As part of our exchange program with the Mid-Columbia Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Hood River, our speaker on March 6th will be Elaine Castles, who spoke to us last summer as well. Her talk is a thoughtful look into the experience of grace.
As part of our exchange program with the Mid-Columbia Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Hood River, our speaker on March 6th will be Elaine Castles, who spoke to us last summer as well. Her talk is a thoughtful look into the experience of grace.
The lyrics of a popular song from a few years back say, “It’s the end of the world as we know it...and I feel fine.”
Some say the end of the world is coming in 2012. Likely not...but there are difficulties facing us in our personal lives and in the world. How can we embrace hope and love and squarely address those challenges? We’ll discuss some paradoxical ways to find the strength to get through.
Raz Mason is a UU ministerial candidate and chaplain candidate in the US Navy. She earned a master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School in 2009 and worked the past year as a chaplain resident at the VA hospital in Portland while completing a congregational internship at Olympia UU Congregation.
Freedom Riders. Righteous Gentiles. Activist churches. Banning land mines.
Jon Biemer will share stories of small groups that have made a big difference. As Wy'east is becoming grounded in its own social action, Jon will provide perspective and encouragement. He is a founding member of the congregation.
One Congregation in a Crowd
by Jon Biemer
Presented to Wy’east Unitarian Universalist Congregation, February 20, 2011
How many people have heard of Rosa Parks? Yes she was the African American woman who, in December 1955 refused to sit at the back of a bus and thus sparked the year-long MontgomeryAlabamabus boycott – and the large scale civil rights movement of the 1960’s. How many of us have heard of Clark and Virginia Durr the white people who bailed Ms. Parks out of jail? Clarkwas Rosa’s employer, a lawyer who had no white clients because he defended black people. Virginiawas known as a socialite who fought against the practice of taxing people for the right to vote – the poll tax.
For years I have been collecting stories about people who went beyond convention, risking livelihood and sometimes their lives to help those trapped in oppressive circumstances. In a recent Wy’east service we learned that there are numerous Clark and Virginia Durrs among us right now: people who help people they don’t know, people who choose a right livelihood, and people whose volunteer work is a way of life. I am preaching to the choir!
Therefore… I will talk about choirs, groups of people who have made a big difference in the lives of others.
Let’s start with the Freedom Riders. During the spring and summer of 1961 buses of black and white people traveled throughout the South challenging state segregation laws. In places the confrontations were violent. A lynching was narrowly avoided in one case after the bus was burned.
These Rides created the political climate for the Interstate Commerce Commission to order desegregation of buses, terminal eating facilities and bathroom facilities. More important in the long run, the Freedom Riders helped motivate blacks within the South to challenge inequalities. In all about 450 men and women participated in the Freedom Rides.
The YadVashemMuseumof Jerusalemhas collected over 23,000 stories of Righteous Gentiles. These are people who protected Jews before and during World War II. Six million Jews were killed under a policy to exterminate the Jewish people in what is now called the Holocaust. Here are two stories where people banded together to protect the Jews.
The first story is of Denmark. The country was occupied by Germanywithout a battle, and its occupation was relatively benign even for the 7500 Danish Jews. Then an order was signed to round them up on September 28, 1943. Two ships were waiting in the CopenhagenHarbor. But, Georg Duckwitz, the German Marine Attaché leaked the plans to a Danish politician. The next morning Rabbi Marcus Melchior told his congregants to go into hiding and to pass the word. Danish people of all classes hid Jews in their homes until boat passage to Swedenand other countries could be arranged. Danish police and even some German soldiers refused to cooperate in the manhunt.
Ninety-three percent of Denmark’s Jewish population survived the war. After the war, Danish Jews found that their homes, gardens and even pets had been taken care of by neighbors.
The Albanian people protected Jews in plain sight after the German occupation in 1944. Muslim bureaucrats gave Jews false identity papers, and Muslim neighbors honored those identities. Albanians are proud to say they did not lose a single Jew to the Nazi’s.
In 1938 the Unitarian Church sponsored a mission to help intellectuals, students and anti-Nazi politicians escape Czechoslovakia. In 1940 the Universalist Church organized a similar mission to Holland. A post-war home for adolescent girls in Verden, Germanywas the first formal joint project of the two churches that would, in the 1960’s, merge into the Unitarian-UniversalistChurch.
