Wednesday, 31 August 2016

I Do

My son Mike and his lovely wife Jaycia
No this post isn't going to be about our kids, nor about their wedding, but about marriage (found this pic rather than one of my own wedding, which was pre-digital).

When we arrived back in Mexico we began to reconnect with our friends and were sadden to hear about relationships that were broken, marriages that had ended, marriages a risk, etc.  This had led to several conversations about marriages.

Having had my own struggles in this area, I understand how difficult it is.  I appreciate the commitment my husband had/has to our marriage.  I am so thankful that we have always sought to make it work, to work out our differences, to work through our issues. Not every husband does that, or is even willing.

One of the things that I have been pondering is how much our cultural environment affects our view of marriage? In what ways are we being taught about how marriages are supposed to work? Hollywood most certainly has influenced the culture of marriage, what we saw in our own homes, the example of our own parents, and what our faith/church teaches us.

But what is the thing that cements our own worldview on marriage? Someone told me very recently that every girl grows up playing house, dreaming the dream of getting married, and creating a home  (She claimed that this was worldwide).  Now, I don't want to focus on whether that statement is 100% accurate or not, but rather the thought of it.  How much of of this dream happens, how much does it affect us, and how much is basically a fairytale idea?

I don't have an answer to those questions but I do realize, from my recent conversations and my observation of the culture of marriage here, that we view things very differently.  This view is different from a cultural standpoint and even greater from a personal point of view.

But what happens when the dream ends? When this ideal breaks, and your marriage falls apart? Or when it is at the point of crumbling?

Right now I have several friends at various points of this issue.  My hearts hurts for them, it cries for them.  I want to believe that God can redeem all of them, as well as all the relationships.

Our world right now has broken marriages and crumbling families all around.  We need to lift up our voices and pray for healing.  We need to be a people of shalom.  We need to reach out to the hurting.  We need to love our spouses and fight for our families.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016


Basically when you live in a city of over 4 million, some say 7 (depending on where you draw your lines), you have to drive most everywhere.  So that means getting into your car daily and navigating the craziness.  The sheer amount of cars can be overwhelming.  Let's just say, it is a daily challenge and we thank God that we have not had a fender bender.

So how do rural Manitoba folks handle this? I will say that we didn't start off right. Our method was as follows: Ernie would drive and I was to navigate.  I hate maps! I never know which way to hold them! If that isn't a clue as to how bad an idea that was? We did not have a good map of GDL so my dear husband thought he would just look up where we needed to go and google it, then print the pages we needed.  So now the map lady had several pages to coordinate and figure out.  This made for a tension filled vehicle, surrounded by roaring traffic! Results: raised voices and high tensions.  But we usually got there safe and sound.  I was however in fear of us killing one another.

I declared that there had to be a better way.  Enter Google Maps App.

You can see Ernie's phone resting on the little dash in front of the speedometer? It can sit there because speed is not as important....did I just write that?  Anyway, you enter the address, or the name of where you wish to do, google finds it and a nice lady talks you through getting there.  It also has a visual map you can follow.  Makes things less tension filled and also one usually gets to the right place.  It does require one to use their brain, because at times it can choose or switch the address on you.  But, if people invite us somewhere, and we don't know where it is, we just say, "send me a pin".

This is a feature on WhatsApp (which is how we communicate here), called 'share location'.  It sends you a pin of where you are to whomever needs it.  You can also send a pin of where something is without being there.  But everybody sends pins and we navigate that way.  So, basically now we get from point A to point B without ripping out our hair and without yelling.  Mostly stress free.  Well, not totally, we still have to deal with all the traffic and the crazy things these drivers do.  Like say making a left hand turn from the extreme right hand lane? Or running not a yellow but a solid red light? 

Let's just say life can be exciting just driving somewhere.  Like right now we are heading out to the gym, and 7 a.m. traffic is crazy, as parents are driving their kids to school, probably running a little late. We will have people heading towards us on the two one way streets we take, going the wrong way. The sign is ignored as it is inconvenient to obey it. Someone will run a red, we will weave in and out of traffic trying to avoid stuff.  It's an adventure - daily! Part of adjusting or acculturating! 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Fun Gestures

We have been back home now for two weeks and are settling in.  It has been interesting in many ways.  While we were back in Canada, some of the questions I got asked struck me as interesting, and now the questions from this end are equally so.  Perspective is huge.  Having lived within both cultures has opened my eyes to the fact that we view life through our own specific lens, our own world view.  What is 'normal'? What is 'weird'? What we view as right or wrong can it should.

My conclusion after living 2 1/2 years in GDL and then returning to Canada for 3 months is simple:  'normal' changes! What once was, no longer is.

I also saw how much I had changed, having been influenced by my host culture.  Last night at our cell group meeting one of the young ladies (early 20's) was telling me about going to school in the USA for a while, things she observed, things she thought were weird, things she struggled with when she returned to Mexico.  How, without realizing it, she had adapted to her host country without even noticing.  But, she also quickly shifted back to once again adapt to her current surroundings, after moving back.

