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Getting Out : Inside Out

Cult Memories 1998

from Phoenixkidd - Wednesday, February 27, 2008
accessed 685 times

Zarqa, Babylon, Singapore

Zarqa, Babylon and Singapore in 1998

I’ve been raised to be very honest, it bothers me to lie or try to circumvent the truth. Bullshitting someone is considered low-class in my book so I was very confused and just plain incoherent when the cult started putting out letters such as “Deceivers yet True” and many adults would give testimonials of their “victories” in crossing borders and what they told authorities to let them into Japan for the 20th time in some cases.
Anyway in 1998 I went on my 3rd trip to Jordan where the cult operated a base or what we called a “home” –2 homes in fact. It was an extremely eventful summer for me, the weather was beautiful up there in Amman and I loved Jordanian food and some of their culture. Both times I went I was a member of their dance show team called “heart to heart” which was based in Thailand. I was recruited from Indonesia on a few occasions from 1997 and 1998 because I was one of the few males that could dance, albeit not that well.
Since our team of about 20 had basically a whole month before we would go to our trip to Israel Palestine and Jordan we had plenty of time other than practicing in a rented room to participate in other activities. Leonardo mania had hit Jordan at the time and each day we tried different things, even ballooning in front of the Safeway.
Jordan was definitely a kingdom in every term of the word and the elite circle was quite small. However the home seemed to have severe money issues as we were constantly praying for the rent and supporters etc…Once when we invited a potential “sheep” to come over and we explained our need and asked him to pledge money he basically was very shocked and almost laughed. Here we were sitting in the livingroom of this very nice upperclass home, the owners had left all their furnishings and the rooms had imported Italian marble and fixtures from Norway, and we were asking a Jordanian for money.
When I wasn’t painting bunkbeds or making coffee for the hired workers (who had been paid to build on 2 classrooms) I was procured to go “witnessing” I went a total of about 6 times on different trips to downtown Amman or it’s suburbs with one Auntie in particular and once with Philippino Ben, as I will call him, to help edit a promotional video showcasing our dance/ song team, “heart to heart’s” talent. After a long day watching editing the other Uncle after watching the final product quipped “all that and you still didn’t get the sound sync’d?”
Once I went on a trip to Zarqa an industrial town located about 20KM outside of Amman, Me and another young adult female, who I will call Grace, rode a bus and were of course starred at the whole way since we were definitely odd foreigners making an unusual trip to the rather bland town of Zarqa. Talk about being vague and trying to explain what we were doing, at that time we were selling concert tickets to a concert we were to hold at the King’s sports complex auditorium, and using them as a pretext to help our volunteer work.
We went to a bank and asked to speak to the manager and the very nice man offered to take some of our tickets. Then we went to the local shopping district and provisioned some lunch –yummy shwarma’s –one of my favorites to this day. All in all we felt it was a good trip and we were satisified.
When we got home we were asked by Uncle Andrew, who I knew ages ago in Indonesia, “what happened? Was there anything strange that happened?” We said no and then he goes on to explain he got a call or someone was asked about what we were doing in Zarqa from the local police station. Apparently the manager of the bank called to complain or at least inquire to the local police that 2 strange young people were selling something and wanted to know if it was valid. We were both shocked by all this and I thought it was the Lord teaching me some kind of lesson since I had already slipped on gravel playing with the other kids on “get-out” and got stitched up for free from a pediatrician they knew. I can still remember the pain from no pain vaccines but finally they injected a bunch to my wrangled bit of knee skin to be able to stop my leg from shaking while he was sewing me up –ha I laugh at the ridiculousness of it all now.
Anyway I had to go down to the police station with this other Uncle, he said that Grace didn’t have to go since they only needed one person and she was a woman and would cause some more eyebrowse raising in that Male dominated society. So they were very nice at this suburban police station, more like a detective’s office and the Mustached men exchanged words with the other Uncle who was a long time Mid-East resident and I had to sign a statement in Arabic that I couldn’t read! I was assured though there was nothing in it that was bad.
Babylon was interesting, we went there for the “Babylon” festival in October 1998, and stayed in a hotel I later saw got hit by an anti aircraft missle. This was next to the blue mosque I can’t remember the name of it but I can point it out on google maps,--the geek that I am. The Babylon festival was mainly for the elite of the country at that time and was to showcase or foster relations with all the middle countries of asia from all the “stans” and even Ukraine with the regime that was then Iraq. Effigies and paintings of Sudam was everywhere at that time, I remember thinking how empty Baghdad looked even though it had excellent highways and huge monuments. The towns in Iraq were awful compared to Amman, just concrete ramblings of houses that appeared out of nowhere. We performed at a school which was for the very elite, and an orphanage, and at the equestrian center located south on the Tigris river, it was truly fascinating to go into this “closed” country at that time.
Anyway I think it was after this that I went on a visa trip to Singapore from Jakarta. I was told to go with Nicki as I will call her, an African-American girl who had long lived in South East Asia and whose parents were in the cult, we were to meet a team in Singapore who had been there on a “road trip” to sell our tapes and videos and were quickly running out of videos and tapes. Usually on these trips I would fly from Jakarta to the island of Batam, take a taxi, then a ferry to Singapore and then do that all over again in one day by myself, as that turned out cheaper than taking an International flight. On this trip we were loaded with 40 video tapes, and many cd’s in 3 bags. She had to go to the bathroom and somehow we turned out to be the last one’s leaving the baggage claim area and getting into customs, I shrugged at this thought as I knew it was gonna be bad. Sure enough it was! A man pulled us over in his office and opened 2 of the bags, of course they had x-rayed this stuff. He asked “what’s in these bags, We said videos He goes “pornographic videos?” we tried to explain no they were educational videos for children for our “friends” he said what about that bag? I said no that’s my stuff, even though it had videos in that one too. He said they would confiscate these and have to look and review them. In the strict self-righteous society of Singapore he probably thought we were importing the latest Madonna books or Robert Mapplethorpe’s installments.
My heart sank when he gave us a brochure of all the fees involved to get back our videos. I felt like the whole time in Singapore I was being taped and shuffled all of our stuff in a bathroom on Orchard road to give to the other team. I also sank to think that I had let our team in Singapore down by not getting them everything, they said though not to worry as they were planning to cut their trip short anyway.
Well it all worked out and the home Shepherd went soon after and somehow had smooth-talked his way to get all that stuff back, worth about 800 USD. I should know because we produced that stuff in Indo at that home. To this day I get very nervous about “authorities” even though I have done nothing wrong or illegal in regards to smuggling or contraband. I am so happy when someone asks or has me write down my occupation I can write “business analyst” instead of “student” or “English Teacher” and make up some stupid school which I did for years.
I'll post a pic sometime soon with this with us dressed in traditional Arab clothes in the livingroom of that beautiful house in Amman.

