Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Running the Race

We have been going to the gym for just over a year now.  I am constantly amazed at how my coach can find new muscles.  I had this ignorant thought that after the initial weeks, I would somehow be 'in-shape' and pain free.  Not so.  They seem to have found a way to remind me that I am not 100% in shape.

Every 2 months we get an evaluation by a coach.  They weigh you, measure you, measure your fat, check your cardio, and check your flexibility.  This turns into a 'score' indicating your level of fitness. Once that is accomplished your personal coach creates a new routine for you.  I am shocked every time at how many new muscles he has found!

Ernie was getting low marks in flexibility so he decided to join a weekly yoga class, and found that this is no easy class.  It looked easy from the mezzanine but felt completely different when doing it.  He was quite sore after that first class!

I also have joined a class called 'tono muscular' (muscle tone).  My teacher, Nelson, might just be a torturer in secret.  I am done after 45 minutes in his class.

But, we keep at it, even joining the occasional race.  There are different races held all over GDL every weekend.  John, Connie and Dallas have also joined several.  This last Sunday Ernie and I joined one that our gym hosted to support and raise funds for single mothers.
5K Run

While thinking about my physical body, and all its muscles (not to mention how soar they become after a workout) I can't help but think of the parallel to our spiritual life.  How many of our spiritual muscles are weak from lack of use?  How many are we even unaware of?  Many people give their physical bodies a workout, and they make it a priority.  Do we feel the same need in the spiritual realm?  Do we do the heavy lifting necessary to have strong spiritual lives?  Or, are we content to carry around the 'spare tire'?

The apostle Paul also compares the spiritual life to a race. As you might guess, neither of us 'won' the race on Sunday (in the sense of coming in 1st), but we both finished it... and well ahead of the street sweeper! In the spiritual life its not about doing well in certain segments of the race, or coming in 1st, but rather its about finishing well, and also using the gifts and resources God has given us. That requires dedication, commitment, and keeping our eyes on the author and perfecter of our faith.    

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Honor thy mother....

Back row-left to right: Fanny, Tere, Gayathri, Me, Connie, Teo, Ale, Sandra, Penny
front row-left to right: Ana, Tara & Veronica
This past Sunday, 17th, we had our regular 'convivio' with our cell groups.  It was decided to celebrate 'Mom's' as Mother's Day had just past.  We were asked to bring photos of our moms and be willing to share something about our mothers.  Penelope gave us a lovely challenge on being godly mothers, or, if you were not a mother, being a godly woman.  We were challenged to be willing to share our life experiences with younger moms and be willing to receive from older women as well.  

This wonderful time of sharing, and being challenged from God's Word, was followed by some great food and just hanging out with each other.  We are blessed with a wonderful church family.  Please pray for them as they come to mind. Each one of us walks a path others may know nothing about.  We need to carry each other before the throne.
Sandra (mama to be) and Omar
Esteban and Omar
Richard and Esteban
Ana and her daughter Paulina
Juan and his son Fer (wife and daughter above)
Jorge (our friendly Nicaraguan) his wife Teo and son Mario
Our lovely speaker - Penelope
What a wonderful Sunday we had together.  [Sorry for you Canadians that had snow:( ]  We live in a wonderful place, with great people, who make the 'bestest' friends.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Becoming Mexican

Will I ever be a Mexican?  Will I ever loose my "Candian-ness? Can one ever truly acculturate? 

This past week I shared on my Facebook wall a page someone had posted called "How to become a Mexican in 25 easy steps".  I am not sure what the article would say on how to become 'Canadian'?  Maybe put 'eh' behind every other phrase, drink Tim's, love hockey, talk about the weather all the time, know what a 'poutine' is. ... ...  don't know exactly.  What I do know, is that each culture is distinct, each does things that are normal to them, has idiosyncrasies that they are mostly unaware of.  

To live in another culture you have to adapt.  It's that, or go nuts.  But I personally don't think one is every truly acculturated. Why?  Because your thought processes, the window you are viewing the world out of, will always be one you see through.  

