Wednesday, 10 January 2018

COCO

This past week we went to see the new Pixar Movie - "Coco".

We went because we were repeatedly told to go see it by our friends.  It's totally Mexican!

It was very informative for us.

It is an animated movie about the 'Day of the Dead' celebrated annually in Latin America.  It is HUGE here in Mexico.

This movie explains it from their perspective. It was very eye opening for us.  We never quite understood it to this extend.

The whole altar thing...where they have a family altar, with the pictures of their dead.  The graveyards are full of altars, covered in food the person likes, pictures, candles, etc.  They are 'remembering'  their love ones. The movie portrays the spirits of the deceased as joining you in your celebration.

The movie also takes you to 'the other side', where the dead reside.  It paints a picture of what happens to someone who has passed on and no one remembers them (again this is from their perspective).  Apparently, once you are no longer remembered you cease to exist.  And no one knows where you go from there...

While the movie plays on your emotions, and draws you into the story,  it leads you to think about your loved ones, the importance of family, of remembering, it is also very sad.

The Bible is pretty clear on a number of things. In Christ, there is hope.  I know my future.  And I know where I will spend eternity!



Trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNCz4mQzfEI

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

It's that time of year again...

Last January my post was on New's Years Resolutions...and about not sharing them.  And various other such thoughts...


Yet, all over social media there is talk of New Years Resolutions, goals, desires, etc.  There is this, seemingly instinctive, desire to be better, to grow.  Or maybe its peer pressure?

Here in Guadalajara, the talk amongst my friends is mostly about losing weight.  This may be due to the fact that they over eat in December.  Well, they over eat a lot.  Like our sons say,  "Mom, Mexicans KNOW how to eat!" The food here is awesome and over eating just seems to happen.

Last year I did not tell you my resolutions, as I shared that research said it was better not to.  I really don't know how true that is, however, it was good for me.  Why? Because it was personal, it was something I wanted to do for me, not to impress anyone.  A goal I set purely for me.

So here we are, 365 days later.  Did I reach my goal? Did I conquer my resolutions? Not all of them, but the ones I put my mind to I did.

#1 I had a goal to read the Bible in one year - check!
This was not too hard for me; have done it several times, as I LOVE to read.  It was more a matter of priorities.  

#2 I wanted to conquer Danzika and DanceStep - check!

Here I use the term 'conquer' lightly.  If I think of when I started going to these classes - WOW! I was horrible.  They would go right and I would go left.  My teacher would yell "Diana, la otra derecha!" {Diane, your other right!} He has now told me that I have got it! 

In DanceStep he used to divide the class into two groups: advanced and beginners.  I was most definitely on the beginner side.  He no longer divides the class.  

I am much better at Danzika than DanceStep, but have been doing Danzika much longer. However, the struggle was real for this 'two left feet' Mennonite!

That said, he always raises the bar so that everybody is challenged! Love it!

#3 I wanted to do a handstand.  Tried a couple of times, failed.  Gave Up.  (I don't know why)

Am I discouraged and disappointed with myself?  No.  I am a goal orientated person so goals motivate me.  I love a challenge and seek personal growth. Will I work on the hand stand thing? Maybe...

I think, for myself, goals are good.  If you have no goals, no desired outcomes, how will you know if you ever arrived? Many people just go through life, punch clocking through, and are unhappy.

At the same time some people struggle with discouragement, and getting frustrated about goals. This year I saw a TEDtalk on goals, New Years Resolutions, that I am gonna give a whirl this year.

Click on the following:  Ted Talk Video

He has a valid point.  It is less daunting, less overwhelming.  So I am starting with easy stuff. My first month, which has begun, my goal is to take a picture every day.  If you follow me on social media, you know I LOVE to take pictures.  That is not challenging.  How I made it challenging? Take a creative picture daily, not just a selfie.

Now I don't think I will climb Mount Kilimanjaro, like he did.  Although I'd love that adventure!  Or even write a book? But each month I want to choose to do something to grow and challenge myself.

 I will end this by issuing a challenge to you. How about reading the Bible in a year? Or find a reading plan for thirty days? The YouVersion App (https://www.youversion.com) is a great app for finding plans that are of varying lengths, from reading the Bible in a Year, to 5 days plans.  There are many for 30 days. Another great app is the ReadScripture App (http://www.readscripture.org). Especially if you find books of the bible hard to understand, or don't quite know how the 'story' fits together, this is a great app, with some really creative videos to help visualize the message. You can also create a group, where you do it together and comment on your reading ( I am doing that this year). I can think of no better goal for 2018 than reading God's Word!

Tag! You're It!



Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Extending your table....

