Friday, 26 September 2014

Enjoyable Event
(Broader post than posted on FaceBook)
Ernie and I in front of the Teatro Degollado
The month of September for Mexico is a huge month, for in Sept. the shout (grito) of independence rang out.  Therefore, one can enjoy many events to celebrate Mexican independence.  On September 21, we were invited to the theatre to enjoy a presentation of national dances from varias states. 

We were invited by Alejandra's parent's.  Alejandra is standing next to me in the photo and her mother is on my left.  On the other side of Alejandra is her sister and her daughter is standing in front of us.  We ladies, along with Ernie and Alejandra's dad, enjoyed a fabulous show.
Jorge and Maricruz (Alejandra's parents)
We enjoyed the music, the bright coloured outfits, the mariachi, the amazingly choreographed dancing.  It was interesting to see the typical dances from the other states of Mexico.  Of course Guadalajara was highlighted and the best!  Sorry for the poor photography - IPad is not the best camera to capture movement but at least I got some pics.  It was amazing!

Come for a visit and experience Mexico!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Rich Man / Poor Man

I have been pondering about things that would never enter my mind at 'home' (meaning Canada - I think).  This is something that is running around in my head, still without an outcome or conclusion.  I want to try and express it here and would welcome input from anyone.

I am living in a country where social status has a bearing on things.  I could say that while living in Canada I never really thought about my social status.  It never crossed my mind to think that I grew up in a poor family or a wealthy one.  When I socialised with people I never thought about whether I was in their 'class' or not.  That said, I was never under the illusion that my parents were rich either.  

My first thoughts about wealth, or lack there of, occurred while living in Nicaragua.  This was probably due to the fact that this was the first time I lived among the poor.  I saw people who didn't have the basic things that rich or poor in Canada have; I was never without.  Things like three meals a day,  a roof over my head and clothes.  Although, by Canadian standards, we lived below the poverty line (or at it) - so we were 'poor'.  Yet, by Nicaraguan standards, I was wealthy.  I lived this dichotomy.  It was hard to be 'rich' whether I perceived myself as such or not.  To have when others didn't wore on me.

In Canada we have a large middle class - who are neither rich nor poor.  I never thought about it.  We had enough.  I do recall my children saying that they wished we were 'rich', like so and so, meaning that then they could have what they desired.  But I never really thought about it.

Now we are living in Mexico for the second time.  A class structure exists here, just as it did in  northern Mexico.  One notices it in dress (somewhat), in restaurants, in vehicles, and especially in where they live and the jobs they hold.  We are living amongst what is said to be the middle to upper middle class.  We are trying to assimilate and fit into this class.  I often feel like a '3 dressed up as a 9'.  I once again live with this internal tension.  But now it is much different. 

I am perceived as a wealthy person, because I am white, a Canadian.  I drive a nice car and live in a nice neighbourhood.  However, by Canadian standards, I am still near the poverty line. However, I am richer than 75% of the world.
Paul says, in Philippians 4:11-12, "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of begin content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." 

I am not sure I have that secret within me.  I cannot say I have ever experienced true 'need' in the sense of not having enough to eat, or what it takes to possess the basic necessities.  Nor would I say that I have plenty (depends on who's measuring stick we are using). What I struggle with is finding balance; knowing how to live within a class-driven society.  How can I NEED a second car when people are going without food, how can I NEED a new dining room table, when someone goes to sleep on a park bench, for lack of a roof over their head, how can I NEED new clothes when those I have are fine (especially when others do not even have a second set)?  

Yet, on the other side of that coin, how do I minister to a class that has everything they need and more?  How can I live like a pauper when those I seek to win are living extravagantly?  
Paul also said, "Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.  To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.   TO those under the law I became like one under the law (although I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.... I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." (I Cor 9:19-23)

The things I experienced in Nicaragua (a people lacking in basic necessities) keeps crashing into my need to acculturate (for the purpose of the gospel) to my middle class Mexican life. Money is a challenge every day; to be a good steward of that which is entrusted to me while ministering for the cause of Christ.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Que VIVA Mexico!
Sandra, 'human statue' (Hidalgo), Me, Alejandra and Alegra (in front)
September 16 is the Independence of Mexico and is hugely celebrated all across Mexico.  The celebrations begin on the 15th because the actual "Grito" (the shout of victory) was at 11 p.m. The options of what to do are many. We were invited to join different events. We chose to join our neighbours, Mario and Ale (Alejandra). We joined them for family celebrations (2 diff. extended family parties) as opposed to going to see the fireworks and all the traditional hoopla.  

