KIT X #12 December Part II

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-------- Table of Contents --------
Melchior Fros - 'Primavera Perspective'
------ excerpts ------
Melchior Fros, Paul C. Fox
------Jay Ortiz - Back from Africa? ------<
Jay Ortiz, M.D.- Pittsburgh, Blair Purcell
R Sender, Jay Ortiz, M.D. - Africa, Chip
Wilson Literary Archive, W & B Chesley
Melchior Fros
------- No More Games ------
Tim Domer, Tim Domer
Tim Johnson, Betty Chesley, Ramon Sender
Dieter Arnold
Miriam Arnold Holmes
Renatus Kluver - 'USA Travels'
Colin Hazelton
Bette Bohlken-Zumpe - 'Xmas in Paraguay'
Deborah LeBlanc Herman to Dr. Dobson
Hans Zimmermann - 'The Surprise Catch'
Richard Packham - 'A Parable'
Thomas G. Digby - 'Birthday Of The Light
Mischa Gelman - Book Review

Thanksgiving: A Paraguayan Perspective On An American Rite

by Melchior Fros, 11/30/98:

Dear L___: The domestic turkey and chicken are among the few birds not protected by federal law, and Thursday is but one day when these unfortunate creatures succumb to our carnivorous appetites.

Believe it or not, but on Thursday, in a White House ceremony, the President of the USA. will "pardon" a turkey (One wonders if it should not be the other way around). I have no idea what this signifies nor where the practice comes from. I can only imagine it is a rite meant to confuse the pea-brained critter sufficiently, so that it continues to believe and spread the fowl news that mankind is indeed to be trusted.

Thanksgiving is also considered the day to lie down in front of the "idiot box" and watch big, behemoth men, fed on a diet of turkey, chicken and steak, run up and down a field with a "pigskin".

Ja, meine Dame, that is so!

The one with the pigskin is chased by other men, who try to knock him out of his senses sufficiently so that the pigskin can be "stolen". The thief and his cohorts run the other way, to the distant, opposite end of the field. The first one to carry the pigskin across a certain marker line, gets 6 points. If successful, the pigskin is kicked through a gigantic letter "H". The kicker is awarded one point if he succeeds. Thereupon, all players say in unison, "H-appy Thanksgiving".

L____, there are millions and millions of dollars to be earned in the process.

I hope this clarifies what an American Thanksgiving is like for many in this land of plenty!

Daniel Fros, age 9, 12/1/98: I am thankful for having food to eat. Because not very many people have as many things as we do. Also, I am thankful for my family. And for having friends that are nice, including teachers.

---- excerpts ----

BHofer3409, 11/22/98: To whom it may concern: What is your affiliation with the Bruderhof? It seems to me that all your experiences have been negative and damaging not only to yourselves personally but also to your family. What made you join the bruderhof in the first place? I don't know much about the Bruderhof and its philosophies or its so-called hypocritical, corrupt dealings, but it seems that you know a lot about it. Please answer one question: what do you really know about the Bruderhof? Answer this question with all honesty.

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Harry Fossard, Walter Bennett and Jens Morgenson - Primavera 1950s (?).

Melchior Fros, 11/24/98: I will answer with all honesty as follows:

"1. What is your affiliation with the Bruderhof What do you really know about the Bruderhof?"

I will answer with all honesty as follows: I am what is often known as "a child of the Bruderhof", meaning, I was born and raised there. I was born 1950 into one of their Primavera, Paraguay communities. I was raised lovingly but strictly. The "Great Crisis" of 1959-60 affected my family, and with the disbanding of Primavera, my family moved to England and then to Germany, where we lived away from the B'hof until our return to one of the American communities in 1963.

In 1965, at age 15, I was told to leave the community. I can tell you more another time. I returned to the Bruderhof Communities in 1973, after having a profound spiritual awakening in college (no church or other Christians were involved -- it was a gift from God). I was a part of the Bruderhof Communities until 1975, the time during which the re-uniting with the Brothers known as Hutterian occurred. I was at the Woodcrest Bruderhof, building the dining hall at that time.

"What do I really know about the B'hof?" If I could condense that into a few sentences, it would be that I have always tried to take their teachings very seriously -- so seriously, that I felt myself "unworthy" of their life, their understanding of a commitment to Christ. Indeed, I wondered if I could ever be a disciple of Christ. Over the years, my wife, children and I have visited many times, and have -- for the most part -- been warmly received We came down to help build up one of their communities. I supported their Nigerian mission and others of their "good works". All of that changed almost instantly with one letter written to me by my brother-in-law in late 1993, which I had the "misfortune" of answering with absolute truthfulness! Had I chosen to remain quiet, I suppose the welcome mat would still be there!

Today, I continue to try living by all the sacred principals I learned since my cradle days. It is because I take these seriously, that I am so incredibly shocked by the B'hof of today, and by the leadership of Christoph Arnold in particular. I have tried to inform myself by reading B'hof publications such as The Plough, some of their books, and by being in touch with other hurting, former members. I have had contact with Elder Christoph by phone and by e-mail, until one of his assistants, Joe Keiderling, took it upon himself to cut off e-mail access to the Elder. I have walked through "the fires of hell" as it were, with my own sister. I try to be compassionate.

A young man working with me -- raised on the B'hof and with connections to the Hutterites -- is a person whom I am trying to help in many areas of his life.

You write: "2. It seems to me that all your experiences have been negative and damaging not only to yourselves personally but also to your family."

For the most part, the experiences have been very good! I am deeply grateful for having been raised on the Hof. It is simply the huge disparity between what I was taught and what I see happening today that leads me to speak out. If this news group, and my participation gives you the impression that we are a bunch of negative, malcontents, then it is not an accurate impression. We feel the urgent need to let the larger Church of Christ, as well as other seeking individuals, know that the Bruderhof leadership has become morally corrupt (Eph 5: 8-12). And the members, vows to the contrary, are not speaking up about these matters. They are turning a blind eye to sin. They are doing their leaders a great dis-service. Please know too, that some of us, for years and years, have tried to find resolution to matters through private channels, only to find the sins visited upon us to be repeated yet again on a new generation of B'hofers.

You write: "What made you join the Bruderhof in the first place?"

I "joined" in 1973 with the hope of becoming a member. I never took the vows. I asked to become a member. There was no response. I was a participant in one of their "Brotherhood" meetings. What I experienced there convinced me to leave!

I hope I have answered all of your questions. If not, ask some more. Your participation in this news group is welcomed! Please note that XX is also a former Bruderhof participant who seems to hold widely divergent views from my own. These views need to be held to the Light.

Paul C. Fox, 11/24/98: The Bruderhof has an historical affinity with the political left, going all the way back to Eberhard Arnold, who was closely affiliated with the Christian Socialist movement of the 1920s and 30s. Although overtly apolitical during the "wilderness years" in Paraguay, once in the United States the Bruderhof became involved in the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-war movement of the 60s. Many of the members were conscientious objectors during WW II, Korea, and Viet Nam.

So the Bruderhof has always had a left-leaning tendency. I remember being quite taken aback when, on one of my first visits (around 1985), a sweet little old lady in Bruderhof garb commented vehemently on how "fascist" our government had become.

The current situation, therefore, is only an exaggeration of what has prevailed for many years. The trend has been to affiliate with ever more radically left-wing groups, to idolize ever more rabidly anti-American figures (such as Farrakhan, Castro, and Mumia), and to give credence to ever more bizarre conspiracy theories. By the time we were expelled, "The Militant" (the news-weekly of the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party) was displayed in the Spring Valley reading-room right along-side the "Plough" (and, be it noted, no daily newspaper was to be seen).

What makes the situation so tragic (among many other tragedies) is that the Bruderhof has the collective delusion that it is serving Christ and humanity through these alliances with revolutionary thugs. I'm sure the likes of Mumia, Farrakhan, and Castro are simply delighted to have these harmless-looking, innocent saps fronting for them. I'm equally sure that they have nothing but contempt for the essential core of Christian beliefs -- which, after all, the Bruderhof professes to represent.

In the long run, these enthusiasms will lead nowhere. We may already be seeing a retrenchment on the part of the Bruderhof. At least, I have yet to see any report of the "RevolutionFest" that the Bruder-hof so enthusiastically hosted back in the Spring. Perhaps the whole thing was such a fiasco that even Christoph could see it. At any rate, I hope they will pull back from these extremists before they get too badly burned by them.

In my opinion, and I'm sure some will disagree, the Bruderhof's present course is a direct result of Eberhard Arnold's ideas. His emphasis on a "Living Word" which was to be "brought to expression by the Word Leader" almost guaranteed the emergence of an authoritarian personality cult. I think Eberhard was a genuinely spiritual person, so that the danger was not realized in his life-time. But when his power devolved to persons with less spiritual depth, the subsequent developments were almost inevitable.

For this reason I agree that nothing short of a complete restructuring of the Bruderhof could correct the current situation. It is not even a question of Christoph personally. He is what the Bruderhof system has made him.

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- Dr. Jay Ortiz - back from Africa so soon? -

M.D., 11/9/98: Never posted here before, but have followed the discussion sporadically. Just couldn't resist commenting on a most remarkable experience this evening.

I'm in Pittsburgh this weekend attending a mini- conference on long-term care for organ transplant patients. Unwinding in my hotel room this evening I caught a strong Germanic accent on the radio and perked up my ears. Turns out it's a long interview on Pittsburgh's KDKA talk station with Mr. Arnold of Bruderhof (Society of Brothers).

Where were all you guys? If there ever would have been a chance to haul Arnold on the carpet, this was it. Didn't any of you know he was going to be on the air? Chesley, Fox, Purcell, Frost, Domer--all you guys who are so prolific in this newsgroup -- you should have jammed KDKA's lines. As it was he was in a feisty mood. In fact, he even told the host at one point that he wished some of his critics would call in so he could engage them in dialogue. Ramon, I tried to reach you but couldn't get an answer. Dammit it was frustrating. He was on a roll!

As it was, he had dozens of callers. And almost all of them already had copies of his books. This guy's incredible! Bruderhof has been remarkably effective in getting books distributed. Ramon, you could learn something from them.

He's clearly hitting a responsive chord with his listeners and with the reading public. And this interview went on for a full two hours after I tuned in! It was unbelievable.

Don't you have anyone in Pittsburgh who can clue you in when Arnold's in town? I thought you followed this kind of stuff. You really dropped the ball on this one. Do any of you know how long he will still be in town? Is he on some kind of book promotion tour?

