Tuesday, November 18, 2014

First Step towards Eventual Freedom

As time went on, one aspect of our ludicrous situation began to be too much to bear. 

Like typical TFI members, while doing our required "witnessing," (i.e. selling the cult's publications and products) we had been saying that we were "missionaries" to the country where we were living, yet we did no activities that could be considered "missionary." In TFI, the word "missionary" had a very loose definition. 

Homeschooling the children of the group was my brand of "missionary work," while other members spent their evenings singing in bars where they collected donations to support our little commune. Others spent their days on the phone to or visiting businesses that gave us food and household items - generally things that they would be unable to sell - to supplement our meager income. As close to "volunteer work" that I ever came in TFI was when we occasionally put on little performances at senior citizens' homes. 

Calling ourselves "missionaries" made my husband and I feel like frauds and liars. Most embarrassing, we could not communicate in the local language at all.

Coincidentally, around this time we were having difficulty getting along with another member of the group home where we lived. We took the opportunity to move out on our own to a little city remote from any other TFI members. Our hope was that we might learn the language and culture of the country of our residence, and actually become "missionaries" in a more traditional Christian sense of the word.

Although this step was a first step towards our eventual departure, it was a very difficult move for our children who left the only option for socialization that they had ever had. Now they were homeschooled with only me as their teacher. How much more isolated could a child be than being taught at home, in English, in a city where no one spoke English, with no one to play with but their siblings? 

Eventually, we put our children into the local schools where it was sink or swim with learning the language and customs, but this came too late for our older children who continued to study at home, and who, like me, were always outsiders to society at large.

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