I’m Back

It’s been almost 2 years since our return from Korea. I took a job at the Ministry of Children and Family Development in the northern interior of BC. Last week I was privileged to attend a workshop sponsored by the RCMP and the Ministry of Justice in Prince George “Healing through Learning: Trauma-Informed Practice in Northern BC“.   Trauma-informed practice is now the buzz. We had several people as Key Note speakers who just simply shared their stories. Theo Fleury, NHL player; JR LaRose from the BC Lions, a spokesman for ‘Be More than a Bystander‘; and Kamal Dhillon, a victim of domestic violence and author of her story ‘Black and Blue Sari‘ just to name a few. Every one of these speakers were over comers. Their stories give us all hope that it is possible to break cycles of abuse and trauma.

One of the workshops offered at the conference was ‘Returning to Spirit‘. It was about reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. It’s purpose is to help all of us heal from the trauma of the Residential school experience.

I’m super excited and encouraged to see the Truth and Reconciliation  Commission of Canada work being done in our nation.

I look forward to truth and reconciliation taking place in our community!

The Vaqueros “Cow Men”


Five Vaqueros
Five Vaqueros

some excerpts from Jonathan Haeber’s  article for the National Geographic News written about Kevin Costner’s movie Open Range. Jonathan interviewed Donald Chavez y Gilbert about the Cowboy.

“One of the highest stations you could have in life was to be a caballero,” said Chavez, a resident of New Mexico whose lineage can be traced to the Don Juan de Oñate colony, the caballero who was among the first cowboys in the U.S.

“Even the poor Mexican vaqueros were very proud and there were few things they couldn’t do from a saddle.”

Caballero is literally translated as “gentleman.” The root of the word comes from caballo—Spanish for “horse.” For every caballero there were perhaps dozens of independents—the true “drivers” of cattle: vaqueros.

Vaquero is a transliteration of the words ‘cow’ and ‘man.’ Vaca means ‘cow,'” said Chavez. “Interestingly enough, in Spanish, we call ourselves cowmen; in English, it was demoted to cowboys.

In 1821 Anglo settlers arrived in Texas and became the first English-speaking Mexican citizens in the territory. Led by Stephen F. Austin, they arrived in San Felipe de Austin, Texas, to take advantage of the vast expanse of cattle, free for the taking.

It was something the vaqueros had been doing for 223 years, since 1598, when Don Juan de Oñate, one of the four richest men in New Spain (present-day Mexico) sent an expedition across the Rio Grande River into New Mexico.

Oñate spent over a million dollars funding the expedition, and brought some 7,000 animals to the present-day United States. It eventually paid off; the first gold to come from the West was not from the Gold Rush, but rather from its wool-bearing sheep and then its long-horned livestock.

“Compare the cowboy culture to a car,” said Chavez. “If the vaqueros invented the car, the styles change a little bit, but you still have the basic chassis, four wheels, and a motor. I think it will stay very much the same.”

Donald Chavez’ Cowboy website

Cowboys and Knights

Traditional Spanish riding clothes
Traditional Spanish riding clothes

From Donald Chavez y Gilbert

The Middle Ages found the mounted herdsman a frequent fixture of the semi-arid lands of Spain, but rare in countries like England and France. Strong intrepid horsemen were required to deal with the rugged geography of the Iberian Peninsula, and the wild ganado prieto, predecessor to the savage bull ring black cattle. So integral a part of the Spanish culture was horsemanship, that the world caballero (horseman) became, and still is, the equivalent of the English word for “gentleman.” The word for horse in French is cheval and knight is chevalier. The English term cavalry is derived from Italian. In Spanish the word “horse” is caballo and knight or noble horseman is Caballero.

Keeping in mind that many of the first Spanish vaqueros were well heeled aristocratic Caballero (gentlemen), land holders and noblemen, and certainly inextricably integrated in Spanish society with the culture of Spanish knights, it should come as no surprise that the horseman’s techniques used by knights flowed into the work practices back at the estancia / ranch. Getting down and dirty with the livestock was work relegated to the servants. The Caballero/Vaquero rarely ever got off his horse for any menial purpose. He did virtually everything from the back of his steed.

The 13th century knights and Spanish rancher / Caballeros developed a method of rounding up (rodear) and capturing cattle for branding, etc. borrowed from the knight’s skill of jousting with a lance. This heritage of Knighthood was carried from Europe to the Americas in the 15th century. The technique evolved from the Caballeros use of the lance. In this case the lance is called a garrocha. It was a 12-foot long wooden pole with a blunt tip used by the Garrochista on horseback. The garrocha is carried and used in a fashion similar to the Caballero’s lance. But instead of the Garrochista and the steer racing toward each other as in a knightly joust, the Garrochista chases the steer.

