Wrestling With Thanksgiving

I’m wrestling with Thanksgiving.

wrestling_featured_image
I’m not wearing a Lucha Libre mask, leaping high off the ropes to grapple a turkey (although that would be epic). I’m talking about being honest with myself about what I’m thankful for.

I’m typically thankful for the good things in my life:

God, Family, Food, Shelter, Health, Education, Friends, Travel … things that warm my heart and put a smile on my face.

But what about the other stuff?

What about the stuff that has angered me, saddened me, or hurt me? What about the things that have really been a struggle? Am I thankful for those things? What things fit into that category? Depending on my perspective (or lack of one) … anything can.

I’ve been immersed in Becoming Fools for the last three years. It has been a stressful journey and I have found myself growing more and more exhausted … and less and less thankful for the opportunity to be involved with the project. I used to feel the same way about Reparando. But that changed over time, after we released the film.

Like most humans, I forget too easily.

During my Becoming Fools scouting trip in 2011, Tita asked me to personally attend a screening of Reparando. I was honored for the invite, but was exhausted from two weeks of 16 hour days interviewing people and capturing footage in Guatemala City. Part of me wanted to just go back to my room and go to sleep. I couldn’t understand why it made a difference if I was there. I thought, “I am just a silly Gringo. They won’t care. And besides … I’m in Guatemala for Becoming Fools, not Reparando.” But Tita was persistent. She said she really wanted me to come. So, we drove straight from our production across the city to a church near La Limonada. Tita met us outside the church with hugs and we watched the film from the back of the room.

reparando_tee_01

After the film ended, Tita called Shorty and I to come up in front. She hugged me, and while everyone was clapping, they presented a gift from the people of La Limonada: A T-shirt covered with signatures of people who live in La Limonada … People who were very thankful we made the film. I could not have been more wrong about … everything.

My perspective was renewed.

Reparando brought me closer to many things in the list I made above – God, family, friends, education, and travel. On a personal level, it helped me understand my sons’ stories in a way that I could never grasp otherwise. On a broader level, Reparando has inspired countless resources given to mission that have blessed people with much more struggle than I could ever image – people who are very thankful.

I believe that Becoming Fools will do the same eventually. So why am I wrestling with thanksgiving over Becoming Fools? I’m human. I forget. That’s why we’re called to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (continually refocusing our perspective on truth). We forget. That’s one of the reasons we celebrate Thanksgiving: to remember. I am personally challenged to remember things that might not seem to easily fit into a warm and fuzzy Thanksgiving box. Because most of the time, I’m just trying to put these things in the box from the wrong angle.

Here’s the right angle:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Everything fits in the Thanksgiving box with the right angle.

It’s not easy, but hopefully if I continue to wrestle, Thanksgiving will eventually win with a knockout.

What Thanksgiving do you wrestle with?

Encouragement

Encouragement is a blessing. In this age of Twitter and Facebook, a handwritten letter is a treasure chest full of gold that fills the emotional bank of our hearts.

Yesterday, I opened a letter addressed to Athentikos from Pennsylvania. We normally don’t receive a lot of mail from people, so this was already a unique experience. Inside the envelope was a check and a handwritten letter that included the following:

“Dear Mr & Mrs Moore,

I viewed your documentary – Reparando – last evening on Hulu Plus and I was moved by the conditions that exist, and the work being done to repair them. Praise God! Enclosed is a gift of $25 which I will send each month for the next year …”

I was unprepared for this encouragement and my eyes filled with tears. The emotional bank of my heart has long been overdrawn – invested in Becoming Fools – a worthy, but underfunded project that has been subsidized with my life for the last three years. To be honest – at this point in production, it’s easy to get discouraged – trapped into thinking the last three years were a waste of my time. It feels like we’ve put something on layaway and made payments every month, but we’ll never get to bring it home …

Three years is a long time, especially in an age when we get instant feedback. We can drive up to a window and get food in seconds. We can instantly watch any one of thousands of movies or tv shows, and if we don’t like that one, we can change our minds and instantly watch another. It’s easy to forget why we do what we do when we are focused on tasks to finish something – especially when we’re insulated and isolated from the reason we are doing it in the first place.

