Saturday, August 31, 2002

Been having wierd computor problems, think it's figured out now. It appears that the comment section is up and running, so blab away!

Things God Has Said.

Being up here has in many ways been similar to living in a developing country. The Spiritual realm is so much more evident. One of the great benefits to this is that we’ve been able to hear God speaking quite clearly to us. I have a lot of dreams, some are probably due to my wacky imagination, but some I think are God speaking. Here is one of them.

I dreamt that I was at the home of an old roommate of mine, named Jeanette. She had asked me to baby sit her son who was about 2 or 3, while she went to the doctor to find out something about some tests they had done on him. She left and her son and I played. When she returned, she walked into the house and said, “He’s Mongoloid! I can’t believe it, he’s Mongoloid!!”

I often write down my dreams and go back to them, to see if I can find anything in them. As I was writing this down I wrote that she had discovered that he had Down’s Syndrome. No one reads my dream journal but Derek and I but I was kind of embarrassed at how politically incorrect my subconscious was. Later I thought, if God was trying to say something, I’d better say it how I heard it so I changed it back to use the word ‘Mongoloid.’

I’ve had dreams about my old roommate before and I could never figure out what they meant. I didn’t think they were about her specifically, I tried to think of what she might represent in my life, but that never seemed to fit either, so finally I looked up her name in a Baby name book and discovered that it meant, “God is gracious.” So far so good, I thought, “God is gracious toward people with Down’s Syndrome…well, I’m not surprised. Not sure why He would tell me this specifically.” Then I thought, why would He use the word Mongoloid instead of Down’s Syndrome. Surely God is up on the modern politically correct terminology. On a whim, I looked up the word ‘Mongoloid’ in the dictionary and to my surprise, discovered the following definition “of or relating to a major racial stock native to Asia that includes peoples of northern and eastern Asia, Malaysians, Eskimos, and often AMERICAN INDIANS.

“God is gracious to American Indians.”

This may not be super profound to some of you, but for those of native descent who are struggling with the lie that their heritage is inherently evil, this is a much needed prophecy. I was overwhelmed and will hold on to this word always, in all my searchings to find God in their culture.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Well here I am, finally back at the Blog. It's been a much longer holiday than intended. All that stuff about city life being so fast paced and life in the North so slow, well that's all good and fine until school starts. Then it's Chaotic Pandemonium!!! I've been helping Derek set up his classroom and collecting all the goods I ordered for my music class last year and making sure everything's on the up an up for this year. So far so good. It looks like I'll be starting an after school band a couple days a week. This will be worth a credit for any who join, then in the second semester I'll be teaching one class a day for 80 min, it could be mixed grades, not too sure yet. I'm also going to be playing keyboard for a dance class several times a month. There's a group doing a study on the long term effects of artistic expression on people with disabilities. They'll be running, art, drama and dance classes in each of the schools here several times a month for 3 years and documenting evidence to publish in a study. The program is called Artsability. One of the Pentecostal churches we've been to twice has asked me to come and teach a group of them keyboards once a week. I suspect I won't be bored this year.

I just got a letter from the Health Division about a program they're starting which would be similar to Boy / Girl Scouts but with an Aboriginal focus. The intent is to build up leaders who will reclaim the culture. Sounds pretty good to me, I was actually quite suprised at how forward they were about it. Most of the people I've met at the Health Division are very together, have worked through their own issues and have really great vision for the community but are constantly hampered by the attitude of the community (especially the Christian community) and the Chief and Counsel who are, of course, always trying to keep the community happy. Derek just told me that he met one of the new Counselors from the Band office who was just elected last spring. Apparently, this guy did a degree at U of W then went to Ottawa to study law, then worked for the UN in Paris for several years. He was at the High School today talking to the teachers about promoting arts in media for the young people in the community, he also talked a lot about social justice, Derek said it was really good stuff. I overheard this guy telling some one else a while ago that a lot of people in the community didn't like him. I'm curious to see what comes of all this. The school division also has a new superintendent this year who is originally from here, he's already offered to teach Cree to any teachers interested. We're pretty excited about that since our own efforts last year have not yielded much results.

Derek will be coaching a Junior Volleyball team at the high school. He's still not sure if it will be boys or girls but the first tournament is in Thompson in September already. I always go to help chaperone. Derek is playing his first hockey game in ??? years tonight at the Multiplex Arena, he's going to be on the teacher's team this year. He didn't play last year and was hoping to get on a local team but it looks like this is the team he'll be on. Should be fun (I guess, if you like hockey). Eight new teachers at the high school again this year. One of the elementary schools here is still looking for a grade 2 and a grade 4 teacher, so if any of you teachers are still looking for work, give us a call. This weekend we're hoping to take a little kayak trip down the river to some rapids and do some camping while the weather's still warm. I thought for sure summer was over the other week when it was so cold and wet every day and the leaves started changing color. But this week is summer again, Hallelujah and so a camping we will go...