Blair Purcell, 11/10/98: Our favorite "pediatrician" checks in! Hi Jay! Our good friends at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, a major national center for transplant research, report to us that there were no mini-conferences held in Pittsburgh this weekend. Too bad you went so early (maybe the conference is next week -- but, perhaps, your wife won't let you out two weekends in a row) but what a great opportunity to hear the elder on the radio.

Isn't he an eloquent speaker? Really awesome - and courageous, too.

Jay, it was tragic to read of the loss of your dear friend Chip during your post-Bruderhof safari with him in Africa. Perhaps you'll be able to find a burial spot for his scattered parts in Rosendale Plains. I know a perfectly good grave site just aching for a new occupant. Close -- but not too close -- to the golden 'hof.

Dr. Ortiz's earlier story about the death of his friend Chip Wilson appeared in the November 1998 issue of the KIT newsletter. Or see the following URL:

What a sad end to such a fine young man!

Ramon Sender, 11/30/98: Actually this 'Jay Ortiz' is an impostor, Blair, so don't take him seriously. The real Jay Ortiz, although a pediacharlatan, is still corresponding with us from South Africa, as the following letter, dated the same as the one from Pittsburgh, proves. I wonder if perhaps Christoph Arnold in Pittsburgh was an impostor also? Did anyone see him, or actually hear him? The mystery curdles...

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Jay Ortiz, M.D., 11/9/98: I have returned after taking dear Chip's mortal, somewhat scattered remains to Durban about 200 miles south. Requiring some tranquillity to gather my shattered emotions, I have holed up at the Umfolozi Game Reserve with Chip's trunk of manuscripts to edit his memoirs. Within my room at the Gqoyeni Bush Lodge, I am enjoying the staff's hospitality while taking the time and space to apply myself to my task at hand.

I thought I would share just a few tender moments from Chip's journals here so that the reader can begin to understand the sensitivity and depth with which this young man approached his life at the Klapsmuhle Kommunity:

Chip Wilson, August 4, 1994: The Eerie Group, of which I've been a member for two years, has now grown to nine people. We have experienced the gift of tongues over the past week, with a number of us spontaneously bursting into glossolalia at odd moments of the day. Sister Amelia also has been channeling messages from an angelic entity named 'Woodbine' who has been pointing us towards more contacts with something called "the Klapsmuhle" and someone called 'The Welder,' The latter is considered by Woodbine a veritable font of religious truth and wisdom. We have been able, by a process of throwing dice and counting the freckles on Sister Amelia's arm to arrive at an area code and phone number for the above-mentioned Klapsmuhle group. Imagine our surprise when, after a tentative three jingles, the voice on the other end identified himself as "Welder Associates -- the awesome Welder himself speaking!"

"That's very, very interesting!" he shouted when we mentioned our method of contact. "We can always use more awesome ways of relationing with sincere seekers!"

Impressed with his enthusiasm and sincerity, we made immediate plans to visit. The following weekend we made the long drive to the aforementioned group. We arrived just before supper time to find a row dance in process, in which the male and female members line up in two groups and start rapidly tapping their toes and heels in rhythm with a snare drum. It reminded me a little of the drawings I have seen of Shaker groups who also danced in a similar manner. One young sister immediately caught my eye. Whether it was the curl escaping from her kerchief or the brightness of her smile, I made sure to be introduced to her during the refreshments afterwards.

Her name is Sophonisba, which I believe is Old Testament, and of course I found the name and namee enchanting! Row dancing does not allow the closeness of couple-dancing, but I made an effort to be placed not far from her during the next 'reel,' and was able to pass hand-to-hand with her during the frenzied drumming. Afterwards, we shared a fine repast of cornbread and gravy, dotted with a type of wild miners' lettuce that the children had gathered in the forest glades.

The Welder presented an imposing figure, with a high and furrowed brow that denotes great intellectual acumen. I would estimate his age in the mid-sixties, but still sporting a shock of graying hair over his pronounced prefrontal lobes. Standing tall in his homespun robes, he gave very much the impression of an Old Testament prophet, although he did mention that the group is very much a non-prophet type that he kept calling "five-oh-wundy," which I still do not quite comprehend.

During the discussion period that followed, I was amazed at the religious knowledge displayed by the young people, who were able from memory to recite various verses and even refer to secondary sources from such obscure authors as a Herr Professor Gottfried Denckenlos who has translated eight-thousand-year-old Sumerian clay tablets. These tablets seem to be extensive grocery lists of a religious group quite similar to the Klapsmuhle, except perhaps for their many laudatory references to "fermented grain."

The next morning we were awakened by a group of youths running through the guest dormitory clashing pairs of cymbals together and shouting, "Arise, arise!" Although a little startling when coming out of a deep sleep, I was able to calm my pounding heart and appear at breakfast in a somewhat more tranquil mood.

The Klapsmuhle economy depends on various folk crafts. The young adults assemble kites of various sizes and shapes, which must be tested before being packaged. The testing can be quite tricky, especially with some of the larger varieties that are capable of tugging a small person off their feet into the air. I was startled to see a nine-year-old boy disappear over the treetops, hanging on for dear life to three box kites that had been suddenly boosted by a gusting breeze.

"He'll come down without a scratch," Sophanisba told me sweetly. "We're used to this."

All the young people seemed zealous in their duties, and passionately interested in the mutual welfare of everyone. There seemed a general interest in feeding the elderly, and I constantly saw a teenager stuffing food into the mouth of a senior member. All in all, the insights brought by the weekend visit moved my whole group in the direction of asking to join the Klapsmuhlers. It was obviously our destiny.

(to be continued)

Dr. Ortiz's assistant pondering Chip's journals.
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Wayne & Betty Chesley, 11/10/98: For the casual observer of this newsgroup, I would like to point out that Jay Ortiz is a fictitious character created by some of the Bruderhof upper echelon. This character was created along with another, Chip Wilson, in an attempt to deceive and trick some ex-members (and perhaps prospective members). This has been confirmed quite to the satisfaction of those of us outside. It is truly astounding that the Bruderhof would still try to carry on this deceit. I quite frankly think it demonstrated again the true character of the Bruderhof leadership.

Note that "Dr. Ortiz" has never before posted to the Internet. A check with the AMA would show that no such person exists. As for Chip Wilson, the community from which he supposedly came from never existed, nor does his name appear in the "household list" of the Bruderhof (a record of the residents of the communities) at the time he supposedly lived there.

This is similar to other characters the Bruderhof created in other internet discussions: Phil Bradley (, Heinzstr (, Charles995 and -- aliases for Christoph Arnold himself. Check out the postings under those names, you will find them very interesting indeed! See some of Christoph's writing at:http://www.deja news.comgetdoc.xp?AN=218 379032 ¥ 213809764 ¥ xp?AN=219400604

The Bruderhofers lie to those outside, lie to prospective members, and lie to each other. This deception is one of the plainest marks of the growing cultishness of the Bruderhof Communities under J. Christoph Arnold.

I hope anyone doing research on the Internet about Christoph Arnold or the Bruderhof communities will see what is said here, and will take the time to read the stories of former members and see for themselves the things that Christoph has said in public. If you are taken in by this cult, it should not be because you have not been told the truth.

That the Bruderhof communities would promote books authored under the name of Christoph Arnold, while carrying on deceit, separation of families, destruction of marriages and the pursuit of wealth and comfort show the depth of hypocrisy to which Christoph Arnold and his associates have brought the Bruderhof communities.

Melchior Fros, 11/10/ 98: Speaking of "Dr. J" (hey, where have I heard that name before?), I recently read the obituary of his dear friend Chip in a news letter known for truthful reporting. The writer, from Maryland, seems to have "known" Chip rather well. Apparently, Chip had been flown in a Gulf Stream Jet to the remote bushes of Africa by a dear, wealthy friend of his, who - one suspects- may have had sinister motives for doing so.

But strangely, the same newsletter quoted the jet-owning "gentle"(?)-man from the East Coast (one never knows if he owns it, leases it from his own corporation, or what) as saying that neither Chip nor Dr. Jay are dead!!! Perhaps he had a twinge of guilt about what he had done and wanted to absolve himself of all responsibility for Chip's demise?

Now we are told the good Dr. Jay has surfaced in Pittsburgh, where he is attending "a mini-conference on long-term care for organ transplant patients" that is not known to have taken place! This information comes from a real Dr. Jadiya Ortiz who, oddly, got her medical degree from the Universidad Nacional de Asuncion, Paraguay.

It has been reported that these twist and turns in the mysterious life of Dr. Jay caused a mother in Maine to get such a throbbing virtual headache, that she had to make an additional pot of coffee! What next?!!! I wish Dr. Jay would cease to exist! Then again, he might prove a useful "tool" for addressing the wrongs committed under the leadership of the East Coast Jet "Owner." After all, who can sue a figment of the imagination! Sincerely,

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---------- No More Games ----------

Tim Domer, M.D.11/14/98: Dear Wayne and Betty, thank you very much for what you posted on The time for games is over. It is time for all of us to call a spade a spade. The B'hof is a cult. The cult leaders are JCA and the memory of his father. Their leadership lives a lie and the membership has swallowed it. They lie when they talk of following Jesus. They lie when they talk of showing love. They lie when they speak of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace. They lie in their books. They lie when they call people, there is always a hidden agenda.

They lie about "visits" to show "love". They lie when they pull out the red carpet for the few they allow to visit. They lie to their "friends". When a "friend " asks critical questions, or questions the leader, that person quickly becomes an enemy. They live such a lie that they live through imaginary people. "Dr. Jay Ortiz" is as much a lie as the entire B'hof leadership. Even if the name were pulled from a real doctor, which I doubt, the character that CD has developed is a pure fabrication.

They live such a lie and lie so often they no longer are capable of telling the truth. JCA has been responsible for catastrophic failures; the Nigerian disaster, the breaking up with the Hutterites, the break-up of so many families causing untold pain and suffering to so many B'hof children, young and old. In spite of these facts the B'hof membership holds him up as a modern-day prophet and hangs on his every word. The lie is so deep and so institutional that they are unable to discern either the truth or simple reality any longer.

I do not know what lies ahead but if we continue to show restraint, to stick to the facts, to resist the childish attempts to bate us, something may change. Perhaps the lie will collapse of its' own weight. I think people should be prepared for more from CD, JK and JCA. They have been deprived of many of the covert tactics they used in the past. They may come up with new ones. In all likelihood they will call others or post again. They may write harassing letters as well.

As long as we keep in touch and expose the lies as they come out, I believe that slowly the truth will win. Bit-by-bit the truth will chip at their hearts of stone. I pray that the stone breaks while we still live.

