Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Last days ....

Right to left: Omar & Sandra, us and Alejandra and Rick
So very many lasts...so many good byes.  While they have felt heart wrenching, we leave feeling so loved.

The photo on the left is of great friends, whom we love dearly, and will miss.

We originally met them through the Reimer's, as they attend their group. But they became very good friends of ours as well.

We enjoyed a lovely afternoon/ evening with them this past Saturday.  And oh, did we eat! Or should I say over-eat!?  We ate and laughed and enjoyed ourselves. A rich evening together.  Good thing is that Rick is from Rosenort, and Omar's mother lives in Ontario, so we will most definitely see them again!  Not to mention our desire to return to visit.

Then we decided to throw an open house, to give everyone one last chance to come and say good bye.  Not necessarily something we wanted to do ... be hugging and saying good bye again.  But letting go is hard, for both sides.

The invite was from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Like we may have been just a little crazy, but such is life. Our first guests showed up at 12 noon, and the last ones left at around 11:15 p.m.  Let's just say it was a long day, and then a short night.

Mexican's are crazy that way... they love a reason to party. Short nights and long days are par for the course.

So Monday it was off to the gym ... one more time.  Some more good byes. Then we headed home to pack up the last pieces.  You think you don't have much stuff ... not true!

Then, at 6 p.m., I headed back to the gym for one last class. My favourite instructor, Nelson, invited me to attend his Advanced Danzika class, and asked my regular class ladies to join.  So, for 45 minutes, I pushed my tired self through an advanced class.

I so remember my first class, thinking I would never get it.  Now, just over 3 years later, I can handle an advanced class.  It was fun.  I was proud of myself.

More good byes.  Headed home, so Ernie could pack up the car.  Then our friends came over to pack up their truck with the rest of our stuff.  Some more good byes.  Then I hit the hay ... exhausted.

We got up at 4 a.m.  Hit the road just around 5 a.m., along with Sergio and Claudia, and their daughter Sara. After a long day of driving, a speeding ticket, and a rude Immigration Officer, we got in the long line to cross the bridge in hopes they would let us take everything across without going through all of our stuff.  While in the line Ernie noticed a low tire, almost completely flat, which he began pumping up while in the lineup. We were then let across without a hassle! They asked a few questions and let us go. God went before us!

When we arrived at the hotel the boys were waiting!
Us with, Sergio, Claudia and Sara (friends from GDL who helped move, (our sons Mike and Chris),
and their friends Ian and Cy

While we were excited to see our boys, we went through another set of good byes.  Sergio and Claudia and their family have been such good friends.  They are evangelical believers, which gave us another connection.  We love them and will miss them greatly.  We are hoping their boys will visit this summer.



As you can see from the above picture ... our boys bring fun, laughter and much joy.  We have already made some good memories with them.  They have helped to begin the healing from the hurt of so many good byes.  

Tomorrow it will be 6 drivers, 2 vehicles, and 25+ hours of driving ahead of us.  See you soon... ... 

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

ADIOS


 This weekend began our group farewells...and groups they were.  The gym ladies threw me a farewell breakfast and 30 showed up! I was overwhelmed by the love of these people who I  see daily.  A speech was given by one of the ladies on behalf of the group.  I then responded to that, which led us all to tears.

Basically my speech is a version of the same.  I may have been invited to a gym (for exercise) but I actually got invited into a family.  That I was taking each one of them along in my heart.  That it hurt to leave but would hurt a little less once I was with my (blood) family.  I thanked them for their love, their acceptance, and for all the good times we shared.

That same afternoon the gym men threw a lunch for Ernie.  Again, a fairly large group came, and, being less emotional than women, they sat around, ate, and chatted.  However, Ernie's table turned into a deep discussion on religion, faith, etc.  One made the comment that it took till Ernie's departure for him to have this kind of discussion with Ernie.  

Saturday we had the whole gym farewell, and they threw us a spectacular party.  A taquiza for our meal (tacos), then they brought in a full mariachi band for two hours.  The last song they played was called "Las Golondrinas" (The swallows).  It is a teary farewell song, during which everyone could file by and say good bye.  Tears were a plenty. 

These are the people we have shared our lives with on a daily basis.  Sure, we went for exercise, but we were also a family.  We celebrated birthdays together, anniversaries, had field trips, etc, etc. We shared our lives with each other.

I have made the comment often, in recent weeks, that if you have never lived within a latin community you can not understand how they take you in, embrace you, love on you, make you one of them.  It is an overwhelming feeling.

Taking that into account, leaving this community is heart wrenching and painful.  While it is not the first time we have done this, it hurts the same each time.

It is double hard because our own culture is less like them.  We are more reserved, less embracing, and each person has their own 'personal space' factor (you can have one in Latin America but they don't respect it).

When they choose you, you are chosen.  We not only know them, but their children as well. They shared their families with us.  Parents, children, some aunts and uncles, grandparents.  It is a wonderful culture to live in.
The kids of our friends
 Then after two days of gym good byes ... we had a farewell by our neighbours.  Within our 'coto' (gated community) I was asked to join the ladies breakfast group.  We got together once a month to celebrate whoever had a birthday that month.  These ladies were wonderful and I love them a bunch.  
Now, while the ladies are good friends, the men never really got together.  Ernie became friends with most of them and therefore we made this a family event.  He also became friends with their adult children.  

