Category Archives: YCM

From Historical Oppression to Modern Oppressor

15.06.28

June 26, 2015

I, like many others, never heard of the 2013 Dominican Constitutional Court ruling saying citizenship would no longer naturally be given to a person born in the Dominican Republic. Like others, I tripped over my own foot when I understood the people/government of the Dominican Republic (DR) approved a systemic change that could lead to the deportations of Dominicans of Haitian descent. I fell over my other foot when I understood the policy would be retroactive to 1929.

I might not know the intricacies of all that is going on, but I have two thoughts just the same. If it were my family, and my mother was four years younger, it would mean she is in danger of deportation at the age of 86. Of course, Belinda and I would be right behind her, our children right behind us, and our grandson right behind them. Imagine, four generations deported in one fell swoop. I find it hard to imagine one can argue a position of justice for this action.

Of course, DR did not come up with this throwing away of people. The US has been doing it for much longer. From throwing away of today’s south of the border generations, who came to work US farms, to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, the DR did not have to look far to find a mentor.

Throwing away of people who have been on US or DR soil and worked for generations to better those countries is one example of what the Doctrine of Discovery (DoD) looks and feels like today. The DoD, from inception, has been about the extraction of resources. DoD countries have used law and power to mine mineral and people of other landscapes to benefit themselves. Then throw those people away when they no longer have monetary value. What is so very hard is the realization that landscapes who were once the victims of the DoD have often adopt DoD practices as they come into power themselves (under the guiding hand of their DoD oppressor).

Clearly much history has occurred between DR and Haiti since Christopher Columbus’ landing in 1492. Continue reading

Forever Learning, Forever Teaching

15.06.21

June 21, 2015

[Post By Selys Rivera: Yakama Christian Mission Intern 2015]

There it sat, promising it could get me to where I needed to go if I only had the patience – a 1986 Nissan pickup truck.

The yellow paint was faded with age. The trunk suffered from something similar to tendinitis. The steering wheel sometimes took a bit of muscle, frustration, light perspiration, and mumbled swear words to turn. The driver’s side door was temperamental, refusing to lock from the inside and only locking from the outside when it felt like it. Despite all of this, though, the old King Cab had some fight left in it yet.

There was only one inconvenience keeping me from eagerly taking it for an exploratory ride around Yakima County. The little yellow intern truck David and Belinda Bell had lent me for the summer had a manual transmission. Since I only knew how to drive automatic, I knew I had some learning to do if I was going to be a productive intern for the Yakama Christian Mission.

I was suddenly sixteen again. Every driving skill I mastered in the last five years was set back to a beginner level. It was more than the difficult aspects too, such as driving in reverse or doing a three-point turn. I couldn’t even press the gas without making the truck jerk, sometimes stalling in traffic. My face would turn the same shade of red as whatever stop sign or light I had jerked to a standstill in front of that day. Each time, I felt like the truck was taking me by the shoulders and shaking me in frustration. My goodness! Get your act together. What an embarrassment.

The truck wasn’t the only one frustrated. I wanted to shake the truck back. “Don’t you think I’m trying?” I mentally retaliated. “Give me a break! This isn’t as easy as it looks.” Then my left foot would prematurely depart from the clutch and the truck would stall again. I smacked my forehead against the stubborn steering wheel several times. Continue reading

A Summer of Conversation and Theology

15.06.14

June 14, 2015

For fifteen summers there’s been an intern(s) at the Mission (before I arrived as well…however, I have found no records to who and when. So, if you were or you know someone who was an intern at the Mission, please send me contact information!) This summer, Selys Rivera, a senior at Florida Southern College, is interning at the Mission and living at the Farm. Selys arrives having nearly finished and a bachelor’s degree in English—with a writing concentration, and a minor in Spanish. She finishes her undergraduate degree this December! Though living in Florida, Selys’ landscape of birth is Puerto Rico and Massachusetts is the landscape of her childhood and youth

Today, Selys is a reader, writer, and dancer. She arrived at the Farm wondering about what God’s plan might be for her—wondering through the lenses of reading, dancing, and writing. Which brings an interesting insight to the Mission, for while I enjoy reading and writing myself, the lenses of dancing in the context of the Farm and theology bring a focus I often miss.

This is why I enjoy summers and what makes my work rich. Hanging with young adults each year gives me the opportunity to revisit conversations of faith about God, Jesus, Hope, Redemption, Evil, Good, Forgiveness, Retribution, Love, Spirit (to name a few) in light of the Landscape. Such conversations with young adults from backgrounds different from my own push my edges as it pushes theirs. That, I find, is cool!

So, the theological summer of 2015 has begun. What it holds is to be seen and known. In the meantime, our community will have a young adult who knows herself for the theologian she is, with a voice that will benefit our listening ears.

(By the way…Selys comes to the Mission by way of Disciples Volunteering. She has a small stipend for the summer. If you would like to contribute a few dollars that might allow her a trip to Seattle, backpacking in the Cascades, or hiking the Columbia Gorge, feel free to send the gift to Yakama Christian Mission, PO Box 547, White Swan, WA 98952.)

Changing A Statement of Mission: Trying to Think Better

15.06.07

June 07, 2015

After nearly fifteen years, the Yakama Christian Mission has changed its statement of mission from,

To enhance the wellbeing of children and youth through advocacy and education.
to,
To enhance the wellbeing of indigenous children and elders of North America and Canada.

