Apr. 6th, 2011

Dreamwidth

Apr. 6th, 2011 03:22 pm
inaki: (Default)
Okay let's try this again now that crossposting is working!

So LJ's going to crap. What little I do post, I'll probably post over on Dreamwidth from now on (yes I'll keep crossposting)

http://inaki.dreamwidth.org
inaki: (Yin Egg)
20 Years ago, I went with my family down to Tijuana, Mexico on a church sponsored missions trip to help for a week at an orphanage there. I was 10 years old, my sister was 8. I tried cow tongue for the first time there, and got many mosquito bites.

We helped around the orphanage for about 4 days, general cleaning tasks, help with food prep, while my dad practised his budding preaching career.

The next year, my dad decided to expand this by getting the youth group of our church involved, and contacting a more established faith based humanitarian group, called Amor Ministries. We had fund-raisers for the next 6 months, then that summer, 20 kids and 10 adults went down to Tecate, Mexico to help a family there build a house. We were one of 6 groups in our camp-site, each building a home that week. As a reward, we stopped at Magic Mountain on the way back north.

The next year, I got more involved, and in doing so, started to raise questions about Amor Ministries. The math wasn't adding up for me. So let me give you what bothered me.

The way things worked, is our youth leaders would contact Amor, and they'd find us a family in need of a new home. We'd raise money both to pay Amor for their services, and supplies and transportation for the group of us to go down there for the week. Many a car wash was had.

On the family's side of things, they had to meet certain criteria. They had to legally own the land we were building on. They had to be a member of a local church, and the entire family had to be previously baptised. The family had to provide ALL the building supplies. And on top of that, they had to pay Amor Ministries $1000 US equivalent to have us come down and assemble their house.

In addition to "matchmaker" services, Amor Ministries also saw to having "camp-grounds" set up for the groups coming in. These were either large gravel plots or parking lots, or farmers' fields. They provided spots for us to set up camp, and a "shower" area consisting of tarp walls, and several 55 gallon drums full of non-potable cold water that was often also used as cattle drinking water. All in all a "character building" experience.

Once you add in the $250 per person the church was paying to Amor, I started questioning where all this money was going, and what ultimate good we were doing out there, other than providing cheap child labour and maybe witnessing to some of the neighbours, since the family was the choir. Ultimately my questions, along with some other less than Christian-like behaviour from the church, pushed me away from that life.

15 Years ago, I left the church and denounced my faith. I went out into the world with new eyes, determined to find the answers of the universe for myself.

My explorations of course lead me to the exact opposite camp, the view that Organised Religion was nothing more than a sham to screw the weak minded out of their money and their freedom. Lizard brained monkeys out to screw over other lizard brained monkeys. For a while I was just happy with not having any faith at all. The world ran on Science and screw the faithful for misleading me for so many years. I distanced myself from my family, and just let things flow. This wasn't enough for me though. I wanted to know more. There were things still nagging at me, still not fitting right.

10 Years ago, the first Answer I jumped on was that of Therians. Folks who had been something else in a past life. Now we're getting into belief in reincarnation and high sentience other than human. And while we're at it, how about the ability to affect alternate energy planes and essentially magic. The childhood fantasies of being special or unique flowed in as a coping mechanism for being so different in my school years.

This didn't fit right for me either.. It eventually faded on it's own as I continued my explorations. I ended up just floating for the next several years, quietly refining my thoughts on how the universe worked, and how I fit in it.

While I was exploring on my own, my parents were growing, themselves.

5 Years ago, my dad took his leave from his now paying pastoral gig at our old church, having retired from the insurance sales business, to go on a month long missions trip to a remote tribal area in Africa. He left preaching the Word of God. He appeared happy to follow the Church and their thoughts on things. When he returned, he was as different man. Maybe it was the cultural exposure, maybe it was the Holy Spirit, maybe he happened to camp on a ley line. The end result was someone who'd turned their tribal lizard brain off. He had read the bible cover to cover, but now he read it again with a more open mindset.

Soon the general lesson of Don't be an Ass came through, and clashed with the Church. The next year, my dad brought my mom along. Not knowing what she could do to help, and fighting her MS, she took a leap of faith and found that same peiousness my dad had. They explored this together, and distanced themselves from what most folks see the current Church as. My mom was able to put her sewing skills to use, and made immediate connections to the people they went to help.

It was at this point that I started to reconnect with my family. My sister got married and she and my brother in law both work at what I like to call a new church. The fire and brimstone and hatred are all gone, replaced with the lesson of helping others in all things, mind, body and soul. The stories I heard from this church includes them going out to gay pride parades, and holding up signs that say "We apologise for the way we've treated you in the past."

While I had been off looking for the answers to the universe, my family had gone and found inner peace in a faith that many of my friends and fellow-travelers have been so hurt by.

They've managed to take what was originally created to try and help tribes get along with each other, and see more than the Self, corrupted by man over the centuries into a method of control and xenophobia, and truly go back to its original purpose. They've stripped the hate and the xenophobia out of their lives, and they've found others who have done the same. They've become decent human beings.

Over the next few years, my parents have both been around the world at least 3 times now, spending 9 months out of the year stopping anywhere from India to China to Zimbabwe to Fiji to any number of other locations. Spending a few months in each spot, sharing their faith but also sharing their hands and their hearts, helping as many as they can. This is their retirement. This is their "vacation."

A print of Egypt Urnash's tarot cards hangs on the wall in my house. The card is The Chariot. Now I don't believe this tells the future, but it reminds me of action, will, motion, conviction, and honour. I believe very strongly in the Do. I believe that each of us should push for the things that make us happy, and then when we reach the top, we should offer a hand to those below us, to help them up. If the hand is not taken, and they wish the challenge of doing it themselves, respect that. If they wish to take a different path, wish them luck and give them a smile. Turn off the lizard brain.

I love my family, because their default action is to Do, to Act. To push for something. And that something they, and I, push for is to try and make the world a little bit brighter, one person at a time.

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Inaki

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