That's all our newsy news for now.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Derek says our entries are getting long and overwhelming again so after this story maybe we'll take a break for a day or two.

My First Garden

I’ve started getting into gardening since we’re been here. A fairly unlikely hobby for a place that gets less than 7 hours of daylight in the depth of winter. Maybe it was my protest and attempt at resistance to a place that can seem very barren, especially in winter, (our house is in an area that used to be a potato field which fed inhabitants of the residential school now an elementary school, right next door to us.) That means no trees on land and then a lake. It all looks the same in the winter. We’re in a teacherage, a rental, so we don’t really have leave to start digging up the yard in spring for a garden. I was trying to think of a way to have a garden. There are lots of hiking/ snowmobiling trails in the area that we’ve walked. We see a lot of old abandoned wooden ski-doo sleds on the trails, usually half submerged in the river. Derek got the idea of hauling one of those things out, putting it in our yard and filling it with dirt for a garden. The only drawback is that we own a Chevy Sprint, not a Ford F150 truck with extended cab, like everyone else around here. We decided to draw on my experience in the Faith Movement and just treat the car like an F150 truck and it would act like one. So down to the river we went, The thing was huge, probably 8 feet long, with the runners and 3 ½ - 4 feet tall in places and it weighed a ton. I had the bright idea of taking it apart. Fortunately we had a hammer so took off all the sides without completely demolishing the thing and hauled it back down the trail (about a 5 minute walk when you’re only carrying yourself) to the car… I mean, truck. We managed to get it in and it only stuck out the back about 2 feet, and we still had a good couple inches of clearance between our back bumper and the very pot-holled gravel road. We took the 45 minute drive home very slowly, but we made it and got in into a good spot and amazingly enough, all the pieces went back together. Now all I needed was dirt. Good thing we have a Chevy Sprint/Ford Truck. I grabbed some garbage bags and a shovel and headed out to the place where they have dirt in the bush (I don’t know what it is really but it’s got mounds and mounds of beautiful topsoil for the taking.) Did that trip several times and just about did my back in.
Finally it was all set. I had some flowers that the kind neighbours (who are avid gardeners) entrusted to me so I planted those. I also had a package of mixed seeds that were part of a gift we got for our wedding two years ago. They were not labeled, I recognized a couple types: peas, pumpkin and that’s about it. The rest I had no clue but I thought I’d sort them and at least have them each in their own area nicely spaced and then see what happened. I was outside and had them in a tray, I turned around to grab something when one of our friendly puppies grabbed the corner of the tray and sprayed the seeds all over the dirt. It was pointless to gather them again, some were so small I couldn’t even see them. So I buried them where they were, gave them a bit of water and prayed for the best.
The next day I went out to check on my new little garden when I notices paw prints all over it and some crushed flowers. One of the dogs had jumped up into it and had a little stroll through it. I was furious. As I was standing there steaming one of the dogs came and put his paws up on the edge of the sled, I had a water spray bottle in my hands and I sprayed him in the face, he yelped and ran away. That was it!! The other dogs came close to investigate and I used it on them, the crowd dispersed. It was a momentous occasion, realizing that from now on, with our little blue spray bottle, we could be free from the tyranny of the dogs. We could sit outside without being licked to death, we could walk around without being nipped at and barked at constantly. We had control of our lives!! It was glorious. Unfortunately, I could not stand out there all day and all night with my little blue spray gun guarding the garden. Chicken wire would have been ideal, but alas, there was none in town. (Closest city is a 3 hour drive) So taking my cue from the neighbours little flower bed, I stuck a whole bunch of sticks into the dirt around each plant and randomly around the seeds (since I didn’t really know where they were, exactly). It worked. The dogs stayed out and the garden was left to grow in peace. Soon enough school ended and it was time to head out for our summer vacation. All summer I wondered what was happening in my little garden. When I returned last week it had grown up enormously, so far I think I have 1 pea, and I think I’ve recognized about 3 radishes and a whole bunch of ‘I don’t have the foggiest idea what it is’ but it looks impressive. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the garden in until late May because we still had snow and frost until then and now it has been raining for several days and the wind is screaming like it’s January, and some sick person had the gall to say out loud to me today that they noticed the leaves turning already. Good thing I’m a Faith person, I will have a bountiful harvest and have you all over to taste of it’s goodness. If you can’t taste it, it’s just because you don’t have enough faith.