My neighbour Ale (far left) and the Trio
We headed to Mario's side of the family first for lunch - 3:30 in the afternoon.  Yummy tostadas and dessert as 2 family members were also celebrating birthdays.  Music is a huge part of any Mexican celebration - thus the Trio who serenaded us for an hour.  We enjoyed a good afternoon with them, then headed home so they could check on their kids.  30 min. later we're off to Ale's family party.  We got their at 8:30 in the evening and stayed to close to 1 a.m. in the morning.
Me in blue, Patty next to me is Ale's sister
Right: Ale and Mario (our neighbours), Ernie, Patty's husband Jorge
Next is another sister to Ale and Patty & Jorge's daughter 

Both events were good as they were about building connections with Mario & Ale's families.  Some we had previously met and so it was reconnecting.  Once again it is about building 'family' and we are doing that with Mario and Ale.  The food was wonderful, the company enjoyable and the music ever present.
Family is a big part of Mexican culture and I love that all ages we represented.  We met aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, sisters; everybody mixed together. 

I also love how rich their culture is and every celebration gives us another piece of the ever growing puzzle.  

At 1 in the morning we hit the hay - tired.  But that was pre-holiday.  On the 16th we had more to experience and enjoy.  One of Reimer's cell group ladies is an event creator and she often let's us know what she has up. So off to the mall we headed to enjoy some Mariachi music.  That is alway a treat to us Canadians.  They can sing!  They can play instruments!  And they can dance!  Color and culture.  
Female Mariachi, with 3 floors of spectators

Alegra with the dancers and mariachi
We enjoy the rich culture of Mexico.  They know how to celebrate and it is always done with great flourish and lots of music.  We ended the evening with a typical meal - tacos! Um, que ricos!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Canadian BBQ Report

September 6th arrived to grey cloudy skies but we were optimistic that the rain would hold off as we started getting things ready.  We set tables for 85 people (Ernie is the eternal optimist and has LOTS of friends).  The decorations were red and white with flags abundant.  Center pieces are crucial to a Mexican event so out came the mason jars, filled with candies (red/white) with flags stuck in; snacks were 2 types of nuts, chips and fritura. Just before our set time for the party we had everything set up and were ready to receive people.  Thinking that Mexicans are late for everything ... .... we had lots of time.  Never judge ... to our surprise ... .... ....

Eduardo (Lalo) & Carmelina
Our first guests, Lalo and Carmelina, arrived just before 3 p.m.  I told him he was early for a Mexican.  He replied, "you told me 3 and here I am!"  I then told him he would make a good Canadian!  And people continued to arrive after that, to the point I asked Ernie if everyone was finally here, cause we would run out of food.  He calmly said, "no", there were others he had invited...

A Silent Auction table was set out for the adults and one for the kids.  This was new for them but greatly enjoyed and highly competitive. Thanks so much to family and church family for the donations of lovely Canadian prizes. They were a huge hit.
John and Penny
 We had three barbecues going for the hamburgers and hot dogs.  We had great help from our co-workers and some cell group members.  Things got a little smokey but we managed.
The meal was either a hamburger or a hot dog with three salads: cole slaw, potato salad and broccoli salad (the favourite for our Mexican friends).
The dessert table was by far the 'coup de gras' - 3 pans of brownies, 2 of carrot cake, and a huge bowl of trifle.

Rick, Joel and Dallas
We can not begin to express our thanks for our team of helpers.  They greeted our guests, they prepared and served the meal, some sang, and basically were there for whatever needed doing.  We most certainly could not have done it alone.  Each 'helper' wore a Canadian Shirt that we had printed by our friend in Chihuahua. This helped our guests identify our helpers.
Sandra, Rick, and Penélope
Connie, Tara, Sandra and Penélope
The Gang from VIVO 47 (although some had left by the time we got the idea to take a group photo)
So what happened exactly?  Why this big event?  Why all the work?  We moved to Guadalajara and we knew only our co-workers.  We slowly met our neighbours but needed to find 'our place', but unsure of how or where.  Our next-door-neighbors, Mario and Alejandra, invited us to join them at the gym.  We decided to become members. Slowly but surely we began to meet people and build friendships.  In a very short time we felt we had found a place to belong.  So we threw a party!  Ernie gave a speech at the party to explain things to our guests.  He told them that he knew that part of the Mexican culture was their high value of family. He told them that by accepting our invitation they had agreed to adopt us and when they signed the book upon arrival that was the documentation, they had no choice - we were family. To that he got a round of applause.  

