Monday, December 8, 2014

Some Reflections on a Church Journey


   As a young child, my attendance at church was often sporadic.  When I did go to church regularly, I went with my grandparents, who provided transportation. My mother approved of this and encouraged me to go to Sunday school. 
    As a teenager, I attended church more regularly with my grandparents who would pick me and my younger sister up and took us along with them to church. (I’m glad that they did.) The church that we attended was a medium to small Baptist Church in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Many of the members of this church knew my grandparents, and my parents. They represented the working and middle class African Americans of Atlantic City. 

  I cherished sitting with my grandmother in the church pews. My grandmother dressed elegantly, with a beautiful hat and high heeled shoes. She would sometimes quietly give us a piece of candy when we became restless, since church service was at least two hours. It was also expected that we were to dress lady-like when we went to church.  That meant neat hair and no pants for girls.

  My grandfather, who also dressed impeccably on Sunday, was a deacon, so he would sit in the front of the church with the other deacons (many of whom he had served with in the navy, decades earlier).  The deacons would sit in a cluster of hefty wooden chairs right below the pastor, who preached with traditional Baptist energy and style. They responded to the pastor's sermon by nodding their heads and saying "Well!"
 
   I listened to the choir, composed of mostly the older ladies of the church who seemed to pour their hearts into the songs they sang, regardless of the level of their singing talent. I liked many of the hymns, such as "This Little Light of Mine" and "Soon and Very Soon".  I even joined the youth choir which was small, along with a couple of other teenagers. I liked that experience, even though my singing was not the best either, and getting to church to practice for choir posed a challenge. I started to feel like I belonged to the church, even if my attendance was sporadic. That sense of belonging and warmth from other members of the church is something that I remember fondly.
 
   I knew the basics of being a Baptist Church member.  I liked church and wanted to be close to God. However, I knew much less about being a Catholic Christian. I knew about Catholic schools, where kids, whose parents could afford the tuition, would go. 
  
   That brings me to the present moment, three decades later.  My husband and I attend the Catholic Church, and we live in Silver Spring, Maryland.  I’m thinking about the confirmation process that our youngest child is going through. 
      Our two older children completed confirmation years ago.  This process culminates in the sacrament of Confirmation. It is organized by the Religious Education Department of the church, including the director and  Religious education teachers. The teachers are called Catechists and they teach the Catechesis, which is basic religious education. In the Catholic Church the Catechesis is a formalized curriculum.  It was good for our children to receive this detailed instruction.  I was happy that my children were on the path of spiritual growth and embracing their closeness with God.
   Now our youngest child, who is thirteen, is going through this process.  The confirmation process is detailed and didactic.  I adore The Bible, also known as Scriptures for Catholics.  I believe reading The Bible is critical and is the heart of Christian practice, as well as putting the core principles of The Bible into practice, as much as possible.  I also believe that the behavior of church members should encourage a feeling of acceptance and belonging, whenever possible. 

   I still seek that feeling that I attained, while attending church growing up, a feeling that I still long for after regular attendance and participation in church for more than two decades.  Maybe I am being too skeptical. I want to have generosity and compassion for all of humanity and not give in the urge to be pessimistic. 
 
   I have reminded myself that my commitment to church is a spiritual commitment to our Heavenly Father, the Creator of the Universe, and that I should not allow myself to be discouraged by what's going on in the world, and our human condition. Maybe that's it.  I go to church as a spiritual practice which prepares me as I immerse myself in the love of the Creator, our Heavenly Father.
   My sister still attends the Baptist Church, and I can see that she enjoys it.  It's a duty, but she also enjoys the actual experience.  Mostly, she says that she gains gratification spiritually and socially from her church.
 
   My husband and I have faithfully attended the Catholic Church for twenty-five years. (We've participated in various ministries, too.)  Yet,  I've often thought that the social experience leaves something to be desired, yet I'm not a social butterfly myself. 
 
   The core of my church journey is a desire to be closer to God, to continue to experience His love and compassion and to share it with humanity, and His creation as a whole.  When I focus on that purpose, God's love, I feel whole and happy. That's what I want for my children, husband, family, and all the world.

