The garden is a Memorial Garden, a garden of benevolence, garden of love. It is a gift to our community from the God of Love, Jesus the Christ. The first “seeds” for our garden have come from members of the congregation and a designation from the congregation’s memorial funds. These seeds have brought us to the beginning of a journey that will last for many years. Guided by the Holy Spirit we will plow forth until row upon row of our work is accomplished and our community is better nourished. The Lord invites you all to be part of His work on earth strengthening and feeding His children. The garden is made possible by generous donations from the community, a Domestic Hunger Grant from the ELCA World Hunger, generous support by the congregation of Lutheran Church of Hope, and support from the Alaska Synod of the ELCA.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Until All Are Fed

Washington Monument
From Sunday, January 21st until the 24th I attended the World Hunger Leadership Gathering. It was a spectacular experience. If you have an opportunity to go please do. Following is a summary of my experience. This entry is long, please bear with me.

Saturday

The flight across country was grueling as usual. Washington D. C. is quite lovely even in the winter though. After checking into the hotel I went for a walk along the National Mall. I walked from just a block or so east of the Capital Building to the Washington Monument and back, abut 2.5 miles. Turned in early and tried to get a good night’s sleep.

US Capital Building
Sunday

Up at normal time this morning, 8 AM. Breakfast was very good. They serve scrambled eggs, pork sausage, hash, fruit, juice, most any toast you could want, as well as pastries, and other items. While at breakfast I looked up nearby churches to attend. Decided on the Lutheran Church of the Reformation. It’s about a mile from the hotel so will walk. It’s supposed to be 44° F out there. We will see if I can keep warm with a brisk walk.

Jefferson Memorial
It certainly was no problem keeping warm. Actually I was too warm. Had to open up the jacket and the hoodie to try to cool off. Went past the Capital Building on the way. It is very impressive. There were a few people out jogging but no many other people on the walk this morning.

Hiked around the Mall his afternoon. I went to the Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, WW II Memorial, and the Washington Monument. It’s 4:30 in the afternoon and I already have 21,000 steps. That’s 9.5 miles. Still a little bit more walking to do and the conference hasn’t even started.

Went over to Lutheran Church of the Reformation at 5 PM to have dinner and get an update on what’s happening on the World Hunger scene. Then reviewed the training
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
schedule for tomorrow. Closing worship was nice but short. Monday will be a busy day. Ended the day at 10.5 miles. I am a tired puppy.

Monday

We received training on the Farm Bill and what ELCA World Hunger wants us to cover with our legislators. The training was pretty comprehensive and I felt prepared to talked with Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and Congressman Don Young’s staff person. I went to dinner this evening with four wonderful people from North Carolina. The dinner was good but not outstanding but the company was superb. Thanks for sharing your evening with me.

Tuesday
Lincoln Memorial

Today started out with a prayer “breakfast” in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Breakfast is in quote because it was bagels, cream cheese, and sweet rolls with juice or coffee. If I had known I would have eaten at the hotel first. But then it’s not like I can’t afford to miss a meal or two. After the prayer breakfast we went back to the church to wait until our meeting time with Senator Murkowski.

Senator Murkowski’s office was a veritable gallery of Alaskan art and artists. They were all tastefully displayed and so varied. There was everything from baleen baskets to Fred Machetanz prints. In her offices in the back away from the conference room there was huge amounts of art. Indeed it is a beautiful gallery of Alaskana.

Glenn, Don & Sen. Murkowski
We met five of Senator Murkowski’s staff people. They were all from Alaska, They were all very personable and the two we initially met, Karen McCarthy and Anna Dietderich had done their homework on Farm Bill. This made our discussion go quite quickly. We covered all of our points and the Senator arrived. We again talked briefly about the bill and then began talking about the Harvest of Hope Memorial Garden and the Food Pantry at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. The Senator was very excited about what we are doing at the churchs and took us back into her offices to show us her tower of kale and lettuce. She then suggested that instead of just visiting the garden she and her staff could have a weeding party at the garden. I was amazed. I do believe I will see her some time this summer at the garden. It’s very exciting. Senator Murkowski will probably drop by the food pantry as Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Juneau as well. We were with the Senator and her aids for nearly an hour.