Friday, August 23, 2002

Our comment section is now up and running again. Comment away! If there are any problems, email us.
I’ve been doing some writing on the our process of detoxification from the Church, recently, and have wanted to put it up on the blog, but I thought that before I do that, I should probably give some background reading on where these thoughts are coming from. This is a letter that I wrote back to our home Church after we had moved up north. We were in the middle of discussion surrounding what the physical manifestation of church should look like, and these were my thoughts at the time, and still are, for that matter.

Concerning the process of structural re-evaluation at Winnpeg Centre Vineyard.
Although we couldn’t make the meeting last Monday, Joy and I still feel very much like we’re a part of this community and a part of the process of finding out what church looks like for us and our friends. We have thought a lot about this issue and the many questions surrounding it, as we are currently in a space where we don’t have a concrete (in both senses of the word) place or building of worship, and aside from one other Christian who we hang out with, our traditional modes of fellowship are non-existent. We have been pushed forcefully (and willingly) into this shift of thought and it’s been a blessing of understanding and frustration.

You may remember several months ago when I told the Eldership team that I was going to talk to a guy named Paul Vierra, who is part of a loose gathering of house churches in Winnipeg. Both John Janzen and I had coffee with him while we were still in Winnipeg. I found his thoughts extremely helpful in my journey to a better understanding of what church is. The following is a mix of his ideas and ours.

The first thing Paul did was give us a big red-flashing-letter WARNING. We MUST teach Christ. We must not teach the Church. This statement has new and added meaning to us as we’ve been checking out all the different churches up here...there are a LOT. It is very evident that the folks up here were taught church first and Christ second, as was often the case in the competitive battleground of missions that is our country’s early history.

The reason Paul gave us this warning is because the mind-trap of teaching House Church is practically the same mental snare as that of teaching the institutionalized church. All the things that are wrong with the institutionalized church can be wrong with churches on a smaller scale.

The second thing that came up was the concept of detoxification. We’re quite familiar with this process on the level of physical addictions, but the same process is needed with spiritual addictions. Detoxification is needed as an intermediary step between what we know as church and what Jesus knew as church. The church that He was building. Paul said that he believes that the House Church can be that intermediary step; that detoxification. He explained that for the first year of gathering with his friends in a house church style (which I’ll describe more later) they tried to do a larger monthly gathering that looked a lot like the way they were used to church being, but found that they would slip right back into their old habits of spiritual dependency. Some examples of this that we’ve seen in our own lives are: while attending large Sunday morning gatherings, feeling like we were there just to receive and allow others to do the ministry. During the week, though, we’d get caught up in our own lives and not be reaching out because it was being done on Sunday and we were there, so wasn’t that good enough? Also, relying on the Pastor to tell us what God was saying and teach us from the Bible without really pressing in on our own to hear God because we’d already gotten our fix of that. That is an area which has drastically changed since moving up North. We have to hear from God, we have to find out what He’s saying through His word because there’s no one here to tell us and no one from back home who knows his plan for Norway House and our role here. It’s amazing how clear His voice has become. We still enjoy hearing teaching, now more than ever, but we know we need to find God on our own.

Paul was saying that after a year they tried large meetings again and were loving them and were able to avoid old patterns. He says that they may even increase the amount of times that they meet in large groups. Who knows they could meet every week again, or every day even, if they feel that it’s serving it’s purpose, not of being the definition and description of Church, but a flexible venue for community worship and celebration.

If a structure such as House Churches are the detox/intermediary step, then what is the envisioned place we want to be? What is the church that Jesus built and is still building? I really believe that it would be a mistake to think that the church only began after Jesus’ death and resurrection. So often we talk about returning to the New Testament Church, but when we say that we mean from Acts and on. What about the Church of the Gospels.? The church that Jesus “went to?” It seems that Jesus’ Church resembled a walk-around- town, or a hanging out at a party with sinners, a lot more than a two-hour-sit-in-a-pew, or a two-hour-sit-on-a-couch for that matter. His Church was ongoing, often moving around the countryside trying to see what His Father was doing. This was His living out of the Kingdom. It never stopped. Of course He did take time to eat with his disciples, teach and pray but it was not bound by walls or even a set schedule (at least as far as we can see). I think a huge part of the processing (which you’re probably already doing) is finding out what the non-negotiables of being a church are and then structure could look like anything, really.

