18.12.08

Romance, discontent, brokennes, renewal

As the title suggests, I have a lot on my mind, and I'm going to try to make this coherent.

Everyone has something that distracts them. Well, actually, I believe everyone has several things that distract them... Yet I've come to know that the biggest distraction for me is one that I believe is very common: romantic relationships. I'm not exactly referring to being *in* a relationship and being distracted, seeing as I have only been in one legit relationship in my entire life. Instead, I build dreams around people when I see the potential, and those dreams become distracting. When I see that they aren't being realized, when I still feel lonely, then comes something that is very, very unhealthy.

Discontent. I don't feel depressed or despairing or anything that dramatic, just this dull discontent that robs my joy and thankfulness. No wonder envy is referred to as idolatry. When I feel discontent with my current state of being, it is the most difficult to praise God, really. It's almost as though I can't think of things to be thankful for nor to ask for - everything just seems hollow, and I'm terrified that I won't receive whatever I believe will make me happy.

And then it happens. The *it* is a little different every time, and maybe that's why it's called brokenness. Suddenly, the hope of my fill-in-the-blank dream disappears with a horrible snap and I'm left with heavy disappointment.

This has happened countless times in my life (and I'm sure in yours too) but very specifically, I'm referring to the loneliness of a broken dream of being *with* someone. It doesn't matter who broke it. I remember the first time I experienced this: I was 10, and my response was intense bitterness. (Got started early, eh?) Then at 14, I cried for what seemed like hours in my mom's arms, sobbing "I don't want to let go" again and again. Then after highschool, overwhelmed by guilt and curled up crying alone. A few years later, less tears, a bit more trust. Again, and again.

The most recent time was the same pain, the same self-given lies, the same loneliness, but more than ever I became aware of this strength that was most definitely not my own. Maybe it's because we'd just been studying brokenness, maybe it's because of the Leeland song I'd been listening to, but I remembered, I experienced a healing even in the midst of the pain. The verse in Lamentations comes to mind, "The Lord is my portion says my soul; therefore I will hope in him."

Even in the wake of broken dreams, there is a hope that God is ever-present, God is good, and God only does good things in my life. Sometimes good things don't feel good. But how can I know what the outcome of any given situation would be? Maybe God is protecting me from a worse pain. Maybe he is preparing me for something even deeper.

Or maybe he can just take any situation, no matter how ugly or stupid, and use it to remind me that he is enough and I can trust him.

Jesus cried in the garden, knowing that God could take away his suffering on the cross. Yet he trusted him to the end. God wants me to be conformed to this very image, a daughter who cries out my deepest longings even while I trust that his will is more perfect than mine, and I can and will submit.

I'm afraid I'm not explaining myself well. God isn't pleased by discontent or betrayal or any sin, of course, but like I've said before, just because something is evil, doesn't mean God can't bring good out of it. Just because God can bring good out of it, doesn't make it any less evil.

The point is, even through my ugly weakness of loneliness and my perhaps silly repeated dreams of finding the person I'll spend the rest of my life with, God is my strength. Even when I feel like I keep making the same mistakes and feeling the same disappointments, I can see that in reality I am in fact growing, just like he promised.

And that strength in weakness, that constant presence and unfailing love that no one else in this fallen world can offer me (that I can't offer anyone else), that saving grace, it all makes me fall in love with this God even more, trusting him with everything.

The cycle will begin again, like the moon waxing and waning, like summer to autumn to winter to spring. But every time, I learn something new. I'm conformed. I grow. And that makes the brokenness worth it. Maybe it'll be a different situation someday, but the same hope will prevail.

I'm sure of it.

13.12.08

New Videos

Sorry it took so long, but I have about 15-20 new videos from the past few months on my youtube. And a newsletter is coming soon!

10.12.08

La Santa Muerte

I had a brief and interesting conversation with our taxi driver tonight. Our coordinator Sean likes to ask taxi drivers about the things they have in their taxis, so I thought I would ask our taxista Roberto about his many images of La Santa Muerte, or the Sacred Dead. She is like a grim reaper, and there's a very large subculture here that worships her. I'd never actually talked to someone who did, so I thought this was a good opportunity.

"Is this the Sacred Dead?" I asked.

"Yes, I have several." (Pointing to the other images.)

"Are these things that you use to worship, or do you just think they're cool, or what?" (He also had a cross, so I was curious.)

"Oh yes, we woship her, she is like a little angel that protects us."

"So are you Catholic?" (Pointing to the cross.)

"Yes, yes I am."

"Oh, I don't really know much about religion in Mexico, so I didn't know that the Sacred Dead was a part of Catholocism."

"Well, the Catholic church rejects her, and lots of other religions too, but it's like God is good, and demons are evil, and she's in the middle, neither good nor bad. So she can help us. And what religion are you?"

"Oh, I'm Christian." (He asked if I had been at church, so we talked a bit about the small group we had just left.)

"So you guys don't believe in the Sacred Dead?"

"Well, no. We believe that the only mediator we need is Jesus Christ, like the Bible says."

"Oh yeah, well, Jesus tells you to follow him, to come to him. The Sacred Dead doesn't say that. We can just do what we want and she protects us. But I respect all religions. I mean, you talk about religion or politics, you're going to disagree right?"

And that was about it. I still find it so amazing that we as people all over the world seem to have no problem whatsoever hanging our crosses next to our idols, whatever form it may have. But what really struck me about this man is how honest he was about not wanting to follow Jesus, even if he wanted Jesus to be a part of his religion. But the thing is, following Jesus isn't a burden - it isn't easy, but it's a life of love and hope, a life that lasts.

Good and evil, God and Satan, they're not equal opposites. Jesus conquered sin and death - if we follow him, we have no need to fear the other powers of this world. I think we all need to be reminded of that.

30.11.08

"This world is not my home..."

So last night I was thinking -

It would take several lifetimes to experience all of the beauty this world has to offer: all of the food, all of the music, all of the places to see, all of the things to do...

and all of the people,

not just to meet, but to really get to know. How many people are there in your life that you wish you could get to know better? I have hundreds, and yet I still go on meeting more. I have good friends on every continent, and though some are there only temporarily, who knows where we'll end up next? On top of that, there are people in my life that I could spend just about every day with and it would never be too much; they're just that special to me.

And not even just spending time with people, but learning and sharing things: history, culture, language,

God's Word.

And then I think of heaven - life, forever.

Not just with the beautiful things God made and the amazing people he created but in the literal Presence of God Himself, completely and absolutely free from all the worries and fears and anxieties and pain and evil desires that plague us on this earth fallen from grace.

And I think, I love life so much that I almost want to die.

***

"For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."

"Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure."

"...waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ..."

***

As I wait, I want to be one of those people that I look up to, those people that are absolutely teeming with life that people can't help but notice, not vainly but beautifully, and showing others how to be the same. God is here now, here with us, here in us,

but it will be better later.

And that is hope at it's truest, it's best.

19.11.08

Easy vs. Good

These four words have been on my mind lately: trust, patience, self-control, and joy.

There are two specific ways I'm learning these things:

1) I don't want to complain anymore. It's so easy to just sit around and complain, and it seems fun when everyone else is doing it, but afterwards I get the feeling after watching a whole episode of fill-in-the-blank sitcom or eating way too many cookies - aka, gross. What's easy usually isn't what's right. I just wish I could realize what I'm doing before the conversation is over and I have that gross feeling.

2) I've been starting to think about "after AIM" again - where will I be? How in the world will I be able to work, go to school, and be as involved with ministry as I'd like to be? And so on. It's times like these when I like to remember that one of God's names is Yahweh Yireh, meaning God will provide. God sees what I need, sees what I want, and most importantly, sees what's best for me. I can pray, asking for things that I want, that I think would be best, with complete confidence. I don't have to be afraid of a no, because if the answer is no, then he has something better for me. I don't have to be afraid of a yes, because if he says yes that means this really is what's best. I don't have to be afraid of a wait, because that way I get to keep seeking, keep asking, and keep knocking - aka, patience. Again, this isn't easy, but it's good. I have a God who cares about me, who loves me, and who is powerful enough to take my anxieties (and even my mistakes) and make them into something beautiful. 1 Peter 5:6-7 is really cool.