Between 1941 and 1945 over a hundred thousand Japanese Americans were sent to America’s concentration camps. We called them “Internment camps”. Most of these Japanese Americans were loyal to the United States. One of the bright spots in this dark episode is the letters written by friends and former neighbors. Not only did those letters assure Japanese Americans that someone cared; letters also were pivotal in shutting down the camps before the war ended.
Let’s go back in time to America’s genocide, the relentless killing and betraying of American Indians. The Nez Perce flight from Washingtonthrough Idahointo Montanahas mythic overtones. Just forty miles south of the Canadian Boarder General Miles and his troop intercepted the Nez Perce and forced them to surrender. Chief Joseph’s words “I will fight no more forever” are famous.
But that is not the end of the story. The Nez Perce were sent to Oklahoma, where they were forced to live in conditions of squalor for several years.
It took a campaign by the mid-west Presbyterians to force politicians to give the Nez Perce a reservation in the Northwest. Whole congregations as far away as Ohioprotested the deplorable conditions. Most of the Nez Perce, including Chief Joseph, were relocated to the Colville Reservation in Eastern Washington, a process facilitated by that same General Nelson A. Miles.
Churches were also critical to the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980’s. Some of you may remember the civil strife of Nicaragua, Guatemalaand El Salvador. This resulted in a stream of refugees flowing north. At the time the US Government did not recognize these people as political refugees and deported them back to their country of origin. The reality for the deportees was often imprisonment, execution or being disappeared.
Tucson Arizona’s Southside Presbyterianbecame the first church to offer these refugees sanctuary, relying on moral rather than legal authority. Over time the network of Sanctuary churches grew to over 500 – 28% of which were Unitarian Universalist. Jobs were found; people were fed; a night’s stay was given; sometimes more. Two Catholic churches were pivotal to this movement. The church in Mexicohelped refugees find their way across the border. The Catholic Church in Nogales, Arizonacounseled the refugees and helped them reach other sanctuary churches.
Over time, numerous cities, including Portland, became Sanctuary Cities, instructing their police not to question people about their immigration status.
Perhaps it is obvious that the Sanctuary Movement was inspired by the pre-Civil War Underground Railroad which brought slaves north to freedom. And… The Sanctuary Movement in turn inspired the Oregon New Sanctuary Movement to help families these days that are in the midst of a deportation process. It also is an ecumenical effort, and we just supported it with today’s collection.
Another wonderful story has its roots in Central America. Jody Williams taught English as a second language. In the 1980’s she shifted her career to working with non-government organizations (NGO’s) serving Latin Americain the wake of the civil wars. She became Deputy Director of Medical Aid for El Salvador, a Los Angeles-based organization. Ms. Williams must have been exposed to horrendous stories, because she went home to Vermontand recruited a few women friends for an impossible mission – banning land mines.
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) started with the support of six non-profit sponsors. With the inspired use of FAX machines, that number has become 1,400. The result, in 1997, was The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and their Destruction. The Ottawa Treaty, as it is called, now has 156 State parties. Even some organizations struggling for power in their countries have signed the treaty. Eleven formally war-torn countries are now clear of landmines. Jody William and the ICBL were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work.
How about right here in Northeast Portland? Near ProvidenceHospitalis an aging congregation. Only about fifty members show up on Sunday morning. But think about what this Community of Christ church is doing. They provide free meeting space for the Portland Chapter of the American Indian Movement and for Folktime, a non-profit that gives developmentally disabled adults a social life. The women of this church make quilts for an orphanage. Last year the church contributed $25,000 to Outreach International, a non-sectarian organization that helps people help themselves.
Here are some things I have learned in the course of collecting and writing these stories.
- Every story is rooted in a time, a place and a historical context. The U.S.government supported dictatorships as part of a Cold War containment strategy.
- Perfection is illusive. Most of the Nez Perce were not allowed to return to their forest homes of Oregonand Idaho. The U.S., Chinaand Russiahave yet to sign the Land Mine treaty.
- Individual contributions and leadership matter. The Danes would not have become heroes were it not for the courage of a German diplomat. The Freedom Rides required initiative. When things went badly, others took the initiative.
- It usually takes a groupto follow through on bold ideas. Breakthroughs are the result of thousands of small actions.
- Finally, values matter. Albanians talk about Besa an ancient code of honor to “keep the promise”. Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. And our Unitarian Universalist “first principle” says “affirm and promote the inherent dignity of every person.”
