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Monthly Archives: April 2004

Advocacy

Action Alerts

Yesterday my sister sent me an email from Sojourners’ website. It was an advocacy form letter that is sent to congressmen in opposition to CAFTA. I was impressed how convenient it was. Try it out.

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Yesterday a veteran came to school to talk about his experience in the war. On July 4, this eighteen year old soldier was hit in the head by a bullet and a grenade blew off one of his legs and the other one around his waist, and left one of his hands hanging by flesh to his hands. He said that when he woke up he felt worthless. He said that he lay paralyzed for eight months. Then he began to work hard to recover from the wounds, until he was able to walk again. He said that the feeling of being able to walk is so intense, but it someone who has not suffered such a tragedy cannot realize how it feels because we were so young when we started walking for the first time.

One of the things that changed me from his talk was his respect he commanded. He said that no matter what our feeling is on the war we should still support the soldiers that go to war. He suggest that when we see veterans that we can say, “I do not support the war, but I still want to say thank you.” He said that there was so much apathy and contention against the war that he would have to lie about how he lost his leg. He would tell stories about how he got into a motorcycle accident and people would be concerned and ask a lot of questions. However, when he told about his injuries in war people would close off and not pay attention to him. This was an important lesson for me to learn from the speaker.

Last week was a blast. I visited the Little Lights kids at camp hope. If you are interested you can check out the pictures on Angelo Capilli’s web site, Rouge Winter. The kids seemed so peaceful at camp. It was the best I have seen them behave. Ms. Linda and Mr. Thomas provided the parental support needed to make the kids feel at ease. One day I was the ref for a camp counselor vs. campers basketball camp. It was rough to ref because I was not familiar with the NBA rules that they wanted to play under. The following day after I returned the first thing I heard was that I was a bad ref.

We return to the regular Friday night youth night meeting this week. I have been very pleased by the International Justice Mission Curriculum called What is the Justice Mission. We watched the story of a young girl that was kidnapped by a group of women and forced into prostitution and the story of students from the US that went to document the story of children in bonded slavery or prostitution. One of the kids in the group said, “I am glad it was not me.” This coming week we are going to deal with the “so what?” of what we have studied. One of my favorite lesson was the two world views of abundance and scarcity. We learned how people’s belief would determine how they lived. We read the story of the feeding of the 5,000 and how God can multiply and provide abundance. We will see what happens next with the meager resources we have compared to the immensity of the problems of injustice that we see in DC alone.

Currently, I am reading an article by Alberto Fuguet, called Magical Neoliberalism.(Latin American culture) in Foreign Policy, July 2001. He writes, “A pop psychologist might say that when you don’t know where you are, when your roots are packed in your hard drive, you develop the resilience to understand. Perhaps this new artistic sensibility-to-be is less about nationality and more about empathy. Instead of trying to capture the essence of a village to show us the World, these new global souls [referring to the new artist of post FTAA] are perhaps trying to understand the essence of our world and, thus, helping us deconstruct and, more important, care about, ourselves.”

Reading this has encouraged the part of me that feels inadequate and “not Latino enough”. How can there be more development of empathy in a society? If only the church were more empathetic rather than relying on the forces of neoliberal economics to develop empathy in a people. It is wild to read about the development of a new culture/paradigm. Check it out Magical Neoliberalism.

I am reading Brown The Last Discovery Of America by Richard Rodriguez
He writes, “Don’t touch! Touch will brown the rose and the Acropolis, will spoil the butterfly’s wing. (Creation mocks us with incipient brown.) The call of nature is brown, even in five-star hotels. The mud we make reminds us that we are:
In the sweat of they face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return into the ground; for out of it wast thou taken . . . .
Toil is brown.”

In a museum in DC I remember seeing a photo exhibit of Latino farm workers in the US. I saw the rugged hands of a woman whose hands were scared and torn by delicate plants. How can a leaf cut so deep? She had to wrap her hands in duct tape to protect her skin.

It reminds me of the toil of my parents to keep my sister, brother and I fed and a roof over our heads. It reminds me of the Boycott on Taco Bell that is organized by the Coalition of Imakolee Workers. Imakolee Workers

The older I get the more I am in awe of my parents for the way they provided for us. I never knew we were poor. I did notice the government cheese, peanut butter and jelly we used to eat. My parents made us like we had it all and we lived joyfully thanks to God.

Seeing how God sustained us. I am so thankful for how God watched over us. This verse gives me comfort as an adult to rely on God for all that my family strives for.

But the images of injustice do not let me live comfortably.

Matthew 6
25″Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28″And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Feeding of the 5,000
Yesterday on the Metro ride to SE DC I was in this mode of prayer where I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I wanted to keep walking because I didn’t want to open my mouth. I was feeling guilty because I didn’t feel like I was spending enough time with the kids in the community.

I decided to prepare for the lesson for youth group for that evening. Unexpectedly I had an interruption. One child was suspended from school for defending himself. Ms. Linda asked me if I would take time out to speak to him. When the student entered with his mother he seemed overwhelmed by the amount of adults in this room. Ms. Linda, Ewen, Matthew, his mother and I sat there to talk about his behavior at school. In the end we finished with prayer and the mother cried. This was a painful moment as we saw the struggles and suffering came to the surface. She is a single mother raising three children. She had two sons that were suspended for their behavior at school. When she began to cry her son also began to cry silently to see how his mother felt about him.

After this I began to prepare for the lesson. It was the story of the 5,000 and the focus of the study was how God can take the few resources we have to transform the injustice in the world in to justice just like Jesus feed a crowd of people with the simple resources of two loaves of bread and two fishes. In one sense the message was more for me than at that moment as I thought about the little time I had to be with the kids and what God could do to transform lives.

I have been out of the blog scene for a minute. Well a quick update on the trip to Spain:
It was an incredible journey that will remain in my memory forever. I traveled with a group of four teenagers and two college-aged students. It was the first time I had guided an international team by myself. I was nervous about my Spanish skills compared to the motherland of Spanish. To my surprise I understood it a lot better than I did in other Latin American countries I had visited. The language was spoken a little slower and the words used sounded a lot like what I had grown up hearing in the US. My friend Eddie, who is part Puerto Rican, and I laughed about seeing things resemble Latin America. The signs used on the buildings to advertise for stores were exactly the same as what we saw in our countries. I told Eddie, “Being engaged to an Arab woman is ironic because she took me back to the motherland of where my language originated–and I was worried about loosing my roots.”

In Spain we joined Lisa, my fiancée. It was a sweet reunion because we missed each other very much. There in the city port we spent time concentrating our efforts on sharing the message of Jesus with N. Afri_can Mus_lims. A surprising event was that I could understand Italian. A Mor_occan guy who lived in Italy communicated with me in Italian. I didn’t think I would understand so much. Also there was a team of Pal_estinian evangelist there. For them it was like a family reunion because in their homeland they are not allow to travel outside their region because of restrictions put on them. So when they came to Spain they were able to reunite and spend time together. It was very special for them. The two weeks we were there we were able to see at least one person make a decision to follow Jesus. That was an amazing experience.