Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Extending your table....

Ernie and I with Peter and Jessy
For our first Christmas in Guadalajara our children came, and that was wonderful.  Our second Christmas here, they also came, which was an amazing gift.  During our third Christmas we were alone, without family from home.  However, we spent it with our Mexican family.

This year, Peter and Jessy came for a visit, and that is so very special.  They began their holiday alone in Puerta Vallarta.  Then we went to get them and spent 3 lovely days in Bucerias (close to Puerto Vallarta).

It has been so wonderful to have fun with great friends.  We have walked many a kilometre, both at the ocean, and here in GDL.  We have seen the sights, talked about our lives, and eaten plenty.

Having a Chef in the house is not good for the waistline! But it has been so very delicious!

We decided to invite some friends for Christmas dinner on the 23rd.  Together we planned the meal, but Peter was most definitely in charge! He worries not only about what is being served, and how it will taste, but how it will look! (I mostly hope my meals are edible!) While he didn't give himself a 10, our guest most certainly did.
Right to Left: Jordana, Ricardo, Lalo and Carmen (a family) Us, Jessy and Peter, Karina
These are friends from the gym, and the good thing is that they speak English, so the fellowship was easy.

Here is a pictorial of our meal:

We started with appetizers; each one added something to the table.  We had a tuna mouse on crackers, cream cheese with a chilli jam, chips, little toasts with cheese and jam.  All very yummy.

Then, while our guests played table games, Peter and I headed to the kitchen to prepare dinner  We (mostly him instructing me) made creamy mashed potatoes, a roll of ham stuffed with cheese, topped with a cornflakes crusted chicken breast, gravy that was out of this world, deliciously sprinkled with red pepper pieces and the veggies were green beans and carrots in garlic butter.

We won't talk calories!

The dessert was home made oreo cookies topped with chocolate and raspberry sauce. Yum! Yum!

Alejandrina and I
Then I added a Mennonite tradition and make home made white gramma cookies to decorate.  They loved the decorating! This is something my own family has done at a gathering - gets very creative, and is lots of fun.  Both of the teenage girls are artistic so this was right up their alley.
It doesn't hurt that they taste great too!

Samples of the art
So while this event was over the top in its culinary art, one does not need to be a chef to extend their table.  Most cultures use food to offer friendship.  What one needs is an open heart filled with love for others.  This year, thanks to a friend who loves to share his gift in the kitchen, we had a WOW meal.  But a previous year I made everything myself and we had a lovely evening building relationships.  

Peter himself says their are many simple meals, appetizers, and desserts one can make to share with friends.  Food is a great way to build relationships.  It is less about the meal and more about who is around the table.  One should never be scared to extend their table because they can't cook; take out can be ordered.  Opening your home and your heart is what it is all about.  Life is about relationships, people, community. 

This was our Christmas Day dinner.  We made it Mexican: Carne Asada (basically barbecuing meat).  Then we made potatoes, corn with chilli and cream cheese, pico de gallo or salsa mexicana (a la Peter), avocado and Coca Cola in a glass bottle.  

We have consumed our fair share of calories ... but calories amongst friends don't count!

We trust you too shared your table with loved ones and enjoyed a Blessed Christmas.  And we wish you a wonderful New Year, from our table to yours!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

PV, Friends and R & R

Sunday morning we headed off to Puerta Vallarta to pick up Peter and Jessy Fehr, who had come out from Canada.

We will be spending 3 nights in a condo by the ocean and then headed back to Guadalajara.

It has been so nice to sit and just catch up and visit.  To share about our lives with each other, face to face.

We have walked many a kilometre together, up and down the beach, and on the malecón (boardwalk) in Puerto Vallarta.

We have cook breakfast together and enjoyed eating it on our balcony overlooking the ocean. It has been glorious to just relax together after some pretty crazy schedules. Rest is good for the soul.

To just 'be' with no pressure. We often take for granted the need for rest and relaxation.  We also forget how we can do that, what gives you that much needed rest.

We are looking forward to spending Christmas together.  Cooking dinner together.  Extending our table to others. And enjoying Guadalajara together.  Since they have both visited us before, they aso have met some of our friends and there are things they want to see.  It shall be a wonderful way to end the year.

