Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Mi Amiga

Our neighbours - Mario and Alejandra
When God placed me in Guadalajara, He knew where I needed to land.  Right next door to the Mendoza/Barrientos family.  Ale (as I call her) was one of the first to come and extend a welcome, she is the one who has invited to me most things and made sure that I am feeling part of life here.

Ale is a true friend of the heart.  She introduced herself to my children as her 'sister'.  I was touched by that but more so have felt it lived out from day to day.  Our lives cross in so many areas: we attend the gym together (her invite), we go to book club together (she invited me), we attend SEAN class together (my invite, but she brought the group together) and we go to breakfast together with the neighbour ladies.

She has also made us honorary members of her family.  We, along with our kids, spent Christmas with her and her family, as well as New Years.  We feel blessed to know her sisters, her mother and the whole gang.  

But one of the things that make us good friends is our desire to grow and be better people. We want to stretch, mature, develop and grow.  The book club is where we go to read books where we learn something - historical novels, often times.  We also get to hear a speaker each month, whether a medical doctor, a professor of history or literature, or a novelist.  We enjoy SEAN, because our faith is important to us.  We desire to become more like Jesus.  We go to the gym because we want to keep our bodies strong and healthy.  We love our families and friends and cherish each relationship.  

I probably wouldn't be so active and involved, knowing as many people as I do,  if it were not for Ale.  She has been an example to me, to reach out to others, to be open and honest, caring about others.  She has taught me to stretch myself and grow each day.  She is not perfect, nor am I, but she is the kind of person each one of us should have in our lives and try to be for others.  They say you become like the 5 people you spend the most time with.  Well, in this case, that is to my benefit. 

The Neighbour Ladies
Ale and I

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

What's Up and Coming

We have begun our season of busy.  This Fall is full of activities.  So what we need right now is to learn to build margin into our lives.  This is at times hard to do.  We want to say yes to everything, to every opportunity.  We enjoy the things we are doing, we enjoy the people we are doing them with, and so it always makes for a struggle.

September brought us an Ascend participant.  Ascend is an EMC program whereby young people can go abroad and learn about missions,  learn a new language (or try at least) plus experience a new culture.  So we are excited to be hosting Allison:
Allison with Paulina (from Wiebe's Cell)
Allison will be here for 8 months.  She is presently living with her Spanish teacher, where she will stay for a month.  Following that she will be moving in with Paulina and her family.  She is an eager student and willing to learn, grow and experience everything.  Pray for her and all her adjustments. Pray also for us as a staff as we work together with her.

Then, in October, Ernie and I have another very special visitor coming...

Myself with Jessy - trying some "Canadian Mexican" food in Winnipeg
Jessy is the dean of women as Steinbach Bible College and is on a Sabbatical.  She is taking 2 months to join us here in Guadalajara.  We are looking forward to her coming and the blessing she will be to our lives.  Pray for this time together.  Jessy is taking this time to rest, rejuvenate and hear from God.  We want to help facilitate that for her.  Just 28 more days.

The next major event that is upcoming is our annual staff retreat.  We are blessed this year to have a speaker come to bless us.  So Pastor Darryl and his wife Sharon from Kleefeld EMC are coming for about a week.  We are looking forward to hearing from him and enjoying showing him our work here in GDL.  Pray for him as he prepares and for their time here.

Once again we have our annual prayer team coming in November.  This is organised by the home office.  Team leaders, Darrel and Audrey Guenther, will be leading the group.  I believe they still have room and we would love to have you come.  No skills required, just a willingness to bring Mexico and the work before the throne.  
Darrel & Audrey Guenther - leaders
So that is the 'big picture' of what our Fall looks like.  This is on top of our weekly SEAN class which we love.  They will be starting Book 4 today!  They are enjoying it and learning how the life of Jesus fits together.  We also continue to meet with 3 couples every other Wednesday to challenge each other and grow in our faith.  We are slowly working our way through the Gospel of John with that group. 

Like I said, we enjoy what we are doing but covet your prayers as things get a little crazy.  Good thing we have a Big God who is Awesome!


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

VIVA Mexico!

The grill
Today is the 16 of September, Mexican Independence, so today is a national holiday.  However, the celebrating happens on the 15th in the evening (and the whole month of September is considered 'month of the patria').  It is called 'el grito' (the shout) because late on this evening, many years ago, Hidalgo shouted their independence.  This year however, Mexicans are unhappy, with their president, with the way things are happening in the country, the currency rate, etc. etc.  Fireworks were cancelled, in some places, as were some celebrations.  Many chose to get together in homes, because in the end, any reason to party is good enough to get together with family and friends.  We joined our neighbours.
Our neighbours: Mario and Alejandra

Ernie and Jorge - the grill masters
The Ladies: 2 are sisters to Ale and the other her lifetime friend
Our life here is about people and relationships.  We are invited to many gatherings.  I get excited when the calendar looks blank! That has its ebb and flow, sometimes lots of flow and little ebb.  
Tuesday's Party with the gym people
Coach Manuel (center) often encourages gatherings.
I take his Power Ball and Rhythm (dance) classes
We attended a birthday party with our neighbours.  A wonderful Sunday afternoon, with Mariachi!
The neighbours who attended
Ernie was the photographer, thus the odd picture for a birthday party: This is the hosting couple, his birthday and the fabulous Mariachi... ...

