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|
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.
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|
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.
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|
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.
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?
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.
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.