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Tim Domer, M.D.,11/23/98: In November of last year I received the following letter from my father:

Dear Tim, You have clearly made your choice to go the way of KIT, knowing what that means to us, your parents. We will not answer any letters or phone calls and have advised Christoph to ignore your messages. Neither we nor he are responsible to you. With the direction you are going, you will end up a bitter old man with only your "grievances" left. Signed: Daddy and Mama.

I had written three letters to Christoph asking about the $15 million law suit the Bruderhof had filed against several "enemies". I had also asked about several other concerns stemming from things I had been told, including a comment from one of his close advisors who had referred to himself as "Christoph's hitman". Christoph dodged all the questions. In each reply he turned things around with statements such as "what I miss in you is a heart of flesh - a heart that feels compassion and hurt... which is very much needed in your work as a doctor." When I asked him to clarify to what specifically he was referring he did not reply. My father's letter was in response to the letters I wrote to Christoph.

With this letter I, my wife and our two children were completely cut off from family and friends in the Bruderhof. My children received no cards for their birthdays, we have had no contact with any member of the Bruderhof at Christmas, something which has always occurred in the past. A card I sent for my mothers birthday was returned unopened. An anguished letter my fifteen year old daughter wrote to her grandparents was answered coldly by her uncle Christian Domer, who wrote that he was answering because "the whole situation is too painful for them".

Later in the year another brother of mine, who lives away from the Bruderhof and had also never been a member, was cut off by my father because he would not agree to end all contact with me.

A year has past, a year in which we have come to realize truths about the Bruderhof that we never would have believed possible. We have seen clearly that what happened to us has happened to many hundreds of other children of the Bruderhof.

During the year I have posted several times on this newsgroup. Early on I felt that if one wrote in an honest, heartfelt, earnest way, Christoph's heart and the hearts of his advisors would be opened. I believed that the words Christoph writes in his books and letters were words that he believed. I believed that Christoph was an honest person. I had been friends with Christoph for years and until recently had always found a listening ear. I believed that if we could meet and talk in a spirit of mutual humility, being open to see where each of us has fallen from the path that Christ taught us follow, to look to Christ's teachings and life example for guidance, that true reconciliation could be realized.

What became clear during the course of the year is that Christoph and his close advisors have no interest in finding true forgiveness and reconciliation. What Christoph wants is submission (subjugation) and control. Though he writes of seeking peace Christoph has rejected offers of mediation by several parties including the Mennonite Conciliation Service and the Campaign for Equality-Restorative Justice (CERJ). Letters written earnestly and respectfully were ignored or we answered by "corporate officers". Promised meetings never materialized.

What has also become clear is that the Bruderhof leadership's claim to be following the teachings of Christ, especially His Sermon on the Mount, is a sham. How Christoph and his operatives treat people he has labeled "enemies" and treat those who question him is in direct opposition to Christ's teachings and life example. Christoph's close advisor, Christian Domer, once told me that he was Christoph's "hitman". At the time he said this I had simply warned him to be careful, now I know more clearly what he meant. Many of the activities of Christoph's operatives have been described on this site.

I have thought long and hard about the situation with the Bruderhof. I believe that what lies at the heart of the dysfunctional way the Bruderhof treats its' "enemies" and breaks up families is the fact that the Bruderhof has made COMMUNITY rather than Christ the center if its' life. It is the fierce desire to "protect" the COMMUNITY at all cost that has lead to such un-Christlike practices as lawsuits, deceit, telephone harassment, surveillance of "enemies" and using false identities.

The Bruderhof membership has elevated its elder to a very unhealthy level and treats him in an almost worshipful way. Their Constitution gives him essentially unopposed power. It states that "when speaking on church matters" it is believed that the elder speaks with the leading of God. Who would dare to contradict the words of someone who is speaking with the leading of God?

Last February, three months after we had been cut off, my parents made an unannounced, unar-ranged visit to us. My father told us that they were "not visiting as your parents, we represent the Brotherhood" When I asked why they had come unannounced, especially after the last communication we had was the letter at the top of this posting, he replied that Christoph has said they should come. I asked "what did you want to do?" His reply - " to leave things the way they were".

My father then said that I had attacked Christoph and that "an attack on the head of the church was an attack on the center." I said I thought Christ was the center. I said I had not attacked Christoph but that I had questioned him about the law suit and some other issues of concern and that Christoph had not answered a single question. He did not reply.

In a conversation during a visit to Woodcrest in 1996, my father said "Heini, or God, is leading us from heaven". Heini (Christoph's father) came before God. This statement becomes even more significant when one considers the fact that my father was a principal author of the Bruderhof Constitution that gives the elder essentially absolute power.

On Christmas Eve two years ago my father told me that "unless you have a relationship with Christoph you cannot have a relationship with me and Mama". I said that I do not want to have a special relationship with Christoph, that Christoph was not my father. I asked if that was the standard in all relationships in the Bruderhof. He replied "Christoph is my brother". I said "I am your son". The call ended abruptly. He said he had to go to the Manger Scene.

I believe that it is when a group elevates a human being or the teachings of human beings above Christ that that group becomes a cult. The Bruderhof members claim that they love Christoph and that the lavish lifestyle he lives is provided out of love and appreciation for "all he does for us". If they truly love him they will not let him continue along the path of destruction he is headed. They will take away his power, to save his soul. They will not elevate another person to such a height. They will also recognize that "community" (the Bruderhof), rather than Christ, has become the center.

There has been much discussion on this and other newsgroups about the Bruderhof. There have been profane postings in "defense" of the Bruderhof by several young men who had recently left. Christoph called these postings "tremendous". Several people, such as Don Murphy and Chris Faatz "defend" the Bruderhof. Such postings are made in ignorance of the facts.

The Bruderhof leadership lives such a lie that they live through imaginary people. Postings and e-mail from "Charlie", "Stanley King", "Chip Wilson" and most recently "Jay Ortiz, MD" are all characters made up by the Bruderhof leadership. They are as phony as the messenger they represent.

I believe the time has come to stop playing games. Facts should be faced and corruption should be called what it is. It is time to seek true peace, forgiveness and reconciliation.

I also believe, however, that this can not occur unless Christoph steps down, or is removed, from his position of power and authority.

Christoph, if you honestly want to seek the things you write about I believe you should tell the Brotherhood how you have abused your authority, what you have done to people, how you seek control over people, both in and outside of the Bruderhof. Many people both in and outside the Bruderhof have been hurt by the Bruderhof and its' leadership over the years. Many have been hurt on your watch. The time for healing is growing short.

Many "Kitfolk" long for true peace and reconciliation. We are willing to see where we have failed but you must be willing to do the same. You must also understand that at present you and your advisors have no credibility. There has been too much lying and deceit. A trusted third party will have to play a role.

Christoph, you can go on radio shows and TV shows to sell your books. You can go on "Forgiveness Pilgrimages". You can claim you are a world peace maker, as the introduction to one of your radio shows claimed. However, as long as you label anyone who questions you or Bruderhof practices an "enemy" and treat them in the shameful way you do, it is a lie.

You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all the time. You can never fool God.

The time is short.

Tim Johnson, 11/23/99: Tim Domer, even though I've seen before much of what you pulled together in your ASB message, I want to thank you for putting it together so clearly and forcefully that the message comes through loud and clear. For those of us who grew up believing in what we were taught at the Bruderhof, and who continue in our own ways to try to live to ideals we first absorbed there, what has happened over the years is a terrible tragedy, made more so by the realization that many of those trapped within the Bruderhof seem to have little idea of their situation, or if they do, find themselves powerless to act, since the consequences are likely to be so severe.

My only quibble is that it is not so much "community" that they have put at the center, but a false interpretation of the last three syllables of that term. Their "unity" is a false unity, akin to the "unity" of totalitarian regimes where questions, awkward facts, and those who raise them, cannot be allowed to threaten the existence of those in power, so must be eliminated, or at the least banned and exiled.

Perhaps all we exiles can do at present is hold a light up to the dark prison the bruderhof has become, as your posting does, and as others of us have at various times and in various ways attempted, and hope that this light will let people outside see the prison walls for what they are, while allowing some light to penetrate cracks in the edifice, so that the inmates can see there is another world outside.

Yours is a painful position, and one I do not envy. I hope eventually that forces of light and truth will bring about some of the changes we all hope for. Meanwhile, I trust that knowing there are so many who understand what you have gone through will help to maintain your courage in the face of bruderhof calumnies. I salute you!

A pleasant afternoon gathering outside at a Friendly Crossways KIT Conference - 1992 (?)

Betty Chesley, 11/24/98: Tim, Wayne and I both thank you for sharing this painful list of experiences with us and others here. How I wish things were different with the Bruderhof! With their having turned down several offers of mediation with their "enemies", they show no evidence of longing for change, for peace, or forgiveness.

Yes, Christ is not the focus of the life there, a false unity is there instead. You bring up a most serious issue concerning Christoph's soul. He is "responsible" for 2500 people in the communities, has clearly lied about some things and yet promotes "his" books on peace and forgiveness without practicing it in his own relationships. That is not the narrow road! As long as the brothers and sisters in the communities go along their merry way allowing these things, he is in real danger, as are some of the others there who do the same. What witness to Christ is there in all of this foolishness?

Maybe we need to try now to go through a Catholic mediation service? As you have said, Tim: No More Games. No more.

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Ramon Sender, 11/25/98: You have spoken the truth, Tim, clearly and to the point, for all of us who have been cut off from loved ones within the Bruderhof by the leadership. I emphasize the latter phrase because we have frequently been told by Bruderhof leaders that "this is a decision made by each family," which is a bunch of what a dear KIT sister referred to politely as "meadow muffins."

There are quite a few of these "meadow muffins" emanating from the Bruderhof leadership these days, nicely bound up between book covers and dressed up in words all about peace, forgiveness harmony and love. Although these words may be artfully strung together, they do not at all reflect the actions that the Bruderhof leaders have taken against former members and their relatives. They do not reflect my Bruderhof son-in-law John Rhodes fraudulently pretending to want to meet with me to find a resolution to outstanding differences just in order to set me up to be served with a multi-million-dollar lawsuit. They do not reflect the telephone buggings, the skulking outside KITfolk homes, the dunning of frail and elderly ex-members for their money -- that is called "Elder Abuse" in the outside world.

And in my opinion what 'Elder' Christoph is doing to both members and ex-members should also be termed "Elder Abuse." Or at least Elder pharisee-ism and hypocrisy. The current spate of books with Christoph's name on them certainly were not written by Christoph -- at least not in my opinion. His angry rantings at various members over conference call hook-ups between the communities during closed sessions of the Bruderhof brother/sisterhood are much more indicative of his true state of mind -- mean-spirited and unforgiving.