Ernie and I with Peter and Jessy
For our first Christmas in Guadalajara our children came, and that was wonderful.  Our second Christmas here, they also came, which was an amazing gift.  During our third Christmas we were alone, without family from home.  However, we spent it with our Mexican family.

This year, Peter and Jessy came for a visit, and that is so very special.  They began their holiday alone in Puerta Vallarta.  Then we went to get them and spent 3 lovely days in Bucerias (close to Puerto Vallarta).

It has been so wonderful to have fun with great friends.  We have walked many a kilometre, both at the ocean, and here in GDL.  We have seen the sights, talked about our lives, and eaten plenty.

Having a Chef in the house is not good for the waistline! But it has been so very delicious!

We decided to invite some friends for Christmas dinner on the 23rd.  Together we planned the meal, but Peter was most definitely in charge! He worries not only about what is being served, and how it will taste, but how it will look! (I mostly hope my meals are edible!) While he didn't give himself a 10, our guest most certainly did.
Right to Left: Jordana, Ricardo, Lalo and Carmen (a family) Us, Jessy and Peter, Karina
These are friends from the gym, and the good thing is that they speak English, so the fellowship was easy.

Here is a pictorial of our meal:

We started with appetizers; each one added something to the table.  We had a tuna mouse on crackers, cream cheese with a chilli jam, chips, little toasts with cheese and jam.  All very yummy.

Then, while our guests played table games, Peter and I headed to the kitchen to prepare dinner  We (mostly him instructing me) made creamy mashed potatoes, a roll of ham stuffed with cheese, topped with a cornflakes crusted chicken breast, gravy that was out of this world, deliciously sprinkled with red pepper pieces and the veggies were green beans and carrots in garlic butter.

We won't talk calories!

The dessert was home made oreo cookies topped with chocolate and raspberry sauce. Yum! Yum!

Alejandrina and I
Then I added a Mennonite tradition and make home made white gramma cookies to decorate.  They loved the decorating! This is something my own family has done at a gathering - gets very creative, and is lots of fun.  Both of the teenage girls are artistic so this was right up their alley.
It doesn't hurt that they taste great too!

Samples of the art
So while this event was over the top in its culinary art, one does not need to be a chef to extend their table.  Most cultures use food to offer friendship.  What one needs is an open heart filled with love for others.  This year, thanks to a friend who loves to share his gift in the kitchen, we had a WOW meal.  But a previous year I made everything myself and we had a lovely evening building relationships.  

Peter himself says their are many simple meals, appetizers, and desserts one can make to share with friends.  Food is a great way to build relationships.  It is less about the meal and more about who is around the table.  One should never be scared to extend their table because they can't cook; take out can be ordered.  Opening your home and your heart is what it is all about.  Life is about relationships, people, community. 


This was our Christmas Day dinner.  We made it Mexican: Carne Asada (basically barbecuing meat).  Then we made potatoes, corn with chilli and cream cheese, pico de gallo or salsa mexicana (a la Peter), avocado and Coca Cola in a glass bottle.  

We have consumed our fair share of calories ... but calories amongst friends don't count!

We trust you too shared your table with loved ones and enjoyed a Blessed Christmas.  And we wish you a wonderful New Year, from our table to yours!



















Wednesday, 20 December 2017

PV, Friends and R & R

Sunday morning we headed off to Puerta Vallarta to pick up Peter and Jessy Fehr, who had come out from Canada.

We will be spending 3 nights in a condo by the ocean and then headed back to Guadalajara.

It has been so nice to sit and just catch up and visit.  To share about our lives with each other, face to face.

We have walked many a kilometre together, up and down the beach, and on the malecón (boardwalk) in Puerto Vallarta.



We have cook breakfast together and enjoyed eating it on our balcony overlooking the ocean. It has been glorious to just relax together after some pretty crazy schedules. Rest is good for the soul.


To just 'be' with no pressure. We often take for granted the need for rest and relaxation.  We also forget how we can do that, what gives you that much needed rest.


We are looking forward to spending Christmas together.  Cooking dinner together.  Extending our table to others. And enjoying Guadalajara together.  Since they have both visited us before, they aso have met some of our friends and there are things they want to see.  It shall be a wonderful way to end the year.

 Then they will get on a bus, head back to Vallarta to catch their plane home...to the winter wonderland

  We want to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas.  Let's remember the arrival of the Saviour of the World.

Emmanuel, God With Us.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Can washing dishes be cultural?

There are so many things I love about Mexico! There are many things they do differently than we Canadians would.  Some things I out-right laugh at, some things I smile at, and some things I just have to admit that I should adapt do.

Like, for instance, your basic stop sign.  I think that the sign without any word written would be understood.  It is not a yield, though often applied as such; it is not a go.  That it is often completely ignored here, makes me smile.  If one understands that just because there is a stop sign for everybody else, and that you have the right of way, does not mean that people will stop.  Deal with it!

