Friday, August 03, 2007

Hutterites part II: Continuity and Change

(Click on any photo to enlarge it)
Coming soon: my current circle tour of North America on the Greyhound bus.

“So THAT’S why we’re called Hutterites!”

So said my student, whom I will call B.J., after one day talking about the Hutterites' namesake. I had previously mentioned Jacob Hutter to the students, calling Hutter a brother of mine on account of his faith in Christ. This seemed to cause some kids to think I had an actual brother who was a Hutterite. So I explained and qualified my statement, mentioning that Jacob Hutter couldn’t be my biological brother because he lived 400 years ago on the other side of the world. B.J. suggested that I maybe I could have been Hutter’s brother if I was born 400 years earlier, to which I said “if that were so, then you might be called Makiites.” That’s when the penny dropped for B.J. as to the origin of his identification.

Abner Road: I asked these boys to cross the roadway two steps behind the other. Would there have been any point in saying, "hey guys, pretend you're the Beatles"?

Other than teaching the Hutterites about Hutterites, my wish came true to be called back to substitute teach at their colony for a handful of days throughout the spring. This was before my June teaching assignment in Edmonton teaching the Grade 2 class. The first day I was back, the kids took me on a tour of the colony during classtime, at the direction of the regular teacher. That was alot of fun.

I loved seeing their bright little faces again. I mean, just look at all the little girls who came early to the office while I was preparing, and eagerly put on a tape with the readalong books. How could I not laugh -- and even more so when one of them said in her cute Plautdietsch accent "Misteh Maki, why you laugh?"

I've been learning a little more of what life is like behind the scenes in Hutterite life, some of it being just mind boggling. For one, I found out that Hutterite youth are not exactly strangers to TV, movies and popular music. This, in spite of the pretty stringent regulations concerning such. One day during current events (first thing in the morning when students share colony news, everything from cow brandings to chicken slaughters), I told a student, "That sounds like something Ned Flanders would say... But then again you probably don't know what I'm talking about." At this point, B.J. piped up "oh Mr. Maki, did you see the Simpsons last night?" Well, there goes that misconception. Not only that, B.J. generously lent me his punk rock CD one day. Man, if the colony minister found that in the rafters, B.J. would probably be meeting Die Liebe Rutan (unless the colony minister, for some queer reason, happens to be an Alice Cooper fan).
Die Liebe Rutan a.k.a. "The Love Strap": as mentioned in my previous entry, it is used only by the German teacher, not the "English" one. For a lark, I put it next to my lesson plans and the book I read to them on Mother Theresa (B.J. said "she's hot" when he saw her picture from her youth). The moment I took the strap out of the desk for this photo, there was a collective gasp in the air. Once I found out what the German words on it meant, I spontaneously sang: "Love strap, baby, love strap..." to the tune of the B52's "Love Shack" (which prompted much laughter and calls of "sing dat again Misteh Maki!") .

Hmmm, I wonder if only black hockey helmets are allowed: Yes, the rock says "Oilers". Any way you paint it, "This is Oil Country."
The kids were fascinated with my camera whenever I took pictures -- and clambering to take pictures whenever I asked for one of them to do so. As such, I did a photography activity with them on my last day. I gave each group of 4 a disposable camera, asking them to take pictures of different things at the colony that they hoped would change, never change, where they'll end up working, etc. The kids ate it right up. So did the regular teacher. She ended up incorporating the photo project into writing and display making activities.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to return to the colony to see their writing projects. These are some of the photos that leave me to imagine what they wrote about. The top two photos show some of the row housing and fields in the colony. The bottom two show the kitchen prepared for supper, and a typical clothesline apparatus.

Finally, a picture I myself took that encapsulates my hopes of continuity, change, and where life leads. In the handful of days that I was the teacher to these Hutterite children, I grew really fond of them and their world. I hope these children will always work dilligently and delight in the simple things of life, love and nature. I also hope that they will come to know and confess their need in the saving power of Jesus, beyond the traditions that have been influenced by the faith of their forefathers. Though I am pursuing teaching opportunities that are not condusive to being a colony teacher, I would still jump at the chance to see them again and continue to learn about their way of life.
Whatever the shape of this path, I continue the race toward the Son, the author and perfector of my faith, seeking the childlike simplicity with which I am to trust God the Father, and have my delight in him.

1 comment:

sheila said...

i must admit i was chuckling out loud at this posting ren. hope you get to wander back there at least once more! can't wait to hear how your trip went!