Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Train of Life

I love this reflection for so many reasons. I hope it has caused you to think about your own life, or train ride. I am so very blessed that on my 'train ride' those first people are still on the train with me - my parents. But, as I reflect upon that very fact, I realize that they could get off at any time, and it saddens me, but I know many who had a very short ride with their parents. Mostly this poem or story makes me think of the many people who have gotten on, and impacted my life in profound ways, and then gotten off. Some of these people have been there for what seems like a long time, and others for just a short while. The length of time, however, has not always deteremined the impact upon my life.

While I am thankful for most (I say most, because some I have not always been thankful for - but God put them there for a reason) everyone who has gotten on my train, this poem makes me think more of the trains I myself have gotten on. Have I been a person who has enriched the lives of those whom I have taken a seat beside? Have I helped when help was needed? Did I being joy and laughter when sadness overwhelmed them? Have those whom God put me beside been blessed by my taking the seat, or not? It makes me ponder the fact that I have a wonderful opportunity to impact each person along life's journey. Do I have a positive impact? I know that I have enjoyed being on my kids' trains, on my siblings' trains, but distance now separates us and I pray that whoever has taken my seat is impacting their lives in positive ways.

I think back to the years in Nicaragua, and all those people who sat with me through that part of my journey. Or, those special people who were there through the years in Chihuahua, and those in Canada. And now the faces on the train, here in Guadalajara, are new, but they are coming into focus.  Each of us adding to the other's baggage. May I be found faithful in how I interact with them, that the mark I leave will be one that carries long term memories.

Some of the people that God has placed beside me have been so very special, our time so rich that I don't want them to go. I don't want them to get off - ever! But God knows what I need and in His sovereignty He places people in the seat next to me and then He tells them to get off. Some He has even taken home to be with him. It's all part of the journey. I must let go, when it is time for them to get off, and take the risk with the next person He places there.

It also makes me take a journey down memory lane and remember those who were very involved in my life, at one time, and are no longer a daily influence. Some I have lost contact with completely, but in their time next to me on the train, they made a huge impact. Some I have found again through social media, and can continue the relationship, although we are now on different trains. Some I would love to see again and share with them what a blessing they were to me.

So, I want to enjoy the ride, thankful for each person that God places next to me, whether for a short time or a long time. I also want to encourage you to not miss the opportunity to be a blessing to whomever you find yourself next to on the train of life.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


I feel so blessed these days.  Why?  Well, for many reasons.  Firstly, how can one but feel blessed when they can sit on their patio before noon and enjoy a cup of coffee?  No jackets, no chill at all.  With blue skies, bright sunshine, and the sound of birds and palm trees.  WOW!  That is a blessing coming from a Manitoban who hates the word 'wind chill' passionately.  Who can not be thankful for such a gift?

Then there is the blessing of the people who God has placed in my life.  Someone, sort of tongue and cheek, (I think), made the comment that she hoped that Mexican's knew how to celebrate my birthday.  Well, let me tell is us, from the North, who don't know how to celebrate!  I made an error (which I got told repeatedly was an error, and was not to repeat).  What was the error?  Not announcing that it was my birthday!  Here you let everyone know that it is your birthday so that it CAN be celebrated.  

The CHICAS VIVO - ladies from the gym
They celebrated me with a wonderful breakfast together.  These are the ladies I see daily at the gym.  A wonderful morning.  
Chicas Coto - my neighbour ladies
Then I went for breakfast with the neighbour ladies.  Within my coto we celebrate almost a birthday a month.  Several of the ladies were absent but we still celebrated 2 birthdays: myself, and the lady sitting beside me in the photo - Tina.  
At the gym the coaches came together, to wish me happy birthday, and treated me to a beverage from the restaurant - a healthy green juice.  Throughout the morning those who Ernie had told wished me a Happy Birthday and gave me a hug.  
A friend from the gym was throwing himself a party for his birthday, which just happened to be on the very same day as mine, and the very same year!  So he said, you better come and we will all celebrate together!
Juan Manuel and I - January 9, 1966
It was a good year!
Really, to be frank, Mexican's need very little excuse to celebrate and throw a party.  Today the sun is out - let's party!  Today it's not out - let's party!  That may sound over stated but it is basically how it is.  They use any excuse to get together and 'convivir'.  That is a wonderful word that truly describes these people. But to give it the same flavour in English?  I have looked it up in the dictionary: live with, live together with, get along with, co-exist.  Doesn't really make you want do this.  Basically it mean to share your life with.  Much like our word 'fellowship'.  