In the end, easy doesn't mean good, God is good, and I'm thankful.

14.11.08

My new schedule

Just thought I'd let you guys know what my week looks like these days. :)

Sunday: Meet with the church at 10:30 until about 2:00, eat lunch, then sometimes free time sometimes projects with the future Santa Ursula Coapa church plant.

Monday: AIM day - the whole team is together basically all day; we have a class with Sean, eat lunch together, and sometimes do something else fun. This week we're going to a water park south of the city. Then Diego and I study the Bible (the Gospel message) with Momoko at 7:30.

Tuesday: Spanish class from 9:00 to 1:00. Study the Bible (Colossians) with Nancy in San Andres at 3:00, get home about 6:30.

Wednesday: Study the Bible (1 Peter) with Tab from 8:00 - 9:15 ish. Study English for an hour with Lupita at 9:30. Brownbag - the whole team eats lunch together (take turns who makes it or going out) and prays together from 12:00 - 4:00. Study English with Grecia for an hour at 5:00. Small group at Norma and Alfredo's from 7:00 til about 10-ish. (Very busy day haha)

Thursday: Still kind of a question mark. We don't have group this night anymore because they combined on Wednesday, and I'm still looking for a service project for the morning. But I study English at 3:00 with Rosa and 5:00 with Grecia.

Friday: Day off! Get things done, hang out with people, etc.

Saturday: Study the Bible (Colossians) with Diego at around 10:00 and plan our study for Momoko. Sometimes we'll have a service project with Santa Ursula. Youth small group 4:00 til about 6:00; every other week girls and guys are split up.

Every day I try to set aside time to pray for an hour and have my own personal Bible study (right now, 1 John and the will of God). I probably spend too much time on the computer, but I love keeping in touch with all of my loved ones, like you! Of course I have to keep up with dishes, groceries, sweeping floors, etc. as well. There are also nights that you'll find me in Chutney's bed keeping her awake with questions or my own dilemas haha.

And that's my life in a nutshell. :)

9.11.08

Our field presentation video for the current AIM class in Lubbock

My blog wouldn't let me embed this video, but here's the link. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7825758901659392670

Thanks Sean for uploading it. If I'd tried to put it on youtube it would've taken 4 installments.

8.11.08

Just a little bit about church planting

We just had our second meeting tonight with the two families living in Santa Ursula Coapa (a small area of the city with about 300,000 people) about our desire to plant a church there. It's so exciting to see their excitement and ideas for reaching out to the people in their own neighborhood. I've never been involved in something like this before, so I felt pretty overwhelmed at first. As time went on however, I remembered that we're really just following God in the work that he's already doing, so I don't have to worry. A lot of prayer is going into this (I invite you to be praying too) and I'm excited to see what people we'll meet, what lives will change, how this will help me grow myself.

So, these are our plans for the moment. Once a month, on either a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, all of us (the two families, me and the boys, and Sean's family, plus anyone else in the church who wants to be involved) will do some sort of activity together in the community. Our first plan is to clean up this neglected park. Next we want to have a prayer night where we invite people from the community so that we can pray with them. Sometime we would like to sing together in the park. Before Easter, we want to have a showing of the Jesus film that's directly based from the book of Luke. We're going to have the AIMers of this class in Lubbock hand out flyers during their Mexico trip in February. Sean has done this before in three other places and it has always been successful.

We AIMers are going to do interviews with the people, asking what needs they have, their story, and really anything they want to tell us. This is a good way for us to get to know people and get ideas for how we can serve them better. Service matters most when you first listen to the needs of the people. Also we would like to hand out more invitations to the two small groups in that area and go on prayer walks throughout the colonia.

We have a billion other ideas, but these are our ideas we'll impliment first. I really love the families we're getting to work with, and I'm totally confident that God is already in this place. I'm so amazed to be able to work with him on something so precious. Pray for us!

29.10.08

Come alive

I just did an English class with Grecia (English class sounds so... formal. Really we just read and listen to fun things that I can sneak in good Biblical conversation easily. haha) and we listened to a couple of Foo Fighters songs. The first one is called Let It Die, and we talked about how she feels about death, why a lot of people blame God for their loved ones' deaths and so on, especially appropriate right before Mexico's infamous holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Then I asked her if there was any hope for a person like this, angry about death.

Next song, Come Alive. Here's the lyrics (more or less):

Seems like only yesterday, life belonged to runaways -
Nothing here to see, no looking back.
Every sound, monotone. Every color, monochrome.
Light began to fade into the black.
Such a simple animal, sterylized with alcohol;
I could hardly feel me anymore.
Desperate and meaningless, all filled up with emptiness,
Felt like everything was said and done.

I laid there in the dark and I closed my eyes.
You saved me the day you came alive.

Still I tried to find my way, spinning hours into days,
Burning like a flame behind my eyes.
Drown it out, drink it in, crown the king of suffering.
Prisoner, a slave to the disguise.
Disappear, the only thing bittersweet surrendering -
Knew that it was time to say goodbye.

I laid there in the dark and I closed my eyes.
You saved me the day you came alive.
No reason left for me to survive.
You saved me the day you came alive.

Come alive...

Nothing more to give - I can finally live. Come alive.
Your life in me - I can finally breathe. Come alive.

I laid there in the dark, opened my eyes.
You saved me the day you came alive. Come alive.

***

So then we talked a lot about hopelessness vs. hope. Here are the verses I had her read:

Isaiah 53:1-6 > Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant,and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Matthew 27:27-31 > Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

Matthew 28:1-10 > Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you. So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, Greetings! And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me

John 11:25-26 > Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?

And so, I said that this song makes me think of all of these things. "I understand if you don't believe this, but the Bible is reliable history, and this is where my hope comes from." Like the man in the song went from hopeless to full of life, that's what these things mean to me. "It's a good thing to think about," I told her.

And she agreed. We'll see someday what she concludes.

22.10.08

A few things I've learned over the last couple of years:

Just because something is evil, doesn't mean God can't bring good out of it. Just because God can bring good out of it, doesn't make it any less evil.

There is never any reason to be defensive. If I'm right, then light will manifest the truth, so I should continue to walk in that light. If I'm wrong, then light will manifest the truth, and instead of defending myself, I need to change and continue to walk in that light.

Just because something isn't perfect, doesn't mean it's broken. The only person I can completely trust always is God - not myself, not my family, not my best friends, not my boyfriend, not my leaders. Everyone fails - love never fails. Failing isn't something to be paranoid about or something to be crushed over. Let love drive out all fear; let sorrow be godly and bring forth repentance; let myself be purified and grow; let God deny the proud and give grace to the humble; let Satan be the liar and the Holy Spirit be the counselor.

Never, ever, ever be manipulated. God gave me choices in my life, and it's my privilege to make them.

Friends come and go, and that's ok. Be a good one to everyone, and have a few that I never leave behind. Be grateful for past ones and enjoy them when the opportunity arises. Don't try to be best friends with every single person I'd like to be, because that is simply not possible.

Listen to God's word, and stop worrying so much about my own opinions and everyone elses'. It's impossible to please everyone, impossible to know myself completely, so spend time learning about God and his (the only) truth, and I'll find what I was meant to be in the first place.

Hope in Christ is the very best thing in the world. Don't be ashamed.

Never stop learning more and more about God's glory, i.e., love. Never stop learning, period.

20.10.08

...and things got really crazy.

So I guess it's been almost a month since I updated this thing - since then, I've finished Spanish classes, gone to the beach, gone to Cuernavaca, said goodbye to Jacob and Amanda, gone to Lubbock, and had a meeting with Sean and Jeni about my ministry focus. Of course I'm not going to talk about all of those things, but here's a bit to share.

