Friday, December 25, 2009

Making Memories on our Last Noche Buena in Mexico

Last night was likely our last Christmas Eve—Noche Buena—in Mexico…at least for a while.  We spent the evening with the Zendejas clan.  The Zendejas sisters have been following Jesus for many years.  They live across the street from us—we’ve been doing a lot of our life with them lately.  

It was a fun night—and una experiencia muy Mexicana

We arrived at the sisters’ house about 9:30 pm—the only non-family guests.  The night was chilly—probably in the low 50’s.  As people arrived, we were served snacks and ponche—a hot, fruity drink.   By about 10:00 a group of 35 or so family members had arrived each bringing food and gifts.  Amparo welcomed us all and after a couple of prayers, we ate supper about 10:30 pm—two or three types of tamales, a spicy meat dish called Birria, a corn based stew called Pozole, beans, rice, tortillas, and lots of desserts.  They asked Nancy to bring Lasagna—also delicious but not so Mexicana.  Lots of food!

After the meal, the kids had put together a skit re-enacting the story of Jesus’ birth and they performed it for all the adults.  Then the family did the traditional Posada—which is a re-enactment of Joseph and Mary looking for a place to stay in Bethlehem.  Several songs were sung.  At midnight, everyone began giving the Christmas abrazo (a hug and “feliz navidad”) to every other person in the house.  So theoretically, everyone was hugged about 35 or 40 times from 12:00 to 12:05! 

There were Christmas gifts for everyone and lots of candy for the kids.  The sisters had made sure that our family had gifts under the tree—something we had not expected.  Everyone had lots of fun. 

We made it home about 1:00 am or so…feeling tired but very blessed to have experienced this special night. 

Something tells me that we’ll be drawing on these good memories for years to come! 

¡Feliz Navidad!

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Blessed to be with Good Friends Yesterday

Yesterday several of us from 4 or 5 of the house churches met together at a park in the north of Guadalajara for a shared time of food, fellowship and fun.  After spending some time greeting one another and catching up in conversation, we began a time of singing and worship.  The children had worked up a rendition of the story of Jesus’ birth—cool to see them telling the story together.  We shared the Lord’s Supper and Gerardo gave an exhortation to the group on the importance of a life focused on Christ and our desire to grow together in 2010.  We spent the rest of the day eating and playing together.  A blessed day! 

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Monday, December 14, 2009

MAWLing at the Monthly Leaders' Gathering Last Night

I was encouraged last night as I sat with a group of house church leaders.  We try to all get together at least once each month.  Yesterday was fairly typical of these gatherings.  Everyone was with their particular church community in the 1st part of the day.  Several of the leaders then, gathered about 5pm at our house.  The main idea with these gatherings is to provide mutual encouragement and support for the leaders as each is involved in parenting spiritually a group of Christians—and usually also involved in helping several not-yet Christians in the journey towards Jesus.  The group tries to provide a safe environment for each to be honest about struggles and victories—and to encourage one another from Scripture—and discern God’s will as a group regarding different challenges—and spend lots of time praying together.  

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of the MAWL approach to leadership development.  Model.  Assist.  Watch.  Leave.  At this point in our ministry here and with our departure date coming up in a few months, we are trying to live squarely in the “Watch” stage.  We want to watch our Mexican brothers and sisters as they go about their life and ministry—and we want to be available to provide feedback and conversation along the way.  

Last night, I was encouraged to watch my Mexican brothers and sisters minister to one another.  It is cool to see so much evidence of growth and maturity.  I wonder what will happen in the years to come.  I continue to be hopeful!

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Renewing our Missionary Visas in Mexico City

This past weekend we drove the six hours over to Mexico City to renew our FM3 missionary visas.  In addition to getting the legal stuff done and coming away with Nancy’s and my little green booklets (our girls were all born in Mexico and have dual citizenship), we also got to spend a little time with fellow missionary families in Mexico City—Benjy and Carolyn Brednich, James and Erin Henderson, Ryan and Amanda Gray and Nelly Javier de Molino.  Besides working in church planting with her husband Israel, Nelly is also a lawyer.  She does a great job helping people like us get our legal status sorted out.  

Oh yes—we may or may not have eaten some tacos and ice cream while we were there!  

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

In Mexican News Today

I try to pay attention to the daily newspaper and radio.  A few of the headlines and stories that caught my attention from the Mexican news today: 

  • Money From Remittances Has Fallen 36% Since This Time Last Year.   Money sent by Mexicans living in the U.S. to their families in Mexico (remittances) is the 2nd largest source of income for Mexico—petroleum sales is first and tourism is third.  The Bank of Mexico says this is the largest decrease in history.  Experts here say that the pullback in the construction industry in the U.S. has hit Mexican workers in the U.S. 20.9% were employed in 2008.  Estimates say that 13 of every 100 Mexican migrants living in the U.S. are presently unemployed.  

  • For the 2nd time in 12 days, a key witness in a huge case against massive police corruption was assassinated yesterday in a Starbucks in Colonia del Valle in Mexico City.  (This is very near to the Sunset House).  He was supposedly in a witness protection plan. 

  • President Felipe Calderon is finishing the first half of his 6-year presidential term this week.  There is lots of talk about his accomplishments, failures and challenges as President of Mexico.  A few of the lists that caught my attention:

  • Key Priorities of President Calderon’s 1st three years in office:

  1. The war on drug cartels
  2. Energy reform
  3. Trying to offset declining oil revenues with a tax reform
  4. A national infrastructure plan

  • Great Problems Faced by President Calderon in his 1st three years in Office: 

  1. The world economic crisis
  2. The H1N1 influenza outbreak with its effect on Mexico
  3. The drop in revenue for Mexico as a result of health concerns—tourism has been hard hit
  4. The 2009 drought in Mexico

  • Main Accomplishments of President Calderon in his 1st three years in Office

  1. The criminal law reform in Mexico
  2. The pension reform for public servants
  3. Elimination of a corrupt public utility company in central Mexico
  4. His decision to combat organized crime head on is considered courageous by most everyone
  5. Educational equality reform
  6. The tax and energy reforms (though limited) are being considered accomplishments

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