Fransisco and Tina 
Marco, Ernie and Mariano 
That same weekend, two very special folks dropped in.  These two young men were our neighbour boys in Chihuahua.  The one on the right, Mariano, was like an older brother to our sons.  He would bring them to me when they fell off their bikes, cut themselves or whatever malady had befallen them.  It was so nice to touch base with them.

This week was definitely full of good things but it is nice to have a Mexican holiday right now.  We can take some down time.  We are blessed with rich relationships.  God is Good - all the time.  Covet your prayers each and every day. Shalom.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015


Ernie, my husband of 26 almost 27 years, has a giftedness that many long for and I know I do not have!  He has the uncanny ability to talk to anyone.  I don't think he has ever met a stranger. He just loves meeting new people and talking to them.  It is a trait that has served him well over the years.

Now, since this is mainly my blog, I get to write what I want (even though my husband might not like it).  He isn't one to like praise, and is actually against eulogising.  That said... ....

Now you might think I am biased in my comments but, just so everybody knows, others point this out to me as well.

For example, we went with friends of ours for a Sunday afternoon bike ride.  (They close various streets through the city on Sundays for pleasure, bike riding, walking, jogging, skate boarding, etc.  It is highly used every Sunday).  So, we are all just biking along, when our friends start noticing Ernie has come alongside a family and 'made friends' with them.

This sort of thing happens all the time.  At the grocery store, at the park, at the gym, wherever he finds himself.  It comes naturally to him and with such ease.  This is a great gift to have when you move abroad.  He makes friends quickly and he keeps them.
Guys from the gym

Pablo and Martha - our long time friends, who were our neighbours in Chihuahua
 We went to Queretaro, where Pablo and Martha now live.  We went for our mission - a scouting trip of sorts.  He had arranged meetings with national pastors and missionaries.  A weekend of cold visiting, meaning with strangers, had me tired.  He enjoyed meeting people, invited them to visit if they were ever in GDL, added them as friends on Facebook and told them they would continue contact through the various means available.

As you can see from the smile on his face, he is happy.  Old friends, new friends, makes no difference, he finds a connecting point.  And inevitably, somewhere in the course of that relationship, he talks about Christ, about faith, about what matters most.  He does this naturally and without offending.  I am glad God gave him this gift and I love to see it in action.
Pablo - their son

Ernie and Juan

Ernie and Mario
Ernie and Hector

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Canada / Mexico

5 Things that are just different, living in Mexico instead of in Canada:

1. CANADA - I can't say I miss shovelling my driveway. Back breaking work! Snow blowers and bobcat's might have made it not so bad!

1. MEXICO - I much prefer what needs to be done here, each homeowner is in charge of keeping the area in front of their place clean - sweeping, picking up trash, and the like.  I sweep my carport and hose it down.

2. CANADA - I most certainly miss my dishwasher but even more, I miss our water softener (I can't say I ever had a feeling about my softener till not having one)!

2. MEXICO - Washing dishes by hand is not a favourite thing to do but since we are only 2, doable. When you host people, and they leave at midnight, more in the line of work!  Get over it! However, soft water is a longing.  Not having a water softener means water stains and build up everywhere - kitchen sink, bathroom sinks, showers, etc. Drives me nuts.

3. CANADA - I miss electric stove and oven, even more so because I had a smooth glass-top one.  SO easy to clean! The oven feature I miss the most is broil.  I asked a Mexican about the lack of broil, and what they did without it ... they use their toaster ovens.

3. MEXICO - Gas stoves are just not my favourite.  Heat differently, don't broil, and I hate cleaning the whole thing. Once again - get over it Diane!

4. CANADA - I do not miss air conditioning in every building, being cranked till it freezes you to death! One would think that after all those months of freezing cold weather you would want to be warm.  Apparently not. Restaurants, grocery stores, etc. Can't really go out on a hot day without a sweater.

4. MEXICO - Mexican's believe air conditioning is bad! Makes you sick! Grocery stores and even the gym where we go, are temperate. But the best thing, restaurants are often open air, patios and terraces - never need a sweater.  I LOVE eating at a restaurant where we are mostly outside, in the fresh air.
Birthday Breakfast with neighbour ladies
5. CANADA - I miss casual.  Jeans and t-shirts are the norm and high heels are the exception. I never put overly much thought into what I was putting on when I went out. I rarely thought about whether I was going to be over or under dressed.  Hair and make-up were also not a big thing.  Au natural.
Birthday breakfast with some of the ladies from the gym
Dance class - instructor in the middle.... ps that's not a tattoo, but a 5k race sticker! :-) 
5. MEXICO - My neighbour lady mentioned recently how much I had changed, hair, make-up, clothes! It was not without effort, let me tell you.  Guadalajara is more extreme than the rest of Mexico, but these people have no concept of casual or Au natural.  While I appreciate the care they take in their appearance they are a little over the top.

These are but a few things that have come to mind recently.  Many things, like washing dishes, I just tell myself to get over it.   Other things, I am so happy about, are the lack of air conditioning (As some may remember, I am noted for always being cold in Canada). Most things are not a huge cross to bear.  Other things took evaluation and thought.  In some areas of life you must adapt and in others you just let it go. Flexibility is a good trait to have if you want to live cross-culturally.