As far as actual ideological structure of the detox/house church stage, Paul Vierra shared with us a very extensive extended analogy. It’s called FRACTALS. Fractals are a concept arisen through modern quantum physics. Now, don’t shut your brains off, it’s quite easy to understand. An example of a fractal is the weather. Weather can always be expected to look a certain way, but there is never any long-term predictable pattern. There are limits to the weather, by what we define it as, but there’s no one mold. The most familiar fractals are snowflakes (never one the same, yet they’re all bound to a general shape and size). Trees, humans, animals and all other living things are fractals as well.

The church is like a fractal...if it is living. The church is held to a certain shape by the Holy Spirit’s leading, but inside that shape there is no set pattern of how a church is to look. Jesus had church with Simon, Peter and John one way and with the rest of the disciples another way. These disciples lived out church with other disciples (the 72) another way and so on. These are all fractals - different patterns in the same “Grand - Scheme - of - Things” design.

On a local level, fractals can look like different spheres of discipleship and relationship coexisting in a paradox of organized chaos. This is the organic church; a church of paradoxes; organized chaos, planned spontaneity, etc.

Another mathematical term Paul uses to describe church is STRANGE ATTRACTORS. This term is used instead of leader, pastor, etc. People are drawn to them, because they have the spiritual gift of leadership. These Strange Attractors intentionally plan spontaneity in their spheres. Not being held in by a building or a “two songs- prayer- one song- sharing- offering - sermon - one song “ structure (can you guess what denomination I grew up in?) Their spontaneity can include anything and everything we desire church to be. This is how Jesus did church. He didn’t have one particular way of doing church every week. That’s why this process is so difficult., He didn’t give us a structure.

The final thing that Paul left us with was the importance of the fact that with God , everything is redeemable. In a number of years, after detoxification and a gaining of new strength in our relationship with God, church might look similar to how it does now. We might find structures that haven’t worked in the past are helpful and promote life because of a new understanding and outlook on Kingdom living, where they were causing us to stumble in the past. It’s not the structure that is right or wrong it’s the attachments we form to it and the addictions we allow it to feed that create a need for change.

Wow, that’s a lot of talk.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

We've been hanging out in the Southern regions of this province the last few days and have had little time to blog. We're going home tommorow so, our entries should become a little more consistant at that time. Our apologies to those of you who have been trying to leave comments and been unable. Derek will be getting a new server for this once we get home so hopefully it will work properly, we really do want to hear from you. We'll write more once we're home.

Monday, August 19, 2002

Just spending time at my parents place and I noticed, in my dad's Promise Keeper's devotional, a very interesting piece of writing by Matt Redman. I'll type it out for ya'. It's called UNPLUGGED.

"We had fine musicians and a quality sound system in our church. Lots of new songs were coming through, too. But these had begun to throw us off the scent of what it really means to worship. Where once people would enter in, no matter what, we'd now wait to see what the band was like first, how good the sound was, or whether we were into the songs chosen.

Mike, the pastor, decided on drastic action. Next Sunday when we turned up at church, there was no sound system to be seen, no band to lead us. I was offended. The worship was my job!

“When you come through the doors of the church on Sunday,” Mike said, “what are you bringing as your offering to God?” At first there were long periods of silence, and not too much singing going on. But we soon learned how to bring heart offerings to God without the external trappings we’d grown used to. By stripping everything away, we slowly rediscovered the heart of worship.

After a while, the worship band and the sound system reappeared, but now it was different. The songs of our hearts had caught up with the songs of our lips.

THOUGHT TO APPLY: The perfect church service would be one we are almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God. - C.S. Lewis

I thought that this little blurb fit in great with our whole talk about the need to detox from our dependencies in church, and then let God redeem them. I was also quite surprised at the venue from which this message came to me - a little booklet with Ricky Skaggs on the cover.

Saturday, August 17, 2002

A Couple More Brief Book Reviews

PRESENT CONCERNS – by CS Lewis. Essays on …well, present concerns (of his time). Some of the titles are: “The Necessity of Chivalry” “Three kinds of Men” “Democratic Education” “Hedonics” “On Living in an Atomic Age” “Is History Bunk” and “Sex in Literature.” All brilliant of course.

RHYTHYM & RESISTANCE – subtitled “The Political Uses of American Popular Music” Just confirmed again the foundation of Black Music that we’ve built most sounds on today and the unjustness of their lack of accreditation for it. For example, Elvis Presley’s fame was founded on black music (Big Mama Thornton wrote Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog) and they invented the style years before. No Black person could get a recording out or be televised because of the racism in America. The reason parents hated their kids listening to rock so much was because it was Black people’s music and Black people embodied evil. We start our music education with the history of Classical music, not Black. I listened to Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song,” shortly after reading this and cried and cried.