We produced Becoming Fools to share it with an audience – not so that the audience will tell us we did a good job, but so that the audience would be inspired to do something to make a difference in the lives of at-risk youth.

I’m grateful for this letter of encouragement. It testifies the power of story, the importance of our mission, and reminds me that our efforts are not in vain. This individual blew wind into our sails with encouraging words … and financial partnership that helps us amplify authenticity and multiply the mission of other organizations serving on the ground around the world. The irony is that this person was moved to encourage us after watching Reparando on Hulu – a film we released three years ago – the same amount of time that we have invested in Becoming Fools. Maybe three years isn’t that long of an investment when we consider that stories can be passed down from generation to generation, with a return greater than we’ll ever know. It is worth it …

Help us leverage Becoming Fools by giving a tax-deductible donation.

 

This handwritten letter of encouragement is a treasure chest full of gold.

letter_post

Amplify Authenticity : Multiply Mission

Amplify Authenticity : Multiply Mission

We founded Athentikos in 2008 as a way to give back to Guatemala – the birth country of our adopted sons.

We produced Reparando as a way to say “thank you” for our sons, not realizing the impact that story would have on people around the world. Since its release in 2010, Reparando has inspired audiences to generously give hundreds of thousands of dollars and volunteer their time to mission organizations serving in Guatemala. To be transparent … we didn’t see that coming, but we’re grateful God is using the story in ways we never could have dreamed. Over the last five years, we’ve been able to hone in on our unique vision and calling.

Watch our new video bumper.

amplify_athentikos

There are a lot of organizations telling stories, but we focus our stories on authenticity, because authenticity invites others to join in the greater story. Authenticity acknowledges both strengths AND weaknesses, defining limitations and reinforcing the need for true community – diversity working together.

We wanted to make a difference in marginalized communities around the world, but quickly realized we aren’t doctors, lawyers, or engineers – we’re creatives. So we decided to authentically be ourselves and use creativity to make a difference, believing that stories would inspire other people with diverse strengths to respond. Guess what … it does.

Among others, Doctors, lawyers, and engineers have responded to Reparando by giving their time, talents, and treasure.

The response has been so overwhelming, that we’ve decided to clarify our mission and vision:

Athentikos leverages the art of story to amplify authenticity and multiply mission.

Amplifying Authenticity multiplies mission by inspiring audiences to give their time, talents, and treasure, because we all want to be part of something greater than ourselves.

We’ve produced a new video bumper that highlights the mission of Athentikos.

 

[button type=”churchope_button” url=”https://vimeo.com/77464647″ target=”on” ]Watch our new video bumper[/button]

When we’re authentic to our identity, our origin is unquestionable.

Why Athentikos? Authenticity.

Why Athentikos? Authenticity.

We wanted to help people in need in marginalized communities around the world, but we realized we aren’t doctors, lawyers, or engineers. We’re creatives (artists, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, storytellers … etc). So, we decided to authentically be ourselves in mission, using our creativity to inspire a diverse audience (including doctors, lawyers and engineers) to join together and make the world a better place.

We believe a story has the ability to expose issues, connect people with opportunities to join the response effort, and multiply resources for mission. So, we structured a non-profit to allow us to focus our talents and passion together in a way that leverages the power of story to make a difference in the lives of people in need around the world.

10.10.13_02

It’s all about Authenticity.

In the process of examining the problem and honestly evaluating what we could do to help, we defined our limitations. But that isn’t negative. Knowing what we cannot do allows us to focus on what we CAN do, and DO THAT WITH EXCELLENCE. Embracing our limitations also invites us to collaborate with others who are different than us because we know we can’t do it all on our own. But we can do what we do best with others who do the same.  We’re just a small part of something bigger.

