Wednesday, 29 October 2014


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!""  😉  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

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.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Pictures From Sayulita Retreat
Our main kitchen/eating area

Our study area - notice everyone on their cells?

A lovely view

Study time

Me and the view

Ernie & I

John & Connie


Barbecuing the farmer sausage


Dig In - meal time

Missionary Sunset pics?

Me and the sunset

After jogging in the high humidity heat

The men and the grilling

The gang on the boardwalk in Puerta Vallarta

Run Connie Run!

Great place for my morning coffee

Eating Again?

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

A room with a view!
     Every year we have a staff retreat. Why?  Well, the purpose might be different, depending on who you ask.  We decided that this year our goals were simple - to get rested and rejuvenated, having all been very busy (with another busy front headed our way) and to spend time together. The first thing was choosing the 'where', as that often takes a huge chunk of the budget. We were 8 adults and 3 children. We were blessed with finding a lovely house with the above view. We could not have asked for a nicer place to stay, although it wasn't very 'kid friendly'.  
Balcony pool view
     I don't think this would meet 'code' back in Canada. It was a nice place to cool off but parents needed to be there with the boys! That opened railed area was a 10 meter drop to the concrete below.  Although we did enjoy the pool and the ocean, we did not just relax. We also went through a video series called "Contagious Christians" which was a good reminder on how to share your faith with others - not a heavy study but practical for our work. Little homework assignments were given throughout and led to good interactions as a group.  
     But it was not all work... ... we enjoyed great meals, good laughs, between languages (English, Spanish and Low-German), a wonderful location to enjoy God's creation, and awesome thundershowers every evening. Our goal was reached - we all felt rested and ready to hit the ground running once we got home.
Watching a Video 
Serious Relaxing (with a view)
Roof Top Pool Fun
Ocean front drink (plus being hit by EVERY seller)
You can buy jewellery, clothing, table clothes, art work, etc, etc.
Very Studious Bunch
Apparently a good place to learn to surf
John & Connie
     And here's the gang!
Back Row Left to right: Connie & John Reimer, John & Lorna Wall (Chihuahua Missionaries), Dallas & Tara Wiebe
Front: Ernie & Diane Koop, Carter, Logan and Brady Wiebe


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

"That's How You Change the World"

All my life I had big dreams, to do big things and make a change,

And all the while, I just passed by, the simple needs right here next to me.
'Cause there's a breaking heart that's fallin' apart,
And tear filled eyes lookin' back at me, God, won't you help me to see.
It's the prayer in an empty room, little things we do when nobody's around,
A hand reaching out to a heart in doubt, it's the smallest spark that can light the dark.

That's how you change the world, Oh oh oh oh (Change the world),
That's how you change the world, Oh oh oh oh (Change the world).

A million little drops of rain, can be enough to cause a tidal wave,
A flood of Your love, that no one can contain.
'Cause there's an empty soul, that wants to be known,
Around me now, that I can lead to You, revealing love that won't refuse.
It's the kind words, a simple smile, more than showin' up, going the extra mile,
It's giving everything, when you've got nothin' left, sharin' a little hope, with a single breath.

That's how you change the world, that's how you change the world,
It's the prayer in an empty room, a hand reaching out to a heart in doubt.

     This song is on repeat on my playlist lately as it has some potent lyrics that apply.  The challenge of the song is not only for you, or for me, but for everyone.  We can all dream of doing 'big things and making a change' only to miss those 'simple things right here next to us'.  You don't  have to travel to far away lands to change the world.  Right where you are, right where God has planted you, you can be a part of changing the world.  

     I am seeking to be faithful to the call I have on my life right now here in Guadalajara.  That often means walking across the gym and talking to someone when I would rather just continue on with my workout.  It might mean walking across the street and talking to a neighbour who needs the words that I need to share.  It might mean looking around me and noticing others and their needs.

     The song repeatedly says, "It's the prayer in an empty room, little things we do when nobody's around, a hand reaching out to a heart in doubt, its the smallest spark that can light the dark" and then the kicker, ""Cause there's an empty soul that wants to be known around me now, that I can lead to You".  That, my friends, is our calling; each and every one of us.  There are empty souls all around.  Light the darkness where ever you find yourself.  "A simple smile" - God hasn't asked us all to be like Billy Graham but He has asked us all to be faithful and change the world.