This book also reviews the white folk musics’ attempts at response to injustice. He feels strongly that music has either a limited potential to change society or is far, far from it’s potential. Film seems to beat it to each new issue by several years. A good challenge for us musicians. Some good stuff on music and community building, very insightful.

THE LEGEND DAYS- A beautifully and poetically written children’s story, written by a Native man. It is the story of a young girl, the death of her people, her journey into womanhood and the legend surrounding her life. It is written for young adults but the content is pretty adult. I don’t think I’d let my child read it, if I had one. A very insightful view into Aboriginal culture and attitudes.


Thursday, August 15, 2002

We’re Not in Kansas any more, Toto

One of the things that has really hit us being up North is that this is not the Canada we know, grew up knowing, learned the history of and have been a part of our whole lives. Culture shock came a little harder than I expected it too. Considering that the aboriginal people of Canada are supposedly descendents of the indigenous people of Asia (they came here during the ice age) and have been living very segregated and semi traditional lives up until the dawn of MTV I should have been more prepared.

The funniest discovery was the local radio station. It plays mostly Country, which we expected but every 15 minutes or so there’s a fairly long message break. The first time we heard it, we couldn’t believe our ears. “This is a message for Brendan Apetagon, your supposed to phone or go home, that was Brendan Apetagon, phone or go home.” (everything is repeated twice). Or “Susan, if you’re at the mall, could you pick up some milk.” Or “Albert Tate, call 6743” (They never give the first three numbers of the phone numbers here since they’re all the same- it took me some time to figure out what they were so I could make phone calls). The funniest one I ever heard was “Ernest you’re suppose to go to Josephine Muswagon’s right away, Ernest, go to Josephine …Oh, wait a minute, that was suppose to be Joseph Muswagon’s , Ernest go to Joseph Muswagon’s, you stay away from Josephine’s.” Local urban legend (among teachers) tells of one message that went “Barbara, come home immediately, I don’t care who you slept with, come home immediately.” Everything is said in the exact tone of voice so you never know if they’re just making stuff up or not.

The other thing the reminded us that we were far from home is the way the canine population lives alongside the human population in this town. There are dogs everywhere, most have a person who would consider themselves their owner, and whom they probably return to on occasion when they can’t find food, but none of them are tied up. There are always puppies around, as they procreated continually often at very inappropriate times, (outside of Derek’s classroom window during an exam, for example). They seem to have their own society’s, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had some kind of a voting system for pack leaders. They roam in packs, but territories are extremely defined. We call our pack, The Wuss Pack, because whenever they roam into someone else’s territory (usually when they’re walking us) they get chased off by one or two big dogs and come running, get on one side of us and bark at the other dog(s) keeping us in between them and the dog who’s territory they’ve trespassed on, as if we’re suppose to protect them. All through the year they would follow Derek to school, sometimes up to nine dogs at a time, when he biked they chase him barking and biting at his heels, when he snowshoed they’d dance in front of him stepping on his shoes and trying to trip him, when he skied they’d sit down in his path until he kicked them with the toe of his ski or poked them with his pole. Finally in spring he got the better of them when he started kayaking. They’d follow him to the lake and run into the water until it got to their necks and then bark after him, but he was long gone. Then they run around on the shore barking in confusion. Vengeance is sweet.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

OK – Second Question – What are we saving them to? This question is a bit further-reaching in its context to you folks out there in WebWorld. It basically boils down to – What is Christianity? There is little doubt in my mind that the answer to that question centres around Jesus, but what else comes with Him? What else is included in the package? The missionaries, back in our reserves history told the people that with Christ came a culture of wage-employment, fixed settlements, different leadership structures, different ways of teaching and learning, and different ways of worshipping and honouring God (not the Creator) ----enter CHURCH. As far as I can see, in our community, the missionaries preached church, and not Christ. We’ve visited all but one of the churches in our community, and we’ve met a lot of Followers of Church, not Followers and Seekers of Jesus.

This is not just a problem here on the reserve, ‘cause we’ve heard and experienced these types of questions in many other contexts – especially in our community in Winnipeg. What are we saving people to? I’ve seen kids “get saved” at a sports camp I worked at. They weren’t saved to Jesus. They were sold to the idea of athletic blessing and good times by us university athlete/celebrity manipulators. Often, after I witnessed kids check the ‘first-time decision’ box on the ‘conversion-or-not’ sheet, I got a sick feeling in my heart. Was I not supposed to be celebrating? Was this not a joyous occasion? People, across the world, from ‘have’ countries, to ‘have nots,’ are getting saved to financial blessing, western culture, capitalism, and to church, but is it the agonizing “death to self and life in Christ” process that we’ll never quite figure out on this planet?

