Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Molehills and Mountains…

Anybody who knows me personally knows that I’m not a particularly difficult person to figure out. Nobody really needs to wonder what I’m thinking or feeling. I’ve always been rather plain spoken and direct about things. If I like something, you know it. If I don’t, you know it. If I believe something, you know it. It’s the left over residue of that blue collar steel town upbringing of mine. I’m not overly open, per se, but I’m certainly not hard to read. It sometimes gets me in trouble. Oh well. To quote the 20th century’s greatest philosopher sailor, “I ‘yam what I ‘yam and that’s all that I ‘yam!”

One thing that’s clear to me is that all the tempests in the animation teapot are really kinda silly. One of the reasons I’ve been a bit more… shall we say “bold” about expressing my opinions lately about what I see in the animation biz is that I understand just how unweighty and silly it all is. Understanding this then I am able to see all the ideas and opinions as just a fine way to pass the time inbetween the real stuff of life. When the entire field of conversation isn’t very important it’s pretty hard to have any meaningful taboos, right? I mean two years ago I would never have said a lot of the things I’ve uttered here in the last 8 months. But why not? It’s just cartoons, right? So why not toss these heretical notions out there for discussion? Sure it’s controversial, sure it’s didactic, and I’m sure it even makes some folks upset. No matter. In the end it’s not important. I mean really, how can we get too wound up about what happens in and around cartoons? So while it may seem like this is all very heady and important to me, take my word when I say that in the larger scheme of things it’s not. Sure, I still love animation and I love doing it and being involved in it. I love teaching it, I love watching it, I love studying it, I love talking about it. It’s my favorite unimportant thing in life. But that doesn’t mean that I hold this stuff in such high and holy regard that I feel afraid to express some contrary ideas. I mean really, to me all this banter and blogging is all like the fans of sports teams arguing about who’s team is better over a beer. We yell, we argue, we laugh and then we order a few more beers and enjoy the debate. It doesn’t mean all that much in the end. It’s just entertainment, the least important thing on the planet earth.

As for what is important, On the left, the water she has drank every day of her life. On the right, new hope.

I’m glad to say there are some really exciting things opening up for the work that my wife and I came to Brazil to do. We’ve set up two water filter production sites. Currently they’re at a small capacity making just a few filters per week, but each family that gets clean drinking water for the first time in their life doesn’t care how many we make each week. All they know is they are being blessed by one of the filters we made for less than $40. Their kids won’t die from stupid simple diseases like diarrhea now. In January we’re taking some filters to an indigenous tribe in northern Mato Grosso, near the southern boundary of the Amazon region. We have a friend there who has worked with them for almost 20 years, translating the Bible into their language. His is an amazing story. We have been blessed to employ a great brazilian brother named Belmiro Junior to help us run the various water filter projects in and around Cuiaba’. He’s been doing a great job, loves people and has a huge heart to help those less fortunate. We’re also seeing the construction and opening of a medical/dental clinic in a town about 100km from where we live. The town of Pocone’ is about 8,000 people, is very remote and very, very poor. The clinic will be a great blessing to these folks. Additionally many of the poorest there have no access to any clean water. They don’t have the means to buy bottled water. So at the same church where we’re building the clinic we want to set up a third bio-sand water filter production site to begin addressing the needs right there in that one place. Meanwhile the Pantavida medical clinic boat continues to do it’s life saving work down near Corumba’ along the Paraguay River. They’re also installing water filters in the small villages along the rivers there. That’s where these pictures are from.

Delivering a filter to a family. They’re kinda heavy.

This house is actually a little ‘upscale’ for your typical river family. It has walls made of wood and plastic instead of mud.

This is more typical.. a family of 6 living in a single room mud hut.

A humble little concrete box filled with wet sand. So simple, so extraordinary. It will allow this family to live without intestinal parasites for perhaps the first time ever.

2006 was a year of huge change and adjustment for our family. It wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s been worth it. Now that we have survived (literally) the first 6 months of moving to a different country with a new language and culture we see how God has started to really open some doors to do some really meaningful work in helping other folks live better lives. Jesus wasn’t shy about the responsibility that belongs to those who have this world’s blessings. We who have much are responsible for helping those who have little. In America if you talk about wealth redistribution to help the downtrodden as a form of social justice you’ll get shouted down, often by right wing conservatives, many of whom also profess to carry the name of Christ in their religion. But the truth is real. From the very earliest teachings in the Bible right through the end the message has been simple: God doesn’t care about your religion if you don’t care (and do something for) the poor, the widows, the orphans, the sick, the lost. The world is a messed up place. Things are not the way they ought to be. Education will not fix things. Politics will not fix things. Governments will not fix things. Sad to say, the church doesn’t seem to be much interested in fixing things. Will we just shrug, say it’s too bad, keep doing what we do and spending what we spend on ourselves? Will we continue to erect palatial places of entertainme… errr, I mean “worship” just to appease our own appetites? Or will we be willing to stand in the gap between the way things are and the way things should be? Will we put our money, our hands, our hearts where our mouth is? One thing I can tell you from personal experience- when you stand in that gap you will be stretched to the point of breaking. But if there’s anything I’m willing to be destroyed for it’s this. We’re excited about what’s to come.

So don’t take anything I say about animation too seriously. Lord knows I don’t.

1 comment:

Keith Lango said...

original comments here...