May 10, 2020

Dear friends

I hope this new week finds you and your loved ones well. 

To my amazement it seems that this is the ninth of these weekly updates. Time, and its passing, is one of the things that feels so very different in this season. When I wrote the first of these I certainly did not foresee that nine weeks later Covid-19 would still be so profoundly impacting almost every aspect of lives – and this mission of Mary’s Meals too. I am sure we are all experiencing a deep sadness – a sense of grieving even – in seeing the lives of our young people ‘put on hold’, the pain of separation from family and friends, the catastrophic new economic hardship suffered by so many families, the loss of jobs, the fear and uncertainty everywhere we look.

These are disturbing realities. But amidst them we are also witnessing some truly extraordinary, wonderful new things – especially in the unfolding of this mission of ours. If someone had said nine weeks ago that by now we would have reinvented our delivery models, agreed them with governments and found a way to keep feeding nearly all the children of our programme I don’t think I would have believed them.

But this has actually come to pass. With the Government of Liberia approving our plans last week, there is now an agreed plan in place to ensure that very nearly all the children in our programmes around the world will keep being fed at home!

That these are realities, not just aspirations, or dreams or wished for things, has been made possible by the incredible things everyone who is part of our mission is doing. We should reflect upon them and allow them to prompt gratitude and joy. They show us again just how special this family of Mary’s Meals is. It is a family that is a little different, one that keeps surprising us – repeatedly confounding the norms and expectations. It is a family always willing to adapt and learn new ways. I am sure many of us have been acquiring new skills these days. Personally, I am rather proud of myself for at long last engaging with social media. For many years I have been travelling all over the world to speak to all sorts of audiences about Mary’s Meals and now, suddenly, I find myself unable to do that. But I can’t just stop speaking of Mary’s Meals! And so (with the help of the younger members of my family) I have set up an Instagram account. I do realise that most of the planet found a way to do that sort of thing a long time ago, but for me it seems like a pretty amazing personal achievement. 

In some ways it feels like many things, that might otherwise have taken years to develop, have been achieved in these few short weeks. But we cannot stand still. These incredible feats would just not have been possible without your support.  After all these years I cannot claim to understand fully the wonder of Mary’s Meals but I do know now, more deeply, that these little acts of love – your little acts of love – are not little at all. Each one has ramifications that ripple across oceans and down through generations. They are making the lives of countless children and families so much better and, together, they are pointing to something much bigger than us all. In my message on Easter Sunday I described us as being like those children in Africa who bring a little stick each morning to school to contribute to the fire that cooks the porridge. The fire that is Mary’s Meals has certainly not gone out! Rather it is blazing much brighter than ever, dispersing gloom and illuminating this prolonged night until dawn comes. 

And that dawn will indeed come. 

God bless you and keep you safe.