Wednesday, 30 March 2016

My 1 Timothy 4:12 Women

Alejandra & Jessy
I want to introduce to you two very special women in my life.  I call them my "1Timothy 4:12 ladies" because they fit that description perfectly.  Let me quote the verse for you:

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."

These two lovely ladies are young, not quite young enough to be my daughters, but younger than myself.  Yet they consistently live this verse out before me.  They are both very unpretentious and most certainly do not call attention to themselves.  But they set before me, and others, an example worth following.

Jessy Neufeld has been a friend for years, and I was privileged to have her stay in my home last year, for two month, while on her Sabbatical.  She was outside her culture and her language but she touched so many people's lives by her godliness.  She crossed barriers just by being herself.  She is such an example to me in speech, in faith, in love, and in purity.  She is a lovely women of God who blesses others by the way she lives her faith.

Alejandra Vergara is a much newer friend, from right here in Guadalajara.  Her and her husband are members of the Reimer's cell group.  I have watched her live out her faith in such real and tangible ways; I am constantly inspired.  She just warmly loves others.  She gives of herself, selflessly. She lives very missionally - in word and deed. She models living out your faith in such a way that others are drawn to Christ. She is gentle and kind to all.  I am so blessed to call her a friend.
Celebrating Ana's Birthday last year

These two young ladies have been an inspiration to me time and again.  They have modelled what a godly women is, to me and to others.  They remind me that others are watching how I live, and to give of myself generously.  As women we need to encourage one another, lift one another up and walk together.  I am glad I have women like this in my life who model that and inspire me to live in such a way that I too would inspire other young ladies.  Who is your Timothy lady? Who is watching you?

Thank you Ale and Jessy.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Plans? Improvise!

I am a bit type A.  I like to know what's happening and I like to know when it's happening.  I prefer to know the details and I like things to have some sort of order.  But not to the extreme where I need to be in charge, or that I don't have a spontaneous bone in my body.  So I would say I lean strongly towards Type A, but am not a confirmed, solid Type A.

This trait, good or bad, tends to struggle a little living in Mexico.  A Type B personality would be much more suited.  But one doesn't get to choose which personality type they are.  One can, however, try to adapt or modify it.  For survival this needs to happen while living in Mexico.  Let me give you a few examples of where this plays itself out.

Today was such a day where my Type A battled against the grain, and relaxing into Type B took effort.  We planned our week on the weekend, like good Type A's, we adjusted and shifted things before the week even started.  Monday looked nothing like I had planned, but it was relationship building and good, even of not what I thought I would be doing. And, even the changed plan changed a couple of times!

 Today's day was to be simple: go to the gym, come home, eat breakfast, head off to Zapotlenejo with Allison, come home, down time and then an evening meeting with a friend we are counselling.  The first 4 happened according to plan, number 5 go a brief moment and then came the need to adjust.  Our evening changed completely.  The scheduled event got cancelled and another event took place that had been contrived by the men in the locker room that morning!

So, while my plan was one thing, the actual event was something completely other.  We went to a birthday party where the time was said to be 5, it was after that time when I called to verify the time! People arrived at random times throughout the evening and left just as randomly.

This is something I run into regularly.  Plans spring up quickly and casually.  Times are set and then reset.  What you are supposed to bring can be asked at the last minute.  Dress code is all over the map. Who will be present is also random and whether extras will show up is also unknown.  Nothing is concrete or fixed or written in stone.

I have had to get over it! I have had to adjust, become more flexible, more spontaneous, more relaxed.  I have tried to teach Ernie that time is not crucial, one is NEVER late to anything! We just might need to go by the store to buy something, because I need to bring something, and I didn't have anything in the cupboards.  Better late than not at all.  Like they say "tarde pero sin sueno" (late but not tired).

Like I said in last week's post, what is in your flex and what's in your core?  Time, planning, Type A kind of things were in my core, but do they need to be? For my sanity they had best be able to move to flex.  I get stressed sometimes and need to remind myself that its okay.  To lighten up. Relationships are what are important.  For an impromptu party, like last night, where some 20-30 people showed up, everybody enjoyed a good meal with great socializing.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Thinking about 'home'

When I say I am thinking about 'home', I say that because 'home' assignment is just around the corner.  Why am I thinking about home? Not because I am homesick, although I will admit I will richly enjoy sitting across the table from my mom and chatting.  Not to mention seeing many dear sweet friends.  We have had the kiddos come visit, twice plus both of my brothers and one of Ernie's, plus a host of other guests. Bunny trail ... ...

The reason for my thoughts about heading back to Canada for three months is because of the whole reentry process.  Yes, I am 100% Canadian, and am reminded of that often while living here.  Yet, at the same time, I have acculturated.  When I notice it, I am shocked.  Let  me give you an example:  When my brothers and their wives came to visit us, I saw the disparity in myself.  We were making plans for the day, to head into Vallarta for the afternoon.  We decided on 2 and we would eat there.  This is where the thinking like a Mexican or like a Canadian happened:

Them: They ate lunch at the resort prior to leaving, thinking about supper there.
Us: Did not eat as lunch is between 2-4 in Mexico.  Eating there meant lunch, not supper.  

We solved the problem with a snack and a late Mexican lunch / Canadian Supper.  Which was great by the way!

There were a few other things that happened during our time together, and that happen when Canadian guests come, that make me realize that we have moved in our thinking.  We have become culturally sensitive and have adapted.  

