We were busy last night preparing to feed more than 200 kids today. The afternoon was filled with chopping mounds of vegetables. The girls learned how to take all the meat off a chicken and boil the bones for stock. We are making soup in a pot large enough to sit in. The school we visited today, called Cimientas, was a large one: 235 kids and many more classrooms than we’ve seen so far. Our first priority was to get the soup going. The place for cooking was a completely enclosed concrete building with a doorway and one small window cut out of the walls, containing a typical Guatemalan pila (a triple sink made of concrete) and a ledge on which to build a fire. We needed two fires and two huge pots to feed so many kids. The small, dark room quickly filled with smoke and reached a temperature that made sweat run in streams down our skin the minute we entered. It was difficult to stand in there for more than 3-5 minutes.
While the soup was cooking, the team performed our skit three times for groups of kids. We came up with the skit last night when we realized we couldn’t do a craft with that many kids. We acted out Daniel in the lion’s den, with Taylor telling the story in Spanish while the rest of us pantomimed it.
When the soup was ready, Tim and Tommy carried the huge pots out of the cooking shack and set them on the ground. Most of the children bring a drinking cup and a small plastic bowl to school, but quite a few didn’t even have that. They eat with their fingers. We had made more soup than I have ever seen at one time, yet before we were done serving we did a lot of praying that there would be enough. By the last 50 kids we were digging with ladles and spoons aching to find just one more sliver of chicken, just one more piece of carrot. I had spoons in both hands but I took a mental picture that I know will stay with me forever. In the center I see the steaming surface of the pot of soup, and all around it, as far as my vision goes in all directions, I see hands holding out bowls. The children waited silently, patiently, in an orderly line. But those hands reached out, and the need is greater than my eyes could take in, almost more than I could bear. The need stretches further than any of us can imagine. We were blessed to be able to feed these beautiful children one meal on one day. But make no mistake; they are starving. And all you have to do to see it is open your eyes.