There are a couple of us that gather at our house to try and answer this question. Three of us have grown up in Church culture, one has just recently decided to pursue relationship with Jesus, and one is trying to figure out how she can live her culture and still follow Christ. What we’re doing is trodding through scripture and trying to figure out what Christianity is, and what is just cultural plug-ins we’ve added to make it sexier, more marketable, and more successful (I’ll probably talk about success more at another time). We’ll let you know, as the year goes on, if we figure anything out. We also invite you to think about this question and keep us up to date with your thoughts and findings. What does Christianity look like, stripped bare of all it’s costumes, masks, and circus tents?

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

A couple of weekends ago, we came into contact with some folks who, when hearing that we were living up on a reserve, propose that it might be a neat idea to send up some teams to help us in our ministry. Our gut reaction was a resounding “NO!”, because the same offer had been made to us many times in other contexts. The thing that was different this time, was that I felt the Spirit was giving me some rationale and understanding as to why our gut reaction was always “NO!” It was our concern that we did not know, ourselves, what we were supposed to save this People from, and what we were to save them to. If we do not know this in our own walk with God, in our own community, how can we invite others in and expect them to understand our struggle. Let me explain this a little further, with a little history.

The reserve we live on is the second oldest community in Western Canada. When the first explorers came up the Nelson River and established the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) Fort at its mouth, the Canadian Government and the HBC realized that to have a consistent workforce from among the Native people, they needed to find a way to change them from the roaming People they were, into an established community. They partnered with the church (whose goal was conversion anyway), and came up with the plan of “saving” the Natives to a religion that was so bound up in a Euro/Anglo culture that the band would “settle” and become a steady workforce with the HBC. Their plan worked flwlessly. With the Natives understanding of their Creator, Christianity (the following of the Creator’s Son, sent so that humans could get closer to Him) made so much sense to them, and spoke so strongly to their Spirit. The problems arose when, I n ignorance of the Natives understanding of the Creator, the Missionaries told them that everything they had ever heard from God, everything that they had ever done to worship God, and in fact everything that God had made of their identity, was evil. They decided that instead of studying the culture and finding out what was good and right, and what was questionable, they would make a blanket statement that everything was ungodly. This legacy holds true today on our “Christian” reserve, even to the point where some parents have told the schools that they don’t even want their children hearing Cree, ‘cause it’s evil. We feel guilt and shame for the evil we do, can you imagine the shame that comes from feeling that everything you are is evil.

I truly can’t understand the arrogance of the Anglo-Culture, to truly believe that our God is too weak, or at least is not concerned enough to reveal Himself to an entire People, without our aid. To think that God did not communicate with the Native Peoples before our “boat people” landed, is absurd. God is not contained in our language and our culture.

Back to the question at hand: what are we saving these people from? What parts of their culture are God-inspired and God-spoken? How can we “evangelize” – “TURN FROM YOUR WICKED WAYS” – when we don’t know the answer to these questions?

That’s enough for today.

Monday, August 12, 2002

Here’s a brief overview some of our ‘Recently Enjoyed Books.’ Last year being Derek’s first year of teaching, he had very limited reading time, so most of these will be mine.

I was going to put the whole list on but Derek thinks my tendency towards epic entries are a bit daunting, so I’ll feed you a few at a time…

MADONNA – an unauthorized biography. I’m not a huge Madonna fan by any stretch of the imagination. Though I did enjoy the movie, Evita. I read this book in preparation for the music class I’ll be teaching at the high school this year. I’m trying to choose one key person from each genre of music and do a profile on them. I choose Madonna for the Pop section.
The most astounding thing I discovered while reading this book was that the person she most resembles in personality is John Rademaker. When I told him this, he told me that if I were to read the biography of the most successful people in the world I would find that they all have some very similar characteristics, the most common being FOCUS. They have a goal in life and do not let up until it happens, barreling through whatever they have to without stopping. They usually have the same failure rate as everyone else but use their failures to learn and just don’t give up. Fascinating. I don’t have a lot of confidence in star biographies, especially unauthorized ones, (but this one was the cheapest) I think there’s always more than one side to the story and these ones are usually written with a thesis about what the author thinks explains everything in that person’s life and then fits everything else to it. Nonetheless, it was quite an eye opener.