Okay, what about our own congregation?
Wy’east Unitarian-Universalist Congregationdonates at least one collection every month to support special causes. During our services we give representatives of these organizations an opportunity to speak with us. Last year we collectively gave $3000 to life-affirming causes.
Several of our members are doing praiseworthy community work: Anders arranged for a presentation at OMSI (the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) by Oceana about the realities in New Orleansas a result of Hurricane Katrina. Elizabethvolunteered last summer at the Virginia Garcia Memorial Clinic. And Liana is promoting the Southeast Portland Tool Library.
The congregation hosted a party for Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and we have hosted two Thanksgiving Dinners for our landlord, The Hollywood Senior Center. We also contributed food to Hacienda Community Development Corporation where Arianna volunteers.
Up and coming Sonrisa and Libby will be presenting The Laramie Project film as a consciousness and fund raiser about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) issues. And those of us in the Wy’east Environmental Group are preparing to help the congregation be more sustainable.
What message do I really want to leave with you? I have thought about that question deeply. This is my answer:
- Take pride in what we are doing.Our efforts already make a difference.
- Be intentional about owning it as a congregation. The synergy that comes from supporting each other is powerful.
- And celebrate our membership in the ranks of small groups that make a difference.Paul Hawkins, in his book Blessed Unrest, says that there are two million organizations working to make the world a better place. And I do not think he included churches. We are not alone!
Take pride; be intentional; and celebrate. That is kind of medicine that will help us sustain and multiply our efforts. Wy’east Unitarian Universalist Congregation will be part the history of our century.
Visitors, I also urge you to connect with like-minded people, and… Take pride; be intentional; and celebrate. Our place probably will not be in the headlines; it will be deep inside the stories that tell how the world became a better place.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead said that. Go forth. Do good.
First Reading[given before the talk]
All of us at the HollywoodSeniorCenterwant you to know how much we appreciate the Wy'east Unitarian Universalist Congregation efforts in creating our second Thanksgiving Feast for low- income and isolated seniors. The food was delicious, the servers were cheerful and helpful, and the fellowship was incomparable. At the event, a woman came up to me to say “thank you.” She said she lives alone with no family and friends around. Today meant a great deal to her. Today, she was part of a family. Thank you for giving her, and the 60 other older adults and individuals, that attended such a memorable and meaningful opportunity and experience.
It is one of our goals here at the HollywoodSeniorCenterto foster a sense of belonging in our participants. When someone in the “neighborhood” does something generous and thoughtful, as members of the congregation has, everyone affected gets the feeling that they are still a part of a community of caring individuals.
Please accept our heartfelt thanks. It was such a joy to share that wonderful day with you. We hope to share many more Thanksgiving celebrations with you.
Wy'east One Congregation talk 1-22-11F
The UUA’s Standing On the Side of Love campaign champions same-sex marriage and immigration issues. Today we’ll examine several places where love and justice intersect. Today’s service will also include a ceremony recognizing new members who have joined in the last 6 months or so. If you are interested in making a commitment of membership to Wy’east, please contact our minister, Marcia Stanard.
More than a hundred brothers from Catholic and Protestant backgrounds from 30 countries live in a community in Taizé, France, dedicating themselves to love and service. Thousands of visitors flock to Taizé each year to join the brothers in a beautiful worship style of meditative song and prayer three times a day. Wy’east members who have visited Taizé bring the experience to us.
Our Consulting Minister, Marcia Stanard will be leading this special family service with carols and candle-lighting.
Our children will once again be presenting the Winter pageant, which features them in adorable costumes acting out the stories behind the solstice holidays of eight different religious traditions. This Wy’east creation celebrates how we all find meaning in the darkness of winter, no matter which stories are told, and which holidays we observe.
Next week we welcome the return of the light with celebrations from many different traditions. But today, let’s allow ourselves to go deep into the space of rest and reflection we are called to in this season of darkness. What lessons can we learn about ourselves in the stillness? Our Consulting Minister, Marcia Stanard will lead the service.
Sufism is the mystical branch of Islam, and Paul Werder has been a practitioner of this religion for more than a decade. Hear how Paul inspirationally presences this path in his everyday living, and also in his work as an organizational consultant, about which he has written a great book called Building Unity.