Lubbock was wonderful. I really wasn't expecting much since I knew it wouldn't be the same without my classmates, but meeting the new AIMers was so fun, and seeing some of the assistants was sooo good. I got to stay with Ginger (she's like one of my favorite people ever) and I spent a lot of time with Lily, Thomas, and Beth too. The presentation went well - they liked our video, asked good questions, and some are already saying they want to come. I really hope we get a new team next year, and I think we probably will.

Talking with Sean and Jeni was really good. My main focus here, at least over the next several months, will be one-on-one Bible studies. I already have several of these, whether it's LST or just straight-up Bible in Spanish. I also want to integrate more service projects into my work here. I'm going to start focusing on the area where Sean and Jeni and a couple of other families here want to plant a church, so I'll start/keep going to the two small groups in that area and try to find some work to do in the community center there.

I've kind of taken a break from reading 1 & 2 Thessalonians to read 1 John, 1 Peter, and James. But I did look at Thessalonians again last night and wrote down all the things Paul prayed for - there are a lot, and they're all very inspiring. I think the one that stood out the very most is 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 > "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word." I need comfort here sometimes, and I definitely need to be established in the work I do and the words I say.

Pray for me, and for our team. Things are hard sometimes, but God's weakness is greater than our strength.

30.9.08

Brownbag letter, #3

(Letter I just sent to the current AIMers in Lubbock)

I really meant to write last week, but totally forgot. This will be random, but I’ll try to make sense.

September 15th was so awesome – Mexican Independence day is nothing like ours, kind of like a mix of Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, and a cheesy Mexican costume party. We had a great time with the families from the church.

In other news, I’ve absolutely loved the response letters from you guys (thanks!) but one thing I will mention is don’t forget to tell me who you are. One person wants me to email them, I don’t know who. And Q, I need more than one letter to friend you on facebook. Haha.

Last week was rough (more on that someday) but I’m so happy right now for many reasons:

1) I’m coming to Lubbock soon! Chutney, Toby, Tiffany, Sean (my coordinator) and I are coming for the field presentation. You guys have already heard a few of these, and I know it can get really overwhelming, but when it comes to teams and fields I’ve been remembering what Lily said to us recently, “God doesn’t make mistakes.” So keep praying and everything will work out for the good. (Romans 8:28-29 – read it!)

2) I’m almost done with Spanish classes at the university! I really thought I was going to fail my oral final today, I was all shakey and nausious (maybe that’s why Toby calls me Hermione…) but it went really well and now all I have to do is the written part (way easier) before I get to just take one day a week of classes. If you can’t tell, I’m really excited to not be stuck on a bus for 2 ½ hours everyday anymore. However, I did make some really amazing friends in my Spanish class, which leads me to...

3) God brings opportunities where we never thought would be possible. Diego and I are going to start studying with our classmate from Japan, Momoko. She asked if she could come meet with the church with us, but I think it probably confused her more than anything seeing as she knows virtually nothing about Jesus, Christianity, the Bible… pray for us! I have a new LST student who was my classmate too, also from Japan named Junko (Joon-koh). And lastly my classmate from Kansas named Eli invited me to go to her mosque. She’s Sufi (mystic) Muslim. I loved going with my friend and learning more about her faith, and now she wants to come to small group with us sometime. You’ll learn this from Chris Swinford if you don’t know already, but take every opportunity, even if it seems strange, to reach out to people.

Shout outs:
Ginger: I’m SO excited to stay with you soon and to hear you laugh and say “What??” at the same time, just like always.
Alisha: I’m trying I promise! Can’t wait to see you!
Kris: I’ve been reminded lately of how much I appreciate you. Sorry about your foot. Thanks for all the emails – they really help.
Lily: Thank you for… well, everything.
Charlie: Oklahoma is OK! Or in my opinion better than ok… but yeah I’ve never actually been to Stillwater, sad times, but I miss Tulsa a whole lot. Represent!
Ramiro: I’m doing really well, thanks, how are you?
Brandon: My favorite color is rainbow. What’s yours?
Joe Tipps: You’ll always be an assistant in my heart. (awww… not sure what that means but it’s true) I love you!
Angel: (I think that’s your name, hard to read.) My favorite food here is chicken tostadas. Yours?
Megan: Your pictures are beautiful, keep them up!
EVAN!!! (…)
John and Rachel: I was going to chastise you for not writing me, but then you did, so now all I have to say is, good job! Can’t wait to see you guys.
Ryan: Thanks man, but I honestly hope I do change, you know, keep growing and stuff.
Rachel Holler: I LOVE YOU!
Ben Walker: Mexico is a lot like India in some ways, it’s pretty crazy.
To everyone who’s praying for me/us: Thank you so much! Knowing that there are people praying for you is one of the hugest blessings – remember that when you feel weak.

Ok this is way too long but I love you everyone and I will see you soon!!

27.9.08

Pictures and things





























So here are just a few fun pics from our "Noche Mexicana." First is me with my patriotic rainbow forehead (Chutney's great idea :D). Then is Toby with Luis from the church, and their ridiculous mustaches. Next we have us AIMers with some of the Hernandez family who hosted the night; top, l-r: Oscar, Norma, Chutney, me, Tab; bottom, l-r: Toby, Diego (whose hat says 100% guapo, or hansome, made by Sara), Zane, Sara, Buenaventura, and at the very bottom Eunice. And lastly me with a stickless sparkler - their fireworks (cuetes) are soooo scary! I mean that one wasn't so bad, but they have huge bomb-like ones, not to mention things like roman candles and bottle rockets that they do all kinds of dangerous things with. Yikes.

Well it's been awhile since I wrote much, and this week has been long. We're almost done with Spanish classes at UNAM (yay!) and I'm going to start studying with Chutney, Toby, and the two other AIM girls with Marco, a private tutor who taught Sean Spanish, once a week. That will really help give me more time with people here, and Marco's a really good teacher. Diego and I are going to study the Bible with one of our Spanish classmates from Japan, Momoko. Please pray for that because she knows absolutely nothing about the Bible or anything and so that's a little intimidating to teach someone that new! She's coming to worship with us tomorrow. I'm also going to start LST with another classmate from Japan, Junko (pronouced Joon-koh). Tonight I'm going to the mosque with a classmate from the US who is Sufi Muslim, Eli. She's fun to talk to and I'm interested to go. So in other words, we really have had a good time with our classmates and I hope these relationships continue to grow.

On a harder note, some relationships on our team have been really strained lately. Somehow since high school I tend to find myself in the middle of conflicts such as these. Things are getting a lot better, and I'm very confident that everyone will be reconciled soon, it's just been hard for me to be in the middle when I there's nothing I can do to "fix it" and it's impossible meet someone's expectations. I know all of this is way vague, and I'm sorry, but if you could pray for our team's relationships that would be awesome. We came wanting to be a family (well, because we are). I know that families fight sometimes, it's just never fun.

Ok that's all for now, Chutney and I are going recycling before the mosque, haha. I love you everyone.

18.9.08

New videos

I still need to put pictures up here like I promised, but if you look on my youtube (brettincasie) you'll find new videos from the fiesta. :)

17.9.08

A post from my sister

Some of you have probably already read this, but my sister Lerin had a story on her blog about my niece and I just had to share it too:

A few weeks ago, I was shopping at Wal-Mart with Isabella. I try to take one of the girls to the grocery store with me and leave the other two kiddos at home... it doesn't sound like much, but it DOES give us one-on-one bonding time.

As we made our way down the juice aisle, I saw him. He had a cowboy hat positioned low on his brow, and his face was pink and scarred... horribly disfigured from what appeared to be awful burns. His face... it looked painful. My stomach hit my feet as I heard Isabella begin in her cheery high-pitched voice..."Mommy! Look!" she said, with one finger pointing at the poor cowboy.

I braced myself for a question or comment, sure to reach his ears and sting his spirit.

