Wednesday, 26 August 2015

It's Not Fair to Cheat....

     Unfortunately I couldn't find the video (posted below) in English, or with subtitles. Interestingly enough, it is by a young Japanese fellow, in Spanish!!
     The video talks about honesty and integrity, and basically Yokoi Kenji talks about values and how they affect society in general. In his presentation he talks about being honest, when no one is looking, and in every area of life. Then he goes on to discuss the corruption that plagues Latin America, and what he thinks would help change that panorama. Basically he says that it is ludicrous to expect our governments to act with integrity and honesty, or to legislate it, from the top down, if they haven't personally learnt it beforehand. According to Yokoi, these values need to be taught and modelled in the home. An example he gives is the father that tells his son that it's wrong to lie, and then asks him to repeat it 100 times so that he won't forget. Suddenly the phone rings and he tells his son to answer it, and to say that he's not there.  What Yokoi wants us to understand is that 30% is taught and the other 70% is modelled. The son in question learns that it is actually okay to lie under certain circumstances...
     I remember having a conversation with a taxi driver in Nicaragua a number of years ago. They were in pre-election mode and I asked for his thoughts regarding the different political parties. His reply was cynical and discouraging. Basically he said that all of the parties were a 'pack of liars and thieves'. I suggested that kids that grow up in the upper class, and learn early in life that everything can be arranged, or bought, or 'fixed' somehow, couldn't really be expected to suddenly have integrity once they became the president or part of parliament. Wouldn't it make more sense if all the taxi drivers would charge an honest fare, all the tradesmen would demonstrate honesty and integrity, and a movement would start from the bottom up - grassroots. Would that not produce a better chance of changing society than expecting a change via elections? The only real difference between the lack of integrity in a poor labourer and a president is the extent of their power, or 'reach'. He nodded pensatively and gave his assent. It has been said that it is "better to light a candle than to curse the darkness..."
      Application: what are we doing to train our children, in terms of values, morals, and integrity? Are we expecting them to pick this up in school, on the playground, in church, via osmosis? Is not one of our biggest influences on tomorrow's society precisely demonstrated in terms of what values we instil in our children today? Pretty tall order, especially since it doesn't really work to expect them to "do as I say, not as I do." I have some concerns about the upcoming generation, and I'm guessing the most critical turning point will have to do with what values we are, or are not, instilling. What say you?

Here's the video:

-submitted by Ernie Koop

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Questions and Answers

5 Things You have wondered about:

1. Is Sunset and Sunrise the same time every day, every season?

One thing people, who have travelled to Canada, say to me is that 'your sun never sleeps'!  Obviously those people went during the summer months, because they would say the opposite were they to be there in winter.  Here, in the summer, the sun rises at 7:30 a.m. and sets at 8:19 but in the winter it sets just after 6 p.m. and rises just a little earlier. I must say I miss the long summer evenings.  

I must say that I also miss our marked seasons in Manitoba.  My favourite season was always Fall, with all the wonderful colours.  I would say things are pretty much the same here.  The only noticeable weather changes are rainy season - I have NEVER heard thunder like I do here! Then, when it gets to be 'winter', it gets 'cool'.  People here actually wear scarves, mitts and toques! 

2. Do people play table games and if so what?

Yes, they do play table games.  Ernie is a lover of table games so he has taught several people to play Cribbage and golf (card game).  He has played Sequence and Scrabble.  We were invited to play cards with some neighbours a couple of times and we played what they called 'Continental' (like Phase 10), but played with regular playing cards.  

3. Do you eat weird things?

That is a two fold question really.  Do I? I try to avoid it!  Do they? Absolutely!  But define 'weird'.  One of the things that kids eat here regularly, which I try to avoid, and would say most kids at home would also... are Tacos de Lengua.  Tongue Tacos.  Do people eat tongue at home? Yes, I have heard that they do.  My boys were served them while here; Mike ate it and Chris was trying.  When I saw him struggling I told him to leave it, my friend's daughter would gladly take it off his hands!  She ate 9 tongue tacos that meal! She is 14!
Mexicans do not waist ANY part of the cow! Every part gets made into tacos! At most taco stands they would serve regular beef tacos, tongue, head, cheek, then many serve brain as well.  They eat the intestines, the stomach, the blood.  Everything is used to make something.  We try to avoid some of these 'special' dishes!

4. Are the traffic laws they same?

Now that is a loaded question! Whether they are the same or not really isn't the question.  The question is do they KNOW them!?  You see, where at home we read the book, right the test, and are then expected to abide by the rules we supposedly read, here many never read the book!  Drivers Education here, when taken, is a four hour class!  Many got their license while living in rural Mexico, where they learned to drive before 10 years of age! Parents can also 'buy' a license for their kids and sign that they are responsible! So whether the rules are the same or not seems to be a mute point!