So, returning to Canada brings some thoughts of how often will I make the reverse error?  Will I be culturally sensitive or even aware while there?  

I have done some research on Cultural Intelligence and it has been eye opening.  There is no test to measure this intelligence, because it can, and should, improve and develop throughout our lifetime.  There is some difficulty in acquiring it but one can, through life experiences, and by knowledge, acquired through trusted friends.  I thank God for granting me some very good ones who have done {and continue to} a good job.

The thing that is huge in this whole area is the idea of core and flex

"Our core comprises the things that define us: our own personal 'change? over my dead body!' list.  These are things that won't change (or won't change easily). Their solidarity is our strength.  In our Flex are things that we can choose to change - things that we can adapt to circumstances, or to other people, or to other cultures.  Their fluidity is our strength."  (  
This whole core and flex thing has been eye opening for us.  What things lie where? What things should lie where? Are there 'knots' in our core that should not be there? Think biases, think prejudices. 

I have noticed that some things are in my flex and have thus been easily modified for life in my hosting culture.  I have similarly notice that there are some things in my core that I firmly believe need to stay there but others that I am not sure where they belong.  This is the ongoing challenge.  Not only for living abroad but on returning 'home'.  

With our world becoming more multi-cultural this is an intelligence that will be more and more needed.  My home town of Steinbach is not longer just one or two ethnic groups but has grown to incorporate 10,000 villages! I challenge you to look at your core AND your flex.  

Here is a TedTalk regarding this topic that was very inspiring for me:

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Brotherly Good Times

My Brother Les, me and Brother Keith
What a gift!  My brothers came to Vallarta for holidays and brought us out to join them for a couple of days.  We made some great memories together.  We played together, laughed together and just enjoyed catching up with each other.  It has been a highlight for this new year.

They came with their wives as well. The below picture is of the 'outlaws' - although I could not ask for better outlaws.  We Friesen's picked good spouses who get along!
Spouses in same sequence - Les's Wife Lisa, mine, Keith's wife Kristine

My younger brother and his wife took us on a Zip line Adventure, which was way cool:

It was a great adventure - physically challenging, mentally as well, but overall just a great time! It started at 9 a.m. and we got back at 3 p.m.  Tired but excited about a great time. If you visit Puerto Vallarta, look up Vallarta Adventures, they have excellent tours that are done with high professionalism.  I would give it 5 stars for sure.

Boys and toys!

My Brother Les and I

Every good story needs as Sunset
Overall 4 days was WAY to short but we built great memories together.  And right now, it's Ernie's turn as his kid brother Garry is here.  God has blessed us with having family come to visit to see what we are up to.  Makes life crazy busy but the memories are priceless. And our friends here love meeting our family and friends.  They have been well received when they come here.  So know, yes we are busy but if you are willing to join us in our life, come for a visit.


Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Training Day

Missed three whole days at the gym last week! NOT A GOOD IDEA!

No, we were not skipping out.  We were having some lower back pains from our young and stupid days (you know, that time in your life when you thought you could lift anything?).  Your body charges you that outstanding debt, sooner or later.  Anyway, we went to a Chiropractor (Not Terry Kehler, but not bad) and he asked us to rest our backs for 3 days, so we did.

Our physical bodies are incredible things!  After a year and a half of working out at least 5 days a week - it did not seem to appreciate the rest!  That Friday back was brutal.  I felt like it was my first day! Pain! Pain! I felt weak.  The even funnier thing, my coach noticed (not that he took pity on me).  He seemed to enjoy my struggle.  He reminded the class that missing was difficult (even if you missed for good reasons, like health).  He said, missing one day was equivalent to a week, missing a week was equal to a month, etc.  From having experienced three days of rest, I would concur.  When I can't get to the gym, I usually jog, which I could not do this time round, so those 3 days cost me big time.  Total R & R had been recommended.

Nelson (above mentioned coach) and my favourite class - Muscle toning
This whole event made me think of my spiritual life.  Is this principle not the same?  If I am spiritually working out, training, I will be spiritually strong.  That said, if I don't I will be spiritually weak.

I don't always 'want' to go to the gym; that 6:30 a.m. alarm clock buzz comes mighty early some mornings.  But I don't hit snooze, I don't roll over, I get up and go! Monday through Friday and Saturdays I jog with a friend. Why? Because I am committed to getting into shape. I am ALWAYS glad I went, no matter how hard it was to get up and go.

Many of the quotes regarding the gym workouts could be viewed from a spiritual side.  I think we tend to be spiritually lazy, thinking that Sunday morning is all one needs. We are spiritual weaklings. We often have these New Years Resolutions where we have this big plan for our spiritual lives and by mid January we have quit! How many of you have decided to do the "Read the Bible in a Year" and got to Leviticus? Or, we are like those who buy a gym membership and never actually go!  We go and buy all the stuff to get serious and study the Bible and then after a couple of days or weeks, give up.  

Life is a balance.  I need a healthy body so I eat right and I exercise.  I have made this a commitment and I am glad I did.  I want to be a follower of Jesus, who, when she gets to those pearly gates, her Saviour says, "Well done my good a faithful servant."  This can not be done without commitment to what that means.  Spiritual discipline.  And, like the gym, or any exercise, it can become an addiction, so can spending time with Jesus, reading His Word and talking to Him. 

What are you waiting for? Get healthy!