Why not just transcribe these amazing outbursts and publish them, Christoph? They are much more true to your form!

Personally I find Christoph's acts cowardly and full of hatred, not at all those of a man who wishes to be led in the footsteps of his Master. This particular Emperor definitely has no clothes, despite all the trappings of leadership, the luxuries, the well-appointed jets, the high living and dinings-out on the backs of the humble and idealistic rank-and-file. All this will at some point become apparent to even the smallest child in the communities. Step down, Christoph, and find your heart!

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Dieter Arnold, 11/25/98: Tim Domer, I want to applaud your posting to ASB, 11/23/98. You make your points well and clearly. I fully agree with you. I also agree with Tim Johnson's comments on "Community vs. Unity". The difference is slight, although for people like Christian Domer, protecting the community , is the assigned task, while protecting unity is probably left to the spiritual leaders like Johann Christoph Arnold. We have heard Bruderhof people say that it does not matter if what they do is right or wrong, so long as it is done in unity!

My brothers and I, who also left the Community have been cut off from our family on the Bruderhof since our mother died in 1993. We had to practically force our way to her funeral. However the separation has become icy, since we agreed to help our niece when she left the Bruderhof in 1994. She had contacted us seeking moral and financial support as a 16 year old. She was also seeking support and friendship from other "kitfolk".

I currently don't even know where my four siblings on the Bruderhof live, this information is being hidden from us. I recently spoke to Christian "hit man" Domer, on the phone, one of the things I asked him is where is my brother (father of niece we are helping) living? He declined to tell me, because there are some unresolved questions of abuse of his daughter. We have never heard from this brother, what his side of the story is, or his desire to reconcile with his daughter. So, among other functions of C. Domer, are to hide and protect the guilty, it would appear.

Christian "hit man" Domer also offered what could have been taken as a thinly veiled threat; when I asked him where else in this country could one not go freely to visit one's family, other perhaps in prison? He responded that there are many places where a family member will put lead in your rear.

I know that my grandfather, Eberhard Arnold would strongly disapprove of how the Bruderhof is being run, as would my father, Hans-Hermann Arnold. In fact I believe it was my father's disapproval of Heini Arnold's actions, that caused my father to spend most of his life under church discipline of some form or another.

Thanks for your courageous words, keep up the good work, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Miriam Arnold Holmes, 11/26/98: I am thankful today for Tim Domer's, Tim Johnson's and Dieter Arnold's messages. I cannot add very much to what they wrote but would like to say that the pain the Bruderhof has caused people was put into focus for me 26 years ago, long before Christoph was the tyrant. I had been out for some years and believed I was an inadequate person and had failed the Bruder-hof. Thanks to some conversations with some people outside -- and especially discovering the book, The Joyful Community, by Ben Zablocki -- I realized with a big sigh of relief that I was the victim of a power-hungry man, my uncle Heini. For years I have tried to plead with the Bruderhof, begging them to recognize that worshipping a human being will lead to trouble and heartache. To no avail.

I wrote to Christoph numerous times, begging him to soften his hard heart and suggesting he step down for the sake of his so-called brothers and sisters. Needless to say, it fell on deaf ears and icy hearts. I received one reply from Dick Domer accusing me of attacking "poor" Christoph. Christoph himself sent some short superficial notes which included advertisements for "his" books, and challenges to part ways with the "Enemy".

I have tried to reach out to other Bruderhof people, folks I love and hold always in my heart. In response I was either coldly rebuffed or ignored. I now feel that they will not listen no matter how heartfelt the plea. Public exposure is all we can do. Much love and thanks for the support,

KIT kitchen crew: Heidi Strickland, Ramon (don't make him cross!), Miriam Arnold Holmes, Christina Bernard - 1995.


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Renatus Kluver, 11/9/98: I actually returned home again on Wednesday morning, November 4th, from my coast-to-coast tour of North America. The return trip to London, Canada, from San Francisco went without a hitch, even though we had to wait while the smaller plane taking us from Toronto to London was being repaired (we could see them carrying out the repair before we were allowed to board). The last days in Canada were really beautiful, weather and company included. I then picked up the car that Josh Maendel had loaned me and went on my way back to Ohio. Here I rested for two days and Josh organised the return trip back to Kingston, N.Y. on the northern route via Greyhound. Monday morning, at seven, he drove me to Canton, Ohio, where we found after some searching the Greyhound bus stop. The total distance To Kingston was 630 miles, and I had to make frequent changes of buses, but the whole trip and itinerary, was very well organised. The weather was most beautiful and the autumn scenery of the landscape as it slid past was most spectacular.

I kept awake for the whole of the daylight trip because there were ever-changing scenes of autumn colour and vistas of villages and distant hills and mountains, all of which I very much enjoyed looking at. I had managed to secure a seat right in front of the bus and, with its massively large windscreen, I had an unobstructed view of what lay in front. The towns we drove through, as well as stopping to pick up other passengers, were also very interesting to observe, since I did not have to concentrate on the traffic, now not having to drive myself.

From Canton we travelled to Cleveland where we had to wait for nearly two hours for the connecting bus to Buffalo, N.Y. On the way to Buffalo we drove along Lake Erie with some quite outstanding panoramic views and the best autumn colour of the forests we passed. In Buffalo we only had a half-hour stop and then went on to Syracuse. As we travelled towards Syracuse, it was getting towards late afternoon and the sun started setting towards six o'clock with the best light I have had for taking video film of the passing landscape. The light was a soft glow, which gave the leaves of the trees a wonderful warm pastel-shade colour, which seemed to be nearly translucent. The air was crisp and clear, making the objects themselves stand out distinctly. Some footage later I decided to call it a day, since the lux factor was fast deteriorating for getting best-quality colour.

We arrived in Syracuse at 6.30 PM, right on time, and were yet again on our way after twenty five minutes, heading towards Albany. Now that it was dark I started nodding off, since there was little to see. We arrived in Albany on time, at 10.10 PM. To my relief I did not have to change buses here, because the management decided to send the same bus to Kingston, there being quite a number of passengers who were making Kingston and then New Paltz their destination. Arriving in Kingston at 11.30 PM, I was anxious to get off, because my sister Annelies was waiting for me to take me to her and Ebo's home in Red Hook on the other side of the Hudson River. There she was, all smiles and glad that her drive and wait had not been in vain, and we were on our way in next-to-no-time.

On the way home Annelies informed me that Wen Hinkey had phoned to find out if I had already returned to them, saying that he would like to invite me for a day. Next day I phoned Wen and learned that he suggested having breakfast with him and then to go to his house near Rhinebeck to make a puzzle out of wood, if I had a notion to do so. We agreed for the following day and he was at the Trumpi house right on the time agreed, 7:30 AM. We went off to have a typically American breakfast with two massive pancakes and two eggs. It was most delicious, but nearly too much for me. Yes, the North Americans have an eating-out culture which I actually quite enjoyed wherever I visited, since it make the catering side far easier for the participants. In San Francisco I was quite spoilt by Ramon and Judy, who quite frequently invited me out and would not hear of me paying a contributory portion. Ramon assured me that when next he visits England he would cash in 'the credit' which now I was enjoying.

After breakfast Wen drove us to his house, which is quite lovely. He has a workshop to which I was thoroughly introduced and shown the puzzle which I was going to make. He had already prepared the shapes which needed cutting out on a photocopy of the original. The puzzle consisted of twelve different pieces. Each was based on a unit of five squares that were arranged in different combinations, each representing a different animal, designed by a famous Japanese artist (whose name eludes me at the moment). The paper template needed cutting out and then pasting onto the relevant hardwood and then cutting out on the bandsaw for the Moore-like flowing curves or straight lines. The finer curves and details were cut on a fret-saw. After this operation one had to file the edges and fit them onto a tray that Wen had already made for the puzzle. It was a lot of fun and the day was soon over.

You have to appreciate that Wen loves wood and collects it as some people might collect stamps. He can do this because he has a Dutch barn where he stores his acquisitions. Someone might phone him telling him that a cherry tree has been brought down by a storm, or some other tree has to be cut to make way for 'progress' or for some other reason. He then has the tree brought to his house and then, at his house, he has it cut to the sizes he likes by a portable bandsaw designed especially to convert logs into useable timber. Quite a nifty arrangement! So he has all kinds of native hard and softwoods, which he then converts into furniture and all manner of useful things or, as is more often the case, he merely stores the wood in his barn and 'shows it off' to his visitors, proudly presenting his treasure. Well, I must confess I was tremendously impressed by the energy and the enthusiasm that he puts into his hobby. Any offer of a good log he simply can't resist.

I'm quite envious of Wen's marvellous collection. But then. Isn't it a sin to be envious of anybody's whatever? I had a really marvellous time with Wen in his shop, and it had been nearly forty years since we had worked together in the shop in Woodcrest, Wen having brainstorms for new product ideas for Community Playthings. He would work out the design and I would help build the prototype and come up with improved production streamlining and procedures that would speed up the eventual manufacture of the article concerned. This work was challenging and hugely interesting and fun. At the time also Wen did the photography for the Community Playthings catalogue and also in this he excelled.

During the last two weeks with Annelise and Ebo, Wen invited me twice, since he noted that it is not much fun sitting in an empty house where everybody had gone to work. The last Monday Wen picked me up early for another breakfast, a quick stop at his workshop to finish my second puzzle and then to be taken to upper N.Y. State, near Pittsfield, to have a look at some furniture, that a master chef had made in his workshop. Wen had not seen the finished articles in situ. The drive up on Route 22, more or less parallel to the Taconic State Parkway, was through a most beautiful countryside. Wen, with so much knowledge and information at his fingertips, gave a running comment on the various geophysical aspects of the landscapes we were passing through. Fascinating and most educational, learning about dried-out glacial inland seas, which now formed level farmland and had names like 'Pine Planes'.

We went to the restaurant of his 'number-one' pupil (in furniture-making) where he was given the key to the house. At the house we had a look at the varying rooms where the furniture now stands. I was impressed by the quality of craftsmanship and flair of design, not least because the person who designed and made them is a woman. Back at the restaurant we had a top-quality meal which both of us enjoyed very much and where I met her husband. We took the Taconic Parkway on the drive back to Wen's house and from there we drove to Hyde Park for afternoon tea with Balz and Monika, which I enjoyed very much. From there Wen took me back to Eboliese. For this evening Anneliese had planned a night out, which Gloria insisted should be at a Japanese restaurant. The food was excellent as well as the company.

This was my last night in the USA and the next day I embarked on my return flight with Air India and arrived safely at Heathrow airport at 8 AM. So this concludes my annals of the trip through the US and southern part of Canada. All in all I travelled approximately 23,000 miles on this trip and of these about 5,500 miles on the road, so I'm glad to be home again.

