Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Faith


We live in a country that is predominantly Catholic.  So we have gone to Mass several times, usually for a specific reason.  For instance, we have attended for a First Communion and to come alongside those who have lost a loved one. Since I am a not a practicing Catholic I mostly observe.  We also meet regularly with 3 couples (who are Catholic) to study the Bible.  I am listening, observing and learning.  Because I want to understand and know what they believe, and why they do certain things at Mass, I am reading a book to help that learning process.  It is in English, which makes it easier for me to follow and understand.


It is written by a Catholic Bishop and he is explaining the journey of faith in Catholicism.  It has been intriguing to read his thoughts.  It has been eye opening to me in many ways. I am almost a quarter of the way through it.  But, one thing as come through clearly - we have a lot in common! And I believe it is for this reason that we can meet together to study Scripture.  We can begin with the things that we have in common, things that join, and not things that divide.  Let me give you a quote from the book, which which places us on common ground:

"Catholicism is a celebration, in words and imagery, of the God who takes infinite delight in bringing human beings to fullness of life.  I shall commence with Jesus, for he is the constant point of reference, the beginning and the end of the Catholic faith." (18)

Jesus is also our constant point of reference and we too believe in a God who delights in bringing humans into fulness of life.  Jesus is the very thing we have in common.  In our Bible studies we always come full circle back to Jesus.  

Do we always agree on theology or ideology? No.  But we are working out our faith with fear and trembling.  Are you?

At times I find myself, during a mass, or in life-on-life experiences, questioning things.  But I have come, maybe through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, to realize that when I question what they are doing, or how they are living, I must also look at my own faith group.  Do we, do I, live like a follower of Christ? Is my life a living testimony? Are my religious services ritualistic? Am I engaged in worship at church? Do I listen with an open and receptive heart? Do I attend church as an obligation to fulfill?  

As I engage with my Catholic friends, as I journey together with them in faith, I am looking at faith more closely.  I am being stretched and challenged to be less concerned about the label we/they wear and more about how we live.  How did the man, Jesus Christ, change me? How did He change you? 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Field Trip

VIVO friends and family
So Sunday was field trip day for our gym family.  Lalo decided a field trip was in order so he got the ball rolling, and kept it rolling.  Sunday morning we met at the outskirts of town and headed out.  We were headed to Cuidad Guzman, about an hour away, for breakfast.  

That statement needs some explanation.  Breakfast, for us (from Canada or the USA), means bacon and eggs, hash browns, pancakes, waffles, etc.  Not in Mexico!  
The buffet
Ernie and Joaquin enjoy the first plate... meaning there was more than one!
The place was small town Mexico (Zapotiltic), where they still cook with 'manteca' or lard.  Everything is very tasty and NOT necessarily healthy, but we all go to the gym, so we should be okay!  Those big pots had beans (made with lard), various meats, like ribs and other pork, calabazita con rajas y maiz, (squash with sliced peppers {not green} and corn).  On the side the older gentleman was frying steaks!  Then on the table they served platters of Chilaquiles (deep fried tortillas with red salsa, cheese and onions), quesadillas with blue corn tortillas {hand made, not machine made}, and sopes {a round tortilla looking thing with melted cheese and beans}.  This came with coffee and fresh orange juice.  It was all, oh so marvellous!  Thus the willingness to drive an hour for breakfast.

From there we took a tour of the town and then headed over to another nearby town called Sayula.  It is a 'pueblo mágico' - magic town.  Here we got a tour of a small artisanal tequila shop.  They showed us the process they used and told us about the different things they made. Then we entered the shop to see the product and to taste.  I bought some wonderful chile jelly.  Very tasty.  I passed on the alcohol.

Then the hosts put on a skit for us about some ghost of Sayula.  It was interesting, if not a little strange.

They also gave us samples of local 'cajeta' which is a caramel like sweet.  It is very tasty.

But the best part of the day was the 'convivencia' - the camaraderie.  We got to know people from the gym, who we would say hi to if we saw them there, but didn't necessarily 'know' them.  We laughed together and had a great day.  Following the skit they had more food - tacos were served.  Then we drove around again - this time in Sayula.  We went along with friends and so we got to enjoy them even on the drive to and from.  It was a great day with friends.  Finally arrived home at 7:30 p.m.  A day well spent.
 
Great Day - great memories - Great Friends



Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Ya gotta luv Mexicans

Celebrating me!

From my previous post, you know I was planning to throw myself a big 50th birthday party.  You also might remember that I was nervous.  Well, as you can tell from the above photo, I had little reason to be nervous and that my party was a success.
My reasons for being nervous were because I was doing something unique to them.  My fear was about how it would be received.  Most parties here are sitting around tables, snacking, drinking and eating.  There might be a Mariachi band brought in to entertain (which I love, but makes visiting almost impossible) and if the music is good, some dancing.  ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS, music is a factor and the louder the better!  And people are usually dressed up, very nicely.

