LEGO awards Athentikos grant for La Limonada Art Camp

We are super excited to share this news with you: Athentikos received $4,000 from LEGO to support Art Camp in La Limonada the slum area featured in ‘Reparando.’ La Limonada is one of Latin America’s largest, most dangerous slums in Guatemala City, La Limonada.

The LEGO headquarters in Denmark awarded Athentikos a $4,000 grant in order to provide funding for an Art Camp at a partner school in La Limonada. Tita Evertz, founder and director of 2 schools in La Limonada, hosts an annual week long Art Camp providing children the opportunity to learn basic art skills and develop loving relationships. LEGO project manager for the World Robot Olympiad at the Denmark Headquarters, Claus Christensen, nominated Athentikos for LEGO employee grant after watching, ‘Reparando’ and learning about Art Camp in La Limonada. This grant awards minor funds to organizations recommended by employees.

“Everything I do has to be done with the children in mind. Our core values are centered around giving children the best of the best and the opportunity to use and develop their creative skills. The Art Camp does exactly that. So there was a great match between the cores values of LEGO and the ambitions of the Art Camp,” said Christensen.

The presentation of 10 LEGO employee grants was held on August 23 in Denmark. The LEGOs president, his family, CEO, Chairman of the Board and 100 guests attended the presentation. The employees that recommended the winning organizations gave a short presentation about the organization and cause for the grant. Below is our friend Claus accepting the award from the LEGOs president, Kjeld. (And Claus gave him a copy of ‘Reparando.’) We are humbly grateful to Claus for recommending the La Limonada Art Camp for this grant!

The Art Camp in La Limonada will be held this fall, October 31- November 5, 2011. Local and international staff, volunteers will be working with 100 children, ages 9 to 15 years old, at the camp providing skill and social development. Classes include drawing, dancing, yoga, media, drama and more. Contact Amelia Moore at ameliajmoore@athentikos.com if you are interested in traveling with the Athentikos team to assist in the Art Camp this fall.

“We believe in the therapy and healthiness that art can bring. This [Art Camp] gives them an opportunity to get to know something greater than their reduced boundaries and lets us mark their hearts with the love of God,” says Evertz.

In addition to the funding, LEGO will be donating 20 boxes of assorted LEGO bricks, enough LEGO bricks for 200 kids, to the schools in La Limonada! The bricks will be used at the schools in La Limonada, at Mi Casita and at Art Camp. Athentikos is excited about this partnership with LEGOs, Tita and Lemonade International.

Check out Athentikos’ new project: www.becomingfools.com. Athentikos is raising funds for their upcoming project, Becoming Fools, which will feature youth that live on the streets of Guatemala. Check out more info about how you can be involved in the project.

Walking Forward in Faith

I have used the phrase, “walking forward in faith” a few times recently to describe my current season of life. Its a phrase I have often heard. I might have even used it a few times myself.  But, I don’t think I have ever understood the depth and meaning of those simple words strung together in a sentence like I do today … and … I know someday I will look back on the level of understanding I currently have and say, “You didn’t have a clue”.

For context, here’s an abridged re-cap of the past three months of my life:

1. I lost my job.

2. My wife Amelia lost her job.

3. We decided to produce a new film called Becoming Fools, that focuses on street youth in Guatemala

4. Rather than look for a new job, we have spent all our time developing a Kickstarter campaign to fund the new film

Some people might think we were foolish to embark on this project, given the current variables of our life. Shouldn’t we seek a steady job? Why take this huge risk? Priority number one should be taking care of my family, right? Yes, but Amelia and I truly believe this story can make a difference in the lives of children living on the street. It is an incredible story and will gain a lot of attention when it is completed. It has the potential to ignite a movement.

Being the visionary type, I can see the final product in my mind … the poster, title sequence, story, closing credits and screening tour … I can see all of this and am driven to work hard to make the vision a reality. The walking forward in faith part comes into the equation with the fact that in order to accomplish all of the things I mentioned above, we need funding. Unless we reach our financial goal on Kickstarter by October 5, 2011, we will get nothing. This is another instance where people might call us foolish. We have a significant goal of $150,000. Some have asked,

“Why did you make your goal so high?”

My answer is the same every time: because I have run the numbers over and over, and that is the minimum we need to produce the story.

We didn’t flippantly establish our financial goal. We know it is a lot. And, we know very few projects raise this level of funding on Kickstarter. But, we also know that we are not in control. If God wants us to move forward and produce this film, He will bring the resources necessary to accomplish it. So, to bring this back around to walking forward in faith …

Two weeks into our campaign, we have raised over $20,000. This is a significant amount of funding – more than many Kickstarter campaigns raise. We are extremely thankful for everyone who has generously given. At the same time, with all things being equal, we are behind in the statistical numbers needed to make the campaign successful. It is easy to get discouraged at a time like this when the numbers are against you. But, life is more than a numbers game. They aren’t in control either.

