Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Happy New Year!

I hope you have all enjoyed the holidays so far.  I know I have because our children are here for a visit.  If you know our kiddos, that means go! go! go!  They arrived on the 18th in Vallarta and so we enjoyed a week on the beach.  It was mostly relaxing.  Then we headed 'home' to Guadalajara.  Here they had basically one goal - EAT TACOS! The rest was just gravy!
Tacos Aleteos
The above photo is at their favourite taco place here in Guadalajara.  They serve all kinds of tacos here: beef (NOT ground), pork, tongue, cheek, brain, head, etc. This evening they each ate 12 tacos and told the guys they served the WORLD'S BEST TACOS!  

Aside from some good eats we have just enjoyed being together after being apart for a year.  They joined us at the gym, we did some sight seeing, hung out with some friends they met last year and all around had fun. 
Watching the others come in on the Zipline we just finished
Mike & Jaycia in front of the swinging bridge
Mike, Ernie and Chris - falls at the park
They are leaving soon, for which we are sad, but can't complain as I would have never dreamed they would be able to come two years in a row! God has been so good to us in 2015 and we can only anticipate the same, as that is the kind of God we serve - faithful. 

We want to wish each and every one of you a very wonderful 2016.  May God bless and keep each one of you in His tender care.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our home to Yours ....

We are so very blessed that our children have once again come for a visit.  We are enjoying a week at the beach and then they will enjoy a week at our place in Guadalajara.  They traded for a Palm Tree Christmas from a White Christmas.

We wish you all an enjoyable time with friends and family, celebrating the coming of our Saviour.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

There's a Chef in the House

So as you might remember me saying, our friend Jessy has been here visiting for the past 2 months.  She was joined by her boyfriend Peter Fehr this past week and we have really enjoyed having them.  Peter has brought his many talents with him, and we have been the lucky recipients.  Peter is a chef and so Peter and Jessy decided to bless our little group with a special home cooked meal.
Jessy and Peter
On Monday night I hosted dinner at our place.  Peter, our resident Chef,  and Jessy, his sous chef, prepared the meal.  I enjoyed mostly watching and learning.  I did offer to cut, chop and the like, if that counts?! So, following are pictures of the evening.
Like all good banquets, we had sponsors!  Since Peter has a business, and sells finishing sauces, we made him the sponsor!  (You can check his business out on Facebook or check them out at Prairie Oils and Vinegars, The Forks or Winkler Co-op.  Commercial ends here.
The Forks (Generation Green),listing/the-forks/all-categories/190/generation-green

This evening brought to you by 'Gourmet Inspirations' 
Appetizer by Jessy 
Then came the main course ... ...
Roasted potatoes (formed by hand), green beans with bacon and sugar roasted nuts, chicken with creamy white wine dejón... with some pretty garnishes

Then for dessert ....Flambeed Bananas... ...yum 
Oh, and Dallas and Tara's kids got their own version of the meal... 

The boys got mashed potatoes, one string bean (as per instructions by the boys), mozza sticks, and chicken. 

It was a lovely evening together and a real blessing for each one of us. Thanks Peter and Jessy, you have no idea how much you have blessed us.  

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Tis the Posada ...

December in Mexico is the season of Posadas - Christmas get togethers.  Today the talk at the gym was about how many they each had coming up.  Some had as many as three in one day.  Complicated.  You see, here everybody belongs to groups of friends.  School moms are in a group, gym friends are in groups, the guys have a poker group, a soccer group, a work group and this group and that group.  Each group seems to plan their own little 'posada'.  They also don't seem to mix groups very easily.  I have one for my power-ball and dance instructor, which is separate and distinct from the other dance/muscle toning instructor.  Therefore, I have 2 different parties.  Not to mention the over arching gym party.

One thing can be said about the Mexican people - any reason to get together is a good one.  The more the merrier. 10 parties is better than 1.