This is a culture that lives together with one another. It is communal in a sense.  How many gyms do you know of where the people interact with one another to the extent that at any given event some 40 people from the gym show up?  How can one not feel blessed to live with such an embracing people, who just open their arms, accept you, and want to 'convivir' with you!?  

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Hockey Night in Mexico...

When our kids came out for Christmas they brought a huge box with them...filled with hockey sticks. We sure do thank West Jet for the free shipping and also Kleefeld EMC Monday night guys hockey group.  My sons have joined the Kleefeld boys on Monday nights to play shinny, as my brother Keith attends that church.  Dallas, a member of our church planting team, wanted to start an outreach ministry using hockey. I told him to let me check with my sons first.  Well we just happened to call them on a Monday night (the night Kleefeld plays) and within short order they had all thrown cash into a hat, did some begging, and the deal was done.

Well, unfortunately it did not work to play while our boys were out but this past Sunday we broke out the sticks and nets.  We set things up, got the guys onto teams, and they played a rousing game.  But the shock for me was that as soon as they guys took a break the ladies jumped right in and said it was their turn!  Another rousing game took place.  After another short break, it was open to anyone.  

We were amazed at how everyone enjoyed the game.  It brought us together instead of dividing us.  It was something everyone could play regardless of skill level.  And speaking of skill, my sons probably would have spent more time teaching how to hold a stick, how to shoot, etc.  But they had fun regardless.  Dallas & Ernie tried to keep things fun and to not get too intense.

So, although the NHL is probably not looking for us, we all had a wonderful afternoon playing a Canadian game.  We shared a part of our culture and they enjoyed it.  They wanted to make sure that the sticks would come out again.  That it should be something we do, often.  So, once again, thanks to the Kleefeld hockey guys (you know who you are), and thanks to West Jet for getting them to us - FREE.  

We plan to use these sticks to reach out.  When you think about Canada that's all winter and then some...think of Mexico and what we are trying to do.
Our resident American and Canadian getting ready
John - the goalie
Even the little ones tried it out! 
John's got the moves?
Great Game
The women took it pretty seriously too...

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Necesitamos Santos.... We need saints ....


Recently a friend here in Guadalajara posted a link on FaceBook of a speech attributed to the Pope (it's actual author is unknown but believed to be a Catholic from Brazil).  I read through it mostly because she posted it.  If they think something is of value (that their Pope is believed to have said) I want to know about it, as it opens discussion.  The article was quite interesting on many fronts and one that I thought might be worth pondering from an Evangelical standpoint.

In the speech it is said that a young Catholic single mother comes to a parish and wants to baptise her child. She is told that she can't, given that she isn't married, and therefore in sin.  The writer's comment to that was that the she found the church door closed to her.
"Tengamos en cuenta que ...esta madre tuvo el valor para continuar con un embarazo, y ¿con quĂ© se encuentra? Con una puerta cerrada!."

The poem goes on to talk about how that attitude would destroy the church.  That we need 'saints' that are willing to live in the world (without being blemished by it) and to touch them with Christ.  We need saints that go to the movies, that wear jeans and running shoes, modern saints, who are relevant to this world.  People should be able to come to church and not be greeted by a spiritual 'immigration officer' but rather find open doors, where forgiveness and healing can be found.
The writer was judging his own church and faith, aware that grace is often not found their, but rather judgement and punishment.  But what about us?  When sinners come to the doors of our church do we require them to be perfect?  Must they look and behave like us?  Do we judge others or do we offer grace?  Stuart Murray, in his book "The Naked Anabaptist", says that we need to look at the order of things ... which should come first? ...Belonging? ...Believing? ...or Behaving? (pg. 60)  We often expect people to behave FIRST, then they can belong, while we work at teaching them what to believe.  Why the emphasis on behaving first?  Sanctification is a process in me, so why don't I allow that process in others? Maybe our churches should allow people to 'belong' even if they don't necessarily believe or behave...yet? Didn't Jesus say that the healthy don't need a physician...?   
The writer's call to his people is just as relavant to us.  We need to be in the world, at the movies, at the rinks, at the lounges, etc.  But in order to be in those places we need to stick close to the vine, so that Christ shines through us - in the world without becoming worldly. We also need to work at making our communities of faith places of healing and forgiveness, places that are welcoming, so that  sinners can find Jesus in our midst, without having to clean up first....  