There are numerous reasons for the change. At the top is admitting an emphasis on children alone is not holistic. In hindsight, the fifteen-year old statement’s singular focus on children was little different from the Mission’s previous eighty-year approach. Both approaches hold today’s children as tomorrow’s future. Nothing wrong with that. However, as commonly lived out in the US (and certainly on reservations), this approach has a tendency to separate children from their elders—except those specific elders who carry and project the correct virtues of the community. From the eighty-year stance, the correct values were most always White values, which from the historical perspective of many in the church, few Yakama elders held.

The approach over the last fifteen years is similar insofar as programing focused on children and youth and, though I wish it were not the case, because of embedded White worldviews of staff, board, and church leaders. Due to this focus, there was a natural separation of young people and elders. Granted, this model is a societal norm. After all, US parents give their children to the “correct” people for their scholastic education, and children stay home while parents go to a school board or a church board meeting—interesting, isn’t it, when folk think it is groundbreaking to have a “youth” representative on a board? Continue reading

Losing Ourselves on the Side of the Street

15.05.31

May 31, 2015

“If a panhandler comes near you and you are fearful, call the police.” The statement is not exact but it is close to what I’ve heard on the radio once a week for a number of months.

I don’t so much find this statement bad as I do evil. Built into such a message is “you ought to fear those folk you see on the side of the road.” My guess is, if folk did not fear panhandlers in the City of Yakima yesterday, they will tomorrow. Like too many messages we hear in our communities, this message is not one of peace and wellbeing for one’s neighbor, but one of, if you don’t look, smell, and think like me, you are questionable at the least and a danger at the most.

It would seem this announcement lead’s toward one path—the imprisonment of panhandlers and homeless people (Homeless folk are a small percentage of panhandlers, however, I’d guess most folk think the opposite). The hope, it would seem, for those supporting and funding this announcement, is to eliminate those who struggle greatly within our society—under the guise of justice.

The absurdity of such an announcement is not only hurtful to those who have little societal voice, but damaging to the whole of community. To make our sisters and brothers on the street, who struggle to make a dollar, as something other than ourselves—into folk to be feared, we damage our sense of justice, of peace, and our spiritual wellbeing. To lose our brothers and sisters, whose lives are so different from our own, to our fear and possible imprisonment is to jail our own created self.

*KIMATV.com: File photo

GMO And Cardboard Food

15.05.24

May 24, 2015

Folks in Jackson County, Oregon are having a fit. The people of Jackson County voted last fall to ban GMO (genetically modified organism) crops. Alfalfa growers are ticked off. Lawsuits are filed. Having planted “Roundup Ready” alfalfa, a perennial plant that is productive for years, GMO farmers claim a potential devastating income loss.

Roundup Ready crops like alfalfa allow farmers to spray their entire field with Roundup (imagine a crop-duster plane), killing the weeds while leaving the resistant crop alone. Some folk argue there are problems with the GMO plant itself and they don’t want it fed to the livestock of they eat or provide their milk. Others question what widespread, non-specific spraying (of any type really) is doing to the soil, water, and air. Interesting enough though, is in time the arguments may mean little because weeds are developing an immunity to Roundup. Which might mean that about the time GMO alfalfa is normalized, Roundup will not be effective, and chemical companies will have developed a new herbicide.

There are alternatives though and I hope folk begin to recognize them. I’m not wholly against herbicides, however I am against wholesale use with little regard for tomorrows folk who must use this same land. Farmers could decide to quit large-scale herbicide use and accept a few more weeds and a little more work, and the consumer could pay a little more for their food. However, this would call farmers and consumers alike to change their practices. Alfalfa wise, farmers would have to learn old practices of allowing weeds to go as far as developing a seed head and then cutting their crop before the seed ripens. Done well, the plant (often) thinks it has reproduced and does not therefore put another seed head on. Continue reading

A Practice Of Reverence, Honor, And Spirit

15.05.17

May 17, 2015

Knowing food is a spiritual practice. Paying close attention to food is living a practice of knowing creation.

To know food is to move beyond myopic buying of food with little thought of its origin: the people involved in its growing, the weather that supports its growth, the community of production, or the sources of its growth—soil, water. To know food is to step beyond a big-box grocery store existence to life of creation.

This desecration eliminates harmony within the landscape. In part, the dearth of harmony comes from a food system that says there is a “right” way of eating. The system cares little if one is a meateater, vegan, or vegetarian, what matters most is that folk believe their way of eating is correct. Such thinking keeps a food conversation of justice at bay, and folk looking at one another believing they could do better. When a friend posted Beefing Up Justice on their Facebook page they commented, “Thank you…for the sacred work you do. And for providing ‘happy meat’ for those of us who just can’t quite commit 100% to the vegetarian way of life.” Obviously, the response made my day. Here is a meateater giving serious thought to becoming vegetarian, who has not fully embrace that way of eating, but is trying to live well in the transformation. Soon thereafter, someone responded to my friends posting saying, “I believe you will be able to give up killing to eat one day. I have faith in you!”

Both my friend and the responder gave faithful responses. Yet, I’d like to ponder the latter response.

I understand the want to give up killing. I figure few of us want to kill. However, only in our modern non-agriculture society might one convince themselves they can eat without killing. Continue reading