Monday, February 11, 2013

Lent and Compassion

Soon the season of Lent will be upon us.

It wasn't until recent years that I began to explore and practice some of the ideas of the Lenten season. Last year I used the wonderful book A Place at the Table to guide me and it was such a meaningful experience. You can read the post I wrote about this book last year, and watch some of the videos which also help explain the concept of this book.

Written by Chris Seay, A Place at the Table - 40 Days of Solidarity With the Poor, proposes adopting a simple diet for 40 days as a way to identify with those living in poverty. Chris is a pastor, a church planter, an author and a Compassion sponsor.

In the first four chapters of the book, Chris lays out the hows and whys of fasting, gives practical tips and tools for making this feasible and talks about the importance of feast days. The rest of the book contains daily readings for the 40 days of fasting and the 6 days of feasting. In order to use the book completely, you would need to start this Wednesday, February 13th. Of course, this is not an all or nothing book. I believe God can use any amount of sacrifice to teach us, grow us and bless us.

Last year I created my own version of this and found it to be a very meaningful way to prepare myself for Easter. I did not ask anyone else in my family to join me beyond sharing one simple meal of rice and beans each week. (Personally I ate simply and blandly for breakfast and lunch. My normal breakfast was plain oatmeal with an apple cut up and for lunch I usually had quinoa and black beans. I ate a normal dinner as I didn't want to prepare two separate things for myself and my family. I also limited myself to hot tea and water, which was harder than limiting what I ate.)

I'm still not sure how I'll use the book this year, but I did want to share this resource with you in case you are interested in using it for yourself.

If you have used this book or plan to, I would love to hear about your experience!

Last year I ran across a list of suggested staple foods for each of the countries where Compassion works. This is not a comprehensive list, but should give you an idea of what you might limit yourself to if you choose to follow a simplified diet similar to that of your sponsored child.

Bangladesh: rice, chicken, beef, eggs, lentils, garlic, ginger, onions

Bolivia: potatoes, carrots, corn, rice, beans, chicken, fish, bananas, plantains, lettuce.

Brazil: rice, black beans, pasta, chicken, potato, kale, banana, citrus fruits, onions, garlic

Burkina Faso: millet, rice, corn, peanuts, potatoes, beans, sweet potatoes, okra, fresh green vegetables, eggs, fish, mangoes

Colombia: rice, red beans, chicken, corn, potatoes, avocados, bananas

Dominican Republic: rice, black beans, bananas, carrots, tomatoes, avocados, corn tortillas, fish

Ecuador: rice, potatoes, chicken, cheese soup/potato soup, avocado, corn tortillas, fish

El Salvador: corn, black beans, corn tortillas, tomatoes, chicken, white cheese, bananas

Ethiopia: injera, lentils, onions, garlic, beef or goat, chickpeas, chilies

Guatemala: black beans, corn, tortillas, rice, eggs, white cheese, chicken, tamales, corn chips, taquitos, tomatoes, avocados, onions, bananas, oranges

Ghana: cassava, rice, sweet potatoes, plantains, bananas, okra, spinach, tomatoes, onions, fish, chicken, peanuts, corn, millet

Haiti: rice, black and red beans, corn, sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados, pumpkin, squash, mango, coconut, sugarcane, chicken, goat

Honduras: rice, black or red beans, tamales, corn, corn tortillas, cabbage.

India: rice, potatoes, onions, garlic, bananas, chicken, fish, vegetables, lentils, garbanzo beans, spices

Indonesia: rice, vegetables, fish, bananas, coconut, mangoes

Kenya: corn meal porridge, flat bread, rice, corn, onions, tomatoes, collard greens, beef, goat, potatoes, chicken, passion fruit, milk

Mexico: corn, corn tortillas, tomatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, pinto or black beans, onion, chilies, chicken, pork, avocado, manog, papaya

Nicaragua: corn, black or red beans, corn tortillas, chicken, eggs, cabbage, tomatoes, bananas, avocado

Peru: Potatoes, pumpkin, rice, beef, pork, corn

Philippines: rice, sweet potatoes, vegetables, bananas, coconut, bread, fish, chicken, watermelon

Rwanda: bananas, red beans, sweet potatoes, potatoes, corn, eggs, chicken, beef, bananas, oranges, mangoes

Tanzania: cornmeal porridge, chicken, goat, corn, peanuts, fish, stewed greens

Togo: corn porridge, okra, spinach, sweet potatoes, peanuts, goat, fish, eggplant, cabbage, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, banana, watermelon

Thailand: rice, beef, chicken, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fish

Uganda: corn, rice, sweet potatoes, beans, bananas, peanuts, chicken
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