Stop signs are a suggestion.  Green, Yellow, Red also pretty much a suggestion. Left hand turns from the extreme right lane, sure why not!  Speed limit, suggestion.  Driving while texting, all the time! Rules of the road are basically, pay attention and drive defensively. 

5.  What would be something that is a norm in Mexico, that they would fine odd, if visiting Canada?

Well, we just had a young teenage girl, from Dallas and Tara's cell group, visit Canada for 2 months so she answered that question.  Greetings: Hi and good bye.  The most important thing to do in Mexico is greet. At the very least you shake their hand but more often than not a kiss on the cheek.  In Canada there is no rule.  Sometimes you do nothing, sometimes you say a general hi, sometimes you shake hands.  When do you do what?  Its a guessing game.  Makes for many socially awkward moments for a foreigner.  

So there are some answers to a few of the question of the enquiring mind!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

I'm no Martha Steward

I have not counted how many cakes I've baked since I moved here...but let me tell you there have been a few. I have never claimed to be Martha Steward, or any such iconic figure, in the kitchen. I would actually go as far as to say that I don't particularly love the kitchen! However, 'liking' and 'ability' are two very different things. I won't even get into whether my baking looks like it belongs in a magazine.

But, baking is something that comes with my heritage. I tell my friends that my sister and I could make "One Bowl Chocolate Cake" without the recipe by 10 years of age. Where I come from, I say, girls grow up in the kitchen alongside their mom's ... for some, even their grandma's. Now I know that that it not without its exceptions. I know girls at home who can't boil water! 

So I bless people with my baking. I bring sheet cakes to the gym: banana, brownies, carrot, etc. I have made Truffle,  muffins - even bread. Thanks to Jeanine Friesen from Faithfully Gluten Free I have now successfully made gluten free bread, which gets the same great reviews! Every time someone tells my I should open a bakery. UGH! I tell them that no, I would lose the joy in doing it.  I do it because I want to bless them. Making money would put an end to that blessing. 

I have even given a class to some young ladies who wanted to learn. Well, actually it was a refresher course as they had not paid enough attention when my daughter-in-law gave them the class. They were enjoying her and having fun.  

Today I made a batch of banana chocolate chip mini muffins and a batch of gluten free blueberry muffins. Most get given away or shared. A whole recipe never stays at our place.  

Canadian BBQ dessert table: Lalo, Gaby and Joaquin
My first attempt at Gluten Free Bread!
Jaycia 'teaching' the girls to bake
Attempt #2

The things you take for granted when you grow up baking. Measuring? What's soda? Why soda and not baking powder? etc. etc. 

*Next week I will be answering questions. I have received a few, so if you have some, please send them my way. No question is dumb! Email them to :

Until Next week... ...

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

La Playa

We are so blessed.  Living in Guadalajara puts us a mere 3-4 hours from the ocean.  But the real blessing isn't the beach, although that is gorgeous.  The very real blessing of living in Guadalajara is the people.  We have been blessed with some very wonderful friends.  Friends to laugh with, friends to talk with, friends to bond with, friends that give joy to living.  And some times we get to join the two - friends and the beach.

On Saturday we left for the beach with Lalo, Carmen and their kids.  We had decided that we would all go together to join another family at the beach.  Yes, we could each drive separately (very Western) and yes we would have been there at the time set (also a Western concern), but driving with friends, priceless!  So we left later than we were planning to, and we took longer getting there, (the lunch stop was oh so worth it!)  and we returned home a day later than planned.  But the benefits of being together far outweighed the time factor.

We spent several days at Sergio and Claudia's place in Sayulita (about 1/2 hour from Puerto Vallarta).  We lazed around, played table games, swam in the ocean, enjoyed the cooling water of the pool, and ate.  And boy did we eat!  Claudia is a *5 Star* cook.  We laughed and laughed and laughed some more.  Friendships were deepened with every discussion, from religion and faith, politics, business, Mexican life, Canadian life, to family.  Could not put a price tag on the weekend.

I might add here, for those of you who vacation in Vallarta, Cancun or the like, there is nothing like small town Mexico.  Where the atmosphere is slow and relaxed, everybody greets everybody, you can leave your stuff out, the streets are filled with people, restaurants take over the streets with their tables to serve their guests.  It is unparalleled.

Here are some photos of our time together, rather, here are some memories of our time together... ...
Ernie with our host, Sergio
Me with our hostess, Claudia
Every morning we took a hike through the forest and along the beach
Missing the gym - a little Pilates/yoga?
Who can but Praise the Lord for His Creation!
Let the good times roll .... ....

Claudia, with her son Estefan (they reminded me of me and my boys)
chatting poolside, with ocean view
evening table games - winners and losers!
Ernie, Lalo, Sergio (host), Ochoa