She smiled and waved, as she shouted: "I like that cowboy! I will kiss his ouchies on his face and put bandaids on him. I love him. I will sing for him..."

My eyes filled with tears. When I saw this poor elderly man, all I saw were his burns. But my baby Bella... what she saw was a hurting cowboy who needed kisses and a song.

Lord, help me see the world through the eyes of my baby girl. Help me see and love people as she does.

As I went back to school today, I made my way through the usual crowd at the metro station, and I noticed more beggars than usual today. Lately I haven't had my usual supply of food to give out, and I wondered as I passed by, do I want to give these people something because I really care about them or just because I feel uncomfortable? And as I wished I could do more, I examined my heart. I still don't have answers, but I, like my sister, want to have a genuine love for all hurting people, a love that manifests itself in actions as well as words. Pray for us all to have wisdom as we love people in that way.

16.9.08

rambleramble

So we just finished a two-day long celebration of Mexican independence. I definitely didn't understand how big of a deal this holiday is until I experienced it myself. Imagine a very enthusiastic combination of Thanksgiving and New Year's with lots of stereotypical Mexican dress and music, plus a lot of shaving cream... then you might understand how amazing this holiday is. haha. I have some videos I'll be posting soon. I'll put a few pictures on here too once people get them on facebook.

To finish out our four-day weekend some of us watched Across the Universe which initiated this train of thought:

One thing (there are many) that links all people everywhere is the fact that we all suffer in some way or another. One thing (again, there are many) that makes these people different is how they perceive and respond to this suffering. Is it God's will? Is it my fault? Is it fate? Is it because of those people over there? And the responses can vary between drowning in suffering, worshipping it in a sense; denying it, running away; participating in it; fighting against it; accepting it for what it is and trying to live anyway. No person responds in just one way all the time, and no person assumes the same cause every time, but certain trends can be learned from religion, culture, or life experience.

I don't necessarily have any conclusion to these thoughts, except that we shouldn't ever downplay others' suffering. Someone may be totally different from you, but they still hurt sometimes, and that's one thing that makes you both human beings. How do you respond? And how do you respond to the suffering of others?

More on this later I think. I should at least try to go to sleep now. As an update, I really did get sick, missed a couple more days of school, and even though I'm on antibiotics my ear still hurts and I still sound like an old smoker woman. Sad. Here's to hoping I really get better soon...

10.9.08

Home(s)

Everyone has heard the saying, "Home is where the heart is." Kind of cheesy I suppose, and if that's true than I have homes all over the world, places I've never even been before. I like how Coldplay says it better - "Home's places we've grown." That makes more sense. I feel like I have many homes, all of which I miss, and the reason I feel like it's home is because something there changed me profoundly, makes me who I am now. Some of my "homes" I've only ever actually visited, but I still feel this link that I believe will never go away. And I'm ok with that. I think it's a good way to be.

I've been thinking a lot about home lately, but the difference is this time it's not sad. I listen to music, think Lubbock! Tiffany bakes some amazing fish, think Mama/Tulsa! Angela writes me an email, think Carrollton! and so on. I still miss these places, but at this moment it's not with an intense sadness, just with a fondness. I think that's healthier.

Home is people too. Yesterday we had the privilege of hosting the Guadalajara team, and even though they were only hear for 24 hours, it was well worth it. They had to work on visas, but we went with them, and they came to our small group last night too. They're some of my closest AIM friends, so it was really good for me to spend time with them.

Home is tradition as well. Today the AIMers from Guadalajara and both Tlalpan teams sang together with our coordinators. I had this really dorky thought about fantasy-type stories like The Hobbit, how they sing songs about their history, their values, their heroes. These songs are at the root of who they are, as a people. And in a way, isn't that what we do too when we get together and sing songs about Jesus? Sure, they're praises and prayers, but also they are our story, they make us who we are, and we remind each other of these things while we sing.

Well, I think I'm starting to get sick (just a cold, no worries), but I still think I should go to bed extra early tonight. I skipped school today, I don't want to have to miss it tomorrow.

8.9.08

Hard to say

It's been awhile since I wrote last for two reasons - I've hardly had time to even go on facebook, let alone write a blog; I somehow still feel like I have nothing much to say, and anything I have been thinking about is either too incomplete or not blog-worthy. I still feel this way, but I'm forcing myself to write this now, and I hope it goes well.

I'm so tired politically. I listen to lots of different people with lots of different views, people who are intelligent and whom I respect. I read BBC and watch a few interviews here and there. And it seems that the more I research and discuss, the less I know. I think for so long I didn't much care at all, and now that I want to care, I'm too far behind to make sense of anything. And the hard part is Mexicans and other people from different countries are always asking us who we're voting for, why, what we think about this or that, and I'm just tired. I don't believe in world peace, but I don't want to participate in world violence. Is there another way? I could go on, but like I said, I'm tired of this, so I think that's enough for now.

As I mentioned before, I'm going to Lubbock with some of my teammates in October for our field presentation, and we're all working together on our video. One of my topics for the video is religion, so I've been thinking about what I want to say. This will actually end up being pretty long, so I'll leave it there. Here's what I have so far:

More and more people in Mexico are calling themselves something other than Catholic - Guadalupanos, or worshippers of the Virgen Guadalupe. This is usually the first question people ask when we say we are "Cristianos" - "So you don't believe in the Virgens?"

"Well," I say, "I believe that Mary was a virgen when she gave birth to Jesus. I love Mary and believe that she is a great example, especially to women, in obeying God. I believe in her just like I believe in Paul, Peter, or Abraham. But we have only one Savior, and his name is Jesus."

Well, let me back up. The history of Guadalupe goes farther back than you might think - she's pre-hispanic and pre-Catholic. The Aztecs worshipped a mother goddess, Teteoinan, known as the Mother of all gods. After the Spaniards came, the story goes, an indigenous Mexican named Juan Diego saw an Aztec apparition of the Virgen Mary. She told him she would be the mother of all the Mexicans, and she told him to build her a church in her honor. This all happened on the very same mountain that the Aztecs worshipped their original mother goddess, Teteoinan. And to this day, worshipping her is one of the truest marks of Mexican culture, the Mother of God, of whom it is said "To be with her is to be with God." Many Mexicans don't go to Mass regularly, don't necessarily care what the Vatican has to say about birth control or so on, but I do see shrines to Guadalupe in bus stations, neighborhoods, living rooms...

For all I know, Juan Diego did see a vision of this woman, and she did tell him these things. But let's remember what Paul said to the Galatians, "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel, not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed" (1:6-9).

(Sidenote: I am aware that many people feel differently, that Pope John Paul II canonized Juan Diego, but I'm convinced that Guadalupanos are following a different gospel, and therefore need to know the truth about salvation, that Jesus is our only Savior, and our God has no equal, predecessor, or originator. We worship him alone.)

On the other hand, I was very surprised to discover the amount of Jehovah's Witnesses there are in Mexico. Just about everyone I know has a close friend or relative who is Jehovah's Witness. Even if they aren't Jehovah's Witness themselves, many people have been taught and believe that Jesus is not God. This is a different gospel, and they need to know the truth.

So, what I'm trying to say is many Mexicans, just like people everywhere, have been deceived, and need to know mercy and truth. We're here to study the Bible with people and show them these things, to grow with them in these things. And we're inviting you to join us.

27.8.08

3 months

Today, August 27th, marks three months of our time here in Mexico. Three months ago I was in a taxi-van riding to Sean and Jeni's house, for the first time. Three months ago we were about to go eat at Copa Cabana, which became one of my favorite places for the mango drink. Three months ago I knew almost no one from the church here, I spoke a lot less Spanish, and I didn't know how to get anywhere.

A lot has changed since then, but I still feel like we just got here. I feel a whole lot more at home, but I still feel mostly brand new. Sean says it takes about 6 months to feel really comfortable, and I think we're well on our way.

