Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Puerto Vallarta and more


So, as you can all well imagine, we are enjoying having our children home for the holidays.  They arrived on December 13th, in Puerta Vallarta, so we spent the first week at the beach.  It was gloriously wonderful to just be together.  Having never been to Vallarta for a vacation before, I'm not gonna lie, it was wonderful.  I can see why people do that yearly.  

We left Vallarta on Saturday, the 20th at 8 a.m. as we had a 'posada' (Christmas party) to attend at 2 p.m. in Guadalajara. It was a little rushed but we arrived in true Canadian fashion, on time.  It was with our 'family' from the gym.  The kids were tired but did their best to interact with our friends, but as you can well imagine, it was somewhat tiring.  Several speak various amounts of English but still someone stiltedly.  Mike can understand a fair amount but the other 2 found it tough.  All that said, they still enjoyed the experience and made some new friends. 

So here are some of the pics from our time together so far... ...

Family - the original 4

Me with my kids, Chris, Me, Mike and Jayce
The boys catching the waves
At the Malecon in Vallarta

Chris and I 


Which is the statue?

Some deep sea fishing for the guys

The posada on the 20th with some of our gym family

The kids got to decorate some Grandma's cookies

They were very creative
And a Christmas piΓ±ata

So, as you can see, they are not getting to sit around much.  I think they are having fun. We are certainly enjoying each activity with them.

Merry Christmas from Our House to Yours

Ernie & I with our children, Jaycia & Mike and Chris
Merry Christmas to one and all...

Today is Christmas Eve and many of you will be together with family for gatherings, enjoying many traditions built over years.  We have lost most of such traditions as we don't always find ourselves living near family, or even in Canada.  But, the real reason for the season can be celebrated anywhere and with anyone... The birth of our Saviour...Emmanuel....God with us.  

So, enjoy your turkey and gravy and mash potatoes and veggies and cookies and whatever else your family eats during your festivities.  We most likely won't have turkey but we are together as a family and so we will be happy and celebrating.

God bless you all and later today I will post pictures of our time together so far.  God bless each and every one of you.



Thursday, 18 December 2014

My Christmas gift arrived

So very sorry everyone that I missed posting but I confess my kids arrival kind of threw me off 😞😏. Yes they were my Christmas present and I am so very very very glad they are here. I wanted to post a pic or two but the Wifi connection here is terrible and my frustration has maxed out 😑. I promise I will be back next Wednesday with an update and pics. 

We are presently enjoying the sun 🌞 and fun in Puerta Vallarta. Tomorrow is our last full day and then Saturday morning we leave the heat and head to Guadalajara but there are still Palm trees 🌴 and knowing my kids they will think it's hot. 

Until next week, 
Diane ☕️

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Las Posadas

Las Posadas

Christmas is just around the corner.  If you are counting days...15 days away.  Many of you will have traditions that have been in your family for years.  Some of you may have no traditions.  Many of us love Christmas and and those family traditions.  There are lots of us that love the over-eating that we celebrated with a relish!  

We will not have a traditional family gathering this year.  We will most likely not eat the traditional Canadian meal.  We will not enjoy the snow and cold.  We will not go carolling, or tobogganing, or skating.  Once again we will incorporate Mexican traditions, foods and customs - one of which is the 'posada'.  

Posada is Spanish for 'lodging' or 'accommodation'; it is mostly said in the plural, as it is a more than one day event.  It is a Catholic tradition but Protestants also celebrate it.  A posada can be very ritualistic - meaning you sing the song, you dress in character, you sort of follow a script.  