Chom Sou of Wy’east will talk about the Khmer Rouge genocide, his family living in a concentration camp in Cambodia, then a refugee camp in Thailand, and now in America, where he was born and raised bi-culturally, and has had to deal with acculturation issues. Chom is committed to serving individuals and families with histories like his own.
We must be like the ox, and have no thought, except for the Party. And have no love, but for the Angka. People starve, but we must not grow food. We must honor the comrade children, whose minds are not corrupted by the past.The wind whispers of fear and hate. The war has killed love. And those that confess to the Angka are punished, and no one dare ask where they go. Here, only the silent survive-Dith Pran
Good Morning Everyone...!!! Arun Suo sdey.... for those of you that don’t now that’s good morning in khmer. My name is Channbunmorl but many of you may know me as Chom for short. When I was asked to do this talk about 3 months ago (that’s how far ahead the worship committee planned things. just a little plug for all the hard work that people in the worship committe do) well when I was asked to do this talk about 3 months ago I was very excited and honor to tell my parent’s story about their struggle to come to America. The process of me collecting this story opened my eyes even more. I initially thought I knew everything about my parent’s life in Cambodia because they use to tell me about it all the time. “kom poh chauol ienge sdai, dung hey bpael ienge pbee tuol ienge pabuh roe bai yum nah” hey don’t throw that away. It’s a waste. you know when I was younger I barely had any food to eat.” said my dad (pause for a second)....
I consistently heard the phrase of not wasting food through out my whole childhood. And as a child I always understood what my parents were trying to say to me. This caused me to be more socially aware as a young child.
My dad is from a small province of Takeo in Cambodia. He was born on April 6, 1942. He had 5 brothers and 4 sisters and he was the second to the youngest of 9 siblings. My dad grew up with barely any food to eat. He was so poor that he didn’t even have rice to eat. His diet consists mostly of banana, mangos and tamarind. “I remember being so poor that I ate dirt. I would take the dirt from the ground and boil in a pot.” said my dad. (PAUSE...)
My dad was 11 years when he first went to school. He went to school from the age of 11-14 and had only went up a third grade. Education was free for my dad and other kids in his village but he had no money to buy materials and clothes on his own. Although it was free for students to learn, you had to be able to look proper before coming to school. There was a man that was a Representative for the village where my dad lived in. He was very sympathic towards my dad. He wanted to take my dad to live with him and his family because he saw great potential in my dad. But this mean my dad had to move far away from his family. My dad said “The Representative saw that I was smart, but I didn’t want to leave my family. I was never hungry for that.”
My dad was an avid reader, he practiced reading and that helped him with his vocabulary. My dad never regretted his decision. So he left school at the age of 14 to find work so he can help support his family. He would do odd jobs here and there just to make ends meat (PAUSE......)
My mom’s life was quite different than that of my dad. My mom never knew her parents because they died when she was around four years old. My mom has one younger sister, she was about a year old at the time of their parents death. They were taken in by her dad’s sister and her husband. My mom’s aunt took advantage of my mom ever since she took her in. She started to work at the age of 8. she was importing/exporting goods between Thailand and Cambodia. She would travel on a industrial train by herself from Cambodia to the Thailand. She would bring items such as salted fish, garlic and other types of food from thailand to cambodia. My mom said, “My aunt and uncle would take all my earnings away to give to their own kids until I was 16 years old.” (PAUSE....)
In 1959, both of my parents coincidental moved to the Province of Baw Pailin. At the age of 16 my dad moved up there by himself to find work. My mom and her aunt moved up there as well to find work. Both of my mom and dad was working in a coffee manufacturing company, where they would make coffee. It was not clear to me when they started dating. But they married sometime in April of 1962, at that time my mom was 15 and my dad was 20. As soon as my parents were married, my mom’s aunt and uncle still wanted to take money away from my mom’s earnings. My dad stood up for my mom and refused to let this happen. My mom’s aunt was so furious, that she disowned her.
At the time, my dad was working in the factory and getting paid fairly well. He made $1500 hundred dollars a month in khmer currency value. At the time, 40 dollars of khmer dollars is equalivalent 1 us dollars. My dad was making $37.50 a month and that was enough for them buy food and have enough to eat. In 1963 my mom got pregnant with her first child. It was a baby girl. She was filled happiness and joy. (PAUSE...)