The last two days I gradually worked through a mountain of post, to get to the most urgent bills and pay them. Today my old school phoned and asked if I would do a little supply teaching for them in Technology and also German, which comes in very timely, because I need to replenish my depleted finances. So again, many thanks to you and all who made me welcome, and I'm sorry I could not visit all who invited me. You are all a great bunch of people, and I feel privileged to know you all. Greetings to all!!!!!!!!!!

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The Dorsey family Christmas photo from a few years ago - 1996 (?).

Colin Hazelton, 11/3/98: Does anyone recall the Indian lady Maria Leona that the Primavera community felt sorry for, and ended up building a house for her just above the campo, where the road led to Santini? The house itself took on the same blueprint as the house that was built at the river. What was the special favor that the community felt they deserved this rather desperate woman, who never was found actually staying in it? I remember going to check on it during a Sunday "hort trip" with Eric Phillips. All we ever found there was a pile of empty liquor bottles and loads of straying cattle along with piles of their dung. I know she was Indian, because she was very petite in size. I never actually saw her with any kids, but I do remember several times that she would get into the Hof with a sheet piled high with what seemed to be all her personal belongings on top of her head. She would come begging , tears rolling down her cheeks as if to really gain sympathy of the "patrons" of which Dad was one, being the native work distributor at the time. She looked like she hadn't taken a bath in months and had what resembled water blisters all over her face. Anyway enough on that.

Some of my fonder memories was going to visit the Sorias who occupied their own estancia right at the end of the Saw Mill. I remember shortly before everything was turned around and it looked like we were coming up to the States, the community or maybe it was just Pablo Soria attempting to produce the "petti grain" out of the citrus leaves by boiling them down inside what looked to be an archaic sort of pressure cooker, and coming out with the completed product of liquid siphoned through some glass tubing that had a very concentrated almost acidic smell to it. I remember being told that was the base they used to make perfumes and other body lotions and sold for a good price to the cosmetic factories. Did the Sorias really own that property, or was he just an indentured servant of the community's? I guess one other short episode that I remember about his family was getting kicked by one of his horses as it was harnessed up to a wagon that was to take a family to Rosario. There had been so much rain and the "routa" was washed out so that was the only means of transportation. Well, now that I have started, I could go on for days,

12/6/98: Three years ago, as many of you know, we, our family, lost our mother, Joyce. If there ever was a person determined to have us remember the better things of Christmas, such as the singing and getting into Christmas spirit, it was she. We all remember her sitting by a cracked window for some fresh air because of her emphysema, but with her famous red-quilted winter coat on to keep warm, singing as strongly as she could from the bottom of her heart at Christmas gatherings, while I played piano. I don't know how many of you believe in being visited by spirits -- I didn't really before -- but we, or rather two-year-old Emily, experienced it on Dec. 5.

Having finally gotten over a nasty virus, my wife and I headed to Bethlehem, CT, a beautiful rural New England town and aptly named for Christmas, for the annual Christmas festival held on the town's green, or commons. In tow we brought our three girls, and two neighborhood kids tagging along -- Nicole, age 10, and little Steven, age 5. The festival had the usual, hay rides, lots of food booths, exhibits in all the town buildings, crafts, a creche scene and of course Santa, who handed out little bags of oats for the reindeer. Parking was at the town fairgrounds, two miles from the green. The town's two school buses were doing extra duty shuttling festival-goers from the parking field into town.

As we all got onto the schoolbus for the ride to the festival, I had to fold up and carry the unwieldy twin-stroller onto the bus, while Kathy boarded with all her young charges. When I finally settled into a seat on the very crowded bus, I spotted Kathy seated and nursing one of the twins. Nicole was holding the other and Steven was sitting next to his sister.

"Where's Emily?" I asked.

From the front of the bus, a tiny voice piped up, "I'm sitting with Oma." Emily was sitting on the lap of an old lady in her mid-eighties, looking totally comfortable. While not shy, Emily usually wouldn't go onto someone's lap whom she didn't know.

The entire ride to the festival, which seemed long because of all the traffic, Emily and the lady sat and talked, and pointed things out to each other out the windows. Kathy and I, who were sitting a few rows apart, casually commented on how Emily took to that lady. Kathy said she didn't even see the moment Emily climbed onto the lady's lap, but when she looked over, there she was, and the lady had said, "She's okay sitting with me." Kathy had said a quick thanks to her before I even got on the bus.

Suddenly Kathy said, "Look at her coat! It's the same red quilted coat Mom wore!"

Suddenly we both had tears in our eyes. Kathy called to the lady, "You have the same coat that Emily's grandmother wore!"

The lady just smiled, but Mom wore that coat for years and it still hangs on its hook at Dad's. I explained to her that "Oma" is German for "grandmother" and that was why Emily called her that. But my mom died seven months before Emily was born. Emily only knew Oma from her photos.

The lady said it made her day to have Emily run to her because she was a spinster, and it felt good to hold a little girl.

The bus made its stop at the town green and we all started to gather our belongings. When I had dragged the stroller off the bus , and we looked around, the lady had completely disappeared. The bus pulled away, on its way back to the parking field. We never saw her get off the bus! And we were going to ask her to join us for a cup of hot chocolate from the nearby booth, since she was by herself. Now the bus only made one stop to let people off. Then it reloaded and started back to the parking lot. It didn't make sense that the lady stayed on the bus, except maybe... Could Mom's spirit have taken that bus ride just to hold little Emily for a few moments?

We had a great time at the festival. We saw lots of friends and gave them a quick version of this story. It seemed to brighten everyone, brought more than a few tears, and put everyone in a Christmas mood.

Later that night as we tucked Emily in bed, we talked about her day as we often do -- a kind of a recap. I couldn't resist asking her, "Who was that lady you sat with on the bus?"

She said, "Daddy I sit with Oma."

More tears with that goodnight kiss! Lots of love to you all this holiday season,

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A trio of Barths at Friendly Xways - 1996.

Deborah LeBlanc Herman, 9/14/96: Dear Dr. Dobson and Focus friends, I have had this letter in my mind for about five years now and am finally putting it down on paper. I would like to thank you all for the years of your faithful ministry to the precious God-ordained institution of the family. You have touched millions of lives around the world and our family often in particular. God brought you into our lives at a very painful time and has used you mightily for our survival and growth for the past ten years.

Let me tell you a bit about our journey. I was raised in a "Christian" cult that was and is psychologically and religiously abusive. Upon marrying my husband, who is from a Jewish home, on the "outside" I felt a need for community, and returned with him to the cult with two children. After six years and five children later (limited birth control allowed, I believe, now -- a ruse to grow members) we were shunned and shortly after that excommunicated. The excruciating pain of a lifetime of rejection and abandonment by my parents, who were and are addicted to this cult, and the cult members themselves who were the only "family" I knew, caused me to become so clinically depressed that I planned to take my life. This was also partly post-partum depression, as I had just had our seventh child.

Looking back, we were able to say that the excommunication actually was a tool for God to use to rescue us out of a deadly situation. As the cult is a very tight closed communal group and we were economically, physically, materially, psychologically and "spiritually" dependent on them we really lost everything, including the relationship with my parents and three siblings and their families. We had to start our lives over with seven dependent children all under the age of ten. I was admitted to the hospital with a "breakdown," fighting for my life.

The first year we were "out," my precious husband made $10,000, which kept us off the welfare rolls. We lived in a very economically depressed city. He was in and out of six automotive tech jobs within the first two years because he was the last to be hired and the first to go when money got tight for the business. But God was very good to us. We had no medical coverage. No one became seriously ill or had any broken bones or serious accidents (that came later). At that time we were even able to take all the children for their well-baby visits, received inoculations free through the Dept. of Health, and WIC food support, especially formula for the baby, and some food stamps. We frequented all the thrift stores for clothing and all the sales and clearance racks in grocery and department stores.

As people in the schools and neighborhood got to know us, we often found just the articles we needed, even before I prayed for them, dropped off on our front porch. Many times we did not know the giver. We frequented a large drive-in theater flea market for birthday and Christmas gifts. At that time, in the early 1980's we had $10.00 to spend on each child for gifts. That was the norm for us and it was fun finding the best deals to spread the dollars as far as they could go. We did not have a TV, so spent many hours together playing outside in our fenced in yard, going on many excursions to local parks in and out of the city, and swimming at the YMCA. Some neighbor children thought our yard was a city park and asked to come in to play. Someone even dropped off two cute little puppies for our children to adopt.

In the spring of 1984, my husband got a much better job as an automotive instructor for a private business, which thankfully necessitated us moving closer to his job site. I remember going to Goodwill and finding him a suit for $3.00 for the initial interview. I just had to turn up his sleeves a bit! We had been praying for better means to support our family and really wanted to leave the city behind. We had several very dangerous situations happen in the city and felt it was no place to raise a large family. Another factor here was the very strong psychological and practical hold the cult still had on us because they owned the house they had moved us into. We had to make a final clear decision as to whether or not we were going to "work our way back into their good graces" or cut our losses, which were extensive as I said earlier. It involved continued rejection by the only "family" I had ever known and five members of my immediate family including my parents. It was very frightening, as we also took seriously the full responsibility of seven children to raise on our own. With God's strength and gift of a big turn-of-the-century farmhouse, we were able to begin a very different life for ourselves. Ten years of growth and extensive healing had to take place, and this is where you all entered our lives.

Hauling the Primavera lorry out of a mudhole.

We were warmly welcomed into our new rural neighborhood. Men came from their homes to help us move in and the women provided food and emotional support. I was invited to my first women's Bible Study by the women who owned our house. (She had been praying for years for her house to be full of children, and we sure fit that bill!) I was so relieved and touched to discover for the first time in my life that there were "real on-fire Christians" who lived out their faith and that "out in the world" was actually a pretty neat place to be. (The cult had deeply ingrained in its members that their way was the only right way and that living otherwise was out of God's grace.) This group of beautiful older ladies prayed me through our "surprise" eighth pregnancy and celebrated with my first baby shower.

I had had another "breakdown" and in a time of great fear and despair considered an abortion. Thank God He stayed our desperate hands, as we decided we couldn't go through with it and knew we had to once again trust in His care for us, even though we couldn't see through the initial shock. (The five children born in the cult were all born naturally, as it was frowned on to have any pain meds. "Biblically, women were supposed to suffer with birth pains." By this time I had terrible panic attacks just anticipating the births.) God always comes through in our darkest hours. He brought a wonderful pro-life Ob/Gyn doctor into our lives who took me on as his own special case and coached us through the pregnancy. He met us at the hospital door and stayed with us throughout the labor and delivery. I can truthfully say the last birth was the best! I had an epidural and our fourth son came out waving at the world, making us even, four boys and four girls. What a joy! As more women heard about the birth of eighth wonder of the world, they got together and sent in two weeks of meals. They are still precious friends, eleven years later.