But it’s not just about doing. It’s about being true to our identity and resting in the peace of that truth. We’re not just a cog in a wheel. Our strengths and weaknesses, passions and sorrows, faith and doubts, history and dreams – these characteristics shape our identity – and our identity matters.

I love this definition of the word authentic: having the origin supported by unquestionable evidence. Unquestionable … that is a powerful word. An example that comes to mind is a one cent coin – a Penny.

You can’t do much with a single Penny … that’s why we usually spend them with other Pennies.

 

penny

There is no question of who made the Penny and who they belong to: The United States of America. In addition, (all joking aside in regards to the recent economy) there is no question of their value: they are worth one cent. If they show up in Spain or Sudan, they point back to where they came from.

Athentikos was born from our identity. We believe the desires of our heart came from a God who loves us and wants us to generously share our identity to serve the least, last, and lost.

When we’re authentic to our identity, our origin is unquestionable.

When we’re authentic in community, our lives compliment each other in a sum greater than each of its parts; a diversity in unity that can only be explained by the overwhelming grace of a God writing a greater story.


We’re a small non-profit with a vision bigger than we can accomplish on our own.

You can help by volunteering or giving a tax-deductible donation.

Give a tax-deductible donation.

 

Father’s Day and a Becoming Fools Related Anniversary

Coincidentally, June 16, 2013 was Father’s Day and a Becoming Fools related anniversary.

As I celebrate the fact that I am a dad, I also remember the purpose of our film. A year ago, street youth performed with professional entertainers on a Broadway stage as part of Becoming Fools. Here’s a bit of the opening narration:

“When I was a kid, it felt great when my parents came to watch me in a sport or play. Think back … Chances are, someone was there for you too, rooting you on with a smile. Someone was your number one fan, encouraging you to never give up.

But what if things were different?

What if … instead of rooting you on, your parents abused you … or what if they weren’t even there at all? How would that have changed your life? What opportunities would you have missed? For some, this “different reality”, really isn’t different. It’s all they’ve ever known …”

I am grateful for my dad. I’m also very thankful to be a father to my own sons, who happen to be from Guatemala.

When I tuck them into bed at night, I can’t forget that there are a lot of kids in Guatemala (and around the world) who don’t sleep in a bed and didn’t celebrate Father’s Day with their dads. That’s why we produced Becoming Fools to help make a difference.

Here’s a bonus feature, a scene from the Voz de las Calles Show.

Prodigal Clown – Scene – 03 from Athentikos on Vimeo.

 

We need your help to share the story.

Will you join us in Becoming Fools and give a tax-deductible donation to help us release the film?

Give a tax-deductible donation.

The Implosion of Becoming Fools

A year ago today, we were in Guatemala documenting the implosion of Becoming Fools.

We were three days away from a big theatrical event called “Voz de las Calles”, which was the culmination of five months of rehearsals with street youth and professional entertainers. The road had not been entirely smooth. In fact, there were some major hurdles along the way. But, with the help of gracious volunteers, it looked like they were going to pull it off.

And then … three days before the show, the bottom dropped out …

One of the street youth with a leading role in the play had been in drug rehabilitation for a year. Three days before the show, he left his rehab and went back to the streets to consume drugs. My heart was broken. This guy wasn’t a “street youth” to me – he was a friend. I was rooting for him and his peers as they wrestled towards their goal of performing on a Guatemalan Broadway Stage.

A year ago today, we didn’t know if they would be able to pull it off. It seemed impossible:

  • Most of the cast were youth who still lived in the streets
  • The original director wrecked his motorcycle and couldn’t continue with the project
  • Funds had not been raised to pay for the theater rental
  • The cast had never finished the entire play in rehearsal
  • One of the lead characters left the show 3 days before the event
05.31.13_02
The cast rehearses a symbolic scene where the hero is attacked by shadows.
05.31.13_03
This is probably how Roberto, the theatrical director felt, as he tried to pull the show together in three days.
05.31.13_04
Scott Moore documents the implosion of Becoming Fools, on his knees.
05.31.13_05
A tired cast receives notes after rehearsal.
05.31.13_06
The night ended with conflict as one of the cast members quit the show.