Posada Song   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6nwzpI-6UE

But, more often than not, when someone invites you to a 'posada' it means they are inviting you to a Christmas gathering in their home.  It is a reason to get together as friends and family; to eat, drink and be merry.  We already have some marked down on our calendar and I am sure there will be more.  Some typical things found will be "Atole" which is a traditional drink made with masa (corn flour), water, piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar), cinnamon, vanilla and optional chocolate or fruit flavour (its a love it, or not so much, kind of drink).  I enjoy it, especially if I'm outside and its cool. 
Atole

 Another thing served is 'tamales', which is a dish made of masa (a starchy dough, usually corn based) which is steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper, which is discarded before eating :) They can be filled with meats, cheese, fruit, and chilies.  Best not to ask for a recipe and just enjoy - health wise they are questionable, but oh so good! 

And, Ernie's favourite, "Ponche", which is a warm fruit punch - with the fruit pieces in it!  It is thick with fruit pieces and nuts. Ernie is awaiting this first 'posada' where they will serve it.



So, will me miss a Canadian Christmas?  No, because my gift arrives in 4 days - all three kids!  So, with our kids 'under the tree' we will have a 'very Merry Christmas'.  And, of course, most importantly, the meaning of Christmas is the same - the baby Jesus came into this world ..."For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)



Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Me, You or US?


I imagine that most of you are having at least one family gathering for Christmas.  As you look around the room, you know everyone, are related to most, but should that be the case?  I must confess that my host country friends have taught me something over the years about gatherings.  I am ashamed to admit that I have failed at this far too often.

I never think about a family gathering as exactly that, a family 'gathering'.  Meaning, that my family gets together to spend Christmas as a family; only my family.  I don't think about those who don't have family, those that are alone, those who are from other countries, other lands, those who have no one.  Shame on me.  Christmas is the season where we reflect on God sending His son, Emmanuel, God with us.  How could I be so narrow in my focus - on me and mine?

Mexican's are not that way regarding gatherings - be it Christmas, birthdays, or any other celebration.  The more the merrier.  We have been invited to many 'family' gatherings and made to feel welcomed by everyone.  Mexican's are embracing and inclusive by nature.  I don't think we were ever left to ourselves on the holidays while we lived in Chihuahua.  We really and truly had 'family' and we had more than one invite during the holidays.

I want to encourage you to look around you, to really look.  Who needs a place to celebrate the holidays?  Who could benefit from the warmth of your family?  Who do you notice that is "unconnected" and needs to feel like they belong and really need to feel loved?  Could you invite them to your family table?  Or could you plan an event for just such a purpose?

I in no way want to make you feel selfish for enjoying your family.  Nor am I pointing fingers at you, as I have already confessed that this is something I have failed miserably at over the years.  I am so thankful for my 'Latin ' family who open their homes and their families to us.  They are constantly teaching me about life and loving others.  And, I what to share with you what I am learning, thinking we can all learn how to be more inclusive. May you experience much 'gathering' this Christmas!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Nicaraguan Party


Left to right: John & Connie, Me, Pilar, Jorge & Teo, Hugo and Ernie
As many of you may know, Ernie and I served in Nicaragua when we were first married (see blog main page for explanation of previous assignments). John and Connie, our co-workers here, also served in Nicaragua, way back in the turbulent years.  We have often travelled down memory lane: of places, people, food, etc.  Well, as God would have it, we have a cell group  member (Dallas & Tara's group) who is a Nicaraguan.  Ernie and I have also met others who are from Nicaragua, but are living here in Guadalajara.  So we decided to throw a party - a Nicaragua party.  Connie & I cooked some Nicaraguan dishes we thought we could pull off and invited them over.  What a wonderful evening, talking about places, customs, food, when we all lived there, etc.  Nervous as Connie and I were, they all said the food was wonderful and that we should do this again!

Connie & I preparing

Fried cheese and fried plantain

Frying the cheese and heating the Gallo pinto (rice & beans)


New friends enjoying some good food from 'home'

table for 8

Pilar and I

Jorge (from Nicaragua) and his wife Teo (from Wiebe's cell)

Connie sharing memories 



Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Comfort Zone, Bubbles and Tension



I grew up in Southern Manitoba in a Mennonite community where we were taught to follow a set of rules.  It was like the 10 Commandments grew.  Thou shalt not dance, Thou shalt not smoke, thou shalt not drink, thou shalt not go to the movie theatre, thou shalt not play billiards, etc. etc.  When you are given rules to live by, from your parents and/or church, you do one of two things, obey them or break them.  You might try to challenge them or even argue them, but then you still opt for one of the two options.  However, we were also subconsciously taught to just obey them and never to challenge them.