I first heard of your existence in 1985 through my new friends. I tuned into your radio program every day and soon began to receive the Focus magazine. I can hardly tell you in words what this meant to me. It was great hearing adults speak as I had an infant, a three, four and five-year-old still at home. Listening to the many topics helped me to adjust once again to a very different culture. I felt fairly isolated needing to be a very full time more and new to the area.

My husband also had to be gone a lot, putting in many extra hours to support us. So through the encouragement of some of your programs, I started a woman's Bible Study in our home, with baby-sitting provided. I, as well as all the other young mothers, needed that fellowship, a time of mutual praise in song, prayer and scripture-sharing. (We can't forget all those delectable treats of eats that women like to share). I also heard of Birthright through you and became a crisis pregnancy counselor, my first little "out" every Wednesday evening for ten years. After being so traumatized in the name of Christ, it took me awhile to overcome fear and find a church home. That needed encouragement also came from your ministry, as I heard that Jesus wants us to have fellowship with like seekers and believers.

I am also a very social being and desperately needed that acceptance, love and support. Whenever you would express a need for finances, I was always glad to hear you say that our first responsibility was to our families and the church. I wanted to know the real Jesus and the Holy Spirit opened my blinded and bruised heart and eyes to Him in a miraculous way through the love, acceptance and fellowship of a Mennonite church and its precious pastor.

I had heard Doctors Minirth and Myers several times on your programs and was excited to hear there was a possibility of recovery from a lifetime of pain, much of which I didn't know existed until I started the Ten Step program they write of in their book Love Is A Choice. Our pastor had just bought the book and upon hearing of all that had happened to us, offered to work with us through the healing process. My most difficult episodes with depression always involved the abusive experience and continued intrusion of cult members into our lives. I was struggling for my very sanity once again at this point. There was only one way to go, and that way was up. Our pastor's offer was an absolute Godsend and His way out of terrible darkness once again. It took a good four years of pretty intense therapy, in between all my other responsibilities, to journey through the whole book and practically work through the major issues.

My precious, ever-faithful husband and a trusted woman friend (who became my "mentor") stood by me through thick and thin. I also received a great deal of help through a Cult-exit councilor who had also experienced abuse within a church. God took His loving but excruciatingly painful scalpel to all my festering wounds and lanced them deeply, as had to be done. Only then could true healing take place. The scars will always remain, but He covers them with gentle kisses every day. I thank Him every day! My greatest joy today is to be able to truly know my worth in God's eyes and His immeasurable love for me through Jesus. Now, for the first time in my life, I can love myself, my husband and children fully. Before the healing process, there was a big hole in my soul that couldn't allow anyone in, which definitely was a major block to being able to trust to love. I thank God for your being instrumental in beginning to open those doors to me.

Your faithfulness for fighting for God's best plans for families have been so helpful to me as a wife and mother, especially in raising this large family. Your programs on marriage (we had a wonderful Marriage Encounter weekend about ten years ago and would love to do it again) have made it possible for us to make our relationship a top priority. We have been helped by the many authors, including yourself, Dr. Dobson, to whom you've introduced us on your programs over the years, the Wheats, the Hoekings, Smalley, Trent, Minirth, Myers, Hemfelt, Warren and E. Elliot to name a few. My first books by you were Dare to Discipline, Emotions Can You Trust Them and my all-time favorite What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women. Your books line our bookshelves, also in the hopes that as each one of our children start their own families, the books will once again be used for the next generation. Isn't that exciting?

Once again the help and encouragement we received through your writings and programs in regards to child raising have been immeasurable. Whenever we've gone through some very rough waters with some of our more strong-willed offspring, we heard you saying ""Just keep rowing the boat the best you can and I promise you, you will come out on the other side in one piece." Yes, I read The Strong-Willed Child as one of the musts and firsts of supportive parenting! Amazingly they do grow up and end up, after all the upheaval, turning around and blessing and being a blessing to us. I've used your Preparing for Adolescence tapes and workbook with all our children as well as the Sex, Lies and the Truth tape and book and, for our older children, Life on the Edge. Parenting Isn't for Cowards was great and just the encouragement I needed over the years. I am an avid reader and am only thankful for all the help I can get!

I have also appreciated being kept in touch with all the political changes as they affect the family, up to date and almost to the minute. You are the only source for me for getting another side to the story. I can then get involved as I see fit. Thank you!

Our children are now 25, 21, 20, 18, 17, 16, 14 and 11. As you can tell, we've come a long way and, I think, really through the hardest years. All our children are precious human beings, all very different with many gifts and aspirations. They genuinely love each other, are able to show it and are each others best friends and confidants. Nothing like being able to call a big brother or sister in college or apartment and share the joys and problems of growing up. They are all excellent students and have the whole world open to them. We are many times blessed! Our oldest daughter is a secondary math teacher, our oldest son is in his fourth year of nurse's training and the next son has a very good job installing fiber optic cables. Our next daughter just started college in pre-law and our high schoolers are an aspiring psychologist, a pharmacist and business manager respectively. Right now our 11-year-old boy would like to be a pro-football player. It's fun to watch them grow up!

I do have the comfort of the knowledge that each child accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior as children and have that wonderful foundation to be able to face anything in life with. They also have the security of knowing that they will always be loved by us as parents and that we're committed to them for the rest of our lives. To know God's love, one must be loved by human beings. Love cannot exist in a vacuum.

Speaking of love, God has really worked many miracles in our lives, one of which is the wonderful gift of new parents for me, my precious Jewish in-laws. One of the most painful parts of my recovery was that I had to totally let the responsibility I'd always felt for my parents and the longing for their love, respect and acceptance go. I had to say my good-byes and leave them in God's hands. They had chosen to cut me out of their lives due to their misguided addiction to the cult and its teachings. God knew the excruciating pain of that process. He has now given me all the love, respect and acceptance that I prayed for so long through the love and commitment my husband's parents are able to give. What an awesome God we have!

One of the gifts of healing is that it gives one the courage to be able to continuously grow and experience new things. As the children have become more independent, I've been able to have more time to work part-time outside the home as a school nurse and to take college classes, working toward a psychology degree. It's exciting to be so much a part of young peoples lives as I sub throughout the school district. Also to have the old brain cells tickled with new material every week in my classes makes life exciting. I've enjoyed taking voice lessons and singing in several local choirs. I want to do this as an expression of my thankfulness to God for His love for me and all men. I want to be used by Him to bring people closer to His heart through His praises in song.

My dear husband keeps faithfully supporting us as an automotive instructor. He still has to do a lot of traveling and being away from home. He has always been supportive, as to my raising the children within the Christian faith, but because of the trauma and severity of the religious abuse we experienced in the name of Christ, he has not been able to know the real Jesus. He loves God with all his being and lives so accordingly. The children and I come first in his life as we are all each other's best friends. I thank God for him and leave him daily in God's loving arms. I couldn't have a better, best friend, lover and soul mate to travel with on this road of life. We pray for a job closer to home, less stressful but that can continue to provide our needs.

Once again I send you a big thank-you for all the positive influences you've had in our lives. Please keep up your faithful ministry and being a light up there in the elevations of Colorado. Maybe one of these days we could come and visit. I would love to see all that you are doing in the new facility. If you ever need a mom on a talk panel on what it is like to raise a big family in the '90's, I'd love to volunteer. (Or on the positives of having a house full of teenagers!) Love in Christ,

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Unloading cable for Primavera at Puerto Rosario.

Christmas in Paraguay

by Bette Bohlken-Zumpe

(a speech from my hospital training years)

The heat is almost unbearable -- it seems as though the air is standing sill without the slightest breath of wind. From the center of a cloudless sky, the sun is burning down without mercy for nature, man or beast. The air shimmers above the yellow-colored campos (prairies) so that the wild forests take on a bluish hue in the haze of the heat. Not a single bird calls, and even the flies seem too lazy to move their wings and sit close to each other against the buildings walls. The only sounds come from the cicadas and the cattle out on the land waiting for a drop of water because all the pools have dried up. The smell of burning grass and the sweet scent of the yellow Yvirapit‡ blossoms fill the air.

Suddenly the silence is broken by the excited laughter of children. They are dressed in shabby clothes, wear straw hats and are barefoot. Because the sand is too hot to walk on, they jump from one tuft of grass to the next, singing Christmas carols at the top of their voices. "In the bleak midwinter," and "Away in a manger" are heard on all sides.

Yes, it is Christmas, and the year is 1945. In central South America, in the country of Paraguay, an international group of Christians found refuge from war-torn Europe. They travelled over the ocean in several groups until all 500 members and children reunited in the land of "nowhere" with nothing but their bare lives. They were determined to build up an international Christian community to give witness to the world that a peaceful life is possible for all men of good will who have faith in God's leadership. During the past five years, they had built three beautiful colonies in the back woods, with fruit orchards and vegetable gardens. Now, at Christmas time, the grapes were ripe and their plump blue clusters were picked for the communal Christmas Eve supper.

The people in the community held all things in common, following the words in the Scripture that described the lives of the early Christians. No one had any personal possessions, but they were each given according to their needs by the community. The children were well cared for in different children's homes according to their age, and the mothers picked them up again in the evening. No running water or toilets. Each outhouse was used by several families. All the water had to be carried in jugs from the central kitchen, where all the cooking was done for the communal meals, dinner and supper. For breakfast and 'Vesper' (snack), people made their tea in the main kitchen and carried it to their homes.

A large Advent wreath hung in the center of the dining room. It held four candles but, alas, the heat made them bend over so they could not be lit. The children had holidays because the classrooms were much too hot to stay in for lessons. Instead they helped clean the place for Christmas. All the footpaths had to be raked, the dead grass burned, and all the areas around the houses cleaned up nicely. The boys helped the storekeeper, who was in charge of the modest rations distributed to every family: a little lard instead of butter, syrup, homemade jam and maybe a little sugar for the meals at home.

Now Christmas was very special, and every family had some homemade cookies and maybe a little coffee or real tea. The boys helped by delivering these goods to the various families. The girls helped the housemother, the person who looked after everyone's individual needs for clothing and other items. No one has their own money to go out and shop. For Christmas, each adult member was asked to make at least two presents for the children, and the housemother would distribute them. All the families brought their marked basket to her and she filled it with presents. The 10-to-13-year-olds were allowed to take the baskets, well-covered with a cloth, to the different family dwellings. This was very exciting because they were not allowed to peek under the covering, so they were carrying big secrets! No longer did these children feel the hot weather. They were far too absorbed with this wonderful task.