So, I had music, I had snacks, I had food, I had zero alcohol, and I asked people to come casual (gym clothes).  I said it was a sports party, where we would DO stuff.  Now, the drawing card for my gym friends was that I had invited our dance teachers: Manual (he teacher Latin Rhythm) ...
... and Nelson (who teaches Danzika).  Most of the gym ladies do one of these two classes although there were gym guests who do not. 

As you can see from our attire, once I posted a picture of what I was gonna be wearing on our chat group, most came in gym clothes.  And did we/they have fun?

As you can tell from my face - I sure did!  Loved it!  And if you look at their faces, it would appear they did as well.

Latin Rhythm

So that the men would not be bored, they played floor hockey with Ernie, and that too was a huge success.
But, here I am giving details about the event, and what I want to tell you about is why you should just love Mexicans.  Here's the reason, which I will explain: "Mexicans love you!"  The top picture shows how they made me feel.  They circled me and chanted my name.  I was hugged countless times, told how wonderful I was, and just plain loved on.  They had told me that this party was different but afterwards told me that it was the BEST ever.  They showered me with gifts (even when the invitation said that their presence was their gift), and they came and they stayed. Some said they could only make it for a bit and would drop by 'solo para el abrazo' (to greet and hug me).  That would take a Canadian all of 15 minutes?  Nope, those that said that, stayed for a couple of hours!!  My neighbour ladies, along with their husbands, came and stayed till the very end and helped me clean up!  I was hugged and kissed and made to feel like I hung the moon and the stars.  Mexican people (I guess I  can say Latin's in general) are a warm and caring people, relationships come first, time is irrelevant.  

I on occasion do something Canadian and remind myself that this is not a good Canadian thing.  No, I am not denying who I am, for I am proudly Canadian, but I am acknowledging that Mexicans have taught, or are teaching me, about relationships, about caring and about showing others that they matter.  God put me in a good place with some great people. VIVA MEXICO!

Now, here is a post script ... I was telling this to someone at the gym who couldn't make it to the party.  She said, "No Diane, we don't do that with everybody, just you, cause you deserve it. You are .... ..." list of mushy nice things.  Sometimes it is hard to identify if it is because I am a foreigner or if it's genuine but I have always felt it was.  I have also seen them treat each other this way.   

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Happy Birthday to Me


In just 4 more days I will be turning the big 50! I like it better in Spanish, you say you are turning 50 "Sin Cuenta", 'without counting'! If you are following me on FaceBook you know that I have been making these collages, one for each day from, starting 50 days ago.  Some are fun, some are serious, but they are all about the blessings from over 50 years.  God has been faithful and I anticipate His ongoing faithfulness for the next 50!

Ernie and I are throwing a party to celebrate this milestone.  Needless to say I am a little nervous, mostly because I am going against the cultural norms in what I am doing.  Mexicans throw parties for any event, because they love to celebrate.  Most parties involve loud music, dancing, drinking, socialized over the loud music, Mariachi, food, snacks, lots of friends and family.  I have left out some of these components and added some that are more me.  Thus the nervousness.  I was told people would go because I was doing it.  Not sure what to make of that.

 So what have I added or subtracted? Firstly I wanted to make it more about who I am and within a budget.  My party is thematic - physical fitness/sports.  I have invited my two favourite dance teachers from the gym to lead the dancing, cause really I am not a good dancer at all, but I love those clases. So, Manuel will lead Latin Rhythm and Nelson will lead Danzika.  The ladies from the gym are excited about that and are looking forward to it.
Then Ernie will lead some floor hockey, which will be completely foreign to them.  Good thing there will be Dallas and Rick to help with that.

I will not serve alcohol, which some would already consider normal for us.  That said this is very odd for them!  When we hosted the Canadian BBQ people brought their own.  It is what it is.  I will serve Coca Cola and other 'healthy' beverages!!

We have ordered a 'taquisa' (tacos) as I did not want to make the food like I did the for the Canadian party.  That is normal, and something they will enjoy.  It is hired out - so no work for me!  I am making the desserts though.  I have already begun with cupcakes and cakes.  A Truffle is in the works too.  They enjoy my desserts and will only complain, as they load their plates, that because of me they will have to eat lettuce for the next month!

I am also mixing groups, which is not unheard of, but adds to the hosting issues.  Making sure each groups is content and enjoying themselves.  The groups will be the gym folks (the largest group), the cell groups, and my neighbour ladies group.  I love them all as they all bring a richness to my life.

So I would appreciate your prayers as we celebrate with our 'Mexican family'.  That we would be able to enjoy ourselves and bless our guests.  
Thankful for Ernie, who loves this sort of thing - a party with tons of people!  He is already talking about the next one - his 60th in two years!!  I get overwhelmed.  I am waiting for Sunday - my day of rest!