So, we had our cell group posada this past Sunday.  We once again headed to Rick and Ale's terraza just out of the city.  We began with snacks and socializing.  Then we had the traditional meal, tamales! Yum! Yum! Lots of flavours and even more calories!! To drink we enjoyed 'ponche' which is a warm fruit drink with the fruit pieces in it.
The group
This was followed by an ice breaker game led by Alison (our Ascend student) and Paulina (from Wiebe's group) as her translator.  Fun was had, along with a bit of a competitive spirit.  From there we all settled down and Sergio read the Christmas story from Luke and Juan shared from the Word of God.  Then we opened it up to sharing about Christmas.  A few tears where shed, as some shared stories of loved ones that had 'gone home' and would not be there for Christmas.  It was a time of sweet fellowship.

We rounded the day off with some dessert.  Ana had made traditional Buñuelos, which were enjoyed by all.  The socializing continued and the goodbyes dragged on and on.  We hit the road for home as the sun was setting.  A lovely day remembering the reason for the season.

We trust you too will enjoy many rich gatherings this holiday season.  We are looking forward to our children arriving in 10 days.  So we are getting the best gift once again.  

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

The Nativity Scene

Last night we had our cell group meeting, kind of impromptu and unclear as to whether this was a Christmas party or not.  As we awaited the arrival of everyone, we sat in our living room.  I don't set up a Christmas tree but rather have a Nativity Scene.  This let to a discussion of its origins.  Apparently the first Nativity Scenes were done by St. Francis of Agassiz and they were live people.  His reason for promoting the nativity scene was that the true meaning of Christmas was being forgotten.  People had become more interested in gift exchanging.  I think we have come full circle.

Why do I chose to put up a Nativity Scene instead of a tree? Because it is a conversation starter.  Some people who come into our home are amazed to see it.  You celebrate that?  You believe that?  Which then leads to 'why is the baby Jesus already there?' Catholics only place the baby in the scene on Christmas day because that is when he arrived.

I think we need to return to St. Francis' idea and bring people back to the real meaning of Christmas.  Let's quit arguing about some coffee chain and their 'non-Christmas' red cup.  Let's put up our scenes in a prominent place and talk to our children about the story.  Let's explain why we celebrate and, like from centuries ago, leave it up all year.  Then let's tell the story again and again.  Then let's not forget what comes next - Easter!  He came (incarnation), but the most important part is His death and resurrection.  It's a story worth repeating and repeating.

Porfirio and Teresa
Jessy, Diane, and Alison
Joaquin and Marta
Eduardo and Carmelita
supper and Christmas songs
fellowship around the table
Diane's Nativity scene

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

A Conundrum

Does the sign on the left mean no left turn? Or is it a 'suggestion' that you not make a left turn? Does a stop sign mean you must stop or is it implying that you use precaution? Rules? Laws?

I am always amazed at how my 'rule following' and 'rule quoting' husband seems to thing that certain signs are not there so that you do, or do not do, said thing, but rather a reminder to use precaution!  It makes me laugh when we have guests from Canada and he flies through a stop sign. Immediately following said infraction, someone will inevitable say, "Wasn't that a stop sign back there?"  Which he then tries to explain as somehow being a sign to indicate you should be cautious!  (Confused look on people's faces)
What is most funny to me is the mind process whereby people come to this form of logic.  He is not alone in this, by the way!  What I find even funnier is that when someone else uses his logic, how it disturbs him!

I am always amazed at how culture effects us.  In the Western world, rules are not guidelines, rules are meant to be followed.  One knows that if they choose to break a rule, and there are times when that happens, there are possible consequences which could be applied (Like my son choosing to go over the speed limit when he is late for a hockey game)! Or people who STILL talk on their cell phones while driving. I'll just leave it at that!

But culture affects you.  I never go through a day when Ernie doesn't produce a chuckle in me for his criteria regarding rule following.

Come down and you will probably experience one of those moments, and he won't even be aware he ran that stop sign, or, I'll have to admit, that I went through what was a VERY Yellow light!