Then something unheard of happened, Billy Graham made a movie for the theatres.  Now what?  A moral dilemma. Billy Graham is good, movies are bad. That was only the beginning of the rules falling apart. School dances happened, billiard tables were brought into homes, etc. etc.  Society grew, changed, advanced and rules got broken.  

For the most part we were not taught to understand the why's of the rules but were told not to challenge them.  We were rarely taught to think critically and to develop a critical mind, whereby we could, in any given situation, be able to decide for ourselves if something was right or wrong.  We were also not taught how to live amongst those who did all the above things; those who lived outside of our rules.  

How can we be salt and light to those outside our faith if we ostracise ourselves from them, and live in a bubble?  How can we live in that world and be a light?  Can we?  Should we? Must we partake to fit in?  Can we befriend those who do things outside of what our conscience says is permissible? 

We need to begin to teach our children, and our young people, how to live in the world; outside of the protection of the ‘bubble’. We need to learn to love those who live differently than we do.  Inviting people to church makes us feel 'safe' and comfortable, because that’s our turf, but how does the other person feel?  We need to teach the church how to enter into the world and love them in THEIR environment.  We need to learn to be okay with feeling uncomfortable in an environment but comfortable in who we are.  We need to love someone enough to live in their world, and try to enjoy their world. 

There is a risk involved.  1 Corinthians 10:11-13 reminds us of exactly this: “…So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall."  There are temptations in the world (actually temptations also exist in the bubble), but the One inside of us is capable of carrying us through whatever He calls us to. Living ‘in the world but not off the world’ means being okay with constant tension. There is little tension if you stay complacently in the bubble. There is little tension if you capitulate completely to the ways of the world. Living in the world, and loving others outside of the bubble, will inevitably produce tension, feelings of being out of your comfort zone, and likely some uneasiness. We will need to teach ourselves to be okay with this  and to be able to handle it. 

One of the things I have been challenged on is that I need to do this daily.  If I love someone, I need to not put conditions on that love.  I will enter their world, I will step outside of my comfort zone to love them.  I will put no expectations on that love.  I will pray that they see that the thing about me that they are drawn to is Christ within me.  I will pray that I will be able to share Christ with them but I will love them even if they reject Him or chose to live otherwise.  I will not judge them by my rules, I will love them. 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

First Communion




On the 8th of November we were invited to attend a First Communion of our friends, Flavio & Hilda's daughter (pictured above).  This begins with mass at a parish followed by a celebration with family and friends.  We decided to attend the mass, as another learning experience, rather than just attend the party, which many did. We were fortunate enough to sit by my friend Diana from the gym, who was willing to explain if we had questions.
Diana, (my friend's mother) Diana and Diane!!

For those of you who have never attended such a function, let me give you an explanation. Here is a brief explanation "Wise Geek":
"First Communion is considered one of the holiest and most important occasions in a Roman Catholic person's life. It is the first time that a person receives the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, which is the eating of consecrated bread and drinking of consecrated wine. Catholics believe these to be the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Most Catholic children receive their First Communion when they're 7 or 8 years old, because this is considered the age of reason. Other people can receive communion for the first time whenever they've met all of the Catholic Church's requirements."

You can go to the 'Wise Geek' link for more information. For us it was a learning experience and we were glad for Diana's help.  One of the things that I think the Catholic Church does well is educate or train their children in their faith and from a very young age. However, they struggle with similar challenges that we do as Evangelicals. It needs work on an individual level so that it doesn't stay as head knowledge, or ritual, but becomes a personal, applied, and lived out faith. We hope to model that kind of relationship with Jesus and relationship between our faith and our daily lives. 