We didn’t know what would happen a year ago, but we all walked forward in faith .. Becoming Fools.

We captured a beautiful story that walks a tightrope between tragedy and comedy.

Fast forward to today …

We feel much like we did a year ago. It seems impossible.

We never raised the money needed to finish the film. But we believed in the project, so we subsidized it with our blood, sweat, tears, and personal savings.

The good news is that the film is finished.

The bad news is that so is our funding.

We need your help to share the story.

Will you join us in Becoming Fools and give a tax-deductible donation to help us release the film?

Give a tax-deductible donation.

 

Tamagochy

tamagochy_02

Tamagochy is a Guatemalan icon, made famous for his performances in the streets of historic Antigua, Guatemala. We saw him performing during our scouting trip in 2011 and were totally blown away by his creative talent. We first noticed the crowd surrounding him and wondered why everyone was gathered. We approached the crowd to explore and quickly realized they were watching a master at work. Before we knew it the crowd unglued us as more people joined behind us.

Being a filmmaker, I pulled out my camera to capture his antics. Of course, Tamagochy dialed right in and pulled me into his show to be part of the act. I remember thinking, “It would be so great if someone like this was a part of Becoming Fools.” But at the time, we didn’t know much about the film. I didn’t want to prematurely invite him into something that wouldn’t pan out. So I decided to keep quiet. It was hard for me to walk away and not say anything because I could see Tamagochy’s potential. I regretted that decision for the rest of the scouting trip.

I pulled up Tamagochy’s footage after returning home and again felt regret for not reaching out to him. I couldn’t believe I met him personally and didn’t mention a single thing about the film. I didn’t get his contact info and I didn’t ask him to sign a release form either. So this footage was never going to see the light of day … And then …

About a month after returning home, I received an email from … Tamagochy …

He heard about the Becoming Fools project and wanted to help. I just sat there for a moment in awe of what happened. I hadn’t said a thing. I had no idea how to contact him. But that didn’t matter. Tamagochy contacted us!

Tamagochy is an absolute star when it comes to talent. But he didn’t come in with arrogance as a professional. He joined the team as a humble servant, volunteering his time because he understood the issues these youth were facing. He proved to be an incredible treasure for both the street youth and the Becoming Fools story.

If you are ever in Antigua, Guatemala, make sure you take some time to enjoy his street performance … and when he passes the hat, tip him well, knowing that you are helping an incredible artist continue to help make the world a better place.

Here’s a scene from the Becoming Fools Theatrical event with Tamagochy and Toñito – both are featured in the documentary, Becoming Fools.

Prodigal Clown – Scene 2

Prodigal Clown – Scene – 02 from Athentikos on Vimeo.

Prodigal Clown – A Symbolic Story of Their Lives

Professional clown Alfonso Ralda performing with José “Toñito” Tumax, a youth who was rescued from the streets.

Street youth joined professional entertainers on June 16, 2012 to present a symbolic story of their lives and honor a fallen hero. Professional Clown Italo Castro, devoted himself to mentoring street youth and became a father figure to many – even opening his home to them. Sadly, he tragically drowned in 2011. In the wake of his death, a group of Italo’s friends committed themselves to continuing his dream and began meeting weekly to train and prepare for a theatrical event.

After five months of rehearsals and many setbacks, the cast presented their story on the grand stage of Teatro Abril in Guatemala City to an audience of several hundred people. Athentikos documented the rehearsals and the theatrical event as part of the Becoming Fools Documentary, which will release later this year.

Here is a short scene from the theatrical event, featuring professional clown Alfonso Ralda performing with José “Toñito” Tumax, a youth who was rescued from the streets. Stay tuned for more scenes from the theatrical event … and for the premiere of the documentary, Becoming Fools.

 

Prodigal Clown – Scene – 01 from Athentikos on Vimeo.