I had an epiphany the other day as I described the current situation. Amelia and I truly ARE walking forward in faith in this Kickstarter campaign … AND … We ARE fools. We’re fools walking in faith with the knowledge that He who has called us to this knows what we do not … and He will carry us through.

We pray that God will move hearts and make this a successful fundraising campaign. We pray that this film will inspire audiences to respond to the needs of street kids around the world. And … we pray that God will give us the ability to continue to walk in faith with Him during this time of the in between.

Please join us in Becoming Fools. Make a pledge and ask others to join you.

 

Kickstarter Update – 02

Our partners are hard at work building relationships and serving needs. Fergie is a clown who volunteers with the organization At Risk No More. He spends time with the street kids every Thursday afternoon and takes kids interested in clowning to a local park or church building to train because he doesn’t have a facility. Fergie said that he dreams of someday having an official school to teach the kids. Several Street Kids are learning to juggle and and walk on stilts. Others are learning magic tricks and skits. On Sunday nights, Fergie brings a meal to the street kids and leads a small discussion group. Belbeth Castro (Italo’s sister) also comes to help with the events on Sunday nights. At Risk No More is currently recruiting and training other volunteers to work with the youth in a variety of ways.

On Monday & Wednesday mornings, Mojoca (another organization that works with children who live on the street) comes to offer the kids a breakfast as well as a time to talk, play some games with them, do drawings, and talk about cultural themes.

We are excited to begin documenting these activities in detail once we have raised our Kickstarter goal!

Please help us produce this story by making a pledge and sharing this project with your peers.

Thanks for joining us in Becoming Fools!

Walking Forward in Faith

I have used the phrase, “walking forward in faith” a few times recently to describe my current season of life. Its a phrase I have often heard. I might have even used it a few times myself.  But, I don’t think I have ever understood the depth and meaning of those simple words strung together in a sentence like I do today … and … I know someday I will look back on the level of understanding I currently have and say, “You didn’t have a clue”.

For context, here’s an abridged re-cap of the past three months of my life:

1. I lost my job.

2. My wife Amelia lost her job.

3. We decided to produce a new film called Becoming Fools, that focuses on street youth in Guatemala

4. Rather than look for a new job, we have spent all our time developing a Kickstarter campaign to fund the new film

Some people might think we were foolish to embark on this project, given the current variables of our life. Shouldn’t we seek a steady job? Why take this huge risk? Priority number one should be taking care of my family, right? Yes, but Amelia and I truly believe this story can make a difference in the lives of children living on the street. It is an incredible story and will gain a lot of attention when it is completed. It has the potential to ignite a movement.

Being the visionary type, I can see the final product in my mind … the poster, title sequence, story, closing credits and screening tour … I can see all of this and am driven to work hard to make the vision a reality. The walking forward in faith part comes into the equation with the fact that in order to accomplish all of the things I mentioned above, we need funding. Unless we reach our financial goal on Kickstarter by October 5, 2011, we will get nothing. This is another instance where people might call us foolish. We have a significant goal of $150,000. Some have asked,

“Why did you make your goal so high?”

My answer is the same every time: because I have run the numbers over and over, and that is the minimum we need to produce the story.

We didn’t flippantly establish our financial goal. We know it is a lot. And, we know very few projects raise this level of funding on Kickstarter. But, we also know that we are not in control. If God wants us to move forward and produce this film, He will bring the resources necessary to accomplish it. So, to bring this back around to walking forward in faith …

Two weeks into our campaign, we have raised over $20,000. This is a significant amount of funding – more than many Kickstarter campaigns raise. We are extremely thankful for everyone who has generously given. At the same time, with all things being equal, we are behind in the statistical numbers needed to make the campaign successful. It is easy to get discouraged at a time like this when the numbers are against you. But, life is more than a numbers game. They aren’t in control either.

I had an epiphany the other day as I described the current situation. Amelia and I truly ARE walking forward in faith in this Kickstarter campaign … AND … We ARE fools. We’re fools walking in faith with the knowledge that He who has called us to this knows what we do not … and He will carry us through.

We pray that God will move hearts and make this a successful fundraising campaign. We pray that this film will inspire audiences to respond to the needs of street kids around the world. And … we pray that God will give us the ability to continue to walk in faith with Him during this time of the in between.