The dining room had to be prepared for the communal evening supper at 5 P.M. when all the children and their parents would meet. Big white tablecloths were placed over the long tables, and decorated with purple grapes and the Yvirapit‡ blossoms. While the parents and little children were having their meal, the bigger children would prepare for a 'live manger scene.' About ten girls dressed in their white nighties as angels, their usually tightly braided hair now loose and held with a golden band. The boys dressed as shepherds, and a real ox and donkey was brought from the stables. One of the older girls played Mary, dressed in a red dress with a blue cloak. Joseph was played by a older, bearded brother, and the Christ child was a real baby, a three-month-old in a real manger.

The manger scene took place in the horse stables and decorated with a lot of straw. Everyone was just barely in their place when the community members could be heard singing as they walked towards the stables. They stood around the manger singing carols until the angels gave a candle to each one and led the procession back to the community center. Night falls quickly in the tropics, and so the candle-lit procession was very impressive. After singing a last communal song together, everyone went home to unwrap their presents. Cries of delight echoed from each home and more songs as the children showed their gifts to their friends. That night the children were allowed to stay up late, as it was Christmas Eve.

This is the reason why those who grew up in tropical Paraguay get a 'Christmas feeling' when the weather becomes very hot, the air hazy, mixed with the smell of burnt grass.

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Roger & Norah Allain visit the old Rhoen Bruderhof - summer, 1990.


by Hans Zimmermann - August 1998

When the first group of "Barbudos" a.k.a. Sociedad Fraternal Hutteriana, arrived at their new home-to-be, a tract of land of about 22,000 acres or more called Primavera, they decided to build the first homes in Isla Margarita. The location was a plateau of high campo next to a large island of wood that contained many sweet orange trees, hence we would call the forest, "the Orange Wood," and the new settlement "Isla Margarita."

This forest was unique because it contained two permanent watering places. The first was a series of springs at the south end of the wood, which we called "the Apfelsinen Quelle." Later we would dig a swimming pool at that spot, which was fed by the springs. The water from the springs ran onto a narrow strip of campo between the Orange Wood and Monte Abeboi, creating a small swampy area with very high grass and a banana-like plant. The second water hole was the lagoon at the southeast end of the wood next to Campo Dolores. The lagoon was shaded by trees and extended into the swampy campo nearby, again with high grass and a large patch of swamp bananas (they never yielded fruit). The lagoon was full of fish, which attracted all kinds of animals including vacares. Because the area was uninhabited by humans, it attracted all of the wildlife of the forest. The barbudos soon made contact with the animals, and not knowing too much about them, formed their own ideas and phobias about them.

There were two kinds of wild pigs, the curei (peccary) and the javalin, a larger pig that ran in herds and was supposed to be very vicious and aggressive. I remember the following story being told, either by Hardi Arnold or Fritz Kleiner. He went to the Orange Wood to pick oranges when he was surprised by a herd of javalins. The herd went for him and he quickly climbed the first tree next to him. The pigs were in a frenzy trying to get at him, and started to dig up the tree by its roots. Soon the tree started to fall, but luckily it fell against the next tree, so he climbed onto that one. The pigs would not give up and started to root up that tree as well. However, this tree was at the edge of the forest, so he hoped and prayed that the pigs would give up. No such luck. They kept at it with a fury. Soon the tree started to list to its side and slowly keeled over, then crashed to the ground. The porkers came charging at him. It was then that he awoke in a terrible sweat from his dream.

The mborevy' (tapir) also got a bad rap. It was supposed to be dangerous and would fearlessly trample you like an elephant should you get in its way. There seemed to be several tapirs in and around the Orange Wood, as we always found their big three-toed tracks in the soft soil. The older boys tried to catch one by digging a deep hole and covering it with banana leaves. However only armadillos would fall in and then dig themselves out again. The tapir was too smart. As our settlement grew, both the Javalins and the tapirs moved away as they are extremely shy animals. The javalin disappeared completely, while the tapirs moved into the densest part of the forests. Unless they just happened to seek new territories, the tapir remained absent from the Orange Wood and Abeboi. As we cleared more and more forests between Isla Margarita, Loma Hoby and Ibate, the tapir left that area as well, even though there were some virtually permanent watering holes in the forest. Humans were coming too close for their comfort.

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There were two general areas where I could guarantee you would find tapirs. One was in the forest bordering Campo Invernada down to the River Tapiracuay and the swamps, and in the same general area but at the other end of the forest at the tip of Campo Guan‡, again down to the swamps and the River Rapiracuay. In these locations the forest had dense and impenetrable underbrush consisting largely of caraguatas, and the thin solid stalk bamboo. The second place was the southwest end of Monte Jaime, opposite of Campo Invernada with swamps on both sides. This location was ideal for the tapirs. The forest contained very dense, thick underbrush (cattle did not go there) with water and swamp on both sides, providing plenty of forage and a safe escape if needed. Each time I went into that section of Monte Jaime, my dogs would find a tapir. At best I would catch a glimpse of it as it went thundering and crashing through the thick underbrush and then escape into the swamp, diving into the next overgrown canal, and with that the dogs would lose its track. The underbrush was the tapir's best protection against the dogs. It could simply brush them off. Also, the dogs did not have a chance to get in front to hold it at bay. I never seriously expected to hunt down the animal. The dogs were ineffective and the tapir soon was out of harm's way after the dogs flushed it out of its hiding spot.

In the late summer of 1957, my friend Pierce Vigar visited the River Tapiracuay with a group of younger boys accompanied by Herman Pleil and another adult whom I don't recall. It was Saturday and I decided to ride down to pay them a short visit, go fishing, swimming and boating -- the usual activities. After a nice swim, Pierce and I decided to go on a little hunting expedition with nothing special in mind, but hoping maybe to find a large iguana, an armadillo, agouti or coati. It was mid-afternoon, a time the animals started to move again after lying low during the noon heat. As always, three of my dogs had come along: Coli, Aguarai and Kassan, the dog from the D'Hoedts. Kassan was not a hunting dog, but once something was flushed out by the other dogs, he joined in the chase with the hope to get his teeth into whatever it might be.

I wanted to keep the hunting party small, just Pierce, Robin Cain and myself, but several of the other younger boys insisted on coming along. At first we tried to send them back, but they kept coming, so we told them to stick close together and keep quiet. We headed back on the picada (logging road) west towards Campo Guan‡ on the way to Loma Hoby. About three-quarters of a mile west, we turned north on a old picada to an area in the woods where the underbrush was less dense, as the cattle from Campo Guan‡ had thinned it out. Also I knew of a lagoon in that area that attracted all kinds of wildlife. The only weapons we carried, if you want to call them that, were our long knifes, a machete or two, and one ax in case an animal would enter a hollow tree, or we might find a yatai -- a bees' nest.

We found tracks of iguanas in the sand but they were old. The dogs -- that is Aguari and Coli -- flushed out a few of the big wood hens that took off with an explosive flapping of wings and soon were gone. Kassan stayed close to us. He had a chronic twitch in his right front leg and only followed the other dogs when their barking and yelping indicated some real action. We were coming close to the lagoon and circling a rather dense section when the dogs all of a sudden started to howl and bark at a big animal crashing through the woods. Kassan took off like a bat out of hell to join the chase. My initial thought was that the dogs were chasing one of the few cows or steers that remained in the forest and had refused to go out onto the campo after we fenced it off about ten months earlier. They had become completely wild. However, something was different. I could tell by the yelping and barking of the dogs that it wasn't a cow but a wild animal. That it might be a tapir did not immediately enter my mind. We were too far away from their usual daytime hiding places.

The barking dogs distanced themselves from us, but then the animal must have turned because they started back in our direction. We were standing as a group listening, and I yelled, "Chuuu! Chuuu!" every 10 to 15 seconds to fire up the dogs, letting them know we were still there. I urged the others to remain quiet, hoping that whatever it was would come close enough so that we could see it. By now we could hear the animal crashing through the woods and, before we knew it, here came a gray-black tapir as big as a donkey, heading right for our little group! We scattered like a bunch of scared chickens, jumping behind the nearest tree or reaching for the next isypo vine to climb. It was an impulsive reaction because we still believed that the tapir was dangerous and would attack us. However the tapir headed straight for the thick underbrush, but by now the dogs had caught up with it. Kassan was hanging onto the short tail, being dragged along as if not there, while Aguarai and Coli tried to go for the long snout. Once the tapir hit the caraguatas and the thicker underbrush, the dogs were brushed off again. I thought, "Gee, this is exciting! But now it will head in the direction of the river and the swamps and we won't see it again."

The section of dense underbrush was rather small, so the dogs immediately caught up with the animal and it quickly turned around to brush them off again by running into the dense undergrowth, emerging again close to where we were standing. We really had nothing to bring down such a large animal. I considered tying my knife to the end of a short pole to make a spear, but that would take too long, and hacking at it with a machete did not seem feasible either. As the tapir scrambled again out of the thicket, it slowed down while struggling through and over the big branches of a fallen tree, with Kassan again hanging onto the tail. Pierce, who was closest and carrying the ax, took a swing at it. He nicked it above the nose but did no damage.

The tapir kept coming and nearly ran him over. It was then that I realized that this animal had no intention of attacking us. All it was trying to do was get away from those damned dogs. It totally ignored us. I ran up to Pierce and yelled, "Give me the ax! Let's hope the dogs drive it back again!" By now the tapir was running circles in and out the thicket. I ran around the thicket waiting for it to emerge again. When it did, I stepped into its path and with a full swing, I hit it over the head with the blunt end of the ax. I just had enough time to step aside when it came crashing down. The tapir had barely hit the ground when I plunged my big knife into the base of the neck by the front legs, severing the jugular and pushed the knife deep into its chest. The loss of blood is so fast that the animal dies in a little over thirty seconds and feels little if any pain. That also was the way we killed cows when we had to slaughter them on the open campo.

By now everyone had gathered around the animal. We all found it difficult to believe that we actually had killed a tapir. It was then that Simion Braun charged the animal with a big yell and buried his knife in the hind quarter. We all screamed at him, "Are you crazy? The animal's already dead!" He said, "I thought it was getting up again." Mind you, during the chase he was somewhere halfway up a tree.

