Friday, October 9, 2009

Thoughts From an Intense Day

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It has been a very intense day…
•    Bible Study was powerful. We looked at the first ten verses of chapter 2. People clearly connected with the image of Moses’ crossing, and particularly with his mother putting him in the water. A number of people spoke of handing their children to the Coyote and having to wait to hear word of whether or not they had made it.

•    There was much conversation about children going “into the system.” The sense that kids were taken away, and the ambivalence about the idea that the princess would take over Moses. They subvert the system, getting Pharaoh to pay for raising Moses. But at the same time, they “loose” the adult Moses (at least at first), until he returns to save his people. There are some really powerful parallels there as well to think about the way that kids struggle to balance between their own culture and the new culture.

•    I had a really good conversation with the one of the people – originally from around Acapulco in Mexico – here on teaching staff this week. He came to the States early in his teens, migrated back and forth on the “corrida” following crops and eventually settled in Washington in Chelan. He had dropped out of school and got into drinking, partying and some drugs. But he said he kept reading anything he could get his hands on – newspapers, magazines, books – both in English and Spanish. He had learned English the first time he came, which was for about a year and a half. During that time he actually attended high school here. He came to stay with his aunt, and he came because “he wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge,” which he knew from the touristy dust-gatherers that he saw in people’s homes who had been north. When he was about 20, he decided he wanted to get his GED. Even though he hadn’t been in school for about four years, he was able to prepare and pass the needed tests in about six weeks. He had to really convince his family that this was a good idea. His mother didn’t want him to go back to school because she needed his working. In time, he says, “She has come to see that this was better for me, and I could help her better.” He started going to a local community college, all the while still involved in partying and the whole scene. He ended up going away to college after a couple of years and had an “awakening” when he was stopped for drinking and driving. He had a choice of 30 days in jail or a six-month outpatient treatment plan. He chose the latter, and that turned his life around. He graduated in education and eventually ended up where he is now as assistant principal for the school in Mason outside of Chelan.

•    I also had a long conversation with Don Virgilio, who is from Guatemala and now lives in Chicago. He lived through the thickest of the conflict in Guatemala, experienced the worst of the church – when priests first came to his very remote village – and then also the best – as a group of progressive priests became instrumental in forming base communities, co-ops that helped people have independence from land lords and their whims and even created a “Promised Land” that was somewhat of a commune in a fairly remote area of the country. Jim Bodeen has been doing a lot of video taping of Mr. Virgilio’s story, and I got a copy of it. I made a short video asking him some focused questions on the possibility of the church’s role in connecting with today’s immigrants in the United States.

•    A priest, who is new to the parish in Chelan and is originally from Argentina, came today to the Village. I would like to talk some more with him and hope that he can be instrumental in helping increase the connections of the Village to the community in Chelan. When we were talking only a few minutes after he had arrived in the Village, a guy walked up to him and asked him if he was Catholic. When he said he was a priest, then the guy asked if he could confess!

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