Participant Profile – The Cussins Family

This week’s Participant Profile introduces us to the Cussins family. Noah is a student at Sunnyside Christian School in Washington state. Lahash Media Director, Casey Schilperoort, gave a Rice & Beans presentation  last year for the students there, and Noah participated in a school-wide lunch of rice and beans. But that one meal wasn’t nearly enough for this kindhearted boy…

Noah and his mom, Linda

Noah’s mom, Linda, remembers how excited her nine-year-old son was when he came home from school on the day of the presentation. “A man who went to SCS as a kid came and spoke about a place called Africa!” he reported. Noah’s take-away was that families there were hungry every day, and if his own family ate rice and beans for the month of March, it would help the African families. So, with only a nine-year-old’s enthusiasm to fuel them, the Cussins Family Rice & Beans Month Adventure began.

rice and beans, Noah style

“I purchased the devotional, A Common Meal, so our family would be ready to stand in solidarity with those in Africa,” said Linda. “We began each day in prayer, following the day-by-day devotionals or watching one of the videos. The videos made it more real – seeing families prepare food or going distances to receive a meal.”

The Cussins family stuck to the basics for their meals. Brown, white, or Spanish rice with black beans, refried beans, or pork-and-beans. Once a day they added a small piece of meat, and they threw in a bit of color with veggies like beets, green beans, or tomatoes. Noah took a “sweet treat” (a piece of fruit) in his lunch every day, and one day they baked the rice cookies from the recipe section of A Common Meal.

“They were different-tasting, but yummy!”

They set aside one special day, Noah’s tenth birthday on March 18, to take a break. Noah chose his favorite meal and had birthday cake. “But on March 19,” says Linda, “It was right back to dedicated business, beans-and-rice, rice-and-beans.”

They did find it challenging to keep these basic meals interesting, but they never questioned whether it was worth it. In fact, they credit the new love they found for the beautiful people of East Africa as their motivation to continue. “As days passed, our prayer-and-share time focused more on the families we saw on the videos. We imagined ourselves right beside them eating and laughing. Though we live far apart, have different skin colors, and speak different languages, Jesus still loves us the same and died for us the same.”

At the end of March, they realized that although their commitment to eating rice and beans was winding down, the struggles of their new-found brothers and sisters in East Africa would go on. They hoped that their efforts, combined with all the other Rice & Beans Month participants’, would help alleviate those struggles in meaningful ways. They ended their experience praying that their hearts would become more thankful for all their family’s blessings. And if you think Noah’s enthusiasm was dampened after his first Rice & Beans Month, think again! This was his breakfast on March 1, 2016:

It's rice and beans time again!

Noah’s enthusiasm, commitment, and compassion not only inspired his family, but are now a source of encouragement to the entire Rice & Beans Month community, and to our partners in East Africa as well. Thank you to all of you who are combining your efforts with Noah’s on behalf of vulnerable children and families.