Spanish class is a lot less boring now that we're talking about subjunctive, something I've wanted to learn better ever since that confusing class period in Spanish 3 sophomore year of high school. Speaking of high school, I was singing the Strokes with Diego and Chutney today. That's happy.

Oh, and I'm officially going to Lubbock with Toby, Chutney, Tiffany, and Sean for our field presentation, October 13-16. I'm so excited! I really look forward to meeting the new class and seeing my friends there. And drinking a Sugarbrown's chai! (Still not quite as good as Shades of Brown, but very close.) Be praying for us as we tell the new AIMers about our field, that we could have another team come next year.

What else... oh yeah, this weekend was really fun. It was really great to hang out with the Cuernavaca AIMers, I especially miss Jennie. The birthday party was great too - Valeria (now 4) actually remembered my name, even though I've only seen her twice. It made my day to see her big smile and her hands thrown up in the air, "Breteen!" All the kids in San Andres are really fun. I painted some faces with Luz, mostly we made rabbit faces. I actually got to rest on Sunday so that was cool too.

Tonight is a rare un-busy night too. I'm planning on calling Kristin (yay!), working on my newsletter, and hanging out with Toby. Thanks for reading and for all of your prayers.

21.8.08

New videos

Check my youtube account for a few new videos. I actually recovered four of the ones I thought I lost. Of course, I still actually did lose like 15 but hey, 4 is better than none. :)

Today was the first small group that someone I invited to came. His name is Levi and I met him by smacking his face with my backpack on the bus, haha. We've been trying to hang out sometime forever but finally tonight he was able to come to small group. Yay!

Ok it's already my bedtime. I'm looking forward to this weekend - birthday party in San Andres and a visit from the Cuernavaca AIMers!

19.8.08

Music, prayer, and ministry

It's so interesting to me how much emotion music can evoke. I was sitting at Starbucks last night with Toby (really, this doesn't happen often at all haha) and Thelonius Monk was playing. Now I love this kind of jazz, and it just makes me feel all these warm feelings from senior year of high school. And I'm thinking of all the other music I've listened to recently - Sufjan Stephens and the wonderful glow of Lubbock and Chutney-roommate-awesomeness I feel, Justin Timberlake and the taste of Panera in Hilary's car, Ramsie Schick and the smell of JD and Chrissy's apartment in Carrollton simultaneous with the anxiety of post-GFA transitioning. The list goes on. Every song is either reliving or creating a memory so vivid it's impossible to escape.

Be praying for us here in Mexico, and I'm not just talking about my team. A lot of awesome things are happening, but I'm getting this air of discouragement from a lot of people here at the church. There are a million unique reasons for this, but all the same, things have been hard lately for people I care about. Like I've said before, I know that's life everywhere, but since you're reading this, I know you care too.

And to leave, here's an excerpt from this week's brownbag*:

Last night when I was getting ready for this week’s lessons (she’s way too advanced for the LST book), I was thinking about how it’s not my job to make her believe anything. It’s just my job to make her think about the important things. This is super important to remember when you’re going into ministry – help people think about God. If they’re not thinking, they’ll either end up like the hard soil or the plants that spring up without deep roots. Either way ends up bad. And when the two of us are thinking together, it’s a whole lot less intimidating for both parties. I love this passage in Colossians 4 – “…Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ… that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom towards outsiders… so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” I could go on and on about Colossians, but I’ll just say pray for our team as we build these relationships and serve people, and don’t underestimate your role in God’s kingdom.

*(In case you didn't know, brownbag refers to the letter I sent to the Lubbock AIMers to read during their lunchtime - it's AIM tradition to pray for each other especially on Wednesdays, so all over the world we eat lunch together and pray for each other.)

13.8.08

Tired.

This week has been harder for me than others. I think I've had several small disappointments that have added up to me feeling... well, disappointed. I've ended up by myself more than usual too. Sometimes that's nice, but when I'm already feeling kind of sad it's not good for me. The most disappointing thing at the moment is the fact that Rocio, our friend and most consistant attendant of our small group, just started school again and doesn't have time to come anymore. I don't doubt that we'll still see her every once in awhile, but I really liked seeing her at least once a week.

On the other hand, my reading sessions have been going really well. I might have a new student too, but I'm not so sure that he knows any English at all. If not, Sean has a class for beginners I can tell him about.

And I've really enjoyed reading the Bible lately. I'm doing my commentary/study on Colossians and it's so exciting to write out everything that's been in my head for the past several months. Reading Matthew and Daniel has reminded me that I still have a LOT to learn, but in an encouraging way.

Well I'm really tired - we enrolled for our Spanish classes today. Chutney and I are in different classes this time, which is maybe a good thing, but it will be weird. Anyway, I'm going to sleep now.

9.8.08

First day of AIM...

Today was the first day of orientation for about 42 new AIMers in Lubbock. This makes me feel a whole mess of emotions I can't exactly express. Mostly I have this warm glow, as if I am somehow a part of this, like a proud mother or something. I only actually know a few of these people... yet. But a strange part of me longs to be there, welcoming them to a strange and exciting several months, where only half of the things you learn are in the basement classroom, and then off to who knows where? Hopefully some of them will even join us here in Tlalpan in 9 months. Crazy.

It also makes me think of my first day in Lubbock, which seems like absolute AGES ago. So much has happened since then, it's hard to wrap my mind around it all. I've made about 200 new friends (if anything, that's an underexaggeration), read the Bible more than ever before, struggled a lot with different choices, gone half-way around the country and moved to Mexico... it's hard to believe that it's only been a year. Some things are really sad to remember, and others still make me laugh. I mean, that's life anywhere, I just feel like my life's been in the microwave since this adventure started.

I just looked at the new staff pictures - lots of my friends have moved on, but lots of them are still there, ready to bring in the new year. And there are new people too, some I know, some I know of, and some I'll just have to get to know when they all come visit us here in February (if not sooner). I really hope this class gets to know their assistants at least as well as I did mine, because these people are one of the very best parts of AIM.

I never thought it could happen, but Lubbock became a home. And I guess any home makes you homesick sometimes.

8.8.08

Two languages, two lyrics

My soul cries; my Spirit comforts

My heart
moves when I
miss
my friends, or when they're
mad at
me. (Sometimes I'm just
mad at
myself.) When I can't
master
my emotions,
my helper
makes requests I can't
make on
my own.

Sometimes, when my heart
speaks, it
swells,
shakes, and
stutters a little. I think in these
situations, the
Spirit intercedes with
supplications I don't under-
stand. I

cannot see my
counselor, and yet he
comforts me with his
care. He
can light a fire in my
cold heart. I'm
connected to my father, my brother, be-
cause he
came to me. He's my
covenant, my
conscience, my
candle in a dark
cave. I
call him my hope.
Can I be
content with this? How
could I ask for anything more?

***

Nana para los muertes

Buenas noches, una nana,
Acuéstate, mi amiga.
Dios bendiga a tu alma -
en el cielo le alabará.

Acuéstate, mi amiga,
Voy a extrañarte.
Estoy alegre p'ra el día
Cuando podré verte.

Buenas noches, una nana,
Acuéstate, mi amiga.
No sé cuando va a venir;
ya es tu tiempo p'ra dormir.

7.8.08

My first by-myself adventure

I'm really not sure how it's been so long since I wrote. Kinda surprised me when I noticed.

Anyway, I'm going to write about Tuesday. Well, first we have to back up a bit. Adriana, one of the girls in the youth group and one of my closest friends here so far, decided the youth should have at least one day before school starts to do something good for the community. I thought that sounded like a great idea. On Sunday we talked to Israel about what we could do and decided to go work at the children's cancer center, AMANC. The only thing that wasn't ideal about this plan was the fact the rest of my team had readers Tuesday afternoon-ish and couldn't come. (I actually had one at 11:00 that I forgot about and asked Chutney to take him for me - he didn't show anyway, haha.)