Please join us in Becoming Fools. Make a pledge and ask others to join you.

 

Big Week

After 3 months of preparation, we officially launched our Kickstarter Campaign on Tuesday to fund the documentary “Becoming Fools”. The first two days have been very encouraging! 5% of our goal has been funded and we have 48 days remaining. We are excited about the progress and very thankful for the 39 project backers who have joined us in Becoming Fools!

Please help us by making a pledge at:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/306542054/becoming-fools-a-documentary

We also developed a fun way to help promote the kickstarter campaign.

Add a hat to your profile pic and join our gallery of fools!

1. Take a photo of yourself and leave room above your head for the hat
2. Click on this link http://twb.ly/ot5RMB
3. Put the hat twibbon on your head
4. Tag yourself in the photo
5. Tag Becoming Fools in the photo

JOIN US IN BECOMING FOOLS!

 

Big Week

After 3 months of preparation, we officially launched our Kickstarter Campaign on Tuesday to fund the documentary “Becoming Fools”. The first two days have been very encouraging! 5% of our goal has been funded and we have 48 days remaining. We are excited about the progress and very thankful for the 39 project backers who have joined us in Becoming Fools!

Please help us by making a pledge at:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/306542054/becoming-fools-a-documentary.

We also developed a fun way to help promote the kickstarter campaign.

Add a hat to your profile pic and join our gallery of fools!

1. Take a photo of yourself and leave room above your head for the hat
2. Click on this link http://twb.ly/ot5RMB
3. Put the hat twibbon on your head
4. Tag yourself in the photo
5. Tag Becoming Fools in the photo

JOIN US IN BECOMING FOOLS!

 

Help Kickstart ‘Becoming Fools!’

Our Kickstarter Campaign to fund the film ‘Becoming Fools’ is LIVE!

Our fund raising goal is $150,000.
We will have 50 days to raise this goal.
August 16, 2011  – October 4, 2011

 

YOU CAN HELP TODAY

It is sort of like an online “PBS telethon” … Pledge levels will start at $25, and with each level there’s a gift. All projects must reach their funding goal before their set deadline or no money is awarded to the project. We know this will take a lot of work and a lot of people, and we are trusting God for his direction and blessing throughout our funding campaign. We need your help to reach this goal!

FIRST

Please consider making a pledge towards the production of ‘Becoming Fools.’ If you can make a pledge, please make it within the first few days of the campaign to help build momentum. We are humbly grateful for your support.

 

Make a pledge towards our campaign

SECOND

We need your help! Join our Street Team to promote the campaign to your network during the 50-days. We will send you a weekly email with information to share. We promise to make it fun and easy … Join the ‘Becoming Fools’ Street Team today.

 

Join our Street Team

 

We are excited (and yes a little nervous) to step out in faith to devote our time and lives to this film. This story has the potential to make a difference in the lives of street kids in Guatemala and around the world.

Will you join us?

A Perfect God vs. Imperfect Nation

Story telling in film is difficult – not only because it takes enormous resources to produce, but also because when you are finished, everyone responds differently. Some people adore “the baby”. Others despise it … and some don’t even take the time to watch it. Being a passionate but contemplative man, I sometimes spend too much time mulling over negative responses despite the fact that they may be the extreme minority.

I was recently told that ‘Reparando’ is an Anti-Amercian film. Granted, this opinion is the minority in responses that we have received. But I feel the need to respond to it. Because … I love my country and ultimately …  the film isn’t Anti-American, it’s Pro-Redemption.

Although I worship a perfect God and savior, I live in an imperfect nation.

I have never intended for this film to be of interest solely to an American Christian sub-culture. But in the contrary, I wanted this story to speak of God’s redemption in the midst (and in spite) of human political and philosophical motives. Reparando communicates the fact that:

“the US destabilized Guatemala through CIA operations and that there is a connection to the CIA and the United Fruit Company. In the wake of this destabilization, the Guatemalan government responded  disproportionately to the internal threat causing the country to fall into a 36 year civil war.”

Documented history details the US government’s covert exacerbation of the conflict. If I wanted to make an anti-American film, I would have sensationalized the issue. But I wasn’t making an anti-American film. US involvement in the Guatemalan conflict isn’t a political statement. It is documented history.

‘Reparando’ was born out of the adoption of my sons. I saw injustice and had to respond. For three years, I have given every ounce of my free time and resources to telling this story because I care. As Guatemalans, My children have a history and heritage that is both beautiful and ugly. I want them to know the truth.

