Canned meat sent by MCC to DPRK is usually served as part of a soup with vegetables, especially cabbage. The juice from the cans is used to flavour the soup while the canned meat provides an easily digestible form of protein for the children. Directors report that turkey is a favourite because it is a chance for the children to try something new and is tasty. MCC photo/Jennifer Deibert 
Food is one of our most basic necessities and an easy thing for many of us to take for granted.

I was reminded of this in November when I was part of a Canadian MCC delegation to observe food shipments in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, also known as North Korea) and continue to build relationships with the Korea Canada Cooperation Agency of North Korea.

In each of three children’s hospitals we visited, cases of canned turkey meat sporting purple MCC labels were at the centre of our visit – each can containing 681 grams of long-lasting and shelf-stable turkey meat.

“How are you finding the turkey?” was our question to each of the hospital directors.

In response, we consistently heard about better illness recovery rates and better weight gain for their young patients. One doctor reminded us that not all the outcomes were about health, reporting that children were “never bored” with the meat they receive from MCC.

We had a consistent story to share as well – a story of thousands of volunteers from Canada and the U.S. who gathered to lovingly load the meat into cans by hand, sealing, cooking, labelling and finally packing them into cases of 24 to become a gift of love from our people to your people.

This meat does not come from a factory. These chunks of turkey thigh were purchased with generous donations, made by our canning staff and volunteers as their expression of God’s love and compassion for all and sent from Jesus followers half the world away to the children in this North Korean hospital.

When we asked which children in the hospital would receive the canned turkey, we were told by the director, with a twinkle in his eye, “Why, all of them of course. You just told us that MCC shares God’s love with all!”

As we left the hospital, the director stopped us and asked our interpreter to translate one last comment:

“We are very glad that MCC sends us this excellent canned meat. But even more, today we are grateful that MCC sent you.”

It is indeed an honour to bear the gifts of love that MCC supporters create for those sisters and brothers they have not even met.

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