Highlights Of My Life
I was born in Chile on August 26, 1973. I'm of Italian/Spaniard ancestry.
When I was born my parents were just graduating from college. My dad started to work as engineer for an American company. My mom got a job as a school teacher shortly after.
Weeks went by.
The military took over the socialist government in a bloody confrontation.
Years went by.
I was about five years old when my parents split. Maybe I was much younger than that. I do not remember much of it. All I know is I missed my dad. He used to come to see me every weekend. His visits became less frequent as the time went on. Every weekend turned into a twice a month visit; twice a month became once a month; once a month became once every six months; six months became once a year; then once every two years.
My mom decided to remarry. I don't know what she was thinking. My stepfather was a drunk and an abusive person. We never were friends. He never really tried. I never really cared.
The exact day when I turned eight my dad showed up with a bicycle. I remember he was crying when he gave it to me. We had already talked about me getting a bike before. Sure it was a pretty bike and I was happy but at that moment I was not sure why he was crying. Then he asked to talk to my mom. They talked for a few minutes. My mom seemed to be sad too.
He hugged me. He cried again. He asked me to never forget him.
He was bailing on me. I knew it. He tried to buy me with a bike.
The political situation turned critical. People were being killed and massacred by the government's special forces. The massacres were done in military bases or publicly, it didn't matter. The point was to intimidate people. To restrain and limit their political views. If you were not a right wing extremist you were classified as a communist and considered a menace to society. Therefore you had to be terminated. You and your friends and your family. This situation went on for several years.
The Catholic Church, although censored by the government, seemed to take over the daily routine, the everyday life issues. Naturally. It's been like that since it's foundation back with my people the Romans. They have power and yet they want more power and control. Even until this day, the Catholic Church in Chile regulates what it's a sin and what it isn't, what to eat on Easter, what days to celebrate, and who in the calendar to worship that day (each day has a saint to venerate.)
The priests began to talk about the political situation in their masses. Many condemned the government for their actions publicly. However, the same priests were punished severely for their sins by sharing the misfortune of thousands.
After seeing that, the Church slowly but surely began a campaign to promote political safety across the country. The people in turn began to support even more the Catholic Church. Which seems a common behavior. The people saw the Church as the only institution who could intervene with the political affairs of the time in a peaceful and diplomatic way. The people sought refuge in the long and boring speeches from the local parish and the Vatican itself. It was just hope. Useless hope.
As usual, the Catholic Church was cynical and hypocrite about it too. While in public they preached Christian principles such as forgiveness, behind the scenes silently fired up an underground movement to stand up to the self-elected government. The Catholic Church succeeded with that. They triggered masses to the streets. Violent protests and clashes with the police were a common event.
Early in school I was a well behaved child. I also did all my homework. I was a bit shy too. Teachers in school began to condition my mind so I could fully understand I was below them. They were the teachers, I was the pupil. They knew it all, I knew nothing. That always bothered me. However, I remained quiet. I was not supposed to go against that social rule.
Kids in school started abusing me physically. My mom always told me I should walk away from all that. I had trouble accepting that advice too. But she was my mom and I silently had obeyed her. No arguments could be made to state my case. Neither at school nor at home.
One day my cousin (a marine) saw me all beat up. The same afternoon he taught me how to fight. To fight well. All the teachings took a little over two weeks and were done in secret. If only my mom knew. All those teachings gave me confidence to stand up to those kids and teachers at school. I had deeply refused the thought of being a pushover. My cousin's teachings worked out for me. I even sent one bully to the emergency room. It was a mess. Blood everywhere. No regrets about that whatsoever.
It was then when I started having behavioral problems in school. However, at the same time my grades started to go up. I always knew that education was my way out of my misery --both material and spiritual. For some weird reason, I found shelter in books and libraries but also for some other odd reason, I tolerated no funny business from anybody, a much less rational approach to solve conflicts. A completely unexpected behavior from a nerd.
I never did drugs or initiated myself into smoking or drinking either. I didn't want to go from one prison to another. I wanted freedom. I was experiencing first hand the wonderful example of my stepfather. Example I refused to follow.
Then my dad showed up when I turned 13. He pretended to be a father. Again. I was getting upset by those random cycles of casual fatherhood. My mom had to go through a lawyer to get to him to see me. My dad dropped a few dollars here and there which didn't help much, but he did it to say he had done something for me, his son. He had money. Our lawyer said he had his own company making a lot of money. Yet somehow he claimed he didn't have much to give me.
I'm sure you would feel pretty disappointed too if you see your daddy driving a fancy European car while you live in a below standard ghetto house with mice crawling around your bed every night. Many times we didn't even have enough food to go around.
He disappeared again. Somehow I saw that coming. It didn't surprise me at all.
About that age I think I started playing rugby. To get pounded and to get other kids pounded. I could also run away with ball in hand evading my problems. I could kick them all away if it was needed. Rugby became my life. I picked up on it and never looked back until this day.