The best website on American Cowboys

Soul Food Sunday – Who is God? (Part 5)

God is good and everything He makes and creates is good. He is a good Father and loves to communicate. He speaks creation into being.

He is a loving Father in that He sets boundaries for His children. Just as our children don’t understand why their parent tells them not to do something, so God tells Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam doesn’t understand why, but he can know that it’s for his good that God tells him not to eat the fruit.

Before Adam ate the fruit he had a close relationship with his Father. Immediately after eating the fruit he becomes afraid of his Father. The Father comes for his regular walk with Adam and the Father calls out to him. God asks why Adam hid from Him. God knows why, but He’s helping Adam admit what he did. But Adam doesn’t admit what he did. He blames Eve instead of fessing up. And Eve blames the serpent, so no one takes responsibility for disobeying their Father. The Father disciplines His children. One of the consequences of their sin is that they can’t live in Eden anymore because God doesn’t want them to have access to the Tree of Life while in the state of sin. Our Father protects His children from harm. He makes the sun shine on even His enemies.

Soul Food Sunday – Who is God? (Part 4)

God is Rest. He gives us rest from our own works. Works that we try to gain His acceptance by. Adam was created perfect. He lived in the Garden of Eden. It was a perfect place for him to live. All of his needs were met there. He walked in perfect communion with God.

Adam and Eve were created with free will. They could choose to obey God and live a perfectly wonderful life, or they could choose to exert their own will and go their own way and not live a perfect life. Satan had access to this garden too through the serpent. Satan must have perceived that Eve was the easier one to manipulate. God had given Adam the command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eve knew this command, but the serpent kept working on her until finally she thought why not just go ahead to try a little. She thought it looked good, it would be good for food, and she could gain wisdom. She knew the consequence of eating the fruit was death, but she believed Satan rather than God. Satan told her she wouldn’t die. Instead, Satan said, God didn’t want them to eat the fruit because then they would be like Him knowing good and evil. Poor Adam. He saw that Eve had eaten the fruit. He knew God had said they would die if they ate of it. Eve didn’t die. Should he obey God and not eat of the fruit or should he eat the fruit and suffer the same consequences that Eve would suffer? He didn’t consult God on this. He knew what He would say. He loved Eve. He couldn’t bare to be separated from her. So he ate it.

Now why did God put that tree in there? We don’t know. He’s working something out that we don’t know about or understand right now. It’s being worked out in the realm we can’t see with our natural eyes.

Why do I say this? The answer is in the first prophecy made to humankind. When God saw that they ate of the fruit He cursed the serpent, and said that He would put enmity between the snake and the woman and between her offspring and the snake. The woman’s offspring will crush the serpent’s head and the snake will strike his heal. Who is the woman’s offspring? This is the first reference in human history to the Father’s Son: Jesus Christ. Eve is the mother of all the living. It is true that all mitochondrial DNA goes right back to the first woman Eve. There are no mutations in mitDNA. The woman’s egg was not damaged in the sin of disobeying God. Adam’s seed was, however, damaged in the sin of eating the fruit. It is man’s seed that births sin in every human being on earth. Hence the Y-DNA has mutations. Interesting, huh? But this is also how Jesus was born of a virgin and therefore had no sin because no man provided his sin filled seed to His DNA. Jesus is God as Mary’s egg was fertilized by the Holy Spirit. Jesus has no sin. He is the offspring spoken about in the prophecy which will crush the serpent’s head (Satan). This has been done in the act of Jesus giving His life as a ransom for the human race which is infected with the sin from Adam on down. God is our Redeemer. Jesus is our Savior. The human race needs a savior to rescue it from sin. There is no other way to be saved. We must be redeemed in the way that He has provided.

One of the interesting ways this is illustrated is that Adam and Eve covered themselves with fig leaves when they realized they were naked. God took those fig leaves and replaced them with animal skins. In using fig leaves to cover their nakedness, they were trying to cover their own nakedness. God taught them that only through the shedding of blood can their sin be covered. It was a picture of what God was to provide. Jesus shed His blood to cover man’s sin. God is good. All we have to do is accept the gift that He has given us. Yeah!

One other thing that is cursed in this story told to us from antiquity, is the ground. Neither Eve nor Adam were cursed: only the serpent was cursed. There were consequences though. The ground was cursed. Man would have to painfully toil to eat of it. It will produce thorns and thistles and by the sweat of his brow man will eat of it’s food until he returns to the ground. For dust man is and to dust he will return.