Ernie and I noticed that there were a few things that we had incorporated into our lives, without even really noticing, and one especially would not be communicating what it does here.  The first one is a gesture that is widely done here, and actually is quite handy.  People in Canada would maybe think you odd but it wouldn't convey a mixed message:

Here our boys are mocking this gesture for a friend, but they have since taught it to their guys' bible study group.  They are moving their finger up and down.  This is a known gesture here to show agreement or to say 'yes'.  Mexican's do it without thought.  If comes in handy if you get asked a question and you have your mouth full, or are sneezing, or talking to someone else, etc., but want to answer the person. This simple gesture says yes or simply shows agreement. 

The other gesture which might not convey in Canada what it does here comes automatically to Ernie and I.  It took a while to get our heads around it because it would not be seen in the same light in Canada.  But here it communicates one's thanks wordlessly.  It is used while driving, to say thanks for being let in, it says thanks for stopping and letting me cross the street, it just plainly says a wordless thanks. What is required is to raise and show your backhand! And, no, it doesn't mean you plan to cuff someone!   

In the Western context this might communicate something entirely different.  It comes naturally to us now and when we teach it to visiting guests they laugh and struggle because it seems counter-intuitive. But here it widely communicates thanks and appreciation.

So, we notice that we are constantly changing, adapting, shifting our flex and core areas.  What at times comes as a surprise is that we need to do it now at both ends: Canada and Mexico.  We often feel like chameleons, ever changing.  But at the very core of us, we are the same, people who love Jesus, and desire to do whatever it takes to communicate His love to the world. 

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

What? Qué? Mande?

Birthday Breakfast with Gym Ladies

While it is nice to be back home amongst my people (insert smile), there are certain things that are just a little hard.

This picture is of my friends, woman I adore.  I see these women most every day at the gym.   They say a picture is worth a thousands words, well this picture most certainly has a the very least a 1000 words!  But what you can't see is the thing that is hard for me.

When you get a group of Mexican ladies together you get LOTS and LOTS of words.  Well, I bet you you could say that about a lot of groups of women, not just about Mexican women.  But what is very specific to Mexican women is that they ALL TALK AT ONCE! And it is not considered rude!

Myself, Lolita, Fabiola, Elena
While in Canada I noticed something which was very different from living in Mexico.  In Canada, when in a group and someone is talking, everybody else is listening.  If someone talks, while someone else is talking (who began first), the other one is looked at as rude or disrespectful.  If you are talking to someone, and someone else jumps in with a thought, you unconsciously quit talking.  One person talks and the other listens.  Now I know this is a generalization as I come from a loud family that often forgets this rule.  But in public, even we mostly follow this.

So here I sit at a table, in a restaurant, with the music playing, and everybody is talking.  I don't know whom to listen to.  I think that if this happened in my own language I might not struggle as much  {both my kids talked to me at the same time and I could listen to both and answer them}.  That said, I would venture to guess and say that I might also miss half of what is said.  Now granted, some of that is due to the loudness of the environment, some due to the long table with a dozen women, but mostly because they are often all talking or a good half of them. I am trying to decide who I should listen to and which conversation to listen to.  Welcome to my crazy Mexican life.
Forefront: Hilda behind her is Ale,  Background, Lolita, Elena, Carmen and Esme (right to left)
If a Mexican is involved, its loud! It involves music! Everybody is talking, and there is a sense of a party going on. And they think every thing that happens is a reason to party, to celebrate, to 'convivir'.   Life is rich here and I am only catching half of it!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Settling Back In

On the bus ride to GDL

Good byes are hard, but Hellos are so nice.  While our three months in Canada were great, hanging out with the kiddos, spending time with family and friends, doing things we don't do here in GDL, eating things we don't have here.... .... etc. etc  Nothing compares to sleeping in your own bed! Being in your own space with your own things.  It is nice to be home.

Our flights were uneventful and our bus ride equally so.  So the hardest part of the day was that it started at 3 a.m.!  But doing that with our son Mike was a bonus! Then the cherry on the top of the day?
Supper after a long day with our wonderful friends!
Real tacos!! Ym!
So today is a day of catching up.  Unpacking, rearranging things, settling in.  Grocery shopping will be on the agenda.  Moving our house sitter into his new house will happen.  Laundry, etc. etc.  Normal daily stuff.  I have a nesting feeling happening.

Our phones have been buzzing.  Nice to know you were missed and that they are glad to have you back.  I already have a breakfast planned for Friday and supper plans are in the making.  Back to life.  So nice.

So we covet your prayers, as we get readjusted to our lives, as we seek to reconnect with our friends. And once again thanks to our church for giving us a personal space to crash in.  Thanks for your care of us.

Thanks for the many meals, coffees, ice creams, get togethers, sharing of your lives, connecting & challenging each other.  It was a whirlwind 3 months. Lots got accomplished and a few things got left undone, but oh well.

A quote I recently read to put things into their place:

"Home is where there is love"

It's not a destination, it's a relationship.  I have more than one home, lucky me.  I hope you do too.