Other breaking news:
Prayer Team along with our cell groups
We hosted the Prayer Team from Canada and enjoyed a wonderful 10 days with them.  They left and we did a quick regroup.  Jessy is still with us and we are enjoying our time with her.  We then hosted a neighbour friend from Chihuahua for 5 days.
Myself, Marco and Ernie
We are hosting a few other guests in December, so we will be busy.  Pray for us especially during December as it is a busy time with all the Christmas 'posadas' (parties and gatherings) plus the count down has begun for our children's arrival.  Once again they are blessing us with the best gift ever - their presence!  

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Students of the culture 24/7

I have been pondering something recently, which I have not made a final, or concluding, decision on.  This is one of those things that my husband would categorize under "Be a student of the culture 24/7".  This is only the second half of what he says but it is the part that applies.  My pondering is on dress code, apparel, and appearance.

When I first arrived here I was still wearing my turtle neck sweaters as I was working on thawing out from the minus 40 weather.  I would say my wardrobe consisted of jeans, t-shirts, and mostly very causal clothes.  My shoes were all closed shoes, comfortable loafer types.  My closet said 'comfortable'.  Over time I noticed that my clothes were not 'right'.  Every time I went out, the ladies were 'dressed up'.  Or, at least, much more so than I was.  I would also say their wardrobes did not say 'comfortable' but were rather stylish, classy, very feminine, and some even sexy.

After being here about a year I went out for breakfast with friends from my coto and they began discussing how much I had changed.  My clothes were more summery, were more feminine.  They said how much I had changed. They were really impressed when I wore heels! (Although it was decided that that was not fair, even with flats I was a head taller than most!)

Shortly thereafter another conversations happened about how much I had changed in appearance. I said I had't noticed. She showed me a picture of myself from our first breakfast. Yes, I had changed.  They said my look was much better, more feminine.
Me at my first breakfast with the gym ladies
I will admit it has taken me some time to listen, observe, and notice these things.  Not because I don't like who I am, or how I look.  But, as Ernie says, 'you need to be a student of the culture 24/7'.  Why? Well, the first half of that quote is that you "Must be a student of the Word 24/7". You study God's Word so that you grow in your understanding of truth. You study the culture because ff you want to share the Word you need to do it in a manner that is culturally sensitive and adapted.  I don't want to look like a redneck amongst a bunch of feminine ladies.
Us now
Me this past Monday with some ladies from the Gym
When we get visitors, individuals and groups, I once again notice this.  Canadian visitors always wear shorts, they do not wear shorts here (unless at the beach).  Canadians dress much more casually than their Mexican counterparts.  We (or is that they?) wear sandals (casual, sporty ones, not dress ones).  Woman here are very 'made up' where as their Canadian counterparts are more 'au natural'.  It is striking to observe your own culture through the eyes of your new one.

When young people come here, youth groups (even our kids), I am once again startled by the contrast. Canadian kids dress VERY casually, where Mexican youth (middle class for sure) dress more formally. Some of the Canadian youth dress so casually they are almost sloppy.  Mexicans always look sharp, even when the event would be considered informal.  People laughed at my kids when they visited, wearing shorts and sandals.

I think, one thing that does affect clothing is climate. When more of your life is spent in jackets with constant changing weather, you develop a culturally appropriate wardrobe.  If you were to grow up in the tropics, you would have a noticeably different wardrobe.
a very 'normal' Canadian look 
I am not saying one is better than the other, I am just saying that I have noticed the stark difference.  I will say though that the changes in myself and even Ernie have been in an attempt to be 'students of the culture' and I believe that is VERY important.  Not only in apparel, but in all aspects.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

What's fluency?

When you study a language (in my case Spanish) you complete the course, and then, they either give you a certificate, or fail you.  This certificate says you speak said language.  Here I have seen signs that advertise language learning as "English in 6 weeks - guaranteed".  WOW! that is some promise.