 Then they will get on a bus, head back to Vallarta to catch their plane the winter wonderland

  We want to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas.  Let's remember the arrival of the Saviour of the World.

Emmanuel, God With Us.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Can washing dishes be cultural?

There are so many things I love about Mexico! There are many things they do differently than we Canadians would.  Some things I out-right laugh at, some things I smile at, and some things I just have to admit that I should adapt do.

Like, for instance, your basic stop sign.  I think that the sign without any word written would be understood.  It is not a yield, though often applied as such; it is not a go.  That it is often completely ignored here, makes me smile.  If one understands that just because there is a stop sign for everybody else, and that you have the right of way, does not mean that people will stop.  Deal with it!

However, I anticipate the stop sign being on the right hand side, about 7 feet off the ground? That is where I look, if there is one, I stop, if not, I go.  Guadalajara has a habit of putting the stop sign on the left hand sign, on a hydro pole, like about 10-12 feet in the air! Confusing!

I sometimes ask Ernie why he is stopping.  He stays, "because I have a stop sign."  Where? Yep, left hand side! Just makes me laugh. I guess its about finding a convenient place to 'pin it'.

Now, about washing dishes.  I like my Canadian way...a dishwasher! Not that every Canadian has one! But it would be the preferred way of doing dishes (Almost no one has one here, and, if they do, they don't use it). One person told me it was environmentally unfriendly.

I will broaden my perspective on this point, as I have lived in, or visited, more places than just Guadalajara, or even just Mexico.  I don't want to be dogmatic, but most Latin's that I know would not fill the sink with water, put the dishes in, and wash.  They actually find that rather disgusting. Rather they get a container (old margarine tub), add water and soap.  They also use a scrubber that is soapy.  They individually wash each item till the sink is full and then rinse.  It does not make a difference if there are a dozen things or a boat load.  Some even leave the water running the whole time.

Better? Worse? I like it. I don't know how to do dishes by hand if given a dish rag! But I would hands down prefer a dishwasher!

Always things to learn. One can always find areas to adapt to.  Old dogs can learn new tricks! Stop Sign can be seen on the left hand side...

So, Bible Study tonight, where we will celebrate some birthdays.  Thursday we have a class, then Ernie has a posada and I have a birthday breakfast.  Friday I have a birthday breakfast and we have a birthday party in the evening.  Life is about being, relationships and community.  God has blessed us with a great community.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

First Christmas Party

Last Friday Night was the gym ladies Christmas party.  Pictured above are the ladies that remained, (a few had already left).  It was the largest turnout we have had thus far.

Once again the start time was 7 p.m.  I left the house just after 7:30, thinking holiday traffic would be crazy, which it was.  I was the second person to arrive! They began to slowly trickle in after 8 p.m.

Planning a party here is kind of crazy.  The host starts by picking a date and a rough time.  Then throws it out there, to see if there is interest.  Then come the boat load of texts about food and other such details.  I was otherwise occupied during the initial start of this. When I looked at my phone I had 250 messages!!

That said, it happened; there was lots of food, beverage and desserts.  People came on the date set, and more or less at the time set.  By Mexican standards, on time.  End time is always another issue.  When does a party end? I usually am in the first round of those leaving.  When I asked how long people stayed? The die hards usually last till 3 a.m.

They chose to do a Karaoke night again.  They just love that.  They all sign up early so they get a chance to sing.  I don't sign up and end up in the first round of singers!

I am glad I know one song well, and they are teaching me new ones so I can sing along.  What always shocks me is how unnecessary it is to know how to sing! They love it!  They are not embarrassed. 

It is just a good time.

 A lot of the songs everybody knows and joins in. Everybody is laughing, singing, and dancing. It is good clean fun. 

Oh, and they threw in a piñata 

As I said, this was the first party... the same host is throwing another one, but a breakfast one, for a more intimate group.  You see, the group pictured at the top is several groups mixed together. So, this Friday, a section of that group is having a breakfast Christmas party.  Then the other half of that group is having their breakfast party.  Where I had hoped that it would be just one party, all the groups together - nope.  It just turned into 3 instead of two. 

Oh well, tis the season... for friends and family.  For relationships.