Fridays are important days for the Twelve Tribes because members celebrate the Sabbath.
I woke up on my first (and only) Friday in Winnipeg to Hacida knocking on my door because Qazaq needed my help at the deli. I got ready in 10 to 15 minutes and went straight into town.
The community is so great at taking care of guests. I rushed out of the house in the morning without having even a bite to eat, and Benyamin made me the most scrumptious egg sandwich I’ve ever had, with avocado. (Who doesn’t love avocado??) I was also served lemon ginger green tea mate.
The day’s duties were as follows:
- Help Kelia flatten ginger cookies for baking (a community member who had recently converted from Catholicism. She met the Twelve Tribes 10 years prior)
- Sweep the lunchroom floor
- Prepare more tea bags for the next day’s festival
While I prepared tea bag samples, Qazaq worked with a younger boy, Tahir, the packaging of paper bags filled with 75 to 100 tea bags for the store. On multiple occasions, Qazaq told Tahir to work faster and corrected him when he was wrong. Qazaq’s tone was somewhat annoyed, but Tahir never spoke back, nor did he heave any sigh or make any noise that indicated he was annoyed with being told what to do. At least I didn’t hear anything. He was respectful and went on with his work.
Wow. How often do you see that in Western society? I mean of course not all kids talk back, but I was astonished because it’s rare to witness kids not answering back these days. And Qazaq wasn’t even his parent!
There was also some time for laundry in the afternoon, right before the celebration in the evening. They were all so nice about making sure I had time to do my laundry :’)
A new visitor, Kees from Holland, arrived on Friday as well. He had a thick accent so it took extra effort to discern what he was saying, but he was a friendly man.
I hopped into the car with Abigail to get to the celebration in town. On the way, we discussed what dating is like in the Twelve Tribes. I was in for a surprise: dating doesn’t exist there. According to Abigail, if one or more parties has feelings toward another member, they reveal these to another member (someone older, if I’m not mistaken). These members talk amongst themselves and express their dis/agreement with whether or not they think two members would make a good couple or not. If they receive approval, the two parties will sometimes take a walk on the property to talk about it.
Prior to marriage in the community, couples don’t kiss.
How intriguing. I couldn’t stop asking Abigail questions, and she was always glad to answer them. If I gave $1 per question I asked during my stay in Winnipeg, I’m pretty sure I would’ve been broke :/ But how could I not ask questions? The were in such a different world and it’s amazing that they manage to maintain their ways while still living among mainstream society.
The evening’s Sabbath gathering was intense and passionate. Prayers were spoken with such conviction and since both houses came together, there were way more people on the floor dancing in a circle.
There were a few non-members in attendance at the celebration, and I’m almost sure all of us were exceedingly observant and trying to take in what was going on. Well, at least those who hadn’t been to such celebrations before.
After the gathering, we all went inside to have dinner. I sat at a table with two non-members (a mother and her son) and a Black family – Rivkah, Ozzie, and their son and daughter.
This is going to sound silly, but I wondered: how would they pass the time without any technology? Typically when I attend parties/gatherings, there’s a TV where attendees can watch shows, play video games, or karaoke.
I became fully immersed in hours of conversation with Rivkah after dinner. Much of our talks revolved around natural childbirth. She shared that she gave birth squatting, rather than laying down like many do at hospitals. She also brisk walked for 20 to 30 minutes daily and ate healthy food while pregnant.
In an earlier post I wrote that children are “trained.” I asked Rivkah about this because I wondered why they say they “train” their kids rather than “teach” them. I associate “train” with a pet, like a dog.
Well, the children are trained so they’re not exposed to the impurities of the outside world. They’re trained so that if they hear bad words or see bad things from guests, they know it’s wrong. What makes this training successful is because it is the common goal of all parents to turn out the way they want them do.
After those examples, it made sense to me. Plus, when you “teach” someone, you’re imparting knowledge, whereas when you “train,” you’re taking measures to shape one’s behavior.
Before I knew it, we were wrapping things up and it was time to go home. The evening went by so quickly!
It was good that there was no Internet or a TV there. What’s great about the absence of technology is that you’re forced – and I say this as a great thing – to immerse yourself in the company of the people around you.
What’s there to do without these devices and gadgets??
Lots of things! Talk to the adults, talk to the kids, play with the kids, play with the babies, and be 100 percent in the moment with the people around you.
No technology, no distractions.