Well, they gave me a certificate, after a year of language study, which said I spoke Spanish.  Then we headed off to Nicaragua, where I learned that it was not that simple.  They talked about 'chico plástico' which from my classes would mean 'plastic kid' but which actually meant 'rich kid' (must be related to melting down your credit card!).  Then later I moved to Chihuahua, where people referred to one another as 'Güey' which translated is an 'ox'.  What? Why would you call a person an ox?  They use this expression here in GDL as well, quite frequently as a matter of fact.
Güey: The international word, known by everyone.
Used to refer to anybody, either male or female.
In Mexico anybody is Güey

When we get caught trying to understand something, because we are translating the words directly, we soon learn that that does not work.  Language is not static, and usually you can't translate it word for word, and still convey the correct meaning.  Remember when 'gay' meant happy? Not only is language not static but it changes from place to place, even though the same language is spoken.  I have said things here that would have a totally different meaning in GDL than they would in Nicaragua.  One must learn a language and then grow with it.  You need to listen to things people say and then ask what they mean.  Be a student of the language, forever.
Here are a few samples of words that have meaning in their cultural context.  Dictionaries are not always the best with these words.
CHIDO: Do you like something? Then it is Chido.
Is something enjoyable? Then it is Chido.

NETA: If someone says 'Neta', that means they are telling you the absolute truth.
If someone asks if it is 'neta', they are trying to confirm that you are saying
something truthfully, because they find it hard to believe.  

PADRE: This is not a reference to your father or a priest.
It is the 'light' version of 'CHIDO'. When something is 'padre'
it means that you like it. 

FRESA: Refers to a young person that is presuming wealth and
belonging to a high social class (similar to flaunting your wealth).

Two guys (I think they are Colombian) made a YouTube video about this very thing.  Unfortunately for most of my readers you will miss the joy of it.  They talk about the fact that when you learn a language, you need to stay put! Because if you move (from South America to Mexico,  for example) you will get in trouble because words will have other meanings than the ones you had learned. 

What is my solution to this? Well, its not to not move.  Its to be able to laugh at yourself.  Be willing to make mistakes.  Languages are rich, the more you have under your belt the richer your life.  Like "Schlope Sheen" (Low German), is just so much more rich than good night.  Bon Appetit is much fuller than enjoy you meal?  Oh the joy of languages and laughter. 

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

You Go Girl!

Me, Jessy and Ernie
Our dear friend Jessy is here! Jessy is the dean of women at Steinbach Bible College and she is on sabbatical.  So she decided to take two months of that time to join us here in GDL.  She has been joining us in living our lives here.  That means, among other things, fitness!  So ... ...
On the way to the gym ...
On her first day she began by joining Ernie in his yoga class.  An hour later she said she could feel some new muscles!  Then we moved to another classroom where her and I attended Latin Rhythm Dancing.  We stayed for only a part of the class.  She loved it, even though we both agreed we certainly couldn't move like the teacher!

Jessy prior to class!
Day 2 at the gym she joined me.  I told her that this was my favourite gym day but also my hardest day.  Above she looks all happy and energetic, which is good because she had just finished 45 minutes of Dancika (a mix of dance and aerobics).  
Nelson, our Instructor, who we follow
Following that class we take a 15 minute break and set up for Tono Muscular (muscle toning class).
This class can make a grown woman cry.  Nelson, works a muscle group till you KNOW it is there!  It's tough but gets results.  I encouraged her to be careful; I have been doing this for a year and I often ache after.  So, its important to know when you should quit or rest - even if he tells you to not give up and to keep going.  She did really well but once again felt new muscles!
Us with our teacher, Nelson
The picture below says it all!
Nelson pushing me to the next level...always!

But, we don't only go to the gym, we still use the park across the street.  So, while Jessy has not taken out a gym membership during her two months, here she is joining our active lifestyle.  She has begun to jog in the park, twice a week with her friend and our co-worker, Tara, and the other days I join her.  
First day jogging!
As you can see, we are active but we love it.  If you come down for a visit, bring your sneakers and some active wear.  The park is huge, its across the street, and it is free.  You could join us at the gym for a small fee.  Physical fitness has been the way we have gotten to meet many people and has given us the side benefit of building healthy bodies.  I think Jessy may be jogging when she gets back home, although that minus 40 weather would put a damper on it for me.  

