Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Balance and Belonging

Have I shared with you all how much I LOVE the food here??!?! Everything I have been served, I have loved. Muy muy rico, is a phrase that comes often from my lips. I am finally getting to the point where I feel somewhat comfortable down here. I have a sense of balance in my life and a place where I belong. This is not to say that God is not still stretching me and placing obstacles in my way. Many people have told me how impressed they are at how much Spanish I am understanding. I can usually understand what people say to me in Spanish, but actually responding to them is the difficult part. It is so hard to find the right word to use. I know this is common, though, because that is exactly how Sean and Lisa are.

I am getting excited about all the Christmas festivities at the church and within the community. We are planning outreaches to some orphanages, hospitals, the Tarahumara community, and the city center. Christmas events and community volunteering, what could be better!?!?!?

I have started meeting with Lisa, who is the pastor's wife, once a week. We are going through a study on spiritual gifts. I have enjoyed our time together of discovering knew things from Scripture. Spiritual gifts is something she is very passionate about, and something that I had not thought about too much. We are looking at examples from Scripture and investigating the strengths and weaknesses of each gift. This week, we did our study at Denny's! They even had menus in English, although we still had to order in Spanish. HA!

Soledad Light Shine has gotten easier since I first started helping them. Only the children who are sponsored are allowed to attend the program, but the other children have stopped coming and trying to participate. It was so sad to see so many kids who want to be in the program but are unable to be. We finally have name tags for all of the children which really helps. We are working on Christmas songs and a skit to present to their parents in December. I have enjoyed learning the Spanish version of Jingle Bells :-)



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

1 month down...

  Mexico has definitely been quite an adventure from trying to learn the language to all the different foods they eat and even the times in which they eat.  I think, after a month, I am finally starting to adjust. I wake up each morning around 8am and have breakfast, but the girls I am staying with do not wake up until almost 9:30 or 10. Mexicans are very relaxed about everything, especially on the time things start and end. No one really has to be in to work at a specific time. It is nice to have that time of quietness in the morning before my busy day begins. I work at the church every morning from 10:30 until around 2. I do all sorts of things: filing letters and other documents for the Light Shine ministry; cleaning the church; helping with the kids at Light Shine twice a week; organizing closets and storage areas; caring for the infants in nursery for Saturday evening services; making fancy coffees and baking for the cafe; and much more!

   My favorite part, so far, has definitely been working with all the Tahamarian children in the Light Shine ministry. It is so neat to see how eager they are to learn everything they can about the Bible. They are wild and crazy before and after Light Shine, but during devotion time, they pay very close attention and answer all the questions their teacher asks them. God is definitely doing a mighty work in this ministry! 

   I have also enjoyed getting to know all the different missionaries and church members here. They are all so loving and welcoming, as well as very understanding of my lack of knowledge when it comes to Spanish. I am learning some Spanish, but it is coming very slowly. I have the basic greeting down very well. They actually say, “Thanks be to God” at the end of their greeting. For a while, I thought they were saying goodbye because it sounds like “ gracias, adios” (thanks, goodbye)but it is separated as “gracias a Dios” (thanks to God). I also learned that the word “stupid” in English translates to a curse word in Spanish. It is not a word I say very often, but I made the mistake of saying it in a casual conversation with a native speaker who also knows English. He told me NEVER to say that word again! 

  Time has definitely gone by fast here. I cannot really believe I have been here for a month. I am definitely enjoying serving the Lord in the ministry down here. It is teaching me how my everyday life should be in full service to Him no matter what I am doing. Most days, I am doing basic clerical work that no one will every know I even did, but it is not any different in God’s eyes then working one-on-one with an indian child. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Week 2

It will be 2 weeks tomorrow, that I have been here in Chihuahua. The weeks have definitely gone by fast. I still feel like I just arrived. Things are slowly starting to feel more comfortable like their crazy hand shake with a kiss on the cheek (a normal greeting and goodbye) followed by, "Como esta usted?... Muy bien...y tu?...bien, gracias". All straight from the Spanish textbooks! I am also picking up little spanish phrases here and there. Food is "muy rico" which means very rich. I thought "me gusto" (I like) would be more appropriate, but apparently not. "Otra cosas"- other things..."tambien"- also... "hasta la vista" - see you later  (always makes me laugh when they say this). 

God is teaching me a lot already during my time here. Pastor Sean has been encouraging me to find my fulfillment in Christ alone; especially when I am feeling homesick or out-of-place. I am really trying to live that out. When I just want to go home, I pray to the Lord to fill that "homesick place in my heart". We as humans think it only natural to be homesick, but it is really an earthly desire, not a heavenly one. It is okay for me to think often about home, but not to desire it more that serving the Lord where He has placed me at this time in my life. 

I have been spending many evenings serving in Cafe 1040 which is attached to the church building and run by the church. It is an outreach to the community. I have played games like dominoes and cards with people that speak only Spanish. That is quite a challenge, but it always produces a lot of laughter and fun! I have also learned how to use the espresso machine and how to pronounce e-spress-o properly.