SOPHIE’S WORLD – an allegorical story used to teach the basic theories of philosophy. Now this is my kind of book. I think I’ve ruined myself for a lot of fiction by reading too much CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and George McDonald. If it’s not giving me some underlying principles or wisdom while appealing to my artistic side it’s not worth my time. That leaves little left to read at the library. I admit that I do indulge in a fair bit of fantasy and mystery to curb my reading appetite but those books I put on the same level as watching TV. I’m not going to say much about the book but if you have any interest in Philosophy, this book is the way to do it and be entertained at the same time. There’s also a huge twist in the plot at the end, just to try and mess with your mind. I love it.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

PS For those interested, our e-mail address is derekeidse@hotmail.com Original isn't it? We don't have MSN or ICQ but we love to get e-mails.
Relationships and Time ….J

This article is a follow up to yesterday’s pity party on ‘feeling rejected due to schedule changes,’ from a slightly more rational perspective.…

Thanks for all the great comments yesterday, everyone.

The main difference I’ve found in trying to build relationships with the community here and the aboriginal community in Winnipeg’s North end is that people here don’t really need us in any way. In Winnipeg you could almost buy friendship with food hampers, rides, a place to stay, etc. Here, everyone has their own families to take care of them, no one is homeless or hungry, the only people that hitch hike are drunk and on their way home from the bar (usually on Sunday mornings). Even their addictions do not seem to be causing them major discomfort.

No one is really considered an alcoholic unless perhaps they pass out on the road regularly on weekday mornings. Sniff is not really an issue here since the Band got into some money; compliments of Manitoba Hydro (more on that later). Sniff is really at the bottom rung of the social ladder as far as addictions go. As soon as there was any money people got off sniff and onto booze since it’s so much more socially acceptable. In a way it seems like a better deal because it’s a heck of a lot easier to get off alcohol that it is to get off sniff. Some added addictions to weed or cocaine along with their booze depending on the intensity of their addictions and access to cash flow.

Anyway, back to the relationship thing. This community has really challenged us to look at what we view as acceptance or friendship and rejection. One obvious thing is our obsession with time. Being late shows a lack of respect (according to every teacher I had and in school) but does it really? What is the bigger picture? In our culture we try, at least there are certain socially praised personality types, that try hard to be on time, and if we are late there is a reason, often outside of our control. Those who may not be a Type A personality and are “always late” are shamed and labeled as irresponsible.

Being on time is a cultural thing, it is not a moral thing. That is very important to understand when placed outside of one’s own culture. I do not believe in shaming the White culture for every area that is different than other cultures and calling it anal or uptight. Much time and energy is poured into people in the Christian counseling industry to show them that God created them unique for a reason and what He has created is not inherently evil. No personality or culture is inherently evil. “White Shame” is no more humble or helpful than “White Arrogance” (what might be helpful is some good old- fashioned “White Repentance”). I think it has been important for the European culture to place value on time, measurement and scientific order to help us express some of the gifts God has given us, such as research, developments, and entreprenurialism. But when we classify it as a Right or Wrong perspective, it borders on superstition. It’s the difference between the belief that the rocks in a sweat tent are the embodiment of the Grandfathers as opposed to saying that they are only a representation of the character of the Grandfathers because they are old and solid and stable
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The perspective of time by other cultures has been studied extensively; the different value system, such as “people over progress”, the yearly feasts and seasons schedule, the general feeling of contentment in the cycles of the earth, and the belief that things will happen when they happen. Despite this knowledge I find myself continually taking offense at variances in schedules and a lack of what I perceive to be good administration and communication. I allow it to bleed into a personal rejection, not considering that if I just relaxed and hung out, it might not affect where I spend eternity if I miss an event I need to be content with whatever relational interfaces God puts in my path throughout the day. My job is to be available, not to ‘make it happen.’ Taking control of my own destiny seems to be another fairly white perspective which has great potential to distract me from God’s guidance in my life. I guess the ultimate perspective to strive for is the Jesus way; doing only what I see the Father doing. If a meeting or an event is crucial to fulfilling my destiny here in this community, God will somehow provide me with the information I need to get there. He promises to give us everything we need to accomplish His plan for our lives.

The real question then, is how to be available for His divine appointments. So far it seems that chilling out would be a huge step in being able to focus on what is directly in front and around me instead of trying to strategize my most effective way to build relationships and getting a hernia every time it doesn’t work out. Wish me luck!!

Saturday, August 10, 2002

Perseverance and Insecurities by Joy

Over my lifetime I have moved many times. I have been the new kid in the class over and over again. Being an introvert and a fairly shy one (a nice way of saying insecure) this has been quite a trial to me. At the same time it has forced me to fight down fear and look desperately for the courage to get through.