Following the mass there was a short break before the party so we "Diane's"and Ernie went for coffee and discussed faith and literature. From there we headed to the party and the gang showed up to celebrate (that is another thing the gym gang does - support each other)
Left to right: Carmelita & Lalo, Ernie, Flavio & Hilda (child's parents), Karina, Claudia & Juan,
Alejandro & I (front row)

So, together we enjoyed a good meal and much laughter.  Our friends from the gym are fast becoming some of the most important people in our lives.  We enjoy our times with them, they continue to invite us so we continue to go.  We respect their faith, although different from ours, and they know that we are Evangelicals. Through respect and dialogue we believe both sides can learn from each other. 

    











Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Pray For Mexico


Over the last few weeks the news here in Mexico has been such that one does not want to actually listen to it.  However, one can hardly ignore it.  It flashes across the T.V. news,  the radio, is posted on FaceBook and is talked about over drinks.  I am not sure if you hear about the things happening here but Mexico is in deep need of many prayers. It is so dark that many are saying PRAY PRAY.  

A message was sent to my phone by more than one group asking that I set my phone alarm for 8 p.m. every night to remind me to take a moment to pray.  My alarm goes off nightly.  What am I to pray for?  The situations that are ongoing.  

The biggest issue getting the most press is the disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico.  But this might just be the event that has lit the fuse. Ongoing kidnappings, assassinations, and widespread corruption seem to have brought things to a boiling point. Accusations abound, demonstrations are rife with emotions, and parents are begging for answers to their missing children.  

The violence is everywhere and people are afraid and unsure where the answers lie.  But the Catholic church called its people to prayer, Evangelicals are praying, only God can bring peace.

So, we ask you to join us in praying for Mexico and about the unrest that is ongoing, creating fear amongst her people.  Join me at 8 p.m. every night or just add this request to your daily prayers.  

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Blessings

I know that Thanksgiving has come and gone, but I just can't help but have a thankful heart. God has blessed us abundantly. If I were to make a list of pros and cons in my life ledger, I am not sure the cons would be worth noting. Sure, I miss my kids (all three of them) tremendously, but I can literally talk to them almost anytime, and SEE them. I sometimes miss the ease of living in my own country but again the pros for living here outweigh the cons (hate to rub it in but 25 degrees on the plus side, verses heading to the minus side of the equation - well enough said!).

The thing that I am most thankful for is the people God has placed in our lives. What rich friendships we are developing. We have a wonderful family of believers through John & Connie's cell and Dallas and Tara's. Such awesome people. We love each encounter with them. Then there are our neighbours, people to stop and chat with, people to get advice from, borrow something from, and just the wonderful camaraderie. I can feel safe even when Ernie is away. Then there is our other family, our special family of friends at the gym. What a blessing. These are people to go for breakfast with, out for an event, get information on whatever, help in our adjustment to Guadalajara, people to laugh with and celebrate life.

This weekend was full for us with events that bring joy and meaning to our lives... ...
Diego - Go Chivas Go!
We spent Sunday morning at the soccer pitch. Diego is the son of a friend from the gym, a single mother. Her oldest son is in the hospital after a traffic accident (please pray for his recovery). Not quite hockey, but another piece of the culture to appreciate.  
Hector and Liliana
Above are pictured our hosts for a Halloween party. Saturday night we headed to a karaoke bar where we enjoyed a night of singing (somewhat badly, I might add), eating and laughing.  This is another couple from the gym. 
We borrowed Reimer's costumes
Us with 2 other couples from the gym
Our weekend ended with a wonderful lunch with a view - a restaurant on the edge of the canyon. I had asked one of the guys (Luis) at the gym about a place I had heard about here in Guadalajara (this was done of course while we were on the elliptical machines, working hard). Well, it was not long after that that he had an event planned so we could "conocer" (get to know) the beautiful place. They are so willing to have us see their city and know their country. It was a perfect day with some of the great friends that God has blessed us with.
Me with Luis and Betty (our hosts) 
The Gang - Me, Bertha & Carlos, Betty & Luis, Juan & Claudia
The view of the 'barrancas' (the canyon) is not nearly as spectacular in photos as it is in real life:






Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Happenings...

