Wednesday, 28 February 2018

A Loooong Weekend - Road Trip

Our plans for this past weekend were simple, drive to Queretaro to visit life time friends.

Immigration Mexico had other ideas.

When we arrived 4 years ago, we took out temporary residency, as is required.  After four years, they require you to apply for permanent residency.

Well, since we are returning to Canada at the end of April, we, along with the lady at immigration, decided it would make more sense to just extend our temporary residency for another year.

Well, her boss did not agree with her.  She denied that option. Then gave us two options. The first, apply for permanent residency within five days - virtually impossible!  Or, option 2, we had 30 days to leave the country and turn in our paperwork! We could then come in as tourists.

So our plans changed.  Instead of a long weekend with friends, we had a short weekend with friends and a trip to the border.
Pablo and myself, Ernie, Martha and their son Pablito
First things first.  We arrived in Queretaro early afternoon to spend some time with these wonderful friends.  This family (one son and grandson missing) lived next door to us in Chihuahua.  They became very good friends and we have continue our friendship over the miles.  They are so very special to us. 

We enjoyed a wonderful barbecue on their rooftop patio while we did some catching up on our lives.  We talked life, family, work, and faith.  It very quickly went to spiritual matters and ran long and deep.  It was such a wonderful afternoon and evening.

The next day we did the touristy thing and hit the road together.  We took in two towns, one they had never visited (a small typical Mexican mining town, turned ghost town) and the second was well known to them and lovely. 
Us in the ghost town!

From there we drove another 2 hours to Bernal.  It was a quaint little town, very touristy. 

The attraction to the town is the big rock you see sticking out of the ground in the background.  You can climb to the top (almost) and there are tours up there.  We did not to that.  We walked through the town and had lunch.  
Lunch was gorditas.  Although it looks like a cookie, it is not.  It is blue corn flour made into a pocket (somewhat like a pizza pocket) and filled with whatever you pick.  There are lots of options.  Ernie chose his favourite, which is rajas (chilli cut into strips with onions and cream).  I chose meat with chilli pasado and tinga (chicken in a tomato/chilli sauce), they chose chicharron (pig skin, not crispy but chewy).  But there were about 10 different kinds.  They were all very good!

The evening was spent playing table games, snacking and visiting.  It was a rich time for us.  It would have been nice to visit longer but alas, not possible this time round. 

Sunday morning we got into our car and headed to the US border (Laredo, TX).  It was a loooong day of driving.  That said, the roads were new and made for good driving time.  We arrived during daylight hours.  Having never been at this border, and border towns being notorious for poor signage, we were unsure of how this worked.  

But if Ernie is good a something, he is extremely good at asking at the border.  While we had though to just cross and not turn in our paperwork, as the sign said they were closed.  With a few questions to a young man who seems to look like he knew what he was doing.... we got rerouted and got it done.  Just wanted a little tip.  That was an answer to prayer!

Made it to our hotel by 6:30ish.  Got settled, had a quick supper and crashed.  Monday we did some errands and a little shopping, more relaxing and then hit the hay.  Tuesday Morning we were once again on the road.  

This was our worry, immigration.  Not because we thought we wouldn't be let in, but we had some complicated paperwork issues that we were concerned about.  And, as our son Chris said, 'Oh ye of little faith."  He told us that when things are difficult, seemingly impossible, that's when God shines!  And He did.  We got through within an hour.  PTL!  We were given 180 days (more than enough to finish up here) and a new vehicle permit.

So from there we had a 10 hour drive back to Guadalajara. We were stopped twice by the Federal Police. Both times we were let go with a 'just checking'.  Arrived home at 7:30 p.m., tired but glad to be here. 

So once again we are extremely thankful.  God has gone before us and behind us.  He has answered our prayers, even those prayed in doubt.  

We are in the throws of packing up as the people who bought our furniture are here and wanting it.  We will 'camp' for a bit and then move into Reimer's house for the last month.  