By  Angeline Bandon-Bibum 
 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Season of Sacramental Preparation and Compassion

 

     As we stood in our church and watched our youngest child go through the "Rite of Enrollment" for the sacrament of Confirmation last week, I was happy to see her continue her Christian journey and commitment to being a compassionate and loving Christian person. Her older siblings completed this sacramental process which she is now going through.

      It is also good to see that our daughter is eagerly receptive of her mandatory volunteer service projects, which are a part of this process. There are many different types of volunteer projects from which the Confirmation candidates can select at least one, like volunteering for the Share Food Network of the Catholic Charities, collecting coats for people in the community in need of a coat, making Thanksgiving baskets for families in serious need, participating in Stations of the Cross during lent, and making greeting cards for those who serve in the military oversees. In these volunteer projects, Christian compassion is demonstrated and people's lives are positively impacted. I am thankful for this experience for our children, and other children, who will learn how to show compassion by helping other people.
     When I married my husband, I decided to be a part of the Catholic Christian faith. It has been a fruitful journey for more than twenty years. There are some aspects of the Protestant church, which I attended growing up, that I remember fondly and sometimes miss, like the music from the Baptist Church.
      As a young woman, I did not think it was a big matter to join the Catholic faith, since I was already a Christian. I thought a Christian was a Christian. It has taken me two decades to get use to the practices of the Catholic Church, yet I’ve benefited from the experience.
      My husband, however, grew up in a Catholic family, and we have raised our three children as practicing Catholic Christians. It has been worth it, as each of our children is a compassionate Christian person. For me, the heart of the Christian faith is God's compassion and love for us all. 
By Angeline Bandon-Bibum

Monday, October 20, 2014

Journey to Writer: A New Streamlined eCourse

A 7-Week Writing Webinar/Teleseminar
When: December 06, 2014 to January 24, 2015; Saturdays from 1:00pm to 1:50pm
Where: Webinar/Teleseminar
Webinar Dial-in-Details will be provided.  Cost: $97 (Almost Free rate ends Friday, at 6pm!)

Provided by
Angeline Bandon-Bibum

This is a fiction Writing eCourse for beginners, and those who want to review the fundamentals of fiction writing. You can complete this eCourse from the comfort of your home office, or sofa.
There is a story that you want to write, so sign up for “Journey to Writer” and starting working on that story.

Journey to Writer eCourse consists of the following:

Module 1: Introduction: Story ideas • Presentation on Setting • writing Prompt #1 (300 words).
Module 2: Character: Presentation on Character • Writing Prompt #2 (400 words)
Module 3: Character and Point of View Presentation • Writing Prompt #3 (400 words)
Module 4: Plot • Presentation on Plot Writing Prompt #4 (400 words)
Module 5: Plot (Continued) Presentation • Writing Prompt #5 (400 words)
Module 6: Dialogue and Scene Presentation • Writing Prompt #6 (400 words)
Module 7: Description • Presentation • Writing Prompt #7 (400 words)

This eCourse is for you if you are:
 • Someone who has always wanted to be a fiction writer, but doesn’t know where to start.
 • Someone who has been putting off telling a story that's meaningful to you. (Fulfilling your dream is worth your time; it's uplifting and energizing, too.)
To purchase this eCourse, go to www.journeytowriter.com

Friday, September 19, 2014

Inspiration from Images of the Ancient Culture of Rwanda

A strong and graceful warrior is the main image of the following poem:

Watutsi Warrior of Yore
 
The Watutsi warrior stood, with a spear in his hand,
With the grace of a woman, but the strength of a man.
In ceremonial regalia, he dances.
With a smile on his face, he prances.
The Watutsi warrior is thin and tall,
From my imagination he will never fall
From his wooden pedestal.
He is more than a sculpture in a museum.
He represents an ancient, proud people,
Flesh, blood, and beauty.
To write this poem is my duty.

