Edwin Markham

Outwitted by Edwin Markham
He drew a circle that shut me out -
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout,
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him in!

jueves, 30 de agosto de 2012

Rolling Stones and the youth in Paraguay

Dear Friends and Family:

A few weeks ago, I sent you a video of 500 youth playing their harps together at a concert in Paraguay.  My friend, Carolina, who has a deep passion for peace and justice in her native country of Paraguay, continues to work faithfully with "Sonidos de la Tierra", an organization that brings music to the hidden corners of the country believing that "When there is music, history changes." I am hoping that I will be traveling to Paraguay in March of next year to facilitate several workshops at the Jack Norment Camp.  Please be praying that all the pieces might fall into place so that I might be able to go, and that the program there might empower and bless the young people who volunteer at the camp.  

I include part of Carolina's letter:

"I know I haven't written in a long time because of the trip with the World Orchestra of the Sounds of the Earth and the Ars Canendi
Choir from Italy through different cities of Paraguay taking music and building bridges that bring together generations, cultures and countries beyond the divide of language.  I returned to the Asunción where there was great upheaval because of a new requirement from this government that many of us refuse to recognize as legitimate. 

Just as if we were still in the times of the dictatorship, the government was requiring that all the young men turn in  the document which proves that they have completed the process of Obligatory Military Service.  The requirement came to all business and companies who had to solicit from their male employees this document or be heavily fined.  Praise be to God, we have been witnesses to a small but strong revolution.  Thousands of young men have decided to declare themselves Conscientious Objectors.  At first the government was going to obligate these young men to be detained in different forts and military installations but there were too many so that the process was derailed. 

I add to the joy of the results of this commitment on behalf of the young men of Paraguay, a video which we would like to become the MOST SEEN video of Paraguay with more that 1 million viewers.  We hope that the video gets to the Rolling Stones in celebration of their 50th anniversary as we celebrate 10 years of Sounds of the Earth.  Please help us!  In this video, more than 2000 young people gathered for the National Music Seminar in July.  Please share the video with as many contacts as you can so that we can reach our goal! 

We want to tell the world that Paraguay is still beating with hearts seeking to build a better country!"

Please share the video, and if anyone happens to have contacts with the Rolling Stones, please share it with them, too!


lunes, 27 de agosto de 2012

The Problem Tree

The Problem Tree

The carpenter that I had contracted to help me repair an old barn had just finished a hard first day of work.  His electric saw had malfunctioned causing him to lose an hour of work and now his old pick up truck refused to start.  While I was taking him home, he sat in silence.  Once we arrived at his house, he invited me in to meet his family.

While we were heading toward the door, he stopped briefly in front of a small tree touching the tips of the branches with both hands.  When the door opened, a surprising transformation occurred.  His tanned face, previously tired and worried, filled with smiles.  He hugged his two small children, and he kissed his wife. After a brief stay, he accompanied me back out to the car.  When we passed near the tree, I remembered what I had seen, and so I and asked him, compelled by my curiosity, about what I had seen him do a few moments before.

“Oh, that is my Problem Tree,” he answered.  “I know I can’t avoid having problems at work, but one thing is certain.  Those problems don’t belong at home, and I mustn’t take them out on my wife or my children.  So, I simply hang the problems on the tree every night when I get home.  Then, the next morning, I pick them up again.  The funny thing is,” he said with a smile, “that when I go out in the morning to pick them up, there aren’t ever as many problems as the ones I remember having hung there the night before.”

What problems do you have that you need to hang up overnight in order to gain a new perspective in the morning?

From Cuentos con Alma by Rosario Gómez, Santiago: Por un mundo mejor, 8th edition, 2003


martes, 14 de agosto de 2012

Talca, Paris and London

The best bus line from the capital city of Santiago to Talca, the regional capital of the Maule Region, is called "Talca, Paris y Londres" (Talca, Paris and London).  

Can you guess why this is the name of the bus line? No it isn't because the bus stops in either Paris or London on its way to and from Talca.  Someone might think that because these are modern double-decker buses, the are comparable to the famous red buses in London or are as luxurious as something from Paris.

But neither of these is the answer.  The story goes like this.  A Londoner was visiting  Talca during the winter, and he noticed how morning after morning a thick fog covered the city lifting only way past noon.  It is true that both Talca and London (and Paris, too, for that matter) have rivers flowing through them, but  the proximity to water  only partially explains the fog.  Talca, like London before the restrictions on burning coal within the city limits, has a severe air pollution problem.  Many homes use old wood - burning stoves for heating, and most people buy green wood that burns with a thick smoke.  The Londoner, seeing the smog morning after morning, compared the gray mantle to that of London.  He exclaimed, "¡Talca se parece a Londrés!" which translates as "Talca is like London!"  But the people in Talca misunderstood his heavily accented Spanish thinking that this British citizen was comparing Talca to the grand cities of Europe.  To this day, the people of Talca are proud to place their city in the same category as the capitals of France and of England!

If you would like to watch the official Talca, Paris y Londres bus line video, you can at:


Oikos video and a found earring

Dear Friends and Family:

Hello from Talca!  I have finally taken the time to upload the video (Oikos: Unto the ends of the earth) that I used during my tour through the United States at the end of last year and the beginning of this year.  Many of you have asked me to upload it so that you can share it with others.  Please feel free to do so!  
Here is the youtube link in English.