At school I was questioning more aggressively my teachers' views of the world. "Pablo Neruda was a great poet" they used to tell me. "The Pope is a true spokesman of God himself and I'm his true follower" the local priest used to tell me when him and the nuns were living together.
Sick of the poetry and hypocrites telling me what to read, what to say, how to dress, and what to think; I became fed up with that system. That order of things was rotting and decaying before my eyes. Soon enough that scheme was dead to me.
I no longer respected the educational system. I no longer respected the Catholic Church. I no longer took advises from them. I knew I was on my own. I questioned their right to direct my life. Nobody has that right except myself.
I lived my own Renaissance, my independence in my own way. I remember it happened when my mom bought me a jacket and she tried to force me to use it. I didn't like the jacket and I was not going to wear it. Period. I expressed my feelings, my rage, and burned the jacket in my backyard. As silly as it may sound, it was a statement to myself, to the world. I was fed up. I was done. Now my very own opinion was more valuable than anybody else's. I was freeing myself.
When I was about 13, I met some Mormon missionaries. I was thrilled by the simplicity of their message. So I became Mormon despite my school teachers and my mom and my stepfather's advise: they told me that Mormons were part of a huge government conspiracy backed up by the US government. It didn't take me long to realize that those statements were completely inaccurate. There was no CIA involvement, there was no government conspiracy, there were no satanic rituals. They were all wrong regarding that. The same people also told me about the Mormon Church's founder, his life, and how he had deceived many people with his fraudulent money-digging business. Since they never gave me solid evidence for those rumors, I just ignored them. So I joined the LDS Church in August 1986.
Ironically, I got kicked out of religion courses sponsored by my school. Then I got kicked out of High School too. Twice. They were private schools that my dad miraculously had decided to pay for. Ever since I could remember I had felt unwanted so I couldn't care less what other people thought. I still don't care.
The second time that I was kindly asked to leave from a high school, I went to a reverend to sign a pre-made letter of recommendation for me. I wanted to reapply to my former school; the first school that kicked me out. I pretended I knew him. He was old. I knew he wouldn't challenge a charismatic 15 year old. He went along. He signed. Never saw him again.
After my application was accepted at that school, I continued with my problems. This time however, I told everybody I had been a black sheep and that I needed a baptism. It was a Seventh Day Adventist school so they were thrilled about my cheap confessions. I delayed the baptismal date until I graduated it. They never kicked me out again although they had all the reasons in the world to do so.
I ran away from home many times. Sometimes I went to play rugby in other cities. Sometimes I went to the beach with my friends to enjoy the surf. Sometimes I played with my band. I was the bass player. We had two fun live concerts. Sometimes I just vanished and I ended up somewhere.
More years went by.
A bit more matured, I became a Mormon missionary myself. I wanted to help others. To give a word of peace to maybe other families like my own. To other kids like myself.
My dad came back again to my life. He said he wanted to help me financially to pursue my educational goals. He tried to buy me again: he said that he was going to pay for my education anywhere in the world if and only if I dropped the idea of being a missionary. A laughed. I told him I was not for sale. I went on my mission. I was able to help a lot of people during those two years. In return, many people helped me understand life thanks to their humility and sincerity.
After coming back from my mission I realized I couldn't live in Chile anymore. I wanted to run away again with the hope of finding myself there. Looking back at all my futile attempts to start over with my life during my teenage years, I realized I wanted to try something geographically farther, perhaps with a new system in place.
After some thought I made up my mind. I was going to go away. As far as I could. To start over with a new life and a new me. It was then that I decided to go Australia or New Zealand.
I went to my dad looking for support. To see if he could remember his promise of helping me further my education. I took all the money I could with a fake and pathetic smile before he changed his mind.
On my way to Australia and New Zealand, I decided to stop in Hawaii for a few months. I fell in love with the culture, the weather, the surf. My hanai (adoptive) brothers even gave me a new name in Hawaiian: Kalani. It means "Of The Heavens."
I decided to stay here forever. I had never met more friendly people than the Hawaiian people. We clicked immediately. I fit right into the culture.
With the money my dad had given me I payed for my bachelors degree at Brigham Young University-Hawaii. I graduated in 1999. For my masters I got a scholarship from Hawaii Pacific University. I finished my degree in 2006 with a GPA 3.9/4.0 in retribution for their generosity. My PhD got postponed until I get some energy back.
Months became years.
Veritas Lux Mea :
When I was on my mission I remember I became deeply troubled and annoyed by one article published by the Jehova's Witness Watchtower magazine. The article talked about Joseph Smith's past, his journeys into the occult, his contradictory multiple accounts of the first vision, the Book of Mormon origins, and how the LDS Church had started. I had heard people talk about those issues before but I never really payed much attention to the rumors.
This time for some weird reason it was different, somewhat personal I might say. I sent at letter to the editor complaining that if they had a different view on spiritual matters perhaps they should avoid sensationalism and unreliable sources altogether. Without much guilt I went further by stating that their article was just another unfounded anti-mormon propaganda. I received a letter back stating, in essence, that I should check by myself all the sources listed in the article.
So I did.
Right after I finished my missionary service I decided I was going to prove all anti-Mormon people wrong. Not only the people who wrote that article but also all the people who told me the same stories over and over throughout the years. I was not going to publish a paper or anything like that. Whatever findings I was going to obtain were going to be just for me. Perhaps in an effort to claim victory over my spiritual enemies, to experience the sweet feeling that comes when you win an argument; to show myself I was right and the poor Gentiles, the people of the world, were all wrong.
To be fair, I was set to study events that could be corroborated by independent researchers with no affiliation to the Mormon Church or any organization that was against it. I wanted something neutral with absolutely no theological agenda. Since the Book of Mormon cannot be examined because the angel allegedly took the original plates back to Heaven, I was going to take some of Smith's "fruits" to determine if he was a real prophet or a fraud. If he was a true prophet, everything he said or did should be in alignment with the truth. That truth should be scrutinized and analyzed by anyone, and the result should be the same to everyone. In my mind, 1+1 = 2 every time, everywhere. Not 3 or 4 depending on my feelings or mood. Same concept and logic should be applied to this matter as well. So I picked the Kinderhook plates, the Book of Abraham, and towards the end of my investigation, I studied the DNA tests performed on tribes of the North and South American continents (aka "Lamanites.")
With all the conviction that I had been trained with, I thought I was going to be all done gathering evidence in about one afternoon at the library. Off and on my studies continued, however, one afternoon, became one week; one week became one month; one month became a year; one year became years. 12 years to be exact.
It is extremely difficult for me to confess that all the data gathered proved my chauvinistic convictions wrong: the Kinderhook plates were a hoax, The Book of Abraham turned out to be a simple funerary text, and the DNA results show no traces of Hebrew lineage among the "Lamanites." Those topics led to other matters such as the personal life of Smith. Based on the data gathered, I concluded there were no supernatural beings that visited him, there was no "First Vision" but several; there were no angels, there were no Lamanites, or Nephites, or any kind of "ites."
It is painful to admit that I have been duped all these years. It is difficult to acknowledge I had been mislead by the religious leaders I trusted. I had been given half-truths and an incomplete history rewritten consciously in Church manuals by unscrupulous fascists. I remember that my first reaction was anger as you can imagine; I wanted to start avenging my ego by actively exposing the Church and its leaders because they know much more than they are willing to tell us.
I put the subject on the side once again. I just did not want to believe I had been duped all these years. I put all those doubts behind trying to ignore them. However, this time the doubts and the amount of information available were just overwhelming.
Some months went by with the hope that all my doubts would go away. Once again. It all came to an end on August 26, 2009. A decision had been made.
I now emphatically reject Mormonism. I reject their "First Vision", I reject their prophets, seers, and revelators. I feel that the so called apostles have lied to me. They are hiding the truth from the public. I had been manipulated into believing that God had answered my prayer, that everything was true, and that should trust my feelings and not my reasoning.
I do not blame the local bishops, leaders, or missionaries. I blame it on the so called apostles who control the Mormon franchise. They know the truth; they know that it is all a hoax. They have access to material not available to the public which exposes the adulteries of Smith, the bloody campaigns of Young, and the lies of Woodruff regarding polygamy.
I feel happy to know that I am still free; that I am still true to my principles; that I do not follow politics; I do not take lies of any kind; and that I'm not a blind follower of any organized religion or movement.
I still live in Hawaii.
I still talk to my mom though but I won't deny the fact that my past life was just a horrible nightmare. I am not thankful for what I went through. I just think that nightmare shaped my soul and my character.
I don't play full contact rugby anymore. However, I must confess I don't miss rugby matches on webcasts, kick the ball every now and then, and play touch rugby whenever I can.
I mostly surf. Whenever and wherever I can. I have all the freedom I want there. No rules, no regulations of any kind, no politics, no priests, no nothing. Just me, Mother Nature, and my new life.
There is nothing else in my life other than my wife Jen and my three boys: Kalani, Gabriel Kainoa, Mattias Makamae, and Sebastian Kaimi. Although not officially, I even changed my birth date to something more memorable. Now it's February 25: the day I got married and became truly happy with a family of my own.
I didn't need 15,000 friends from myspace and facebook to help me come up with sound decisions. I didn't have to watch MTV to be myself. I didn't find the truth in a shopping mall or CNN. I didn't need a dumb politician to tell me that I was a free soul. I didn't have to read the People's magazine about the rich and the famous and the beautiful to do what I wanted. I didn't need a lousy reality TV show to appreciate life and live it fully. I didn't need people with delusions of morality to show me the Way. I didn't need men in dark suits to see the Truth. I didn't need fictional books to show me the Life.
Those statements are as valid today as they were yesterday. Those statements will be as valid tomorrow as they are today.