And so I went all by myself to the "church building" (which is really a party venue / coffee shop) where I met about 10 youth and Israel. It was challenging and fun not to have any Americans (or Brazilians) to fall back on and speak English to. We ended up working in the garden - cutting grass, pulling weeds, transplanting trees, etc. I realized I don't have Spanish garden vocabulary, but it all worked out in the end. I worked mostly with Nancy, one of the first girls I became friends with at camp. She lives kind of far away so I don't get to see her as much. Pray for her if you think about it - there are a lot of things I'd like to talk to her about but can't really do it in Spanish yet.

Another exciting though less enjoyable aspect of this adventure was the multitude of creepy things. The ground was moving for jumping spiders (which, thanks to Ben, I'm only creeped out by when there are more than five), centipedes and ants ("Estes pican! Those sting!" the girls informed me), maggot-type things, new kinds of beetles, I'm sure the list goes on. Worms are no big deal, but these other things kind of got to me after awhile, haha.

And since I left the house at 8:45, and only had a little "gansito" (Mexico's Little Debbie) and a juice box since, I was pretty hungry by 4:30. Working in the sun takes it out of you. But thankfully, after the long walk to Israel's apartment, we ate pizza. I tried a slice with avocado, it was good. And I even made it home without it raining on me - well, except when I was on the bus...

1.8.08

I love my new students and I hate doing dumb things

So I was planning on uploading videos today or tomorrow but instead through a series of unfortunate events I deleted all of my files. So I lost the videos I was going to post, among other things. Computers and I don't get along very well sometimes.

But more importantly, I wanted to tell you guys about my reading sessions. I love my readers! So far I've met with three:

Lupita is 64 and a proud grandmother of 2. She wants to study English so that she can keep her mind busy, and because she has children living in the States. The LST book is just right for her level, and every once in awhile she reverts back to Spanish for a sentence or two and therefore is very grateful that I know some Spanish. She goes to Mass everyday at 7:00 a.m. and is already a little tired by our 10:00 session. She's already invited me to her 25-year-old daughter's birthday party. She says I'm a good person for being so patient, but really it's a great joy to read with her.

I've already told you a little bit about Grecia, and our first session went beautifully. The book is way below her level, so I prepared two Switchfoot songs to listen to and discuss. There were only a couple words and phrases she didn't recognize and our discussion was really meaningful and encouraging. She has a lot more hope in life than she first let on. I think she's planning on bringing her English school book, and we'll keep doing songs and hopefully some Psalms. I'm really excited to be her friend.

Carlos is also in his sixties and speaks English pretty well. He was very curious about our small group, but he doesn't want to read the Bible himself - he just prefers asking other people questions who already know a lot about the Bible. We have pretty deep conversations, but we sometimes have a hard time following one another. He also has children living in the States.

I still have yet to meet with Mariana, Maricarmen, Marcela, and Antonio. Looking forward to next week!

29.7.08

Skype

I finally got around to downloading skype on my computer, yay! So...

1) If you have skype and we're not contacts yet, my screename is brettincasie. I'm not really sure how to find people, but I'm sure I could figure it out if you emailed me your screename.

2) If you don't have skype, it's just a good (free!) way to talk, computer-to-computer, with voice and video if you have a microphone and camara. If you would like to download it, that's free too - www.skype.com.

So, I look forward to talking to you guys sometimes. We'll just have to plan ahead to be online at the same time. Easy enough.

28.7.08

Venice, henna, and a water hole

Friday we went to Xochimilco with Norma and her family and the LSTers. It's the closest you get to Venice in Mexico, if you can imagine. We floated down the little river and ate wonderful food prepared by none other than Norma and Sara themselves, and at one point a littler boat with a marimba (xylophone-type intrument) attached itself to us. Next thing we know, we're dancing the macarena. Who knew that dance would ever come in handy? Toby had his own special version of course, drawing the stares of many other boats. Yikes.

Saturday most of us went to Cuernavaca with Sean to get his van and eat with the AIMers there. Zane, Chutney and I stayed the night. My favorite thing we did was going to the center, where there was a hippie market, Aztec dancers, and a System of a Down cover band. We made some friends - Jennie bought these sticks from a couple of people who were teaching us how to play with them, and we got henna tattoos from this other lady. She's really good with dreadlocks too, but I didn't have time or money for that. Maybe next visit. We also played our new favorite game, Perudo, and I laughed until I cried on several occassions. I had really missed Jennie, and it was really good to see the whole team.

Sunday we made it back in time for church, and to witness four baptisms! I was so excited for Eric, Sandra, Maritza and Luz. The first two are a couple that we just recently met and is living with one of the church families. Maritza is visiting from Vera Cruz, and Luz is one of our good friends here. We don't have a baptistry (since we don't even have a church building), so we have to trek down to the water hole. I felt bad for them as they were trembling in the less-than-clean water, but I guess that's just a tiny extra sacrifice that makes it even more special.

That evening we had our last LST party to say goodbye to Tony, Shea, and Kelsey, and to meet more of our readers. I have six readers for now, but I have only met 3 so far. The one that's on my mind the most is Grecia - she's 15, broken family, bitter towards religion, brutally honest, extremely smart, and really into Tim Burton movies. I can tell that we're going to be friends. :) Along with the LST workbook Tony suggested doing some English lessons with song lyrics and poetry, so I'm looking into some Switchfoot lyrics that can provoke good discussion and maybe some more emotionally-charged Psalms. My first session with her is today, and I have another lady named Lupita tomorrow. I still have to schedule the rest. Be praying for us!

Oh, and one more thing: remember that baby shower I went to several weeks ago? Well we got to meet the baby last night. Immanuel just turned one month old yesterday, and he is precious with his full head of hair. We might be going to their church with them on Saturday, and Ivanna's her mom wants to start some kind of small group. It was really good to see Ivanna again, and her whole family.

23.7.08

People, not objects

I'll start by telling you guys about Pedro. We met him at the park yesterday, and he had some pretty atypical religious views, like a melting pot of gnosticism, Christianity, and mysticism. His basic point was that you can't know about God by learning in the usual methods, can't learn a thing about God from the Bible (though the Bible is a good book, it's flawed, and can only make you hungry for "real knowledge"). You can only know God through the incarnation of God that is currently on earth (in other words, Jesus isn't unique), by this man teaching you God's NAME, and then you will KNOW God and SEE God. He couldn't really tell us who had taught him, or if he even knew. I mean, he's not entirely fluent in English, but he was good enough for me to be able to tell when he was avoiding pertinant questions.

(As a sidenote, I'd like to say that I was very happy with how the conversation went. None of us got angry or defensive, just curious and inquisitive, and maybe a little passionate. :) But also, none of us were threatened by this conversation, which, looking back on my life, is saying a lot. I can trust in what I've learned, in what I know. No one is beyond the reach of the Gospel, but it's not my job to convince anyone of anything. I love, I listen, I ask, and I share when there are appropriate opportunities. No pressure is necessary.)

Anyway, I have this man in the back of my mind now and I'm praying for him. Earlier, I was also thinking about one of my friends in the States, whom I haveto admit, I still don't really know all that well. I forget that sometimes about people I meet when I fill in the blanks by myself. I thought of what my friend Daniel said, how it's bad to make objects out of people. People are not objects or flat characters in the play called my life. They have big lives of their own with a history and lots of other people that they love (or sometimes hate) and reasons for being who they are, complete with emotions, thoughts, and convictions. And even more basic, but still forgettable, people don't just exist when I see them; they exist even when I haven't heard anything about them in years - doing things, changing.

Then I started reading Colossians and saw how Jesus has a big life too - the image of God, the fulness of deity, the head of the Church, our Redeemer... and I'm thinking, how could I ever limit this person, God himself, to being a baby in a manger? A dying man on a cross? Even an empty tomb? All of these things are a part of who he was, who he is, but to think that's all is to be very foolish indeed.

