Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Sometimes Actions Speak Louder than Words

I have gone to mass quite often since living in Guadalajara.  My reasons for attending have varied.  I have gone because someone has lost a loved one, I have attended infant baptisms, First Communions, and even mass prior to a birthday.

I love how Catholics go to mass to honour or to thank God for something.

The very first time I attended a mass here was for a first communion for the daughter of a friend.  The invitation stated the hour of the mass, which Parish it would be in, and then where and when the celebration (party) would be held afterwards.

I anticipated seeing all our friends from the gym at the mass, as they all tell us how Catholic they are.  Other than the family of the child whose first communion it was, one other lady from the gym was present!

But, for the after party/celebration...tons arrived for that! Was not the event the First Communion? Was not the whole thing religious? So why did most of them not attend?

The picture beside is from a Quinceañera we attended.  It too began with a mass.  Here too, the amount of people at the party, versus the amount who attended the mass, was very different.

I love the fact that there are many traditions and rituals, but it sometimes appears to evidence what we might call legalism or Phariseeism - bound to tradition but having forgotten the reason behind it.

Now, this is not a criticism of the Catholic Church.  I have attended beautiful masses, where the Priest has done a great job.  In the picture you can see the that priest is in front of the Quinceañera. He actually directed his talk to her.  He challenged her to guard her faith.  It was wonderful..

Whether one is evangelical or Catholic, one must guard their faith.  We need to make sure we don't just guard the traditions, but our faith as well. I sometimes liken the tradition to a Coke bottle, and the faith, or relationship with God, to the contents. You need the first to 'contain' the last, but there is no question as to which is the most important. We need to ensure that our faith is based upon Scripture and not on tradition.

I need to make sure that I am following Christ and not a tradition, or a person, or a 'religion'. I keep insisting, as I talk with people here, that it's not about religion but rather about relationship - a close, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, which changes my values, attitudes, and behaviour.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Cultural Differences

I am constantly amazed when living abroad.  I have lived in Latin America on and off for years.  I have live in Mexico for many of them.  But yet I often experience, or maybe rather notice, something new.

This weekend I went to a baby shower for my friend's upcoming grandchild.  Baby shower's are not something new for me; I have attended many.

My first observation about baby showers here was that I often got invited to them, when I did not even know the mother, sometimes never having even met her.

But, what I observed this time was that they have a baby shower for every child a mother has: first, second, third, etc.  We often only throw a shower for a first baby.

The next thing was that often the mother, or mother-in-law, hosts the baby shower for her grandchild.  I can't say that that is something we do in Manitoba.

They also go all out.  The place is all decorated; that's normal.  They serve a meal; not common in Canada.  We would more often have snacks.  They have a lovely, decorated dessert table, regardless if it is breakfast, lunch or supper.  They give party favours to all the guests.

My neighbour ladies who attended the shower
Standing is Tina, is the mother-in-law who hosted and her the very pregnant daughter-in-law
Lastly, they always know the gender of the child and have chosen a name.  I don't think that is common back home although maybe now it is.  In my day we wanted it to be a surprise and had names chosen for either gender.

This shower was hosted by my friend Tina, for her grandchild.  It is this couple's third child, all boys.  The child's name will be Iker. I had met the mother on a few occasions as I have attended some family events they have thrown.

It was a lovely morning.

On that same day, but in the evening, we attended a Quinceñera for our friends' 15 year old daughter.  We have attended many of these over the years.

A Quinceñera is the birthday thrown for a 15 year old daughter - it is a 'right of passage'.  A little like 'sweet sixteen' although much more significant (or a guy back in Canada getting his drivers licence).
Diane, Ernie, quinceañera en blue, her mother in pink, and the 'padrinos' - dad was busy when we took the pic
They usually thrown a huge party, often going into debt or saving for quite some time, in order to host it.  Depends of the economic situation of the family.

We have attended very elaborate ones and simple ones.

When I am at one of these, and I see a younger girl, I will often ask them if they want a big party like that.  I get varying responses, some say no, they would rather want a trip.  Some say yes, and then there are those that say they want both!

What I noticed this time around is that 15 is young.  She is a young lady but emphasis on young.

I noticed at this party that the young lady is highlighted in various ways.  She dances with her father and her God (padrino) Father.  Then she often preforms something.  I was at one where the young girl did aerial silk.  It was amazing.  This particular event the young lady danced with 3 professional male dancers.

This is what struck me, the way they danced.  The young men were older then her and you could tell they had practiced quite a bit.  Then they put her on a chair and danced for her!

 I thought it was maybe a little bit to much for a 15 year old girl, whereas everyone thought it was great!

But, a bit later, she danced with her father, her god father, and three other men.  They also had prepared this.  That was fun, but also something I can't see happening with my people back home but maybe it does happen...

Another thing I noticed again was how formal these things are and how Mexicans love to dress up.  I compare that to how informal we seem to have gotten back home.  I was shocked last time I was home to see people in shorts and flip flops at a wedding! NEVER, AND I MEAN NEVER, WOULD THAT HAPPEN IN MEXICO!

I have come to appreciate their love for formal events and their love of getting all dolled up.  The women often get their hair done and their make up professionally done.  Everyone always looks stunning.  Even the young people are all done up. Changes how people act.  It's nice.

So, we continue to learn and grow here.  We love so much about Mexico and its culture.  We will miss it tremendously.  

Coming Soon

Greetings my friends, 

We have enjoyed having some friends from Steinbach over for a few days - they had been spending some time down at the ocean (La Peñita) and decided to come to GDL to visit!  We are going to take them for breakfast this morning and then put them on the bus to return. 

 So, today it looks like the blog post will have to be posted a bit later in the day... I hope you'll check back! I'm hoping to share some cultural things I've learnt this week.   

I plan to describe a 'rite of passage',  a 15 year old's (female) birthday party, know as a Quinceañera....

...and a baby shower for my friend's grandchild... Iker

I should be back to get that up around noon.  See you soon...!