I have traveled much of the world and appreciate the freedom that we have in the US … to live, love, learn, communicate, worship and pursue happiness. I also appreciate the lives of soldiers who have died to give us our freedom. I love my country and still well up with tears when I hear the national anthem. But I cannot weave my worship of God so tightly with my country that I deceive myself into believing our nation is perfect. We have a long history of imperfections to match our achievements and we can learn from both. We are a nation built on the beautiful foundation that all men are created equal. With this in mind, I can boldly claim that just as I am not perfect, neither are the leaders of my country. We all make mistakes. And unless we honestly embrace our imperfection, we will never realize the need for a savior.

The theme of the film is “victims connecting to the pain of their past in order to help the next generation”. As a story teller, I believe this concept applies to the United States as well. The truth is that both countries were (and are) intricately involved in the issues in Guatemala. Both countries have made mistakes. In spite of these mistakes, Jesus redeems. Shorty is a victim of a war which involves my country. He could have been destroyed. He could have even been repaired and then focused on himself. He could harbor anger in his heart towards my country. But he didn’t. Despite being a war victim, he lives as Jesus to the community in which he is placed and he embraces me as his brother in Christ so that together we can make a difference. Together, we can help repair the next generation. In the midst of imperfection, hope is rising.

Ringing Out of Control

I consider myself a strategic thinker. I like intentionality. On a practical level, that means I put a lot of thought into something before I pursue it. I count costs, develop a plan of attack, and then once there is a clear target … I dive in and invest my entire being into whatever it is I am pursuing. I don’t enjoy investing 50%. I am just not wired that way. There are probably many reasons for this characteristic in my life – not the least of which is my desire for control.

I am a story teller (communicator) by trade. So on one level, I want to have control over a message. I want to ensure that I tell stories with clarity and purpose –  simple stories with a rich depth. I prefer stories that connect with your heart immediately, but also reveal something new each time they are experienced. ‘Reparando’ is such a story.

Our goal was simple on paper: inspire viewers to respond. We set out to accomplish this goal using the metaphor of the repaired doll in the over-arching storyline. We wrestled through pre-production for over a year, weaving this metaphor through the story. Everything was intentional – from the “Michelangelo-esque” feel of the hand reaching down to pick up the doll in the title sequence, to the money exchanged as a ransom for doll parts, to the baptismal washing of the doll, to the white dress … I could go on and on … all of these things were intentionally included to reinforce the story of redemption.

During the editing process, I came across a statement by Shorty that inspired me as I scored music for the film. Shorty says “como campanas en mi meante” or in English, “like ringing bells in my mind” when he remembered the message of God’s love in his life. I loved this concept of ringing bells and employed them in the musical score from the very beginning of the film. Watch the film and listen carefully for bells. You will first hear them in the title sequence as the hand reaches down. Then, you’ll hear bells over and over again throughout the story. This was intentional bell ringing. I wanted to communicate that “God loved Shorty and was present from the beginning.”

OK, now fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the final event of our spring screening tour. Oddly, I listened to something in ‘Reparando’ for the first time. I say listened, because I had heard it before, but not connected the dots.

If you own the DVD, fast forward to the final scene of the movie in the market and listen carefully. As the scene builds and eventually plays out, you will hear the sound of a bell ringing out of control. When I say it is ringing out of control, I mean it. Someone is ringing the heck out of a bell and we had no control over it. It was just the natural sound of the market and a vendor was ringing a bell to gain attention. Little did they (or I) know how profound their bell ringing would become. If you listen for the bell, it is clearly present in this scene. But it sat there unnoticed by me for almost two years as I focused on my own intentionality.

I don’t want to over spiritualize it. But these bells reminded me that no matter how much intentionality I put into something, I am not in control. This lesson could not have come at a more profound time. Case in point … immediately after returning home from the Michigan screening / bell epiphany, I learned that I am loosing my day job – the job that actually pays my bills. None of my intentionality or planning mattered at that point. I’m simply not in control.

To be honest, my heart is walking a tightrope between mourning and dancing. I am a critical thinker and a processor. It isn’t just loosing my job. It’s deeper than simply finding a way to replace my income. There is a certain sting that hurts your soul when you are told that your purpose and passion are not valuable – at least when you are wired like me. It cuts deep. However, I have learned a couple things through Shorty & Tita in the film ‘Reparando’ :

1. God was, is, and will be in control of Shorty and Tita’s life. And the same holds true for mine.

2. Because God is in control, I don’t need to be.

I cling to this truth as I walk forward in faith, hoping to pursue Athentikos full time. That is my dream and perhaps my calling. Only time will tell. But even if for some reason I cannot pursue this dream, I will joyfully dance to the sound of bells that continue ringing out of control.