So what I'm trying to say is, in order to really know anyone you have to be willing to admit that there are many things you don't know about them and be willing to learn those things with time, respect, and understanding. This is one way we can be compassionate. And the same, to an extent, is applied to our relationship with God - willing to admit there are things we don't know, willing to learn more, willing to understand. This is respect. And how are we to be renewed in his likeness if we never find out how and why he feels and acts the way he does? Little by little, we get to know someone. And if we desire, little by little, we become like someone. May my desire always be to become like Christ.

21.7.08

Can I just say that one of the little things that makes me the happiest is when our washing machine sings to us? It's so cute and it always makes me smile. :)

19.7.08

I don't have a lot of time, but something is better than nothing.

So we've been really busy! There's a group from Atlanta, GA here and we had a VBS at one of the missionary kid's schools. It was exhausting (children are so hard to understand!) but I'm glad I was able to help. I met a 92 year old lady at Wednesday small group, and I couldn't understand hardly a word she said to me either. At one point she started crying and I had no idea what was going on, but she was talking about God's good gifts so I think they were good tears. This situation kind of motivates me to learn more Spanish, but I think even if I were fluent I wouldn't be able to understand her, haha. Oh well.

We also started a small group on Thursday with some LST students. I think it will be good to have a group at our apartment to invite friends to. We spoke a lot more English than I expected, but maybe once the LST team has to leave we'll speak more Spanish (they don't know Spanish at all). I'll miss the LST team, seems like they haven't really been here that long. I'm excited to start doing LST sessions too though.

I'm going to learn to sew now with Sara, our Mexican grandma. But first, lunch.

15.7.08

Videos

Just wanted to let you guys know that I now have a youtube account. That way I can upload videos for free, and everyone can see them even if you don't have a facebook. The ones on facebook take longer to view anyway. I'll let you know on here when I upload new videos. Here's the link:

http://www.youtube.com/user/brettincasie

14.7.08

I have friends!

This weekend was spent getting things done (getting a couch, a toaster, etc.) and resting (aka reading Harry Potter). Yesterday was really long, mostly because we didn't eat lunch until about 5, but I think yesterday was the first time I was very aware that I have friends here in Mexico now. Miguel hung out with us yesterday, his sisters want to hang out sometime, I was talking and laughing with Clara and Grecia, and I would have seen Chely on Saturday if she didn't have to work. I have people that I miss when I don't see them for awhile, people who I can call and go do something if we get the chance. It makes me really happy to remember that I don't have to be awesome with Spanish before I can have friends.

Also, I've been struck with the thought lately of how God is good. We were singing with the church yesterday, "Yo se que Dios es bueno" (I need to figure out how to type accents...) and I just thought, you know, that's really profound. That's quite a thing to proclaim. A lot of people don't believe that God exists, let alone is good, or don't define good in the same way. God is good, and worthy of my trust. That's been important lately. I've missed home some these past few days.

But like I said, I have friends, and that's a huge step. And our apartment looks a lot more like home now - we have the last bits of furniture we were planning to get, and we decorated and cleaned up clutter. So now I'm sitting at a table/desk and all my family is looking at me through frames and it's great.

Now I'm going to go make good food and go to the park to visit the LST people.

11.7.08

El Campamento

We're back from camp, yay! Although it was great, I'm not gonna lie, I'm glad to be home. :)

We left early on Monday and got home yesterday evening. It was like a 4 day small group, or intensive Spanish class, haha. I did my first Spanish devo that was all of 7 minutes, maybe. :) And I had some legit conversations with some of the people, which was great. Some really encouraging things were the three baptisms (be praying for them, Misael, Beatriz, and Alberto) and my idea to copy off of my old youth group camps with the encouragement notes went amazingly well. The kids were so positive a lot of the time, and sometimes it was hard to get them to focus, but I think I noticed that more this time since I was a bit more "in charge" whatever that means. :) There was a pool, but it was inexplicably cold and rainy even though we were off the mountain. All the Mexicans swam anyway, but us AIMers were babies. haha

One funny story is about this one guy, Alexis. He's the one who gave us all nicknames when he met us (mine is chonguitos because of my hair) and he wanted me to give him a nickname. I'm horrible at giving nick names, so I just pointed at his Jack Skellington wristband (from the Disney movie, Nightmare Before Christmas, he's way popular in Mexico) and said "Well, you've got Jack." He said "If I were a woman, I would marry Jack" hahahaha so I responded, "Ok, you're Sally then" (Jack's girlfriend in the movie). Not sure if that's the kind of name he was going for, but there you have it. The rest of the time Chutney and I spent singing Sally's song to him. "I sense there's something in the wind..."

So this weekend's objective is to get a couch. We're starting small group here on Thursday so we definitely need to get our apartment entirely settled by then. We've also got a pretty big group of high school juniors and their parents coming from Kentucky in a few days.

And now I'm off to go read. And mop.

5.7.08

An excerpt from a book - not meant to offend, just to provoke your thoughts, which I would love to hear.

Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, Jesus for President, pp 280-283 [bold is my emphasis, everything else as is]

Immediately following the Al Qaeda attacks of September 11th, President George Bush proclaimed, "Our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil."

[...]

Ridding the world of evil by violent means only creates and sustains evil. This is the point of Jesus' politics. The parable of the weeds and the wheat [Matthew 13:24-29] is among the clearest illustrations we have of how Jesus deals with the evil of the world.

Cutting against our scientific modes of thought, hope in God is an essential part of Jesus' politics on ridding the world of evil. As the parable of the weeds and wheat illustrates, Jesus understood the destruction of evil to be not in human hands but in God's hands. Though such an understanding could be abused in a number of ways, we can't get around the fact that Jesus' nonviolent dealing with evil is founded on an eschatological hope. Jesus had faith in how God ultimately deals with the world.

**Footnote: The popular definition of eschatology must be broadened to include this present life, not simply the end of the world. John Yoder writes that eschatology is a "doctrine of what is ultimate" (Yoder, The Original Revolution, 52), and, "The eschaton, the 'Last Thing,' the End-Event, imparts to life a meaningfulness which it would not otherwise have. ... This is what we mean by eschatology: a hope which, defying present frustration, defines a present position in terms of the yet unseen goal which gives it meaning" (53). Yoder goes on to distinguish eschatology from the fashionable moneymaking work of "apocaliptics," which speculates on dates and the shape of things to come: "[E]ven when an apocalyptic type of literature occurs [in the Bible], preoccupation is not with the prediction for the sake of prediction, but rather with the meaning which the future has for the present" (54).

The New Testament view of God's ultimate dealing with the world is Jesus' second coming. Jesus has been known as the "one who is coming into the world." Christians claim he embodies hope for the wonderful world to come. He represents the coming justice for the world. Christians claim that all of the hopes for saving (or "healing") the world are satisfied through the coming of the expected one. Jesus came, he healed, he lived the kingdom, and he was killed. And yet, even when the one who is awaited finally comes, hope and expectation are not quelled. Expectation is again raised: Christ will come again. To have this hope is to politically apply the parable of the weeds: don't pull out the weeds but wait until the harvest.

The practical point of the second coming is not to look up at the sky in expectation (1 Thessalonians is written largely against this misguided hope) but to live in a certain way. The second coming imparts political and practical meaning and shapes the way we view the world.

Hope for the second coming is not just about hope in Jesus; it is about having a hope like Jesus'. His hope in God is on display in his parable of the weeks: trusting that God will sort out the evildoers. Living in hope of God's coming to us purifies us, for we live not impulsively or rashly but with the sense that matters are ultimately in God's hands. "Leaving things in God's hands" is an often abused and quaint phrase that many seem to think means "don't bother with doing anything, because Jesus will come someday and undo all your work anyway." Or even worse, some might say, "Let things get worse in the world, then Jesus will come back even sooner."

"Leaving things in God's hands" should rather be used to mean "do what Jesus did." Follow Jesus' example without regard for whether you are effectively "changing the world." Jesus demonstrated what it means to leave things in God's hangs. So if we want to know what it means for us to trust in Jesus. we should ask what it meant for Jesus to trust in God.