Unfortunately, she died after living for only 7 days.It was unclear to me how she died. How interpreted from my parents was that that she had died from an inflamd esophagus. It hit parents pretty hard, but this was not an uncommon thing in Cambodia for a young child to die just after birth. My parents were distraught. In those times, it was all about survival. My parents then gave birth to my oldest brother. He was was born on September 10, 1965. They named him Sarath. Three years later, in 1968, my mom gave birth to her third child. It was a boy. Then five years later, in 1973 she gave birth to a daughter, this was her 4th child.
“ Your father had just given him a bath, and I saw that he had some dirt on his face, I decided to wash his face. After I washed his face his whole body started to shiver. I was holding him in my arms trying to make the shaking stop. But it didn’t, he began to shiver profusely. It was difficult for him to breathe and he was gasping for air. he began banging on his chest as I was holding him in my arms. (PAUSE...)
My mom’s third child died then 19 days later, just under 8 months, my parents 4th child died (PAUSE...)
During the 1970’s in Cambodia there was tenison between khmer people and the khmer government. At the time, the person who had the power to make executive decisions was by a man name Prince Sihouk. In early 1970, the Khmer Rouge Regime attacked the government of Cambodia. The was the beginning of a civil war between Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian Government
The united states was bombing Cambodia from 1969-1975 killing hundred of thousands of innocent Cambodians. They got a tip from the south Vietnam saying that the viet cong was occupying parts of Cambodia, but they were none to be found. Only Cambodians died during the bombing done by the United States.
On April 17, 1975 the War between the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian government was over. But this is was just the beginning of a nightmare that was going to lasted for almost 5 years. 20 days later the Khmer Rouge took total control of Cambodia. During that time the population of Cambodia was 7 million people. There were many people that were executed on the spot, teachers, merchants, doctors, lawyers, actors, and even if you wore glasses they would have killed you on the spot. This was a sign of intelligence, they didn’twant people who were educated because they were afraid that those people would revolt and fight back.
They were telling citizens that the U.S. was going to bomb Cambodia again, so they ordered people out of their homes to travel to a safer location. But they never returned back home. Some people would walked for months, they would walk for hundreds of miles on foot and thousands of people would die a long the way.
My mom, my dad and brother walked for a week to a campsite in the Southwest part of Cambodia. Before they landed in a concentration camp, they were working at place that was building infrastructure for the khmer rouge military soldiers. Everyone that was working was deprived of food and there were limited resources. My dad would always tell me this story,
“Your cousin at the time was so hungry and he actually stole a tomato from the khmer rouge. They caught him and was about to cut his head off. I jumped in front of your cousin and said to the solider that the next time he steal another tomato you can cut my head off. They somehow listened to my me and didn’t cut your cousin’s head off, but my I was scared that he was going to steal something else, so I quickly took your mom and brother in search for a safer destination. A long the way we would see dead bodies in the riverside. We were desparate and thirsty. We were really thirsty and I remember seeing dead carcuses along the river. We had to drink the water that was infested with dead bodies. This is something you just don’t forget. I don’t know I just I don’t know.” (PAUSE..)
It was 1976 and they were in a concerntration camp. They worked long hours. My mom had given birth to her 5th child. It was a boy, but unfortunately he passed away after only living for about a year. So far my mom had given birth to five kids and only one survived. (PAUSE...)
Killing fields poem.
Now it was 1979 the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia and the killing stopped. My parents and older brother (Sarath) went to a refugee camp in Thailand, in hopes of a safer environment. It was definitely a safer environment than the concentration camp, and people were given food to eat. But the Thai military treated the Khmer people like animals. They couldn’t go outside of the camp.
“I’ve saw plenty of people who would try to go outside of the camp but would get shot down while running away. They didn’t treat us like we were humans. We were constantly scared for our lives.” (PAUSE..)
My parents were there from 1979-1984. During that time my mom gave birth to her 6th and 7th child. My brother was born in 1979, he was born with cerebral palsy. and a year later she gave birth to my sister Mary. In November of 1984 my parents had documents ready to go to America. Luthrerin Immigrant and Refugee Services sponsored my family.We landed in Portland,Oregon on November 16, 1984. My mom was four months pregnant with me. Five months later, on April 20, 1985 I was born. IRCO (Immigrant Refugee Community of Oregon) helped my family with adjusting to living in America.
