A Culture Learned

A carried breath which sorrows seek

And dampened chill on him who sleeps

No mercy’s call nor justice speak

A torn heart with angers hold deep

Justice wanes like deaf unheard

Holding hate as culture learned

                                   -Zachary Pinkston

I Stand For. . .

I have no answers today, and I’m not even going to make any statements.  Well, then again, I may make one or two, but for the most part, I only want to ask questions.  What is it that you stand for?  That’s my question.  We see advertisements, political campaigns, religious groups, humanitarian organizations, and many others that stand for a certain cause.  And this is a really good question. What do you stand for?  Everyone stands for something, whether we want to or not.  We must know what we stand for.  One organization that I used to be a part of, Invisible Children, stands for the freedom of children in Central Africa.  They want to see that children in this area will no longer be taken as child soldiers for the LRA and will be able to live in peace.  They know what they stand for, and they work really hard to promote their position.  They have worked so hard that their cause came to the attention of President Obama.  They know what they stand for, and like Invisible Children, we too must know what we stand for.  In life, there will come a time when we are questioned.  We will be interrogated, and must be prepared to answer questions.  These questions we are asked will be based on what we stand for.  And if we are confused as to where we stand, we will not be ready to answer.  Know what you stand for, and when you know what you stand for, stand up for it.  Do not be silent.

The Dream

I arrived at the gate second in line.
God called the first name, then there was mine.
I peered through the gate with excitement on my face.
I couldn’t believe I was finally in that place.
God asked, “what are you staring at?”
I said, “I want to enter, I cannot wait.”
But just as I spoke they had shut the gate.
God said, “I’m sorry, but that is not your fate.”
I cried out, “my whole life I was good,
I even helped the old woman in my neighborhood.
I was always in a caring mood,
and anyone who asked I would give them food.”
But God answered, “yes those are truly good deeds,
but to heaven only the cross leads.”
I cried and begged and asked for grace,
and it was then that I felt an embrace.
I suddenly woke up out of my dream.
My mother’s arms wrapped around me.
I realized the truth would set me free,
and that only being good would never make me clean.

-Zachary Pinkston

The Story of Djonke

First of all, before I start my story, I want to give you some background knowledge.  The name Djonke is pronounced with a silent D, and that his name in its native language means slave.  This story takes place in Bamako, Mali.  Mali is situated in West Africa, above Ivory Coast and to the south of Morocco.  This took place in French, and the year is 1998.  This is a true story.

The Story of Djonke

Hello, my name is Djonke, I am twelve years old, and I live in Bamako.  I don’t live with my parents, because they are right now in the country of Zambia.  My father is a diamond miner, and my mother stays with him.  They never had enough money to take care of me, so right now, I live with my uncle here in Bamako.  About a year ago, an American family moved into the house beside me.  They have a son, named Zachary, and I have become really good friends with him.  We do almost everything together, we fish, and even hunt lizards together with our homemade slingshots.  In the street, we play soccer with all the other kids from the area; dodging the traffic and the sewer since it runs right through the middle of the road.  I started talking to Zachary and his parents about their belief, and why anyone living in the United States would ever want to come to Africa.  They told me that they were Christians and believed that their mission in life was to bring people to know Jesus Christ personally.

I got interested in what they were teaching.  Every week, besides playing with Zachary, I would come over and listen to them teach about the Bible.  This Jesus character was very interesting, and if what they taught was true, I wanted to be a part of it.  Over the next few months, I learned more and more.  They gave me my own bible in French, and I took it to my house and hid it underneath my mattress.  I had to hide it because my whole family is Islamic and if they found out I was interested in Christianity, I could be in danger.  Because I share my bed with a few of my cousins, my bible was found, and my uncle interrogated me over it, and beat me because of it.  I went to Zachary’s family in tears.  I decided to leave my Bible at his house and come study it when I got out of school before going over to my house.  I learned more and more, and I believed that Jesus Christ was in fact the savior and that God had sent him to save the world of their sins.

I was a believer, and now, I too was a Christian.

It was around March now, and my uncle realized that I had drifted away from the Muslim faith and had become a Christian.  He was furious and treated me as an outcast.  Being beat by him was normal, and my cousins treated me like a disease.

A few days before Easter, my uncle came to me with a VHS tape, and three nails.  He said that on Easter, the whole family was going to ridicule me for what I believed in.  He said they were all going to beat me, and they would watch the VHs tape he had which was the Jesus film.  They would mock Jesus, and then as the crucifixion came, they would nail those three nails through my hands and feet mocking my faith.

I went over to Zachary’s house and talked to his parents, I was crying, and they shared in my sympathy.  I decided that I truly believed that God had sent his son Jesus, and that my faith in Christ was true.  If this was going to happen to me because of my faith, so be it.  I prayed that God would save me from this torture.

Easter day arrived, and I was afraid for my life.  I did not run, but I prayed that I would be saved.  All day I waited, and my uncle was no where to be seen.

It turns out that my uncle had had car trouble the day before Easter.  He never made it home that night.  During Easter day, he spent the whole day trying to get the car fixed in town and never even returned to the house.  When he did return, he had lost all memory of what he had planned to do to me.  No one in my family mentioned it, and somehow, he never brought it up again.