By Angeline Bandon-Bibum
Copyright © 2005 by Ms. Angeline Bandon-Bibum 


The following images are photos of the ancient Watutsi warrior style.
(See Pinterest for source reference.)

Watutsi Warrior Dance

Watutsi Warrior Dance (See images on Pinterest for more information.)


















 Tutsi Royal Warrior
(See image on Pinterest)





Fierce Dignity of a Warrior Displayed


















 
 
(See image on Pinterest for more information.)
 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back to School Reflections: A Journey in Progress

For kindergarteners to graduate students, it is back to school season.  Likewise, all three of my children will be returning to school, from my youngest child to my oldest young adult.
Our son, the oldest of his siblings, is preparing to go to graduate school, a six hour drive away. That's a big difference from the close proximity of his undergraduate school. It is a big step, and I'm so proud of him.

It has been a beautiful journey to watch him grow up. I remember his first sonogram photo. My husband and I happily anticipated the birth of our son, our first child.
Years went by, and we continued our life as a family together. We had two more beautiful children, our daughters. Our eventful journey as a family continued. I thank God for his mercy and generosity, which made our progress possible.

Like all families, we experienced some problems along the way. Yet, through God's grace, life has been wonderful. Like many parents, we did the best that we could with the resources that we had. I must say that we have been blessed.
Now, it is like we are passing a baton to our son. It is his turn to join the race. (The practice sessions are over.) Yet, we remind our son that we, too, are still in this race, running with him and cheering him on, putting a glass of water in his hand, when he gets thirty.

We encourage him to try his best, to be kind to himself, and to continue to be kind to others. He knows, as we've communicated to him many times, that he should continue to have good standards. These standards will require him to work diligently towards his goals daily.

By  Angeline Bandon-Bibum

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Get On Up Movie Honors a Music Legend

The movie Get On Up contains a vivid setting, strong characterization, and a reverse chronology, replete with flashbacks. The image of James Brown, the bold and brilliant entertainer who was also an abandoned and heartbroken boy, is like a haunting metaphor. Perhaps I’m waxing too profound, yet I think that James Brown’s music legacy deserves no less.

Also, the lead actor, Chadwick Boseman, plays the role of James Brown excellently. He seems to transform himself into the persona of the "Godfather of Soul." The list of supporting actors is star-studded, with Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jill Scott, and Tika Sumpter, to name a few.
 
By Angeline Bandon-Bibum
 

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Writer's Genocide Research Reflections

I researched the topic of my novels, Sojourner's Dream and Lamentation of a Warrior, for years before, during, and after writing these novels. As a part of my research, I read many books, journals, newspaper articles, and more than a hundred news information website articles on the subject of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, and the Rwandan history that preceded the genocide. Also, I watched many historical documentaries on this topic, and I interviewed a Rwandan person who lost his family in the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.

Hence, I accumulated some boxes and disks filled with the research materials on this topic. Within these books, boxes, and disks is more than a decade of researched information which I've read. It often provided inspiration for some of the most poignant scenes of both of my novels. If you're a writer, or a storyteller, you'll, at some point, need to do research on your topic.

When researching, you may also need to explore into the depths of your topic. So, since the core of my topic was genocide, I also did some research into other genocides in various time periods and parts of the world, for example The Holocaust, the Khmer Rouge, the Nanking Massacre, and even the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre.

I'm passionate about history, so I was able to pursue researching this topic with great interest. When researching a topic in depth, it is best to have a strong interest in it. So, this worked in my favor. Though much of what I read during my research on this specific subject was profoundly heartbreaking, and often left me speechless with horror, I learned a great deal about it.

In the mist of the deep sorrow of the topic, there were moments of beauty and insight. For example, there are normally at least a few extraordinarily kind people who risk their lives to help others. The physical beauty of the geography of Rwanda is remarkable, and showed that in even in this midst of such a lovely natural setting, extreme terror can erupt.  Finally, the history of Rwanda, as it relates to other historical topics of African history during the colonial period, provided me with insightful reading.

By Angeline Bandon-Bibum, Author