I have always thought that I should adapt to the host country I lived in.  When living in Nicaragua, I ate 'Gallo Pinto', talked in 'vos', pointed with my lips, etc.  When I lived in Chihuahua, Mexico, I ate burritos, was direct, had a more rural mentality.  Now I live in Guadalajara, Mexico, and I eat chilaquiles, try to talk flowery, and love Mariachi.  In all three locations I spoke Spanish, as that is the language spoken.  But I am not Hispanic and never will be, try as I might.

I think like a Canadian, my world view is broader than some, due to my experiences abroad, but I do not think like a Hispanic.  This became clear to me recently at an event.  I had an interchange with  a friend and was reprimanded for my response to something said.  I was contrite, apologised but confused.  Upon much reflection I realised that I had viewed the situation from my Canadian perspective while he was expecting me to understand the situation like he did.  There are just times when that is not possible.  

As much as I love Latin America, I will never be latin.  I have come to understand that when I make a mistake, put my foot in it, say something that gets a raised eyebrow, its okay.  I need to be sensitive, try not to offend, but I can relax.  I am not Mexican and will make mistakes, some are just plain unavoidable.  Coming to this understanding has helped me a lot.  Sometimes they forget we are not Latin and laugh (at, or with us) when we make an error.  But if you work to develop strong relationships, 'love covers a multitude of sins'.  

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Elephant in the Room

I always say it is better to identify the elephant in the room, and talk about it, as opposed to denying its existence.  So, today's post is about the 'elephant'.  What exactly happened in Guadalajara on May 1st? I may not be able to tell you with certainty; rumours abound.  But let's go back to the beginning.

We began the day to the sound of sirens.  On going sirens.  Shortly after that our phones began to buzz with cautions from our friends and church people.  There were blockades throughout the city; actually the whole state.  We were cautioned to be careful.  Then the local Canadian Embassy, where we are registered, emailed to encourage us to stay at home.

Ernie watched the news so he could SEE what was up.  There were pictures of busses on fire, random vehicles in flames, some businesses (mostly banks and gas stations) were also burning.  There was news of a military helicopter being shot down.  The vandalism, and burning of vehicles, were attributed to the 'Narco's' (drug cartels).

news link with writeup and pictures:

Okay, so now you have the news update.  The elephant in the room is not the situation per se.  The elephant is 'are we safe'?  I know that Mexico gets real bad press from the USA and I imagine Canada doesn't paint it as a safe place to visit either.  Not once in the day did I feel fear or panic.  Not once in the day did I feel unsafe. However, I did listen to my embassy and we stayed at home.  We are aware of the situation. We are aware that there is a 'Narco' (drug cartel) presence, but we are not paranoid. We do not deny their existence, we use precaution, we listen to our embassy, we do not live in fear.

Mexican's do not live in fear either.  As a matter of fact they use humor to deal with the situation.  It amazed me how fast they went from warning each other of the situation, and encouraging one another to use caution, to sending jokes about it.  One thing Mexican's do is find humor in bad situations.
I am going to the OXXO (like our 7-11)... you need anything?
After the inicial scare, the above joke, and others like it, were sent through social media.  I could hardly get my head around it. The jokes were on going.   

So, do you wonder if we are safe? No matter where you live (even Winnipeg) you do need to take common sense precautions. Do we live in fear? No. Are there bad things happening? Yes. We need to be wise in how we live and trust that God will keep us in His care (actually, things were much more tense and militarised in Nicaragua during our time there). Either God is Sovereign or He's not. We covet your prayers, not only for us, but for this country. Finally, let me just say that God has not called us to 'safety'. He has called us, each of us, to live faithfully as his ambassadors. Although some 'assignments' might look more dangerous than others, we are all just 'foot soldiers' (sorry about the military analogy... I am an Anabaptist!) in God's kingdom, and we need to echo Paul's mantra "For me to live is Christ, to die is gain."