Wednesday, 25 March 2015

SEAN - Growing in Faith

Claudia, Alejandra, Pati and Ernie

Ernie teaching SEAN
Many of you have heard that we are teaching SEAN (not having a seance).  For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, allow me to explain. This is a theological education by extension course.  It is a six book compendium on the life of Jesus according to the book of Matthew.  I would say it is the best study material I have had the privilege of using.  By the time you are finished you know the book of Matthew better than any other book of the Bible and meet Jesus up close and personal.  I began taking it as a student while in Nicaragua, then taught it in my home church in Steinbach. Ask anyone who has taken it, and you will hear many of the same comments.  If you haven't taken it, I highly recommend you finding someone to take it from.

Alas, I digress.  I mentioned, in passing, that I had this course on the life of Jesus to Alejandra, my neighbour, and that same week she came to me and told me she had 3 ready to take it!  And off we were.

We meet every Tuesday around 5 p.m. and the end times differs from week to week, depending on the discussion.  Presently we are in Book 2 and they are excited about taking all 6 and graduating.

The mix of students in very interesting, one is a very studied and learned Catholic.  She is very knowledgeable about the Bible and her faith.  Another is, according to her own self-description, a 'bad Catholic'. No, she is not a bad person.  She is one who has a faith but doesn't attend mass or fulfil  various other requirements of the church.  The third student is from an evangelical background.  Together we are studying the life of Christ.  We are seeking to learn together and not argue over being Catholic or Evangelical.  We are learning and growing together. It has been a rich experience for each of us.



Wednesday, 18 March 2015

What is family?


Often when we think of family, we think of our parents, our siblings, or our children,  We might even think of aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.  Some like to look for family while others try to deny family.  I am one who believes the quote at the top of the page.  I consider my family one of life's greatest blessings.  However, family can be bigger than relatives, and can be found or created outside of bloodlines.  I want to talk about those kinds of families.

We were fortunate to belong to such a family as this in Chihuahua.  Our family was our neighbours.  We celebrated every 'family' holiday together, laughed together and cried together.  Now, although we are all spread out, we still remain friends/ family.  They held, and still hold, a very special place in my heart and I would never think of travelling through Chihuahua without stopping by.  I know that a bed awaits me in one of their homes and a wonderful time. Often there is a calling together of those close by, to drop in, because one of the family has come 'home'.  This was a family in the non-traditional sense.

We have landed ourselves in such a family once again.  This family was already in existence, prior to our arrival, and they just pulled us in.  This family is comprised of the socios/members of the gym we attend.  We get together to celebrate birthdays, baptisms, first communions, holidays, etc.  But although we love to get together to laugh and have fun, we know it is family when the chips are down.  If someones loses a loved one, finds themselves sick or hospitalised, or has a need, this group, this family, is there for each other.

A very clear example of the extent that this group is a family was seen recently when one of the members had a child who was critically ill in the hospital.  Word soon spread amongst the group to pray for this child.  Many of us could not even put a face to this person, let alone the child.  He needed help and a member of the group stepped in to help, never having met the person.  When asked why, he said, 'he's part of the family'.  Tonight the 'family' is headed to the funeral home because this young man has passed away.  Our 'family' has arranged to all go together to support them.

What is family?  Family is a group of people that cares for one another.  I am blessed to be a part of several families - even 'families' with no blood relation.  I have come to understand this better while living in Latin America, where they just include you.  They make sure you are connected to a loving and caring group.  What I am beginning to see is that, while it is a great honour to be asked to join a family, there are both rights and obligations. I don't know that I have ever been made to feel like I have an obligation but personally I feel a sense of needing to be a contributing member of this family, not just receiving but giving as well. Isn't that exactly how the family of God should be?

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Thoughts on Short-term Missions...

Stop calling it "Short Term Missions". Here's what you should call it instead.... (A great blog post by Craig Greenfield) - click on the link below to go to the post by Craig Greenfield ... 

Stop Calling it "Short Term Missions" ....

 ... or copy paste the following URL into your internet browser: 

http://www.craiggreenfield.com/blog/2015/3/4/stop-calling-it-short-term-missions



What are your thoughts? Does Craig have a point? What are reasonable objectives for these ventures?  How can the quality of STMs (Short Term Missions) be improved? 

We'd love to hear from you!! 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Ponderings

Even the trees are happy in Ixtapa
So, we have returned from Ixtapa with MissionX and are finishing off their time here in GDL.  It was a good two weeks there, enjoying the pleasantly warm, so as not to say HOT weather.  The students, and Carl, got to join many different ministries as well as be hosted in national homes.  They were stretched during this time as they had limited Spanish (only 6 wks, which translates about 12 hours).  Ernie and I frequently split up with the differing groups to help with translation, 
Ernie translating as Carl preached Sunday morning
except during billet time.  I was stretched during this time, as I have never considered myself a good translator, and hate to do a disservice to the speaker.  God was good and I think I did a 'fair to midlin' job.  
Day at the beach - sun tanning!
We had a few visitors while we were done in Ixtapa:
Silvia & I
One of our good friends from the gym, Sigrid, texted me while we were there and told me her mother was in Ixtapa.  We had met her a few times prior, so we gave her a call and spent a late afternoon with her.  Then came a surprise visit....
Oh them Koops
Yep, Mel and Mary showed up at our hotel with their son Barry and his wife Tracey.  We enjoyed an evening with them over supper.

My last pondering is something I saw on FaceBook, which I have copied below...


I can saw that I honestly feel this way.  I often (in posts) put the word 'home' in quotations marks, because where is 'home'?  I feel wrong saying it's Steinbach, although have often felt that it should be because my folks are there, but yet is isn't quite home.  Mexico has been home for several years.  I have also lived in Texas, in Colorado, and Nicaragua.  In each place I have lived I have left a piece of my heart due to the rich relationships I have been fortunate enough to have built.  Right now home is GDL, and I was so glad to arrive there after 2 weeks of being away.  I missed my own bed, but mostly my 'family' here. 

That said, in Ixtapa I was a little nostalgic and missed my kiddos.

Did a little sand art, thinking of my children.  We had had so much fun in Vallarta on the beach, being on a beach again made me miss them.  So maybe, 'home' will be wherever they are.  But God is good.  He hears my heart and meets my cries.  I feel blessed to be 'home' in so many places and love the many opportunities He gives to serve Him.