The Words Of The Wilding Family

My Trip to D.C. and the MFM

Adrian Wilding
Vancouver, Canada
December, 2001

I left Vancouver International Airport last Sunday to attend the Million Family March. The flight down was pleasant, but tiring. Because the flight was fairly empty, I was able to lie down on three seats. However, like every flight where I had a chance to lie down, I couldn’t sleep but simply closed my eyes and listened to the constant hum of the plane engines and occasional call from the captain on the PA system. Dinner soon strolled down the aisle. I was given the choice of "chicken" or "beef." I chose chicken and the petite stewardess smiled at me and handed me a white rectangular plate. Looking at it was like looking at beautiful art work sculpted to perfection--each and every piece placed perfectly to accent the other, topped with a small but elegant leaf all framed in a crystal clear display case. However, after indulging in my first bite, my taste buds and senses quickly made me realize I was fed a meal no grander then flavored cardboard with a pinch of coloring. I reached over and ripped the self-serving package of salt placed to the side of my plate, which had the most nutritional value of anything on my whole dish, and spread it over my food. As I watched the salt melt into my meal, the combination of fatigue and a pounding headache made my food look like it was receding (a stage of osmosis) like slugs do when exposed to salt. The thought of it made my stomach buckle and I quickly finished my meal. After washing my dinner down with a beverage, I continued to lie on the seats and closed my eyes, mostly to prevent my eyes from completely drying out.

The plane touched down in D.C. around 10:00 p.m. D.C. time. I was welcomed by a few of my BC friends. We said our hellos and quickly headed for the D.C. church. On the ride there, I was informed that many BCs were gathered at the church and were going to sell T-shirts and ginseng-up at the March. We arrived at the church around 11:00 p.m. and were briefed on what was to take place. Now, whenever there is a mass church function, there is always a plan or schedule that is supposed to be followed. However, whenever there is a mass church function, the plan or schedule that is supposed to be followed is never followed. Such was the case at the D.C. church. The plan was to be at the selling booths at 12:00 a.m. with our teams and products. At 12:00 a.m. we found out our teams and our products had only arrived at the church minutes before. Despite the mass confusion and anarchy, everyone did manage to finally get into teams and be at a selling booth.

I was teamed up with all the D.C. blessed children and we set up our stand, neatly folding the shirts and placing the ginseng bottles on the table. After setting up, my eyes caught the table next to us. It was the Japanese. Naturally their shirts were folded much better than ours--every corner and side folded crisp and the logo perfectly centered on every single shirt. The bottles were not placed in a random gaggle like ours, but in perfect flavor-coordinated groups lined up straight and equally spaced apart like soldiers. Looking at their flawless display, I could only smile and shake my head and think, typical Japanese.

After all our products were set up ready to sell, I began to feel tired. Since the day was still young and hours away from daylight, I decided to take a small nap. Looking around I realized that half my team already beat me to it. Some were resting on chairs, others were settled in a pile of bags and belongings, and the smart ones were curled up in their sleeping bags on the pavement. Because all the prime spots were taken, my friend Alex Compton and I grabbed all the empty boxes we could get our hands on and placed them on the sidewalk behind our booth. With boxes as my mattress and jackets as my blanket, I took half of the box-mattress and found a reasonably comfortable position. I didn't feel uncomfortable or awkward sleeping on the ground on a piece of cardboard. No one seemed to care or notice. I was a high-class bum. With that in mind, I closed my eyes while the ambient air washed over my face and body and I dozed off to sleep.

As daylight crept closer and the number of people grew, so did our concerns and worries. There was a great deal of worry that began to brew, not only for our selling teams but for every merchant at the March. The problem, we began to realize, especially church members, was not that we didn't have enough product but that we had way too much product. In my opinion and based on observations I made at the March, with the amount of product the church bought and the amount of product and goods people bought, the church could have single-handedly supplied every consumer with the goods they purchased and still not sell out. If only that were the case! Thinking about it now it was quite comical because everyone strove and set out to make a buck, but it seemed that people didn't realize or think that 14 blocks (on both sides) of merchants would also strive for that same goal. Not only were there enough blocks of merchants to build another CN Tower but it seemed like everyone was either selling the same "Million Family March" shirt or type of food. Another quite interesting observation I made was: if you weren't black, you were a church member.

Despite the disaster in the market, people did show. I did get a chance to walk over to the rally site with a few of my friends. Whoever's been to Washington, D.C. could better relate to how many people attended the March. I could simply say "3 million" and you can go "Wow, that's a lot." But this is how it sort of looked like. Picture this: from around the Washington Monument to Capital Hill there were crowds upon crowds of people. From an aerial view of the rally it would sort of look like an enormous rectangular chocolate bar spread across 14 blocks from the Monument to Capital Hill with a few white specs here and there. That's how a million families looked like at the March. Because everyone couldn't all be in the front of the rally, there were TV screens the size of houses placed from Capital Hill to the Monument about 30 meters apart and speakers the size of buses.

As the day began to wind down and people started to head home, merchants became frantic and desperate to sell their goods. A shirt that was once sold at a hefty $15 dollars (that's U.S. dollars for all us Canadians) was being given away for $3. The taste of sweat and survival filled the air and shouts like "Shirts, 3 for $4!" became common. People stood on chairs, tables or whatever they could to state their claim that their shirt was the one the passersby wanted. As the hunger to sell began to swell, people started to yell even louder. Veins started to bulge of out of people’s heads and necks and prayers began to be recited--not asking God for help but for the right to assert to people that their shirts were blessed and that they would have good luck if they bought their shirts. There was a rumor that people became so desperate that they let shirts go for $1. Another booth had brought around $10,000 worth of drinks or an equivalent of an 18-wheeler filled to the brim. They sadly only sold less then $200 worth of drinks.

Even if our booths didn't sell any drinks or shirts, we all went through an experience that we can look back on and have a good laugh at. Whether it was a five-hour exhausting plane ride or a simple drive across town, everyone made an effort to attend the March and make it happen. Our struggles and hardships brought us even closer to each other because we went through a tough time together, helped each other out and came out of it all together. And that's what the family is all about: helping each other out through the tough times and making the best of any situation. If you add all the time spent to prepare for the March, subtract the many sleeping hours we gave up, times all the merchandise people tried hard to sell, divide the hardships it took to make the March happen amongst each other, I'd say that equals one big happy family!!

I hope you all enjoyed reading My Trip to D.C. My name is Adrian Wilding and I am Canadian! That is all.

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