As you can tell from the pictures these people know each other and enjoy begin together.  This group of people see each other at the gym every day, as we all choose the same schedule to go to the gym.  There was an intermingling of people, a socialising that spoke of camaraderie.  

After the organised part of the party was coming to a close one of the guests gave a short speech on behalf of the group.  It was quite a speech.  I was touched and there was a sense of agreement amongst the guests.

As people began to leave and say their good-byes to us I was once again blessed.  The 'thank yous' were very touching and personal.  They over and over stated that this party was a 10 and it counted for life.  Although they did say I could do it again next week!  They commented on how well organised it was, how detailed everything was, what a great group of people I had helping.  Everything was wonderful.

We have found 'family' away from home.  We have found community.  We feel accepted and that we belong.

We are here with the desire to share Jesus with others, we did not know who those others would be when we arrived.  Guadalajara is predominantly Catholic.  Some, upon hearing we are Christians, have a fear we are here to "change their religion".  We are not here to try to change anyone's religion.  We are here to help others grow in their relationship with Christ.  Catholics and Christians have many things in common, we both believe in Jesus, we believe in the Cross and its purpose, we share the same Scriptures.  We long to help those we meet, meet the Jesus of the Bible and grow in their spiritual lives.  Pray for the people of GDL and us.  His Kingdom Come.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Wednesday's Coming

The Gang from VIVO 47
Canadian BBQ
We had a successful event and the report will be given, with pics, on Wednesday, as per usual.
Just wanted to express our thanks for praying for the event.

Mil Gracias a todos!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Girls Weekend
Despedida de Soltera
These pictures were posted on FaceBook and so I just wanted to share with those of you who are not on that social media forum.  Connie and I were invited to join some young ladies for a night away at a small town, very rustic and typical Mexico. It was a last weekend 'with the girls' (like a bachelorette).  We had a great time and got to meet some new people as half the group were new to us.  Here are some highlights:
Here is the lovely Bride to be - Ana.  She will be getting married in mid September and she attends John & Connie Reimer's cell group.  Her and Roy would love you to cover them in prayer as they begin this new chapter of their lives.
Zip Lining was part of the fun
We took a tour that went to two different parks where various activities were available for a small or not so small cost, depending on the activity.  
 A tour of a winery that made both wine and punch -
both tasted somewhat like cough syrup
Food was also available along the way as venders show up all over the place ...
Penelope and Cassandra
young married ladies from Reimer's cell
Connie and I managed to keep up with these young chicks...hiking, laughing, eating, you name it!
Connie & I
and some crazy shower games were played ... ...
The bride to be
Overall it was a good overnighter...but always glad to be home in my own bed.

And Lord we commit tomorrow into your hands.  We ask that you hold off the rain for the entire event, so that we can not be crammed into a small space.  We ask that our team, GDL staff and some cell members, band included, would demonstrate the love of Christ in all we do and say throughout the day.  May your Kingdom Come! Amen.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Carne Asada

Three couples from the gym got together for a bbq
One of the main reasons for getting a gym membership was to get to know people (couples mostly), as I had already joined the ladies group from our coto.  Well, on August 30 we were invited to join 3 couples that have formed a group.  They had discussed it and it was agreed upon that we would be asked to join them.  So this was our first gathering.  They rotate who hosts each month.  We had a great day together.  Our host had said, "we have to be ready by 2 p.m. because Ernie will be on time!" And, true to that statement, we arrived just after 2, as I was pulling on the reins saying no one would be there at 2.  Due to our punctuality we got to spend the first hour-one-on one with our hosts, then another couple joined us, and 2 hours later the last couple (family) arrived.  We were there for about 7 hrs (2-9 p.m.).  We had all been invited to stay the night but we left with another couple at the end of the evening. 
Food's Almost Ready
Diggin In
Juan & Claudia
Luis & Beatrice
Our host couple: Hector & Faby
This Saturday, September 6th, is our Canadian BBQ which we are hosting for our friends from the gym.  Please pray that we will have a beautiful sunny day (we are presently in our rainy season, so blue sunny skies are not a given).  Also pray for many to attend and that we would have a great time of fellowship together.