The poem in English:

"We need saints without veil or cassock.
We need saints who wear jeans and sneakers.
We need saints who go to the movies, listen to music and hang out with friends.
We need saints who put God in first place, but who let go of their power.
We need saints who have time everyday to pray and who know how to date in purity and chastity, or who consecrate their chastity.
We need modern saints, Saints of the 21st century with a spirituality that is part of our time.
We need saints committed to the poor and the necessary social changes.
We need saints who live in the world and who are sanctified in the world, who are not afraid to live in the world.
We need saints who drink Coke and eat hot dogs, who wear jeans, who are Internet-savvy, who listen to CDs.
We need saints who passionately love the Eucharist and who are not ashamed to drink a soda or eat pizza on weekends with friends.
We need saints who like movies, the theater, music, dance, sports.
We need saints who are social, open, normal, friendly, happy and who are good companions.
We need saints who are in the world and know how to taste the pure and nice things of the world but who aren’t of the world." 

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Facebook Postings

Making Memories ...2014
Jaycia pumping iron

Mike & Chris on the stationary bikes

One of the things we did daily was take the kids to the gym as that is a huge part of our day.  We did cut them some slack as we only went for 8 a.m. whereas we normally go for 7 a.m.  Due to the holidays, many of our regular friends were missing but they got to meet some and get a feel for what we are doing there.  They might have had a few sore muscles :)
Jaycee teaching the girls how to make turtles
Making banana cake

Sofie, Jaycia, Jordana, Alexandrina, Me and their finished products 
Jaycia and I invited the daughters of our friends from the gym over to learn how to make some desserts.  They came at 11 one Saturday morning and left around 3:30 with a sampling of what they made.  They got a double lesson as it was all in English (Jaycia happens to only speak that language) and they are all in bilingual schools.  A good morning but tiring.
Mike and Angel
We were able to introduce Mike to his Mexican counterpart or 'twin'.  Aside from the obvious similarities, hair, size, grin, etc they are also very like in character.  Every time we see Angel at the gym I think of Mike.

Since my birthday was right around the corner, still is, they decided to celebrate with a nice lunch.
A special treat was the Mariachi who sang the birthday song.

So many memories were made in those three short weeks.  I can not thank God enough for that gift.  Am I sad they are gone - of course - but as Chris likes to remind me - we chose to leave!  The world seems smaller with technology and so we continue to connect over the miles.  I would have never imagined that we would all be together over Christmas, so I am thankful.  God is Good - always!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year

As I remember the beginning of this year I can hardly believe a whole year has passed.  Last January we were saying good bye to our children and driving, in a blizzard, towards Mexico. We cried and cried and wondered what on earth we were doing.  This Saturday we will be doing something very similar, saying good bye to our children, but this time at the airport (the leaving date is identical).

When I look back over 2014 I am amazed and feel truly blessed by God.  In faith, we left for Guadalajara, not knowing what was in store for us.  In faith we left our children and God has taken care of them.   In faith we looked for connections here in Guadalajara and God has been so very faithful and given us new friends and family here.  2014 was a year of beginnings, of change, of stretching and of growing.  We are so looking forward to 2015 and what God has in store for us.

His blessings are of unimaginable - beyond what we can hope for.  I can not thank Him enough that our children could come visit us for three entire weeks!  We have played together, laughed together, enjoyed some great meals together and even celebrated my birthday early together!  It has been so wonderful I can not thank Him enough (I am overwhelmed).  Our home will be quiet and still once they leave.  We will miss the sound of Jaycia singing and laughing, we will miss the boys play fighting but mostly we will miss the ability to hug them and just having their physical presence.

May your 2015 be wonderful, filled with change, growth and may you live it to the fullest.  Don't leave words unsaid or hugs left ungiven.  Each day is a gift from God, live it for Him and to the fullest.  Wishing each and every one of you God's richest blessings in 2015

My Birthday celebration - Mariachi were an added gift

God gave our family an Angel

Ernie will miss these two kiddos

Always laughter with Mike and Chris - borderline crazy 

Mike and Jaycia