So we had a lovely Sunday afternoon together with a fabulous 'carne asada" (bbq).  That means, barbecued meat, chorizo (sausage), onions, served with quesadillas, beans, guacamole, nopales (cactus), etc.  

While the meal was fabulous it's the people that make it special.  We also felt that Coto Los NaraƱjos was home.  We had a community where we felt safe, felt a sense of community and family.  This too will be missed.

So we are now on our last week.  Our final good byes are getting said, our boxes are packed, and our looking forward has begun. 

There is a saying here "El que mucho se despide pocas ganas tiene de irse" which means, 'he who says good bye often has little desire to leave'.  And that has been the case.  So we are throwing one last farewell to give people one last chance to say Adios.  
We will host an open house on Sunday, for the day, serving snacks.  It will be a long, emotional day, filled with tears and laughter.  

God is good.  He has been faithful.  We leave with holes in our hearts that will heal with time as we reflect on the good times.  And the world is smaller... so we'll stay in touch!! 

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

United we stand...

On Sunday we got together with a cell group for a farewell luncheon.  We were enjoying a wonderful afternoon together when a phone call came through, to one of the guests, asking for help - their house was at risk due to a forest fire!

Our group broke up quickly, the men went off directly to help, the women began to clean up and those who couldn't go to help, left. Within little time we were off.

The connection to the people, whose houses were at risk, was via a friendship through children who are dating.

It was increĆ­ble to try and help people who were extremely tired from having fought the fire for quite some time.  They were so touched that we came. It was an emotional event, which drew us all together, as we fought together against the same threat. Bonds were formed and strengthened.

Recently another event, on a much larger scale, did the same thing, but to a country. The Humboldt Saskatchewan tragedy brought Canada and beyond together.  The response to this event was monumental.  The hockey community pulled together with an outpouring of support.  It was covered in every social media site, news, T.V., etc.



My son made the comment that hockey was the greatest sport in that way, it was a community spanning teams, leagues, countries, etc.  There was a joining together, a solidarity.

I want to make a comment regarding that solidarity, that joining together, to help and give support.  

This is what the church is to be.  Jesus said that the world would recognize us by our love for one another.  Do they? Not only in tragedy, but in all aspects.  Do we join together? Do we support one another? Do we love so outrageously that people are amazed by us? 

Or do we argue? Do we fight? Do we dislike (hate) more than we love? 

Sadly I think we have failed to show the world how great it is to be a member of the family of God. I think we could be a better example to the lost world. Let's put aside our 'jerseys' and come together in solidarity to show the world what the Kingdom of God looks like.

In both cases: our response to the forest fire on Sunday, and the response to the Humboldt tragedy, I believe the better side of humanity was displayed, maybe even that part that reflects the fact that we are 'image bearers' (Genesis 1:26-27). Wouldn't it be great if we could see that side more often?



Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Nearing the End

As I sit here, outside on the patio, having breakfast and writing this blog...I ponder how this is soon to end.  This sitting outside and enjoying the wonderful weather, eating outside without bugs! Alas, all good things seem to come to an end.

We turned in our house at the end of March.  What a job that was! Going through our things, having thought we didn't have much! Trying to sort of pack, but needing some things.  Selling some things.  And then that least favourite part...cleaning!

Our neighbours made the comment that we sure were cleaning a lot, and that just isn't done here. They leave the house a mess, if not totally trashed, when they move out.  We left it so that you could eat off the floor!  We knew that they are coming in to paint, and fix some things, which would only mess things up again.  But, that is just how we do things!

So now we are settled into Reimer's house, as they are in Australia, visiting their children and grandchildren.  Why pay two rents when we don't need to?  It benefitted both of us. It is nice to have a bed again, not to mention a kitchen.  Our last couple of weeks we were on air mattresses and eating off disposable plates!

So, while we are in a state of deciding, keep it, gift it, or sell it, we continue on with our lives.  We go to the gym 5 days a week, mostly because that is where we see 'our' friends and want to do that as much as we can. We will miss this part of our lives a whole lot, the exercise and the people.

The exercise we can get wherever we are, technically, but not our coaches and instructors.  I will miss my classes even though they leave me done in.  I will also miss the ladies I take the classes with.

We also continue to get together with our study groups.  We were excited to graduate our Thursday ladies but are continuing with them till we return home.  We want to take the next little while to teach the rules of hermeneutics (how to interpret scripture).  They have grown so much that we want to give them all the tools possible to continue to study the Word of God.

We also continue with our Tuesday group. They are almost done book one of the TEE course on the Life of Jesus, based on the Gospel of Matthew.  They are a constant source of joy as they hunger to learn and grow.  They have asked to purchase the next two books before we leave and want to Skype us in on Tuesdays for now.

We have had some rich discussions together and have come to love them deeply.  We are excited about continuing to study with them across the miles.

Please pray for our friends as they continue to seek to grow their faith.

Our world is so much smaller and we can continue to encourage one another in our walks with Christ.

We are not counting the days yet but are very close to that being the case.

God has been faithful and will continue to be so, for he never changes, He is the same yesterday, today and forever.