I will have to update more later. Hasta la vista ;-)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

1 week down...

I have been here for almost a week. God is definitely stretching me! That is really the only way I can describe my experience thus far. There hasn't been one moment where I haven't felt uncomfortable or out-of-place. The language barrier has been the most frustrating part for me. I have met so many neat people that I wish I could have a real conversations with. I keep reminding myself that it is only the first week. I know many spanish words and "forget" them when put on the spot by a native speaker. I know, with time, the words will flow more naturally.

Lots and lots of "firsts" for me. I tasted sushi for the first time when we went out for Lisa's birthday. I helped in Light Shine for my first time. I had my first service at Capilla Calivario. It was so neat to worship the Lord in English and Spanish! I ate at a road side stand for my first time with Marcos, Alma, and Fatima. I was so nervous that I would get sick, but thank the Lord I am still feeling fine! I cared for spanish speaking children in nursery for the first time. I got to practice by spanish reading books to them :-)

I don't really know what other things to tell you all about. Any questions...what do you want to hear about?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Officially in Mexico

Dad, Fran, and Bethany took me to the airport at 5 o'clock in the morning. When we arrived, I had a wonderful surprise. Zach, Amanda, and Mel were all waiting there to say goodbye before heading home from dropping off the Rafferty family. After a tearful goodbye (on Fran's part not mine), I headed towards security for my full body pat-down and leg x-ray! I enjoyed a delicious pumpkin muffin(baked by Janelle) while on the first leg of my journey. All of my flights went smoothly yesterday, and I arrived in El Paso at 11:50am. I waited at baggage claim to meet up with the Rafferty family and begin our ride into Mexico.

We made a few stops in El Paso and had to get a tire repaired as well. We crossed the first border where I applied for my 6 month visa (no, I am not actually staying for 6 months). I got my first taste of Spanish from a native Mexican, and was surprised at how much I understood! I was still glad that Lisa was there with me to help me out. The military check points were a bit intimidating. Men dressed in camouflage with machine guns across their backs made me feel a bit uneasy.

For the first few hours of my time in Mexico, all I saw was dessert land filled with dirt, yucca plants, and mountains in the distance. The sunset over the Rocky Mountains was gorgeous. I enjoyed the car ride, getting to know the Rafferty's better; their likes (asian food) and dislikes (mayo). They also taught me a lot about the culture of Mexico.

Today they took me to the church and gave me a tour. There was then a women's ministry meeting at the church where I got the meet the missionary women as well as some of the women of the church. Everyone is so welcoming, as well as understanding of my uncomfortableness and weak knowledge of the language. Rocio and Fatima took me to the local supermarket, which has a food court, for lunch.... green chili chicken enchilladas---delicious! They then took me back to their house where I will be staying for the next few months. I am now unpacked at ready to begin my Mexico missionary adventure.  I am sure I can only imagine what the Lord has in store for me!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Worshiping on Sunday at Open Bible was just like any other Sunday there...announcements, worship, sermon, special music, etc. Yet the whole time I could not help but think about how I do not have many Sundays left here. As amazing as I am sure it will be in Mexico, I know I am going to miss everyone at Open Bible so much the next few months. It was my last time to share in the Lord's Supper with my church family until New Year's Eve. Sundays will be very different. I will not be greeted by people I have known nearly my whole life. Faces that I look forward to seeing week after week after week. I truly treasure my church family, but I know that Mexico holds new faces for me to meet and learn from.

Friday, September 2, 2011

17 days and counting!!!!

Booking my flight today. This cannot really be happening?!?!?!

I am going to work with a missions group in Chihuahua, Mexico for 3 months. This group felt called to bring God’s love to this region of Mexico 4 years ago, to a population of Indians who have no word for “love” in their own language. The common occupation for the women and children is begging on street corners to feed their families because the men are not present in the homes to provide. There is also strong racist resentment from the Mexicans and these native Indians. The missionaries started a church to reach out to both groups and help bridge the gap between the Mexicans and Indians. The church, Capilla Calvario, ministers to the people through a worship service on Sundays, a children’s ministry two days a week, women’s and men’s Bible study, and a cafe which is open normal business hours throughout the week. The missionaries did not expect to see any adult come to know Christ is less than 10 years, but God saw fit to bring 3 men to Christ within the first 4 years. I am so excited to go down to this community and see, first hand, the amazing things God is doing to bring His light into this once dark city. 

This world needs Jesus, and God calls us to go out and be disciples to the nations of the world (Mark 16:15 ). Yes, there are ways to share God’s love in the United States, but at this time, God is calling me to minister to the Tahamurara Indians of Mexico. I have been trying to make my own community my missions field, just as we all should. I have served in soup kitchens, nursing homes, shelters, and assisted with various church activities/groups. It is so neat to see how God can use you on an everyday basis if you are open and willing. Now, it’s time to take things I have learned here to a new longitude and latitude. 

I covet your prayers and emotional support during my time in Mexico. Keep checking in here for more updates!!!