According to Southeast Asia Resource Action Center there over 200,000 Cambodians living in the United States. California, Washington, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have the highest population of Cambodians. According to the Asian Pacic Islander American Health Forum, in 2006 Cambodians still had higher rates of povertry than of the national rates. The national rate for families living in poverty was 9.8% and for Cambodians it was 17.6% (PAUSE...)
It was difficult for my family and other Cambodian families to transition into American culture. It was so different, things here were so fast and the city was so noisy. Like many other Cambodians, my mom had suffered from PTSD and that was difficult for her to find and maintain a job. This is and still is a problem in the Cambodian community.
On may 17, 2002, my brother the one that had cerebral palsy passed away in our home from a seizure. This was my mom’s fifth child that she had lost in her arms. It was the first time I had ever saw someone die right in front of my eyes. Out of 8 children in our my family only three have survived.
Coming from an Immigrant family had it’s advantages and disadvantages. Immigrants are bi cultural. If you assimilate too much you will be likely to lose your cultural heritage. But if you don’t assimilate enough, it will be difficult for you survive in this country.This was a problem for many Cambodians, trying to hold on to their cultural heritage while trying to be like everyone else. For example, I use to have this internal battle with being an American and a Cambodian. At home I was an American, my parents would constantly keep calling me an American kid and outside of the home I was Cambodian. I can never be fully an American. When people always make references to someone who is an American-they always think of them as being white. Growing up I had internalized this hatered towards my own people. I use to make fun of the people who came here who didn’t English that well because those people made Cambodian like me look bad. I would call them a FOB (Fresh off the Boat).
But then I use to make fun of or not accept Cambodian people who did not understand khmer languange. I also would not accept them if they would just only hang out with white people because I associated that with them be shameful about their own heritage. I would call them white washed. It was really hard to determined who were the real Cambodians or even looking it at from a bigger picture. Who were the quote unquote the real Asians. As I am moving up into the professional world I will continue to have this internal battle with my identity. How do I balance being Cambodian and an American at the same time? (PAUSE..)
How can I be proud poem.
I was not the always the smartest or the most hard working kid in school. But I knew that my parents had sacrifice so much for me to come to this country. They had instill in me about the value of education and how important it was for me to take advantage of my opportunties in America. I worked ever since I was 12 years old and that made me and appreciate the value of hard work. My sisters and I use to pick blueberrys, strawberrys, or raspberrys for money to buy school clothes. I would help my parents work at their cleaning jobs as well. My family was the one that shaped me to become who I am today. Right now I want to take this opportunity to thank my family. In my 25 year life existence this is the first time I ever said this to my family.
Speak in Khmer...
Mom dad thank so much for taking such good care of me and making sure that I never starve and that I always food in my stomach and clothes on my back. You have inspired me and raised me to be a good person. It was because of you that I learned to be compassionate towards other people. Because of you, I am proud to be khmer and I want to speak khmer the best I can and pass this own to my kids and my kid’s kid. As long as I am alive I will make sure that my kids will speak khmer and pass on our culture and tradition to them. I love you so much...
Jey- Thank you I love so much. You was always looked out for me and helped me out so much. I think if it wasn’t for you I would have graduated from college and probably wouldn’t have this opportunity to go for my Masters.
Bong Rath thank so much for being cool and funny big brother. I really appreciate that you always took me to go play basketball. You helped me become a great shooter. It was because of you I had a positive male role model and you shaped me to become a positve male role model for other camobdans and other youth in he community. I love you.
Tan you were only a year older than me. I know we have gotten a long when we were younger, but as we got older, we became closer and closer as a family. Thank you much for being there for me when I needed you. you are awesome. I love you.
There are days when we say that we hate our life. That we wished that it could be better. You may think that you have it bad but never realize that the next person may have it worse. Although we have those bad days, we have learn to push through those bad days to get to the good days. I can never complain when it comes to my parents stories. I appreciate the life that they gave me and. We should also appreciate other individual gifts and talents so that it can motivate them to become the type of person that will make them happy. It is easy to say this on paper but doing it is the most important thing. I want to be the first to take my own advice.
Timmy-my nephew I want to say that I appreciate that you are a great cook and that you are a talented and creative musician. i think that someday your music will inspired people. And I hope someday I can rap over your drum playing
koby I appreciate your ability to never give up. You are very smart and bright. I think you will be a great thinker and will be able to motivate and influence people in a positive way with your words.
Orion you have an infectious laugh and I think that you will be a leader not a follower.