I returned to Zachary’s family in tears, this time tears of joy.  God had saved me from a man who hated me and truly wanted me dead.  I continued to be good friends with Zachary and his family, and got connected with other believers in the area.

Zachary’s family had to leave in 2000, they had been re-assigned to another part of the world and had to go.  I continued to grow in my faith, and being able to fellowship with other believers in the area really helped me.

Now, in 2012, I have been reunited with my birth mother, and she lives with me now. I came to find out I had younger siblings, and now, my mother and younger siblings have become Christians.  Jesus christ is real, and has changed my very existence.

Why I Love Coca-Cola

In 2003, my father put together a team from Canada to go to Mali, West Africa, to conduct a humanitarian mission.  Our goal was to inform villages out in the remote parts of the country on how to prevent the spread of HIV.  I was only a young boy of twelve years old, and since I had grown up in Mali from the age of five to nine years old, my father allowed me to come along and see where I used to live.  During the trip, we decided to go on a day hike up the Dogon cliffs located at the edge of the Sahara Desert.  The Dogon cliffs were about four hours away from any civilization and electricity, and the hike was going to be a 13 kilometer hike. The first part was going straight up the cliff about 200 feet.  The path up this cliff was not an easy one, one slip up, and you would have fallen to your death.  Once we arrived at the top of the cliff, we saw a small village in the distance.  This village was very minimalistic, and their only water source was from a well.  When we got to the edge of the village, one of the elders came to us, and asked if we were thirsty.  The group agreed that they were in fact thirsty, and the elderly man brought us to a shack.  When he opened the door, we couldn’t believe our eyes.  From the dirt floor to the ceiling, Coca-Cola was stacked crate upon crate.  Here in the middle of nowhere, someone had taken the time to bring all these crates up the cliff.  It must have been a tedious job.  We bought a few Coca-Colas from the man, and right there on a cliff, in the middle of Africa, I enjoyed the taste of that Coca-Cola.  Even though it was warm, nothing could have tasted better.

Chapter Three

Here’s chapter three of my novel.  If you need to recap what happened in the previous two chapters, they are located in the book category to the right.

Here it is:

He got up from the couch and headed into the next room.

“Oh.” He said as he turned back towards us, “we gotta finish business from last week while y’all are here.”

“Yea man, Eric’s got it all ready for you.” Josh announced.

“Perfect, I’ll get the book.” He said as he left the room.

Chapter three:

A few seconds later he came in with a plastic container and a folder. The folder was one that you would find in an executive hotel welcoming the guests to their five star accommodations; it was quite professional.  He sat back down and opened the folder.

“Last week I gave you five ounces it says here.” He said as he looked up from his paper.

“Yea, you called that stuff cat tail, and it actually went pretty fast.  I think it’s ’cause it was cheaper than what we usually have.” I said as he looked back at his folder.

“And I told y’all to sell it at fifteen a gram, is that what you did?” He asked.

This time Josh answered. “Yea unless we could find the clientele who’d pay more.” Josh chuckled a bit.

“I only wanted 10 dollars back for each gram,” Adrian grabbed his calculator off the coffee table,”that’s five ounces at 280 dollars an ounce. That’s 1,400 dollars. I hope you guys made a little bit off this one. I know it wasn’t the best quality, but hell, this next one’s fire.”

I opened the envelope and proceeded to count out one thousand and forty dollars on the coffee table.  Once all the money was counted Adrian picked it up and put it in the folder.  I continued to count out the rest of the money we had earned.  In total, we had 805 dollars left. Josh got 402.50 dollars, and I got the same.  Josh and I had decided when we went into business together that we would both work hard, and in the end split the profit right in half.

“I’m glad this brought in a bit, we both been in the dump the last week until we could get this money to you.” Josh exclaimed.

Adrian opened the plastic container revealing a ziploc bag full of a new breed.  He took the plastic bag out and laid it on the table.

“This is the good stuff. I’m thinking that you should sell this for either twenty, or twenty five.” Adrian explained.

“What’s it called?” Josh asked.

“Burberry Blush!” Adrian exclaimed.” I don’t know who comes up with the names, but that’s what they called it.”

I laughed a bit, and they did too. The truth about it was that this new stuff was so nice that it could make the grumpiest grown bloke blush; I could tell only by looking at it.

A cell phone rang.  The ringtone was not that of a song, but an instrumental beat.  Josh pulled his phone out, looked at it for a second, and put it to his ear.

“Hey baby what’s going on, you know I’m at. . .” Josh was unable to finish his sentence. He listened for a second to the voice on the other end.  “You okay? Did they take anything?”  His concerned tone changed the mood in the room.  Even Adrian seemed bothered.  “Alright babe, I’ll be there in a second.”  Josh shut his phone, and didn’t say a word. His face scrunched a bit, and anger appeared through his mostly emotionless face.

“What’s up?” Adrian asked.

“Two guys kicked in the apartment door.  Brooke said one of them held her at gun point while the other searched the bedroom.  She don’t know if they took anything, but they had masks on.  Two black guys.”  He paused and took a breath.  “Ima go over and see if they took anything.  You know I had been saving some from each sell, and if they took it… ” He paused.  “Well that’s just not good.”

I sat there listening.  This wasn’t good.  Not only could they have taken his money, but it also meant that others in town saw Josh and I, and everyone that worked for Adrian as real competition.