This past year up north has really dug up the last little bits of insecurity I thought had been healed long ago. Yesterday was a classic example.

This week is the York Boat/ Treaty days celebration in our community (as far as treaties go I don’t think there’s much to celebrate, that’s probably why they join it with York Boat days so it doesn’t turn into a week long dirge). I’m not a very sports minded person so I was trying to find activities that I could get involved in and get to know some people. I decided to play in the Skip-Bo card tournament.

The schedule said that the game would start at 10:00AM so I set my alarm clock to be sure I was ready in time and walked over to the pavilion at 9:50. When I arrived, there was a flour bag packing contest and it looked like it had just started, so I went to the first aid booth and asked where the card games were. They told me it had been moved to the Multiplex. I walked home again, picked up the car and drove to the Multiplex. It’s a fairly large building so I walked around and around but couldn’t see anything happening anywhere, so I asked at the front desk. They told me it was in the curling rink. I thought I knew where that was but when I got there it looked like the old bowling alley with a bunch of pool tables set up and some guy cleaning up garbage. I walked around some more and finally found someone to ask where the curling rink was. Apparently I had had the right place. I went back to the front desk and told her that there was no one there. “Oh,” she said, “I just found out that it’s at the pavilion , so just go there.”
“I was just there, “ I countered, “ and they were doing flour bag packing.”
“Oh, well it’s there.” So I get back into the car, drive home and walk back to the pavilion. They are still packing flour bags. I decide to sit for a while and watch and then go home. I watch a couple of races (it’s 10:50 by this time) and am about to leave when I see some guys setting up tables. I walk over and sure enough, they’re setting up the card games. There’s a crowd of people signing up so I kind of waiting for an opening to get my name down, when the woman calls out “We need three more players for the Skip-Bo tournament!”
I hold up my five dollar entry fee and say loudly, “I’ll do it, I’ll play!”
She looks at me and says, “Play what?”
“Skip-Bo.”
“Do you have a partner?”
“No.”
“Well you need a partner.”
“Well that’s just the point, I don’t know anyone, that’s why I’m here, to get to know people, how can I get to know people if I have to know people to get to know them. Do you have any idea how hard this is, how many steps I’ve taken to try and connect, probably 10 000 over the year and nothing on your side, NOTHING! It seems like you’re setting me up to fail on purpose, changing times and locations over and over again so I can never be involved and when I do finally catch up you shut me down!!” I didn’t say that, of course, but I walked home with tears of frustration in my eyes. Wanting to give up and say, “Screw it ! I will just live my lonely little life with me and my hobbies and if anyone wants to be my friend they can come and track me down.”

I don’t know how many events or even meetings I was specifically invited to that were not where they were supposed to be or postponed without anyone letting me know. And never an apology. It takes more perseverance than I have to keep trying, sometimes it feels really good to sulk, fortunately, God often speaks very clearly at those times (I don’t know why He has to wait until then to speak) but it is quite timely. The other consideration is how my cultural upbringing and understanding of acceptance and rejection colors my perspective of what is really going on. But that is for another day.

PS. Later that day, I was entered in a singing contest which was suppose to start at 8PM. We went a bit early and discovered that it had started at 7PM (there goes the theory of ‘Indian Time”. I still got to sing, and although I didn’t win, it was a good experience.


Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Hello, folks, and welcome to Shiverings - a glimpse into the lives and mental paths of us - Joy and Derek Eidse. We are currently living on a reserve in Northern Manitoba. Joy is teaching the students in her high school music class how to be rock gods, and I am following the more traditional teacher route by teaching English, World Issues and Media Literacy, and trying to involve my passion for film in whatever I can. We've been encouraged to start blogging by our friends, who, I'm guessing, are constantly curious about what's going on with us, but perhaps not curious enough to come up and visit. Our intention for Shiverings, is not to give you a chronological view of what our day to day lives are all about, but more to let you into our heads to see what questions we're asking, issues we're learning about, and, to lighten things up, short blurbs on how we are constantly making fools of ourselves here on the Rez. Some questions that are currently taking up massive real estate in our brains are - What is church? What is Christianity outside of culture? As far as missions goes, what are we saving people from, and what are we saving them to? etc. Some of the other passions you'll be sure to read about include music, film, Native issues, books, and various global justice issues. These are our intentions, but I'm sure Shiverings will continue to evolve as time goes by. I hope you enjoy your "visit" (we'd prefer it in person), and we encourage you to help make this blog a dialogue by responding to our writings in the comments section after each post.