Life is filled with joy if one only looks for it.  You can also be the source of joy with just a little effort.  It does require that you look for the positive, see the sunshine in spite of the rain.  Like I miss my dishwasher back at home.  One can get pretty lazy in the kitchen with one of those.  Not that I mind doing dishes per se but I think the lazy bug hits from time to time.  Ernie and I often just clean up together and realize that although we miss the convenience it really isn´t such a huge chore.

I brought a banana sheet cake to the gym this morning for the other guests to enjoy. I just drop it in the ladies dressing room to bless the other guests.  The comments I got from that little event bring much joy.  I got some "thank you´s" from people I don´t know. Today I got the old, "I know what you're doing - it's the old "God, if you can't make me thin, make my friends fat!""  πŸ˜‰  Another asked me if I sold cakes.  The sweetest was a friend who came looking for me to give me a kiss.  She told me she would risk getting fat if that was gonna do it.  Such a simple thing for me to do.

I think I brought joy to other´s in another way this morning at the gym.  I joined my friend for a class, not really aroebics - more like dance.  Let´s just say God did not grant me Latin hips and rythm in my blood.  They all just encouraged me to keep at it - I was doing good.  They would make me Mexican yet!  Let´s just say after the hour ended I had laughed at myself a whole lot and had enjoyed myself.

For at the last couple of Fridays Ernie has gone for lunch (starts at 2, 3 or 4 p.m.) with the guys from the gym. Although he has usually left by 8:30 p.m. this 'party' carries on till 11 or later. One of the guys asked Ernie why he comes, and joins them, when he doesn't drink. Great opportunity to let them know that he goes because they are his friends. There is joy.

Our week ahead is full of exciting new activities.  Tomorrow we are going to watch our neighbours' daughter, who is in a group of ladies that dance their horses (Escaramusa Charra).  We have alwasy wanted to see that so we are excited, and its a great way to support our neighbours.

 We are invited to a Costume Party Saturday night with some friends from the gym.  Got that whole dress up thing down after our own party earlier on in the month.  Sunday we are headed to a 'Mirador' (restaurant that looks out over a Canyon).  We are doing this with a small group from the gym.  We are looking forward to these events.  We want to be salt and light. Being with our friends here brings us the greatest joy.

Another exciting thing that is happening: I am meeting with 3 ladies to Study the Life of Christ.  One is a very dedicated and studious Catholic, another is a less committed Catholic and the third is a Christian.  Together we will be walking through a 6 book compendium on the Life of Christ according to the book of Matthew.









Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Bookworms ...
Once again we find ourselves in a place of learning.  This is a good thing, as one must always be willing to learn.  We are reading.  Reading is not something that I would say was a 'cross to bear', for me, as I LOVE to read.  That said, I really had never read anything other than English; we are now reading in Spanish.  Thanks to our dear friend and neighbor, Ale.

Alejandra was one of the first people we met in our 'coto' and she seemed to make it her personal mission to get us involved in things and help us adapt to our new environment.  She was the one who took us to the gym and look where we are now!  She thought I should join her book club.  Now I love to read, I hear book club and I get excited.  But then I remembered that we were in Mexico and a book club would mean reading in Spanish.  I had never really read anything other than my Bible in Spanish (and that alongside my English version).  Could I do it?

I told her I would like to read something she owned to see if I could do it.  I started with a book that I had previously read in English, so I knew the story line.  While I was chugging my way through my first book she told Ernie he too should read.  She loves to read biographies, historical novels, things that educate her and where she was learning.  I am on my 4th book and Ernie is on his 3rd or 4th also.  These books are generally 500 pages or more!  I often have a dictionary alongside, as I am finding words that are new to me.  