We continue to covet your prayers as we say our good byes both here in Guadalajara and in other parts of  Mexico.  We are headed to Chihuahua to say good byes to the rest of our neighbours and spending a day with our church people, as those relationships are dear to us too. 

Goodbyes hurt but with social media we are able to remain in one anothers' lives. 

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Amor Y Amistad

February 14th in Mexico is celebrated not only as a day for couples but to celebrate friendship.  Thus, while we refer to it as Valentine's Day, they call it "Day of Love and Friendship".

It's a day to show your friends that you care about them.  To honour friendships.

So an event to do just that was planned for the gym friends.

We arrived, most were late, even after the arrival time was changed to an hour later!  We were asked to come in gym clothes, black, red or white.

  Some missed the text regarding that, due to the flood of comments in the chat group.  So, while most of us were in gym clothes, and within the colours given, others not so much.
We began the event with snacks and drinks and lots of laughter.  The organizers had arranged a wonderful Italian lunch.  So half the buffet was pasta, the second half was veggies, mash potatoes and meat! Italian? Not sure but very good.  
Then we moved on to sports.  While she had planned lots of activities we mostly did the first thing.  Playing soccer.  The men went first.
 So the blue team was mostly the younger guys, some of which actually knew how to play.  So there was a little bit of chatter about a stacked team.  Those on this team would have said that was not so, of course.

The other team was the 'old guys' and they would say their team was most definitely not stacked.  So, with those comments you can guess who won the game! the blue? No! Actually the red won, or it was a tie, depending on the decision regarding a contested goal!  But fun was had by all.  Intense, male fun.  Competitive.

During their game, the ladies were to cheer them on.  This too can become competitive.  But mostly we just laughed at them and at ourselves.

Following the men, the ladies got their chance to play.  Also Red and Blue: 

This game was very similar to the men's; the younger ladies against the older ones.  So, we lost!  But, apparently, my Canadian girl, hockey mom-ness came through.  I am a bit rough and tough.  A dear friend has my foot print on her leg!  

But, even despite that, we too had tons of fun and laughed at one another. 

This event is just one of the many we have attended with our friends from the gym.  These are people who have touched our lives deeply and whom we will miss.  These are some of the faces that are firmly printed upon our minds and hearts.  

Ernie with Cesar, Alex and Doc 
At present (as most everybody already knows) we are returning to Canada, and we are 'in mourning' as we will be parting ways soon.  We are thankful for social media and the ease with which we can communicate with our GDL friends.  The world is so much smaller today.  

Lolita, Laura, Adri myself and Hilda
Four years of seeing most of these people, on a daily basis at the gym, plus the many social events on the weekends, has left a mark on our hearts.  These are friendships that we trust will last a lifetime.

 We continue to build on these friendships, we continue to give our hearts, and love.  We feel loved by them and I believe they know we care as well.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

As you have done unto the least of these...

Now you may look at this sign and think Sid is tooting his own horn.  But, if you know Sid, you know that that is not the case.

Every year, at the school at the dump, the graduating class picks a person to honor for their graduating class - obviously Sid got honoured that year for all his efforts.

It is truly amazing how this site has grown over the years.  From a small one building idea to a school yard with several (4) classrooms.

I have always been impressed by Sid Reimer and what he has done in Ixtapa.  But this time around I was impressed by different things.  I also saw more things at the dump then ever before.  So let me share what those observations were:

   1)  This video shows something that you can't explain easily.  Sid knows a half dozen words in Spanish yet he has accomplished amazing things.  While that is impressive...this video shows something else.  Those kids, up there, love Sid.  He has a relationship with them.  Love is shared without words, it is shared with actions.  It is felt.

Home #1
2)  Here are two homes close to the school.  You can see a difference.  Home #1 is not overly neat, or clean.  Home #2 has plants, even a fruit tree.  She is trying to make is nice.
Home #2
It sort of speaks to attitude.  You can always choose you attitude.  "I may be living in the dump but I have pride and will try to plant beauty around   me."

