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.

 

Finding A Bridge: Behind the Scenes in Guatemala

Finding A Bridge

Our mission: to find a bridge in Guatemala that was visually epic!

Scott and I recently got back from Guatemala after spending over two weeks in country. We were capturing footage for a new short story video for the organization AMG International. We are not strangers to filming in Guatemala. In fact, it’s at times very automatic, we are aware of the hurdles as well as some of the benefits of producing visual content in this beautiful Central American country.

In many ways it’s much more different to film in Guatemala than filming in the United States. You have the sense at times that everyone is watching you when you have a camera out… for me, personally, its unnerving at times. But there are many moments in which we’ve pulled off shooting in some locations that we’d never be able to achieve in the States!

So as part of our concept for this new short story video, the challenge of finding a bridge that was epic visually in some ways didn’t really phase us but at the same time, we weren’t really sure what to expect.

For the first four days after our arrival we visited some bridges around Guatemala City, even taking a 90 minute jaunt outside the capital to see an old Spanish bridge built in the 1500’s. We viewed many photos and videos and asked many locals about bridges in the area. The process was a little tedious and we didn’t want to settle on something less than epic!

After we had ruled out most of the possibilities, our friend and fellow filmmaker Rafa Tres suggested a hanging bridge and showed us video of it from when he had shot some footage for a short film. Scott and I had wide eyes after seeing the footage. It was truly epic! Not necessarily the type of bridge we had in mind but the scenery around the bridge was beautiful!

Rafa had informed us the bridge was a couple of hours outside the city so after looking at the calendar, we gathered our two cast members and some local help and we set the date!

We set off for the location. There was a slight caveat however. No one in our circle really knew the exact location of this bridge. We knew the general area according to Rafa’s instructions but even he could not remember the exact location. But, not to be deterred we set off.

After about 90 minutes of driving we stumbled across a little village that bordered a river. it so happened to have an old railroad bridge that the villagers used to get across the river from the village to the market areas. The railroad is no longer there but the bridge still remains. We decided to stop and observe to see if this could be another possible location for what we needed. After a few minutes of walking around and scouting the area we decided to go ahead and get some shots at this particular bridge given the uncertainty of finding the hanging bridge we set out to find.

Finding A Bridge

Finding A Bridge

We filmed enough footage that we felt good about what we captured that if we did not find the hanging bridge, we got what we needed. Yet, at least for me, we have already come out this far, nearly two hours from Guatemala City, it seemed like a waste to turn around now and settle for what we just captured. Thinking we only had about another 30 or 45 minutes to go, I urged us to continue and the group agreed.

About 30 minutes later we decided to stop and ask someone if they knew the where a bouts of the bridge, thinking we were getting close. When we found someone that knew the bridge we were describing, they stated it was on the other side of Mazatenango, about 30 minutes down the road. Feeling a little discouraged we continued on.

Another 30 minutes later we still hadn’t come upon Mazatenango so we stopped again. This time, we were told that Mazatenango was still another 30 minutes away! Ugh! Well, we have come this far, may as well keep going. But by now, the afternoon rains had started to come and we were starting to wonder if we would ever find the bridge.

We finally came upon Mazatenango and some relief was felt among the group. While in town we decided to stop and ask someone if they knew where exactly the bridge was. To our amazement, the person we asked had said… you guessed it… another 30 minutes outside the city. By now the situation was getting comical! But, we still continued on.

By now we had been driving collectively for for nearly 4 hours. We were tired, it had been raining, the time taking to get to the bridge now was twice as long than what we planned for. The doubt that we would ever find this bridge was so plentiful you could cut it with a knife!

But then we started to see a deep ravine and some water falls. We saw the mile marker in which we were told to look for and we turned off the main road. We could sense we were getting closer. The road followed the deep ravine so we knew we were in the right place. We went through a small village where we stopped again to ask someone where the bridge was. They told us it was in the direction we were headed. It was still raining but it didn’t matter, at this point we were not turning back.

Finally after the coming off the paved road and we were sloshing through mud and water, up ahead we saw where the road ended… at the ravine. But, we still couldn’t see the bridge. We pulled up near the edge where a few locals were huddled under a simple open air roof. We asked them if this is where the bridge was and they all pointed just off to our right. Excited, we parked the van, jumped out to have a look. And there it was!

Just then, the rain had pretty much stopped but we heard thunder in the background. We needed to take advantage of this break in the rain so quickly Scott and I grabbed the camera bags and shouted out orders to have out cast ready to begin walking across the bridge as we rushed to our vantage point in which we were going to shoot, a second, older bridge about 200 feet away!

Finding A Bridge
Bobby setting up his shot while standing in the middle of the old bridge, which you can see is not much wider than a man, suspended about 150 feet in the air!
Finding A Bridge
Scott setting up the camera, ready to shoot from the old bridge.

As you can see, the shoot was a success and the location of the bridge was grand, beautiful and very much epic! Not only did determination paid off but God rewarded us by halting the rain just long enough for us to capture some amazing footage. Literally, after about 30 minutes of shooting the rain started again but we knew we had what we needed.

Finding A Bridge

Athentikos in Search of New Board Members

Athentikos in Search of New Board Members

Athentikos, over the past year, has grown tremendously. With now a second film under our belts, we have realized that there are many opportunities in which we could take advantage of but lack the resources in which to do so. So we have come to the point where we, as an organization, need to reach beyond our own team for help and grow our board of directors.