Here it's almost always (as Ernie keeps singing to us) .... "And the sun is shining... ...."

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

War Room (Cuarto de Guerra)

Recently Ernie and I were joined by friends from the gym to see this movie.  It was interesting to sit through such a movie, as an evangelical, while sitting alongside Catholics. Things that would be 'normal' to us might be viewed completely differently by them.  Since we went to see a very late showing, 10 p.m. (meaning it ended after midnight) we didn't get time to discuss it (We hope to do this tomorrow night).  Their only comment, as we said good night. was "You pray for us and we pray for you."  I would say they got the principle theme of the movie.

There are lots of themes in this movie that warrant discussion.  Prayer is the obvious theme.  This a tool we have at our disposal and we do not make enough use of it.  Miss Clara had a deep and connected prayer life, which she tried to passionately pass on to someone who had lost that connection.  This theme, beautifully depicted, leaves you longing to deepen your prayer life.

But there are sub themes that warrant discussion as well.  Marriages, integrity and other values, forgiveness... just to name a few. Rather than me expounding on the movie, I would like to encourage you to go see it.  Take a friend, whether a believer or not.  Go as a group and then go for coffee and discuss it.  I won't tell you more so that I don't spoil it for people who haven't seen it yet! Enjoy!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Where are you from?

Recently I watched a TedTalk which I later posted on my FaceBook wall.  I did so, because, quite frankly, it intrigued me.  Having lived in different places, having a son born abroad, knowing many 'third culture kids', I understand how this question can be difficult.

Now I would always answer this question with "from Canada" because I have lived there the longest and spent many of my formative years there.  However, there was a time when I felt very 'unCanadian' and struggled living there.  Did that make me non-Canadian?  By no means.
My son was born abroad but has no affinity or rituals from said country.  Both my sons spent several of their formative years in Mexico and I remember Mike saying as a child that he was Mexican.

The speaker in the TedTalk said that rather than asking where someone was from, it would be better to ask where they were a local.  She said that all experience is local and that she was multi-local.  She claimed that where one was a local was determined by three things: rituals, relationships and restrictions.  She went on to say how this was a broader answer.  (The video is at the bottom, watch it for a fuller explanation)

After I posted it on FaceBook a friend here asked me where 'home' was.  I think he wanted me to say here, Guadalajara.  I paused and said right now I felt 'homeless'.  Canada is my home of passport and birth but I don't reside there.  After living 5 years in Chihuahua, that truly became HOME and when I returned to Canada I felt like a fish out of water.  I longed to return, 'home'.

My kids felt the same way, for our experiences were very rich, and our relationships so blessed.  We had developed many rituals from Mexico. Our weekly emotional experiences were with neighbours and friends who were Mexican. But we did not have restrictions in said country.

Ernie and I also lived in Nicaragua, where our son Michael was born.   Ernie lived there for many more years than I did so he has many more rituals and relationships, and felt many more of the restrictions.  He often says that country has a huge part of his heart.  However, he is not Nicaraguan, nor for that matter is our son who was born there.  Ernie and I have some rich relationships and enjoy visiting there, but we are not from there.

I have lived in Guadalajara for just under 2 years, so I am only now learning the rituals, and am in the process of building many relationships.  So, I told my friend that right now I put the word 'home' in quotation marks, for I don't feel quite at home here yet. The absence of my children might play into that somewhat for me.  However, I never anticipated calling Chihuahua home either.  But, oh how I missed it, those first months upon our return to Canada.

If you live where you were born and have never lived anywhere else, you might not relate to this. If you have not had a relationship with someone who is living in your country (but not born there) try switching up the question. Or ask a missionary kid where they are a local?  You might just need to explain the question. But, the kind of answers they come up with could be very interesting.  Canada is a country built on immigrants, we have 10,000 villages living within our reach. But does everyone call it 'home'?

I guess really I am not 'homeless' so much as I am 'multi-local' as well.  The richness of that is a blessing, if at times unsettling.

Add TedTalk video here: