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The Universal Life Church World Headquarters Announces the Tarahumara Project With Rev Jerold Norris & Rev Betty Montez

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Carrabelle, FL -- (ReleaseWire) -- 03/06/2012 -- Rev. Jerold Norris and Rev. Betty Montez are Ministers with the Christian Religious Organization, Universal Life Church World Headquarters of Carrabelle, FL. Rev. Jerold and Rev. Betty each host a weekly show on the Universal Life Church Radio Network every Sunday night at 8PM EST and 9PM EST and in addition they have an active ministry within the Kansas City area, that extends globally with such endeavors as The Tarahumara Project.

Here is what Rev. Jerold had to say about The Tarahumara Project......

It was about 6 weeks ago Betty and I heard about the hardships of the Tarahumara people in the Sierra Mountains of Chihuahua, Mexico. We were floored! We could not believe that 50 people committed suicide because of starvation, and the inability to feed their children. In the time we have been doing this project, 5 children have passed away because of starvation. That evening, I was on Facebook and a young woman who calls me her American Dad, had put on Facebook that she wanted to do something for the Tarahumara. I later found out she spoke the language. They don't speak spanish, they have their own language, not unlike our native Americans. Her speaking their language is how we eventually got our group name; The Korima Remeke Sierra Tarahumara.

Myra said she had a friend, Pederito who was very interested in helping them also. We also found out he is part Tarahumara. Then the radio station, Super X 1160 jumped in and we were off and running. Pederito worked himself to a frazzle. He is non-stop. He drove the radio station van to wherever we needed it, parked it and started working his magic...he has the gift! We put information on Facebook, we talked to everyone we knew. We would park the van outside grocery stores and solicit donations. Without the radio station, it would have been a lot harder to get the donations we did.

I want to say that every bit of supplies came from the hispanic community only. I haven't hit the rest of the community...yet.....but it's coming! And, of all the people that donated, the majority were from Chihuahua. We collected for 4 weeks. Almost everyday. Finally our truck was full and we were ready to go. We were all excited! Then reality set in... The supplies were too heavy for the one truck. It would not make it to the border with that much weight. However, with much prayer someone ended up donating another truck, and we split the load into two trucks!

The Governor of Chihuahua said he would help us with whatever we needed. After 2 weeks of waiting to be called to the border, our trucks rolled across and into the waiting trucks of our sister radio station on the Chihuahua side. I think now it will be a little easier to get supplies to the Tarahumara. But, regardless of how hard it is, we will continue to help probably for years to come. They have been in a 2 year drought, and it doesn't look good for the near future.

The harder it is, the more you feel like crying tears of joy and relief when the mission is completed. I wasn't sure we would get through, and all I could think about were those children! That's what drives Betty and I. It's hard to think about those children who passed when I have 10 grandchildren of my own...So, we continue this fight against starvation, and we will fight until it is defeated!

The Tarahumara People

The Tarahumara or Raramuri, as they call themselves, inhabit the Copper Canyon, as it is known in the U.S., or the Sierra Tarahumara in northwest Mexico. The actual name Tarahumara was what the first Spanish called these Native American people.

The Spanish originally encountered the Tarahumara throughout Chihuahua upon arrival in the 1500's, but as the Spanish encroached on their civilization the shy and private Tarahumara retreated for the nearly inaccessible canyons of the Sierra Tarahumara. Only the Jesuit missionaries followed at first and with only scattered success.

After mineral wealth was discovered in the mountains, many areas where Tarahumara Indians lived became desirable lands to the miners & mining companies forcing the Tarahumara once again to head farther into the remote canyons. Today, the Tarahumara are Mexico's second largest native Indian group with between 50,000 & 70,000 people.

Today the Tarahumara live in caves, under cliffs and in small wood and stone cabins in remote areas. They live a simple life undisturbed by modern technologies.

They are known as a quiet and considerate people who are expert farmers and runners. Rarámuri has been translated to mean "runners" in their native language. Due to severe drought in northern Mexico, the Tarahumara have suffered famine in the past few years.

Corn is the main staple along with beans. Potatoes, and apples can also be found. Some Tarahumara raise domesticated animals such as goats and cattle. Fish, small game & herbs (a Tarahumara speciality) round out their diet.

Traditional clothing for the Tarahumara consists of a white cloth shirt, sometimes with colorful prints, white cloth pants or wraparounds with colorful belts or accessories. Headbands of cloth usually red are worn upon the head. Sandals or huaraches are the footwear of choice.

Running is what the Tarahumara may be most legendary for in the world. Relief and various organizations have entered Tarahumara runners into events such as the "Leadville 100-Mile" in Colorado. The runners have surprised many by running in their tire-soled sandals and winning some of the these long distance races.

Running or "foot throwing" has always been a tradition and necessity of the Tarahumara. It is their only mode of transportation and many of the small communities are far apart. They also have their own events, and this is were "foot throwing" comes into effect. It is a competition known as Rarjíparo and consists of a small wooden ball which is "thrown by the foot" by teams in race to finish before the other teams. The races can last days. The Tarahumara are very religious and desire their privacy and respect if you should happen unto their festivals. Two larger events are Semana Santa (Easter Week) and the Fiesta Guadalupana in December. These religious rites are a mixture of Christian and Tarahumara beliefs.

There are also other times of celebrations, such as harvests, which are interwoven with tesgüino. It is an alcoholic beverage made of corn and grasses that is good only for a couple of days after it is brewed. Natives will drink until passed out in some cases.

The Mexican Government recommends asking for permission when taking photos, entering accommodations or crossing Tarahumara land. Respect all celebrations as well as rights to privacy by these proud, but quiet people.

Athletic prowess

The Tarahumaras' word for themselves, Raramuri, means "runners on foot" in their native tongue, according to some early ethnographers like Norwegian Carl Lumholtz, though this interpretation has not been fully agreed upon. With widely dispersed settlements, these people developed a tradition of long-distance running for intervillage communication and transportation. The long-distance running tradition also has ceremonial and competitive aspects. Often, male runners kick wooden balls as they run in "foot throwing" competitions, and females use a stick and hoop. The foot throwing races are relays where wooden balls are kicked by the runners and relayed to the next runner, while teammates run ahead to the next relay point. These races can last anywhere from a few hours, for a short race, to a couple of days without a break. The Tarahumara also practice persistence hunting, using their ability to run extremely long distances (sometimes as far as 160km) to catch animals such as deer; the animals eventually tire and slow down, and the Tarahumara get close enough to the animal to kill it.

Tarahumara religion

The Tarahumara religion is a mélange of indigenous customs and Roman-Catholic Christianity, characterized by a belief that the afterlife is a mirror image of the mortal world, and that good deeds should be performed not for spiritual reward, but for the improvement of life on earth. In certain traditions (perhaps those more strongly based on pre-Columbian practice), the soul ascends a series of heavens, is reincarnated after each death, and after three lives becomes a moth on Earth which represents the final existence of the soul. When the moth dies, the soul dies completely. However, this end is not regarded as negative or a punishment, but merely as a continuation of the order of life. In Tarahumara cosmology, God has a wife who dwells with him in heaven, along with their sons, the so-called 'sukristo' (from Spanish 'Jesucristo') and their daughters, the 'santi '. These beings have a direct link with the physical world through Catholic iconography, respectively crucifixes and saint's medallions. The Devil's world is not necessarily evil, but is tainted through its ties with the 'Chabochi', or non-Tarahumara. The Devil is said to sometimes collaborate with God to arrange fitting punishments, and can be appeased through sacrifices. In some cases, the Devil can even be persuaded to act as a benevolent entity. The Devil and God are brothers (the Devil is the elder) who jointly created the human race. God, using pure clay, created the Tarahumara, whereas the Devil, mixing white ash with his clay, created the Chabochi. Thus, the Devil is as much protector and life-giver to the Chabochis as God is to the Tarahumara. The Tarahumara share with other Uto-Aztecan tribes a veneration for peyote, the spirits of which are said to be mischievous and capricious.

The truly remarkable thing about them is an ancient religion which has bred into them a moral code so strict that they are unable to tell a lie. Psychologists suggest that over the centuries this value system has actually caused physiological changes in their brain that preclude speaking anything but the truth. Nor can they cheat or fail to aid a fellow tribesman.

Luis G. Verplancken, a Jesuit priest who lived among them for many years and is probably the greatest authority on their history and culture, describes them as loyal to God, to their own traditions and their own culture. Although the majority of them have converted to Christianity, there are still some "gentile" groups who have refused baptism. Those converted have introduced their own ancient concepts into their new religion. God is both Father and Mother. Respect for one another is of prime importance. They give greater value to persons than to things. In their eyes, both the white man and the Mestizo are more pagan than their unbaptized fellow Tarahumara because over the years these two groups have enslaved, lied, cheated and driven them off most of the fertile land they once inhabited.

The Tarahumara are also known for the brewing of tesguino, a corn-based beer brewed in ceramic jars, that features prominently in many Tarahumara religious rituals.

Would you like to help support this cause, please contact Reverend Jerold Norris directly at: gator1020@yahoo.com or contact us here at the Universal Life Church World Headquarters, (850)720-1061 and we will have Rev. Jerold contact you.