3)  Now a surprising thing I saw this time was that salesmen come up there! Amongst all the trash, people put up little stores to sell chips, drinks, etc.

4)  Again, Sid has half a dozen words in Spanish but he has relationships with everybody.  They know him and he knows them.  He greets everybody and stops to chat.  There is a sense of community right there amongst all the trash.

5)  This is what I observed this time around that I have never seen...the hopelessness.  The further down into the 'bowels' of the dump you go, the poorer and poorer it gets.  
 To see people, men, women, children & young people picking through the trash to earn a living in the hot sun is unbelievable.  I could see how they lack hope.  I can see why they think there is no point in sending their kids to school.  {Don't need school to pick trash}  

But at the same time, they are friendly and kind.  They wave as we drive by, they shout out a greeting and they smile.  You see children, barely clothed, running around and playing.  You see happiness, if one can dare to say that.  

picking through the trash amongst the buzzards
If your perspective on life is not changed after a drive through this area, you have a heart of stone.  We, in our western world, rarely see this sort of thing.  We can chose to write a check to donate and never lend a hand, a physical hand.  It is easier to write a check.

One can also have a hundred reasons why they aren't doing anything: too old, no time, no money, too busy, etc. etc.  But really those are only excuses.  Sid takes his holidays and gets active.  He is not the only one, there are many tourist who come alongside and help.  We can all help, little by little. 

When we visit Sid and Gladys we stay in the same hotel they do and we laugh and refer to it as a 1 Star Hotel.  After a morning at the dump, suddenly this same hotel has 5 or more stars!  Perspective. 

Pray for the people who live not only in Ixtapa at the dump but for the poor worldwide.  We often forget how much we have, how truly blessed we are.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018


Last week Thursday, the Reimer's and us, hopped on a bus and headed to Ixtapa, Guerrero, Mexico.

For those of you who have not visited might want to give it a visit.

We went to get some R & R and to visit our very good friends Sid and Gladys Reimer.

We most certainly enjoyed the pool, some great times of eating out, and visiting.

And, as only my husband can do...or so I think...much silliness.  {Spos mott senne}

John and Ernie can be a little crazy.  Probably helps to unwind!

So we relaxed in the pool, played some Frisbee, sat around and caught up on our lives, shared some challenges, and just got refreshed.

But, as per usual, we did not just sit around and relax.  Ernie is not a very good relaxer.  Plus he LOVES people.  He wants to see and talk to everybody.  So, while we came to visit with Sid and Gladys, we saw and visited a lot of unexpected people as well.

Apparently Ixtapa was the place to holiday for Manitobans this year.  We met all kinds. Our first night out we met a whole table of Steinbachers... Doyle and Raquel, Dorinda and Mike, Brent and a few more.  So of course we stopped to chat...till around 11 p.m.

Then we got together with Vic and Jayne.  We were hockey parents together for years.  They were with friends of theirs, so we did lunch.  Great catching up.  Some very meaningful discussions along the walk after lunch.

We even met some new 'old acquaintances'.  Staying just a couple doors down from us was a man who atended church with Ernie way back when (late 70s).

We went to a restaurant that is owned and operated by Manitobans from Rosenort.  Some great ribs.

Plus we went to Sid's heart ministry, which is the dump ministry, to see the school and the kids.  Just a blessing to see how it continues to grow, reaching more and more kids.

{But, I don't want to say too much about that because tomorrow I will do a separate post on the dump.}

So, while we went to rest, we didn't actually rest overly much.  We were able to enjoy the other foreigners for Sunday morning worship.  It was a beautiful place to worship God. Nothing like warm weather, palm trees and sunshine to bring your mind to how awesome God is.

Later that evening we enjoyed a time of encouraging one another in the ministry, with the pastoral couple from this church. It was a blessing to pray for one another.

So, while we are still not rested per se, we are refreshed.

 God is so very Good, always.  We always come away from Ixtapa, and visiting with the Reimer's (Sid and Gladys) feeling blessed and refreshed.  Ernie needs a little more of this...