Soul Food Sunday – Who is God (Part 3)

It seems so unpopular nowadays to talk about creation. If you mention you believe this world was ‘created’ you’re looked upon as an idiot. Why is the idea of a Creator any more stupid than the idea of everything just happened by chance. That seems less logical to me than there being Someone greater than myself out there. This is not an intellectual problem: it’s a spiritual problem. There’s no other way to explain such a departure from what makes sense. We just don’t want to admit that God exists because that would take the control out of our hands. That’s funny. We don’t have any control at all. Can you decide when it rains or when an earthquake hits?

God is our Father. He created man in His image. That’s why there are fathers, mothers and children. God made it that way. Did you ever wonder why there are males and females in every species? If there wasn’t, life wouldn’t continue on this earth. It takes a male and female to create new life.

He made Adam out of earth. We are dust. If you don’t believe that, just take a look at what’s left over after cremating a body. Ashes….dust. For dust we are and to dust we will return. Some ancient civilizations refer to their first ancestor as ‘dirt’. Our bodies are made up of the same elements that every other living thing on this earth are made of. Our physical bodies are no different from any other animal. The thing that makes man different from animals is that God breathed His life into man. Man was given dominion over the earth and his mandate was to fill the earth and subdue it. Man’s job, as given by God, is to take care of creation. How are we doing so far?

Cowboys and Vaqueros

by Donald Chavez

The word cowboy is actually a Spanish word, a transliteration of the original Spanish word for the first of his kind, the “vaquero.” The word vaquero evolved from the root word “vaca” meaning cow. Ergo the word vaquero, (cowman), translated into the English – cowboy. The English term for someone who managed cattle prior to the adoption of the Spanish Vaquero method and name for cowboying was “Drover.” Both the English and French managed cattle on foot with a dog within a fenced enclosure. As pasture was exhausted in one area, the cattle were then led to a new field to graze. The colonists arriving on the U.S. east coast were unfamiliar with Hispanic ranching. Stock raising was a small adjunct or side business to the mainstay agricultural industry and other areas such as shipping, city retail businesses, fur trading and fishing. Ranching was not practiced in their particular European homelands, so they were not acquainted with the ranching business, nor would they have had any idea where or how to begin even if they were aware of the industry. The northern colonies focused on industrial pursuits using immigrant labor and the southern colonies concentrated on agriculture using slave labor. It was the open spaces of the Nueva España, (New Mexico), in America where the original American cowboy, the Spanish vaquero evolved along with the original western saddle, cowboy methods, (e.g. roping), and vocabulary, beginning along the Rio Grande river basin. Ironically, it was the application of the old English fencing system and American barbed wire which led to the decline of the great American Cowboy Empire.

Soul Food Sunday – Who is God? (Part 2)

God is light. There is no darkness in Him. There is a throne in heaven where He sits. His appearance is like precious gems. A rainbow encircles the throne. The only way to describe God’s appearance is by saying He looks like precious gems.

God spoke His light into existence on the Earth. He separated light from darkness and so we have night and day. But it won’t always be like this. Someday God will make a new heaven and a new earth and there will be no night.

Why is there darkness? Because there’s another person named Satan. He used to have the name Lucifer. Lucifer means ‘bringing light’. That was his job: to bring light, but he got proud, rebelled against God and was removed from his position. He became the opposite of his name: darkness. He became dark when he no longer gave God the glory due His name. After all, God is the Creator of all things, including Lucifer. He deserves the glory: not anyone else. Lucifer’s fall explains how darkness became part of our world. Every vile thing in existence is a result of his rebellion. I hate Satan and what he has done on this earth.

We are all part of the battle between the Kingdom of Light and the kingdom of darkness whether we know/believe it or not. Doesn’t this explain a lot about what goes on around us. Why do people do ugly things? Why do disasters cause such suffering? For some reason God didn’t destroy Satan immediately. I don’t know how it works. All I know is that God created something beautiful and Satan does everything he can to destroy it.

Soul Food Sunday – Who is God?

In the beginning God……..He’s a person. He lives in eternity and is eternal as are we all.

…God created the heavens and the earth. Since He’s a person He likes to communicate. In fact, He spoke the world into existence and He speaks to us through His creation. I believe He is the Creator of all things and that there is another realm that we do not see with our physical eyes. Why do I believe this? Because there are too many things left unanswered in the meaning of life if I don’t believe this.

In the beginning He laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of His hands.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what is visible.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.