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from rainy
Thursday, February 28, 2008 - 12:09

Travelling was always rare moments of freedom for me inside the cult, because nobody could ever afford to accompany me on the plane/ train, whatever. Thus my time spent in transit is some of my happiest memories, the times when I really felt free to be myself. I remember the handsome young Israeli guy who taught me drinking games on the plane, I first tasted bourbon on a plane, but my favourite memories are catching the trains across India. Very exciting, and all alone with all those wonderful sights and sounds around me. Just pretending I'm any average backpacker. I almost got lost at some tiny station in the middle of nowhere because I jumped off to get some water and the train started to leave. EVERYTHING, even my shoes were on board. I ran as fast as I could and there were about 20 hands reaching off the train to pull me up. Indians are wonderful like that. Travelling in Japan, being harassed by an Iranian in Shinjuku station and a group of young Japanese men came up and asked me if he was bothering me. I said yes, and they jumped on his back and dragged him away.

At least, when I have to admit to my peers that I don't have a degree etc, I can tell them the stories of my travels, and they think it's a pretty good trade off. My travels are the only thing I thank my cult life for. They are the high points in my life.
(reply to this comment)
from Samuel
Thursday, February 28, 2008 - 06:51


You are an excellent story teller, PK. Good luck posting any pics, though, as I'm afraid that part of the site is down.
(reply to this comment)

from Lance
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 - 22:05

Average visitor agreement is 1 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

Wow, Pheonixkidd, you really do have quite the story to tell. It's incredibile! I only wish that you had a tender grasp of how to write. You could write a short story worthy of being published if only you you had a knowledge of how to present the strory in a delegated manner. This is a story that deserves a fourth rendition and I feel like this was the first.

I was mesmerized by your story. I felt connected to it because I too was trapped in a world of provisioning and fund raising all in the same populace as the people that I was suppossed to help, but was disassociated with.

The pretentious garble of cult charity and fund raising should be exposed. You've done a good job in presenting that.
(reply to this comment)

From Phoenixkidd
Thursday, February 28, 2008, 08:09


I know lance, it was very roughdraft, and I wrote it out at work without doing so much as a spell check. It's not professional writing so I figure what the heck.

(reply to this comment

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