Our next appointment was with Don Young’s staffer. He is from North Carolina. The only person we met with that was not an Alaskan. I don’t know if the other staff people we encountered were from Alaska or not. We never got to chat with them. We met with Jesse von Stein. He was very personable but he had not done his home work. He had no idea why we were there. We had to direct his attention to our agenda and redirect it more than once. I came away thinking that he knew little about the Farm Bill and wasn’t really interested in it. I certainly could be wrong an hope that I am. This was the shortest meeting of the three. It was probably also the least productive.

Late in the afternoon we went to Senator Sullivan’s office. I introduced myself to the young man on the left of the reception area and the gentleman on the right jumped up and said, "Is that Don?" He recognized my voice. I had him for a student at the University of Alaska Anchorage in College Algebra. It indeed is a small world.

We chatted with the young men while we waited for Senator Sullivan or his aid. Liz Banicki took us into the conference room where we began discussing the Farm Bill. She had some knowledge about the bill and the made things go well. The Senator joined us about 10 minutes into the meeting. We had a very nice chat but it was difficult to keep the focus on the Farm Bill. He told us that he and Lisa worked very closely together and supported one another in their efforts. I and Glenn Mitchell extended invitations to the Senator to visit our respective venues. He asked his aid to make note of it and they would be in touch. All of Senator Sullivan’s staffers that we talked with were from Alaska.

The afternoon was enlightening, tiring, and full of hope.

Cabbage
The banquet in the evening was a lot of fun. Someone got wind that it was my birthday. They asked if anyone else was having a birthday on the 23rd and I was shocked that no one did. They sang happy birthday to me and our table got to go every early as we were lining up for the buffet for dinner. Everyone at my table thought it was great. I thanked Mikka and Iain for setting up a birthday banquet for me with 150 of my closest friends.

Maria Rose Belding was the keynote speaker at the banquet. She is a 20 year old that designed a database to connect those food pantries and food banks that have an excess of a specific commodity or commodities with other those that can use the excess and then helps with the logistics to get things moved from place to place. She is an amazing lady with an amazing story. She thanked us for asking her to do the keynote because it got her out of a physics lab. She is still in college and started this project when she was 16. A truly amazing young lady.

I have walked more than 20 miles the last four days and I feel exhausted. There is still tomorrow morning to go yet. What will tomorrow bring?

Wednesday

Basically today was a recap of the previous three day’s activities. There were many kudus handed out to the people that made the gathering possible with lots of hard work on the part of the World Hunger Team for the ELCA.  They indeed did an excellent job of putting it all together. Everything seemed to go seamlessly despite the government shutdown that threatened all of the legislative meetings. The team worked tirelessly to make it all happen. They did a great job.

The Hunger Team rolled out a new program called the World Hunger Global Farm Challenge. They stressed that participants should make sure everyone in your congregation knows that the US is indeed part of the globe as well. Because when most people think or hear global they are looking at the rest of world and exclude the US.

Turnips
Closing worship was very well done with the homily done by a young pastor from central Montana. She told the story of Ester and how it related to the the theme of the current campaign, Until All Are Fed. Yup, that’s the title of this entry.

If you would like more information on World Hunger or the programs they offer you may get in touch with me or contact the Hunger Team of the ELCA directly at www.elca.org/hunger. This has been a long blog entry. The information is important. It is why the this blog is written. I do the Harvest of Hope Memorial Garden because of food insecurity in the Anchorage area. There is absolutely no reason for people to go hungry in a nation that is probably the richest in the world. We have the resources. We just need the will to make sure All Are Fed!

A quote from Martin Luther King Jr. seems appropriate here. “ I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits."


I hope our government leaders, nationally, statewide, and locally take this quote to heart.

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