Our current board consists of Scott Moore, Bobby Marko and Joel Van Dyke. We would like to find at least three more board members to join the current board of directors.

Possible candidates we are in search of contain one or more of the following skills:

  • Business Owner
  • Business Finance
  • Fundraising/Grant Writing
  • New Media/Social Media
  • Film and Video Industry Knowledge
  • Business Management
  • Networking
  • Organizational Strategic Planning

If you feel you posses these skills and have a passion for the mission of Athentikos, please contact us by clicking HERE.

Athentikos in Search of New Board Members

All Working Toward The Same End Goal

All Working Toward The Same End Goal

By Sam Fisher

From age 16 to now (20), God has given me multiple amazing opportunities to serve Him through different ministries, all working towards the same end goal: to glorify God and make Him known by meeting needs both physical and spiritual.

The first door God opened in my journey was when I was a sophomore in high school. I was able to join up with a group called GEMS (Guatemalan Evangelical Medical Servants) and go to Guatemala for the first time on a weeklong medical missions trip. During this trip God really took hold of my heart and gave me a passion for these people as we held medical clinics at the local churches in four different villages. Not only did we hold medical clinics to meet the physical need of each village, but we also played with and shared the gospel with the kids and parents outside waiting to go to the clinic through Vacation Bible School style activities. I got to work outside with the kids every day, and I absolutely loved it! It was on this first trip to Guatemala that God really opened my eyes not only to the needs of this people, but also to the incredible ways in which He is working in Guatemala. He has given me a passion for working with children in Guatemala.

All Working Toward The Same End Goal

After this first trip, I returned to Guatemala 3 more times with GEMS and met so many wonderful people also doing God’s work there in Guatemala. The second time that I went, the leaders of the group showed us the movie “Reparando“. This is a documentary of Guatemala, and more specifically the amazing ways in which God is working in La Limonada, the largest slum in Guatemala. When I first saw this movie, my heart was again touched, and I felt God calling me to do something. I wanted to make a difference and be able to help even when I was back in the States. So, I got a hold of Athentikos and asked how I could help. I was put in contact with Ericha Penzien, who helped me begin to plan a screening of “Reparando”. The goal was to raise awareness in my own hometown of the needs and the hope in Guatemala.

With some help, I was able to hold a screening of “Reparando” at my college and raise over $800 for Athentikos.

My adventures did not stop there, though. At the end of May 2012, I went to Argentina for a 6-month study abroad program through my college. I decided to go because I wanted to be fluent in Spanish. This would help me work in Guatemala with the people and children I feel God has called me to work with. I think it is so important to be able to communicate with these people in their own language and to understand their culture. So, I went to Argentina for 6 months to learn Spanish better and experience their culture. While I was there, I lived with a host family and attended church with them. I got to help out with their youth group a few times and began regularly helping in their children’s ministry on Sunday mornings. God taught me a lot while I was there. Not only did I learn to speak Spanish fluently, but I also connected with so many new people that became family to me. The main thing was that God showed me that He is and will always be enough for me.

All Working Toward The Same End Goal

After going to Argentina, I spent a week in Guatemala with a friend named Julia Arreaga. She is a missionary to her own people in Guatemala and works with many different organizations helping at-risk youth. While I was in Guatemala, I got to see what she does and volunteer at an AMG school for a couple days. AMG schools are schools positioned in red zone areas of Guatemala that provide education, meals, and share Christ with the at-risk youth that live in these areas.

Then, when I had returned home, Ericha contacted me and asked me to be involved in the Red Bus Project. This is a project that Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife started to raise money to provide adoption grants and fund special care centers. I met Ericha and the RBP team, and more than a year later, as the Red Bus Project traveled to a college in my home state. I drove 2 hours to volunteer at the Red Bus Project’s double-decker-bus-turned-thrift-store for this awesome cause.

Looking back, it is amazing to see how God took a movie, “Reparando”, to give me such a passion and inspiration for helping others. God is so good!

Recently, I went to Guatemala a few weeks ago with GEMS again. This time, they asked me to lead the children’s ministry at each village. I decided to share the gospel with the kids through soccer. My friend Julia connected me to a group called Champions in Action when she heard what I wanted to do. This is a ministry that shares the gospel and mentors kids through soccer camps in the red zones of Guatemala. They were happy to come up with us to our first clinic and teach the kids some soccer. They also helped love on the kids, play with them, and do different crafts. It was a true gift to be able to work with them and combine our efforts and goals.

All Working Toward The Same End Goal

Now, as this summer begins, I have been accepted as an intern at an orphanage for girls in Guatemala. It is called Principe de Paz (or Prince of Peace). This girls’ home has over 50 girls living there that come from all sorts of backgrounds. Many of them have been taken out of the court system and given a home here. I will have the opportunity to work with both the girls at this home and the missions groups that come to the home to help out. I am really excited to see how God will use me during the month of July at Prince of Peace.

God has definitely used me in many different ways, volunteering with many different organizations throughout the last few years. It amazes me still to see how many connections God has given me and continues to give me both in the States and in other countries. The passion that God has given me is to minister to the children that come from these red zones of Guatemala. I want to be a source of light and encouragement for these kids, and I want to be Christ to them. Honestly, I cannot say where I will be in five years or how God will use me. I only pray that He continues to receive glory through me and that hope continues to rise in the hardest places in Guatemala.

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.