I also have a little story to share with you...

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:8-10

I got up early in the morning last Thursday, dressed in a hurry and jumped into the car to drive about an hour from Talca to Curicó.  Once there, I went to a meeting, left the car at the mechanic's shop, stopped to talk to the church secretary, left some keys to be copies downtown, and walked back to the bus station where I caught the Talmocur (the bus line between Talca, Molina and Curicó) back home.  Once in my seat on the bus, I pushed back and promptly fell asleep.  When I woke up at the tollbooth that marks the halfway point, I reached up to touch my earlobe, a little habit to make sure my earrings are in place.  OH NO!!!  The back screw of the earring was stuck to the back of the left lobe but the earring was gone!  My heart sank.

Let me explain that this isn't just any pair of earrings.  They represent a 16 year relationship that I have worked very hard to maintain, one that has had its moments of deep pain and confusion as well as joy. These earrings, black stones set in  tiny workings of gold, were a gift from Pastora Isabel, the wife of the Bishop of the Pentecostal Church of Chile.  I have worn them nearly every day since she gave them to me, as a reminder to both of us that we are bound together in Christ's love, in the good times as well as the bad.  I felt the loss of this earring very deeply.

I searched the bus seat.  Nothing.  I searched my neckline and the scarf I was wearing.  Nothing.  When I got home, I threw back to the covers and searched the pillows.  Nothing.  Then I gave up and gave in, letting go of the earring with a prayer that God would give me the words to explain to Pastora Isabel that I had lost her gift to me.

A couple of hours later, I got started on my house chores.  I cleaned the kitchen and the bathrooms.  I dusted and cleaned up the yard.  Then I got to sweeping.  As I pushed the broom across a small mat at the foot of the starts, I heard a small clink.  My heard skipped!  I bent down and there it was,  my lost earring!  I immediately thought of the parable of the woman and the lost coin, and my heart filled with rejoicing just as hers did.  Instead of calling my neighbors to share the good news, I am writing this email to all of you!  I believe that the Kingdom of God is like a woman who loses her earring, symbol of a special relationship, and after nearly giving up hope, finds it safe and sound, in a most unexpected place.


lunes, 6 de agosto de 2012

Love Boat or Titanic?

What would you prefer, a voyage on the Love Boat or on the Titanic?  Maybe this is not such a difficult choice (would you, like me, prefer to sink in the middle of a freezing ocean than be trapped on a sappy television show cruise?!! :-), until one is standing on the shore of the Maule River and both Captains are vying for the 1000 pesos (2 dollars) each passenger will pay.  Both boats are painted bright blue and eye aching white, both have an inch or so of suspicious looking water sloshing around in the bottom.  (Are they leaking or does the water leach through the not quite water tight wooden hulls?)  Neither boat has life-vests or any other emergency equipment to be seen.

I finally choose the Love Boat because a group of screaming and laughing teens climbs aboard the Titanic.  The old, heavy vessels, motors chugging and sighing as if reluctantly accepting one more voyage, race each other upstream at a turtle`s pace as the crew training for University of Talca zips past in a modern lightweight shell. We come back downstream, facing the new bridge and the old one that fell in the 2010 earthquake.  They say that the Maule River used to be navigable by ocean going vessels.  I read in one history book that is was the deforestation in the mountains, as far away as the Shalom Center on the Lircay River that feeds into the Maule, that caused the heavy silt that reduced the depth of the river and eventually cut off the trading route.  Another book said that it was a devastating earthquake in the 1920s that cut the river off from the ocean.  I ask the Captain of the Love Boat.  He gives me a friendly smile, nods, and offers no explanation leaving me to my own conclusions about the Maule River.

Both boats arrive back at the starting point with no mishaps.   I guess whether you choose the Love Boat or the Titanic, you have to accept the risk of the adventure.  Once you are on your way, anything can happen!  I guess next time, I will pick the Titanic and ask  the captain if he knows what happened to the ocean going ships that used to come to Talca on the Maule River...

jueves, 2 de agosto de 2012

Music of Hope from Paraguay

You will remember that a few weeks ago I asked for prayers for Paraguay after the sudden removal of the President in what was, essentially, a parliamentary coup.  In the the weeks that have followed, the news I have received from Paraguay continues to be quite disturbing.  The comparison that comes to mind is that of the movie "Avatar".  A Canadian company has found and laid claim to the largest titanium deposit in the world and the stage is set for the exploitation of land and people.  It isn't by chance that the very first country to recognize the legitimacy of new president of Paraguay was Canada.

I have a deep admiration for my dear friends in Paraguay, who struggle everyday to bring about justice, democracy and the respect for human rights.  One young woman, a former Sunday School Student of mine, is the coordinator of a national project to bring the teamwork, discipline, and hope of music to the poorest children of Paraguay, most of them from remote rural areas and many from indigenous communities.  Paraguay is probably the most musical country I have lived in, an inheritance that comes from their Guaraní ancestors. The harp is Paraguay's most loved and unique instrument.  To celebrate the 10th anniversary of this project, my friend organized an orchestra of 400 children playing their harps together.  I wept as I watched the video, which speaks louder than words ever could of the the change that we all dream of for Paraguay.  May you, too, also enjoy "Where there is music, history changes."