However, I anticipate the stop sign being on the right hand side, about 7 feet off the ground? That is where I look, if there is one, I stop, if not, I go.  Guadalajara has a habit of putting the stop sign on the left hand sign, on a hydro pole, like about 10-12 feet in the air! Confusing!

I sometimes ask Ernie why he is stopping.  He stays, "because I have a stop sign."  Where? Yep, left hand side! Just makes me laugh. I guess its about finding a convenient place to 'pin it'.



Now, about washing dishes.  I like my Canadian way...a dishwasher! Not that every Canadian has one! But it would be the preferred way of doing dishes (Almost no one has one here, and, if they do, they don't use it). One person told me it was environmentally unfriendly.

I will broaden my perspective on this point, as I have lived in, or visited, more places than just Guadalajara, or even just Mexico.  I don't want to be dogmatic, but most Latin's that I know would not fill the sink with water, put the dishes in, and wash.  They actually find that rather disgusting. Rather they get a container (old margarine tub), add water and soap.  They also use a scrubber that is soapy.  They individually wash each item till the sink is full and then rinse.  It does not make a difference if there are a dozen things or a boat load.  Some even leave the water running the whole time.

Better? Worse? I like it. I don't know how to do dishes by hand if given a dish rag! But I would hands down prefer a dishwasher!



Always things to learn. One can always find areas to adapt to.  Old dogs can learn new tricks! Stop Sign can be seen on the left hand side...

So, Bible Study tonight, where we will celebrate some birthdays.  Thursday we have a class, then Ernie has a posada and I have a birthday breakfast.  Friday I have a birthday breakfast and we have a birthday party in the evening.  Life is about being, relationships and community.  God has blessed us with a great community.


Wednesday, 6 December 2017

First Christmas Party


Last Friday Night was the gym ladies Christmas party.  Pictured above are the ladies that remained, (a few had already left).  It was the largest turnout we have had thus far.

Once again the start time was 7 p.m.  I left the house just after 7:30, thinking holiday traffic would be crazy, which it was.  I was the second person to arrive! They began to slowly trickle in after 8 p.m.

Planning a party here is kind of crazy.  The host starts by picking a date and a rough time.  Then throws it out there, to see if there is interest.  Then come the boat load of texts about food and other such details.  I was otherwise occupied during the initial start of this. When I looked at my phone I had 250 messages!!

That said, it happened; there was lots of food, beverage and desserts.  People came on the date set, and more or less at the time set.  By Mexican standards, on time.  End time is always another issue.  When does a party end? I usually am in the first round of those leaving.  When I asked how long people stayed? The die hards usually last till 3 a.m.

They chose to do a Karaoke night again.  They just love that.  They all sign up early so they get a chance to sing.  I don't sign up and end up in the first round of singers!



I am glad I know one song well, and they are teaching me new ones so I can sing along.  What always shocks me is how unnecessary it is to know how to sing! They love it!  They are not embarrassed. 

It is just a good time.

 A lot of the songs everybody knows and joins in. Everybody is laughing, singing, and dancing. It is good clean fun. 


Oh, and they threw in a piñata 

As I said, this was the first party... the same host is throwing another one, but a breakfast one, for a more intimate group.  You see, the group pictured at the top is several groups mixed together. So, this Friday, a section of that group is having a breakfast Christmas party.  Then the other half of that group is having their breakfast party.  Where I had hoped that it would be just one party, all the groups together - nope.  It just turned into 3 instead of two. 

Oh well, tis the season... for friends and family.  For relationships.







Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Beauty

We are so blessed with where we live.  I say that, realizing that if I think about where I am from, I feel even more blessed.

Aside from the whole, living in Mexico thing.  I mean, we live right in front of a huge park.  When I go for a jog, the outside path if just under 5K.  It is a really lovely green space.

We often head out to the park for a walk, as it gets Ernie away from his computer and from sitting too much.

Last week we went with the precise intention of taking pictures to make a Christmas card.  Only to be told we weren't allowed to.  His reason? Professional picture taking was prohibited without a permit from the park office.

I guess we looked professional with the Canon camera and a tripod? Ernie wrote to the park and they apologized for the error.  They would give a clearer explication to their employees.

We headed out another day, this time without the canon camera, just our iPhones, and took more.  We had fun.  It was a beautiful day, the only kind Guadalajara has.  Here are some samples.



I think the pictures are both great.  We prepared for the above ones and just happened upon the bottom ones.  Gorgeous park.  God is creative and knows how to make a lovely day.




Christmas season is upon us.  Parties have begun.  I have one this Friday, ladies only.  One next Friday, ladies only.  And so it begins.  May we point others to the real reason for the season...Christ's birth...the arrival of our Saviour.