My newest challenge in the reading department is reading my way through the Apocrypha.  I read through the first book and will try to make my way through them all.  Most of my friends here are Catholic, so I want to understand what that means, how it differs, etc.  I want to get into their world.  Ale was proud of me for taking that up and we look forward to discussing them together.  

Just before I sat down to write this we enjoyed a half hour visit with a college boy from down the street, regarding Catholicism and Mexican history.  He has also been very helpful in our learning process and we have enjoyed a confidence in our friendship that allows each one to ask questions openly without fear.  

I thank God for the wonderful Mexican friends he has blessed us with and who are willing to open our eyes to who they are personally and as a people.  I trust it is reciprocal. 















Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Teach Me, Please

I am Canadian, 100%.  Ernie might tell you that he is also but he is not; he is more half and half.  As a matter of fact, just recently, a friend from the gym said, "Ernie is losing his Canadian-ness, you let him stay much longer and he'll be all Mexican." What a compliment to him!  Nothing gives you a greater sense of well being than having your host country tell you that you are becoming like them.

That said, "Among the hardest tasks in life is to divest ourselves of the culture we wear so comfortably." (Duane Elmer: Cross-Cultural Servanthood) He goes on to explain that it's like having been in a play that is well known to you; you know the part perfectly. Now you are in another and it feels unnatural, even awkward at times. (19)  Well, we are in this 'new play' and we have asked our gang from the gym to be our 'tutors' in how to be Mexican.  This is setting us up to be corrected, and told that this is how to do it here, regardless of how our own culture does it.  "We generally favor our own cultural perspective and believe it to be superior to other perspectives."(52)  Elmer goes on to remind us that we need to be willing to learn about, from and with the host country. (93)

It also says something about our relationships with our new friends when they have the confidence to correct us or to explain their way of life to us.  We have been here for less than a year and have found Guadalajara to be quite distinct from Chihuahua.  So let me introduce you to some of our 'tutors': 
Juan & Claudia
Pictured above is the couple that pulled us into the 'family' at the gym we attend. They were the first to invite us to their home and introduce us to the group. Juan is the consummate people person, making sure everyone is connected. He took our invite (to helping us acculturate) and did something about it. Walking into the gym one day he noticed us and stopped us. He gently explained to Ernie that in Mexico the men were gentlemen. Ernie should carry my gym bag for me, right to the ladies locker, and then I should kiss him and say thank-you. He now watches us as we come to the gym to see if we are doing things 'right'. He said he would make Ernie into a gentleman! 

Eduardo & Carmen
The above couple are just such sweet friends. Lalo (as he is affectionately called) is the consummate jokester. He has us in stitches half the time. He is educating us in language, explaining what people mean when they say things, as often there is a double meaning. He is also helping us regarding music -which songs we need to learn. We KNOW that if we ever have a question, he will provide an answer.  

We are often told that we are not typical foreigners. We are open, wanting to learn, wanting to adapt and embracing of their culture. We hope that in the course of our friendship they will see that who we are, the parts they like, are due to Christ, who lives within us.

Friday, 10 October 2014


"Convivio" 
Cell group gathering
as posted on FaceBook
It was a costume party gathering

Who let him out?
 About every six weeks we get together as a whole group, meaning all cell groups.  This one was given a theme which was dress up and was open to invite friends.  We had NO idea what to do... ... so we ended up renting costumes.  Can you guess who chose them?  
I had a day pass!


So almost everybody came in costume and a good time was had by all... ... ....

The staff

We had some great costumes, even the kids dressed up:



Some were creative and some were 'scary' - if you know what I mean:

A great day was had on October 5th by our group.  Many invited guests joined us.  We are blessed with some awesome folks.  When you see these faces, these are people you can pray for.