We decided to skin the animal right there and cut it up, because it was way too big to carry. Offerus Sumner and Simion Braun were told to run back to the river house and hitch up the horses to the wagon to pick us up while we busied ourselves with the animal. About ten minutes later, Simion came back crying, with Offerus trailing behind at a short distance. We asked what the heck was going on, and Simion cried, "Der Offy hat mich mit einer Isypo verhauen" ("Offy thrashed me with a vine"). We cracked up laughing. "And why would he do that?" we asked. Offerus, realizing we were not getting on his case, sheepishly grinned and said, "Simion was constantly yelling and would not shut up when I told him to. That's why I smacked him." Apparently, Simion was afraid and felt safer when yelling. Offerus, also afraid, thought it better to be quiet. They must have been seeing wild animals behind every tree. As of that day, Simion's new nickname was "Isypo'.

We then sent Robin to get the wagon. Offerus and Simion were to go with him but not come back. When Robin got to the river house and told Herman Pleil that we had killed a tapir, he laughed and told him not to talk rubbish. He refused to go along on the wagon. By the time Robin returned with the wagon, we had skinned and quartered the animal. We left the head and the legs behind but kept the skin. We still could not believe our luck because that's all it had been. The animal was at the wrong place at the wrong time. It was a female that had just reached maturity, but obviously lacked experience in shaking dogs. All it had to do was head straight for the swamps or the river and it would have been safe. But the swamps were more than a mile away and the relatively clear woods gave the dogs a chance to be all over it. An older animal would have gotten away, as had all the others in the past when my dogs had flushed them out of their hiding places.

Of all the wild game I have eaten, tapir meat is by far the best-tasting. The meat is tender, looks similar to pork but lacks the strong gamey flavor. As for the skin, I cut it into long 4 to 5-inch wide strips, removed the hair and then worked it on a daily basis for two or more weeks to keep and make it soft. The skin made excellent tops for cinches, very strong, and one did not have to worry that they might break or tear when having a large steer on the lasso.

During the following years, my dogs would scare up tapirs again and again, but the result was always the same. They quickly vanished into the swamps, losing the dogs in a hurry. To the best of my knowledge, the tapir we killed was the only one caught during our many years in Primavera.

A Parable by Richard Packham, 1995

Biographical note:

"I am a retired college teacher (foreign languages) and retired attorney. I live with my wife Janet in Oregon where we have a home outside of town with room to raise some cattle and some trees.

"I grew up as a Mormon and left the church many years ago. I have three grown children by my Mormon ex-wife. I have two grown sons with Janet, my present wife of almost 35 years, one of whom helps us operate the ranch.

"I am interested in history, religion, philosophy, amateur theater, cooking and baking, writing, and music (I play piano, guitar, and several other instruments). I dabble in photography and watercolor. I also like to knit and tat and do crossword puzzles. I love garage sales and thrift shops. I rarely watch television, but we occasionally rent a movie. My friends tell me I'm a nice person. My enemies don't talk to me." e-mail:

The Man Who Bought A House

In this town there lived a man who had been able to save enough money from his hard work that he decided that he was now able to afford a very nice house for his family. In one of the nicer parts of town was a beautiful old house that appeared to be vacant, and he often went by and looked at it from the street. The more he looked at it, the more he fell in love with this old house.

One day as he was standing admiring this house, he was approached by a very nice-looking gentleman who said to him: "I have noticed you frequently admiring this fine old house. I happen to be the agent for the owner, and I am authorized to sell it, if I can find a buyer." This was, of course, good news to the man, since the more he had looked at the house, the more he wanted it for himself and his family.

The agent took the man into the house and showed him through it, and everything the man saw made him want the house even more. The house was beautifully designed and built, with skill and imagination, in a style which was no longer very popular among most people, but which he and his family had always found attractive. He could picture in his mind how happy and comfortable his family would be there. It seemed that his fondest dream was about to come true. The man bought the house.

Before the man moved his family into the house, he asked the agent about the usual inspections, for termites, dry rot and other possible structural problems. The agent told him that everything had been inspected thoroughly by his staff. "You can take my word for it: this house is sound and solid. It is the finest house in the city!" The man thought for a moment that he should ask to see the inspection reports, but the agent was the kind of person that inspired trust and confidence, and the man had a strong feeling deep in his heart that the agent would not try to deceive him about something so important.

The man and his family moved into their home, and it was even more lovely and comfortable than he had imagined. They invited their friends and relatives to visit them, and they were able to entertain them graciously and hear their guests' praises of their beautiful home.

One evening his brother was visiting. The brother was a meddlesome and sometimes unpleasant person, but the man tried to be gracious to him because he was his brother.

"This is a very lovely old house you have," said the brother.

"Thank you for the compliment," replied the man.

"How is the foundation? Sometimes these old houses have structural problems."

"Don't worry about that," responded the man. "Everything has been inspected and is in good order."

"Who inspected it?"

The man began to get irritated with his brother. "It's really none of your business, but I'll be happy to tell you. The seller's agent had it inspected."

"Did you examine the report yourself?"

This was really going too far, the man felt. But he answered anyway, "I didn't have to. The agent read the reports and told me that they were in order."

"How can you trust the agent that much?" the brother asked, shaking his head.

"I pity you if you have to go through life without trust, without belief, without relying on the goodness of others! Sometimes you just know in your heart that you can trust someone."

The brother said nothing, but got up to leave. "I'll maybe poke around a little outside and look over your foundation. I'm not an expert, but I do have some experience with these things."

"I do not give you permission to go nosing about my house or grounds. You are just looking for something that will give you an excuse to find fault with my home and to spoil my enjoyment of it!"

"I assure you that I am only motivated by my concern for you as my brother. I will not cause any damage." And with that, he left the house.

As he looked around the grounds and examined the house, he had to admit that it was beautiful. But he also knew that paint could hide many problems. Near a corner, in the back, he found a small, almost invisible door that appeared to lead into the basement. It had been sealed shut with a half-dozen screws. He went back inside and asked the man: "Are you aware of the door into the basement which has been sealed shut?"

"Of course I am aware of it!"

"Why is it sealed shut?"

"Because there is absolutely no need for anyone to go into the basement. There is nothing there."

"Have you ever been there?"

"No, of course not! Why would I want to go down there? I'm sure that it's just dank and musty, and there's nothing there."

"I think it would pay to take a look, to check the foundation."

"Absolutely not!" shouted the man. "This is MY house! It is MY basement! I have no interest in going there, and I forbid you to do so! I told you that the foundation has already been inspected. Now please leave me in peace!"

Rather than argue with the man, the brother left. But the sealed door continue to bother him, and the basement which it concealed. A few weeks later, when the brother knew that the man and his family were going to be away for a day or two, the brother took a screwdriver and a flashlight to the man's house and carefully opened the sealed door.

He had to stoop to enter the dark basement. The man had been right: there was nothing down there, except the posts and beams and braces that held up the house. As he crept among them, lighting his way with the flashlight, he noticed that the beams and posts had thick coats of paint. Everything was covered with paint. He took his pocket knife and scraped away the paint in a few spots, and where he had removed the paint, instead of solid wood he found a lacy, delicate framework of worm holes. He scraped away paint from some of the other structural members, in all parts of the basement, and found that the wood fiber was missing in all of them, either having been eaten by worms or termites, or having crumbled with dry rot.

He was horrified. Not a single beam or post or brace could be relied on. He wondered what could be holding up the great weight of the house. It seemed to be only the paint which was covering up the rot. He almost imagined he could feel the house settling, having removed the little bit of paint, and he urgently wanted to escape. He found his way to the door, and closed it carefully after he was again in the sunshine. But his mind was troubled.

As soon as the man and his family returned, the brother came to see him. "I have some terrible news for you," he said. He confessed that he had entered the basement, contrary to the man's order. "But I know you will forgive me when I tell you what I found." He then told the man that his entire house was in danger of falling down because of the worms, termites and rot in the structural members in the basement.

But instead of thanking his brother, the man flew into a rage. "You are telling me this only to rob me of the pleasure I have in living in this beautiful house! How can you attack me like this? How can you say such terrible things about a house that is so beautiful? You obviously are my enemy. You are jealous of me because of my house. You have made up these lies with the sole purpose of trying to destroy my happiness and to cast aspersions upon my house, the agent who sold it to me and the people who inspected it and pronounced it sound. Get out! And because you have become my enemy, I never wish to see you again!"

The brother tried to calm the man. "I assure you that I am not your enemy. I am acting only with your good at heart. Why would I want otherwise?"

The man would not be calmed. "You are trying to destroy my love for this house. Therefore you must have an evil motive."

"Please," said the brother. "Come down with me to your basement, and I will let you see with your own eyes what I have found."

"I am not interested in seeing anything that you have to show me. You are obviously such an evil person that you would stoop to any level to deceive me into believing your lies. You have probably planted phony evidence in my basement. You would twist and misinterpret anything I found so that it would appear to support your filthy lies about my house. No! I will not go into the basement with you! I don't care about your delusions, and I don't have the time to humor you."

The brother was puzzled by the man's obstinacy. He couldn't understand why he wouldn't at least look in the basement himself. Perhaps, by replacing the beams, or by taking other measures in time, the house could be saved. But if nothing was done, the house would surely collapse, sooner or later, perhaps injuring someone.

Seeing that he could not help, the brother left, sad that he had been unjustly labeled an "enemy."

In spite of the man's confidence in the soundness of his house, his brother's words did trouble him for a few days. Finally, he could no longer resist the temptation, and he took a flashlight and crept through the small door into the basement. He looked around and saw where his brother had scraped the paint away to expose the fragile, rotten timbers.

He was furious! Why had his brother done this? He went upstairs to a cabinet and got a bucket of paint and a brush, and carefully repainted all the places that his brother had scraped away. "There!" he said, as he screwed the door back into place.

He decided that he would not tell his wife and family what had happened, because it would only disturb them and spoil the love and pleasure they enjoyed, living in such a beautiful house.

Free From Bondage

Book Review written for the University of Pittsburgh

by Mischa Gelman as a rebuttal to a negative book review written by a Bruderhof member.

Christoph's duplicity knows no bounds. Chris-toph preaches a good message, but one must examine it in comparison to his own actions. Where is his forgiveness to all those he and his family have thrown out of the Bruderhof? When has he felt sorry for cutting off people from brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles? How can such a peace-loving man have owned a gun while heading a "pacifist" group?

Please don't take the reviews from Bruderhof members seriously. Look at the other side of the story, at the books from the Peregrine Foundation that show how cruel the Bruderhof can be. Or you need not take their word for it. Ask the Hutterite communities in Manitoba that got fed up with the Bruderhof duplicity and has published materials to facts behind that message.

"God made the world, but did not finish it, and our mission as individuals is to use all our strength to finish the world, to complete it, making it as good a place as we can." Mario Cuomo, 1998

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