Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Sunday Meditations

          Diane asked me to share a new venture that I've taken on. Many of you are likely much more adept and comfortable with the different avenues of social media than I am. However, I have come to see that there are benefits, or possibilities, afforded by using social media, that wouldn't be there without it.

          Let me explain. With some encouragement from Diane, I agreed to post a short (3-4 min.) video every Sunday. The video is a short meditation on a passage of scripture. The video is in Spanish, and is meant for my 'Spanish world'.  Why? I want to find different ways to encourage and challenge people to think about scripture, to think about God, and His plan for their lives. I want to use this medium to reach beyond my 'physical reach'. So, I study a passage of scripture, I produce a short script, and then I video tape it with my laptop. After that I post it to Facebook, to my diff. WhatsApp groups, etc. It is not 'professionally' done, it is not for theologians, it is meant to be simple, and possible to digest even for those not accustomed to reading their bible.
          It has generated many responses, from comments on Facebook, and WhatsApp, to comments in person at the fitness gym that Diane and I attend. My hope is to be salt and light, to be an encouragement, to challenge others to a faithful commitment to, and relationship with, Christ.
          Here's an English translation of the first Sunday (last Sunday was #3). Enjoy!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

"But for the grace of God..."

     The founder of the Salvation Army, walking the streets of London one night, happened upon a drunk lying in the gutter. Instead of 'avoiding' (like the first two travellers in the story of the Good Samaritan - Luke 10:25-37) he exclaimed, 'But for the grace of God there go I.'

with friends celebrating a wedding
     Jimmy Dodd, in his book "Survive or Thrive" identifies some of the challenges for those involved in the 'ministry' (pastors, missionaries, etc.). He states, "We don't primarily connect with people because they might become Christians; we primarily connect with people because they have been created in the image of God. If we chiefly serve because we long for our friends to share our belief in the gospel of Jesus, the friendship has no basis. However, if we serve others because they have been created in the image of God, the basis of our friendship cannot be destroyed."

     I have long ago decided not to treat people like 'projects', where I have certain outcomes in mind for them, and my willingness to 'like' them, or engage with them, is conditioned on a response to these goals on their part. I can distinctly remember telling someone that I still wanted to be his friend, EVEN if we didn't agree on a lot of stuff (Chihuahua). One of my biggest complements happened when he was standing in his front yard, holding a 1 litre beer bottle, and he didn't hide it when he saw me coming! Why would this be a complement? He knew that I don't drink, but he also knew that I accepted him, and didn't judge him based on whether he drank or not. I could accept him as he was, independent of whether I approved or participated in a similar activity or not.
with friends in Queretaro
     As Dodd says, "Community is weakened when we form friendships around conditionally based behaviours that were not a part of God's original creation. Our initial state wasn't that we were sinners, but that we were created in His image... therefore, everyone is created in the image of God and is therefore worthy of our respect, our love, and our service....because God loved the world, we, too, should love the world. This is the true basis of true community."

-submitted  by Ernie Koop

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

A lifetime of friendship

Neighbour kids from Chihuahua
 From 1995 to 2000 we lived in Chihuahua, as many of you might remember.  We had something there that we have never had in our lives since then.  We lived at the end of a cul
de sac and were surrounded by some amazing neighbours.  We had a contract as families for how to live together.  We celebrated EVERY holiday together. Our kids were friends and we were friends - no, we became family!

Now, fast forward to 2016, and these same kids are adults, mine being the youngest.  Some are married, some have children.

We all lived within walking distance of each other; it seemed next door.  During the years we lived there, one family moved to another state, 16 or more hours away, another one built a house and moved away from our little corner of Chihuahua, and on and on it went.  Slowly people moved on.  But we still got together for main events; we continue our friendship. Then, in 2000, we moved away - to Canada.  We still maintained contact.  The women were friends of a lifetime.
right to left: Hannia, me, Toñeta (standing), Carmen, Lupita (standing), Martha and Elsa
So here we are, back in Mexico, after over 15 years of absence.  Since we drove down our first stop was Chihuahua, to visit these very people. They threw me a birthday party! We have driven to Queretaro (3.5 hrs away), where Pablo and Martha moved so many years ago. And, over the years, we have seen photos of them getting together for various events. We are still 'family'.

Recently, when one of the kids was celebrating her wedding in San Miguel de Allende (destination wedding place in Mexico), everybody came! The young girl, in the first picture, celebrating her birthday, is now the bride!
Right to left: Amelia, behind is Carmen (standing), Toñeta,
Lupita (standing), and myself

Ernie and Ernesto
These are friends that when you see them again,
it's like you were never apart.  You just pick up where you left off.  You catch up on what's new in their lives. You laugh together and remember together.
This has been a gift in our lives. Two of these neighbours sent us one of their kids to stay with us in Canada for several months.  These are the people my kids would have called aunt and uncle, these were our family for years and remain an intricate part of our lives. Now, living in GDL, Toñeta's sons have both come to our place and stayed the night.  It was like having sons come home! Because we are family.

At this wedding we were all talking about when we would all see each other again. And wouldn't you know it? Another son is getting married! So we are looking to taking a trip to Chihuahua in October.

God has given us so many wonderful people that have so deeply blessed and touched our lives.  Chihuahua was wonderful and Guadalajara is fast becoming the same.  Mexican's are very warm and embracing.  They make you part of their family before you even realize it.  I have people I call sister, and I have people that I consider family.  Life is rich when you live it in community!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Upcoming ... from Facebook

So next week I will be telling you about these and more photos.  Key clues are: #wedding, #Chihuahua, #San Miguel de Allende, #old friends

stay tuned... .... ...

Wednesday, 7 September 2016


We have been back in GDL for a month now.  The above picture is from the night we arrived.  This lovely family picked us up from the bus depot and we headed out for tacos.  A lovely reunion.  Catching up on their lives and reconnecting.

Well this past month has held a lot of those reconnecting times.  Catching up on what people have been up to, hearing and sharing stories.

We also have reconnected with the gym! We had both gained weight, and let our muscles relax (this even having gone to the gym (Diane) with my mother for the whole 3 months).  It is amazing how jealous one's body is - don't feed it, and it screams: "Feed Me!"  Don't give it the regular amount of exercise and it lashes out at you! I found some muscles I didn't use during those 3 months and I am paying for it.  Won't even mention Ernie, who sat in a truck for 2 months!

At our favourite Taco restaurant with Jessy Friesen. Like our sons Mike & Chris like to say: "Mexicans KNOW how to eat!"  Yum Yum!

Like I always tell our friends at the gym, "I'm not here to lose weight, as much as I am to get exercise so that I can eat!" We do so much around food, I can only imagine what size I would be if I didn't go to the gym.
Breakfast with the ladies from the gym
Breakfast with Tere and Fabiola
Birthday breakfast with gym ladies
Notice a certain theme? Breakfast with .... .... Breakfast with.... ...
Birthday Celebration for our favourite gym instructor
I won't even tell you about the lunches or suppers! We do a lot of socializing around food.  We are so very blessed to have such good friends, that, thanks to the gym, we get to see daily.  

So, we have settled in and are re-adjusted.  We are finding life to be 'normal' again.  God brought us to a wonderful place where he surrounded us with wonderful people.  It has been taking us longer and longer to get out of the gym each day due to some rich conversations. Life is good. God is good.