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

HADIME equip his people for works of service, so that the body Christ may be built up...
Ephesians 4:12

The verse above it one of Ernie's favourite verses.  Why? Because he feels that this is his mandate.  To equip the saints, to teach and train others for service.  And he has done this most of his adult life.

The picture above is Ernie teaching at HADIME.  You are probably wondering what HADIME is? HADIME (click to go to their home page) is the Mennonite Bretherns' program here in Guadalajara for training in missions. Ernie has taught there before, and right now is doing it again.  

He loves this setting because it is mostly students from Latin America, which is loves.  He is teaching some of his favourite material, Evangelism, Cross-Cultural Adaption, Contextualization, etc..  

We, Ernie and I, plus those at HADIME, students and missionaries, Sandra Plett and Jen Schmidt, appreciate your prayers.  For Ernie, as he teaches while not feeling 100% (allergies), Sandra and Jen as they run the program, and the students as they learn.  

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Moving Right Along...

So things continue to happen.  Life goes on.  We are at a high level of emotions after a week of letting our friends know we are moving back to Canada.  The reactions have been varied.  Shock! Sadness.  Tears.  Some understand.  Some say, 'well, it just means we have farther to go to visit you.'

I have said more than once that this is not the first time for us.  When one moves you can do one of two things... open your heart to love and embrace those around you, or chose to live as an island with your heart closed.  With the second option, leaving is easy, because you didn't risk your heart.  With the first option, well, you set yourself up for a broken heart.

I opened my heart and life to these people and my heart is hurting.  I have been blessed with some wonderful friends, people who I consider family.  But with all the wonderful forms of social media I will continue to share my life and watch their's.  Not the same, but better than snail mail letters of yester year.

So, since I last wrote, we have continued with our studies and building into lives.
Chapis with Us
Our very dear friend Karina, lovingly referred to as Chapis (as she is short), dropped by one evening to talk about us leaving.  Ernie made a quick impromptu supper and we watched a little Jets hockey.

She is the TV personality/host for the winning soccer team here in Guadalajara. So she found it (hockey) interesting.  A little culture sharing.

 She later invited us to join her family on Super Bowl Sunday for a 'carne asada', meaning meat BBQ, and lots of it!

It was our first time in her home, meeting her family, parents, brother and sisters, in-laws, nieces and nephews.  We of course blessed them with some corn on the cob (yellow corn bathed in butter).  It was a huge hit.  Then I brought a trifle for dessert!

Another wonderful highlight for us was the birth of our friends' child.  We were invited to the hospital to meet baby David.

 Ernie is the one who loves babies and little kids.  But he was under the weather so I got to hold their little blessing from above.  Ernie played with his little sister, Natalia.

This is a lovely family from John & Connie's cell group that we have come to love and appreciate.

Sandra is in our Thursday morning study, which she got started.

Birthdays are always a huge thing here, as you remember from my birthday.

Mary Chuy comes to the gym with us.  Takes abdomen class with me, Danzika and tono muscular.  She gives it her all, even at 60!

She planned a party for a Friday evening, inviting the ladies from the gym, plus our instructor.

We ate (too much), we sang with the mariachi, we danced around the table and we laughed and laughed.  It was a wonderful evening with my friends.

Mary Chuy turned 60 

If these people have taught me one thing, it is the importance of relationships.  They have taught me how to care for one another.  They have shown me how to have good, clean, wholesome fun.  They have shown me how to enjoy life.

I will miss my gym ladies greatly.  I will miss the gym.  The working out till you are wet with sweat! The "AY Nelson", cause he has pushed us hard.

But, like I tell them often, when life throws changes your way, adapt.  There are good people everywhere.  It's all about attitude.

I have told them, "mi casa es su casa" (my house is your house).  Just please wait till I have one!  As right now I am homeless.  We will be moving in with our son till we find a place.  As soon as that happens...come!

And I remind them, Puerta Vallarta is a good place to take a winter holiday.