. On multiple occasions I hated that it fell to us to be the distributors, to make the call; I dreaded this role and power when we started.
If I’m honest, though, that was week two. Nothing that seems blog-worthy; nothing that we might call beautiful. But I still believe God was in it, and I still believe we were doing what we should.