"For it is commentdable if you bear up under the pain of unjust suffering because you are conscious of God ... When they hurled their insults at im, he did not retaliate, when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." -1 Peter 2:19, 23

2.7.08

We're done!

Today was our finals day for our "super-intensive" first term of Spanish. Yay! I even ate a Milky Way to celebrate, haha. For my oral topic I got to talk about Guadalajara, so that went really well. I got a B in the class, but we still have to go back tomorrow to get our grade reports. And our class is going out to eat on Saturday, so that should be fun.

Periodically I feel inexplicably nauseous, like tonight at small group. I think it could be the altitude still - sometimes people take a long time to get over that. But overall I'm doing really well health-wise.

Speaking of small groups, we're going to start having one at our house, primarily for inviting the Let's Start Talking (LST) readers. LST is a program where English speakers help others with their conversational English skills by listening to them read aloud selected passages from the Bible and asking questions about grammar, vocabulary, and comprehension. Best of all, it's totally free for the readers, something that's always very shocking. :) There's a group of three instructors here from Montana. They'll be here for a month, and we'll help follow up with their readers.

If anyone is looking for a book to read, Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne is very thought-provoking. I'll write more about that once I finish. I also really liked Philip Yancey's Where Is God When It Hurts? He looked at suffering from many angles: how Jesus is a God who chose to suffer with us and to work against it, how God can use suffering as a "mega-phone" to tell humanity that this world isn't how it should be, and also how suffering has a looking-forward value. He also talked about how to respond when you or someone you love is suffering. A new favorite quote: "Faith is believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse."

Ok I think that's about it for now. I'm going to try to get videos up on my facebook this week, maybe I'll figure out a way to share those type of things here too. I've been bad at visually documenting things thus far, but at least our newsletter has a lot of pictures, right? :)

Oh, one more thing, camp starts on Monday and we're having a meeting to hammer out details tomorrow. If you could pray for us, that would be awesome. I've never had to organize camps before, and a lot of us are nervous. Thanks!

29.6.08

Grass Valley + Guadalajara

This weekend Chutney, Toby and I went to Guadalajara to visit the AIMers there and to be with the Grass Valley group for their mission trip. It really was exactly what we needed. We got to work with kids there, do skits, sing and pray together, encourage each other with what God had done in our lives and with his word, have worship this morning sitting on rocks in someone's back yard, and so on. While I was trying to scheme a way to stay longer, my more responsible team mates urged me to return for class tomorrow.

I think one major thing that happened for me this weekend was restoring value to our work here. I was reminded after a long week that I'm useful right now, even when I'm not done with Spanish classes, even when I'm not totally "settled in." And the sacrifices I'm making by being away from people I love are meaningful and worthwhile.

It was amazing to see another part of the body here in Mexico, and I'm so grateful for their work. It was amazing as well to be appreciated for the work we're doing too.

This is a very rambly blog and I'm sorry for that. Just know that I had a wonderfully rejuvenating weekend and I love the church in Mexico and in California very, very much. And you know, everywhere else for that matter. :)

26.6.08

A little better all the time

Spanish has been going well these days.

Last night at small group I was even able to say a few things without making Sean translate for me. :)

What was even better, after group I had a really good conversation with one of the ladies, Sara. She had mentioned how she tries to reach out to her sister who's not a Christian, who's always having a hard time. Sara tries to help her and to talk about God but she never wants to hear. I was telling her just how when I feel really bad for someone like that I just have to remember how God saved me, and God saved all of these people (fill in the blank with a really, really long list) whom I love. I have to believe that God loves everyone even more than I do, and that helps me to trust him for the people I love most. Jesus is the only savior, and no matter how hard I try, my only job is to direct others to him. She went on to talk about how she prays every night for her sister and her daughter and told me more about their situations. It was SO good to be able to encourage someone like that.

I even had a dream with some Spanish last night. However, Diego reminded me that some people say when you dream in another language, that means you're fluent. Whoever says that is a liar. Haha.

Two more things:

I'm going to Guadalajara tomorrow! I'm praying that even if travelling doesn't go smoothly, it's at least not disastrous. I have to admit I'm slightly nervous. But I'm SO excited to see everyone there!

And I'm feeling a lot better these days too. I miss my mom a lot when I'm sick, but Jeni fills in nicely when I need American over-the-counters, and love. She's awesome.

And now I pack.

22.6.08

And I have paint in my fingernails

Some people are just naturally talented at certain things, such as music, painting, or poetry.

I, on the other hand, just act as though I had these talents, take up the challenge, and occasionally end up happy with the results. I have long sense forgone the internal battle of wanting to be "the best" at such things. That's just a silly robbery of joy. There are more important things to be concerned about, anyway.

We're painting our apartment, but not like most normal people. We painted a mural where either an entertainment center (or a shrine to Mary - we're not quite sure) is supposed to go. I just finished my part - the branches (purple) and leaves (turquoise) of the tree. The only time I used a brush was to stir the paint.

Tiffany and I still have no idea what we're doing in our room, but I'm sure we'll figure that out eventually.

***

This weekend was really relaxing and restful, which was just what I needed. However, if you're already praying for me, I've been experiencing a lot of pain concerning my digestive system. I think that's the nicest way I can put it. So yeah, it would be nice if that were over. :)

20.6.08

Why am I here?

Yesterday I woke up with a semi-panic attack. Not sure why, but two things were occuring - I instantly felt really stressed, and I couldn't breathe well. It was the feeling I get when something really bad is happening, but this was for no apparent reason. When I took my inhaler, I got "the shakes." But I got better pretty soon.

This morning, I didn't wake up panicked, but I did know why I felt stressed - our midterm was today. And on the way to school, I started to feel really bad about sins from my past. I think revisited guilt is my own special brand of culture-shock manifestation. 1 John is really helpful in those times because God is faithful to forgive us when we confess our sins.

So while I was trying to focus on my Bible, the guy sitting next to me was listening to Shania Twain's "I feel like a woman" on his iPod, really, really loudly.

Times like that make me stop and ask myself "Why am I here?" It's not pessimistic - it's my way of reminding myself, even when I feel like crap, what is my purpose? I look at the faces of the people around me, and I remember. I'm here to listen. And I'm here to be heard.

The Shania Twain was awful, but it ended up making me laugh. Sense of humor is so important. When we were walking from one bus to the next, I heard "Bittersweet Symphony," which was great not only because it replaced Shania, but also it reminded me of Kelli's 90s music night in Grass Valley, and of the glorious fact that I'm going to Guadalajara and seeing those people in just a week! I think that's just what I need.

The test went better than I thought it would. My brain went completely numb when I saw my oral test topic, and I felt like I did poorly, but I got a good grade. Go figure. The written part consisted of many vocabulary words I've never seen... but we'll see how that went next week.

Also, a couple of us talked to this lady on the bus. I've been wanting to talk to people in transit, but I'm always afraid that we won't understand each other. Now I know there's no reason to be afraid. So what if I mess up my Spanish? I mess up my English all the time! :)

17.6.08

Three things

So I'm really tired and need to be asleep, but I have three things to say:

1) I made the best sandwich I have ever eaten yesterday, with the cheapest vegetables I've ever bought. Tomato + avocado = love.

2) I really should have taken a shower today... but maybe I won't go back to sleep tomorrow morning.

3) Chutney, Toby and I finished our newsletter. Yay! If you're not on our mailing list and you would like to be, give me your email address and I can make that happen.

Love you everyone!

15.6.08

...por que?

I have a special Mexican story for you:

We have a friend named Ivana, a neighbor of Sean and Jeni's, fifteen years old. She's about to have a baby, and her baby shower was yesterday. All of us girls chipped in for a present (3 onesies and some diapers),but only Chutney and I planned to attend. It was supposed to begin at 4:00, so we went at 5:30, because nothing starts on time here. However, we were informed that the party had been postponed until 6:00, so we should come back "whenever we want." We returned at about 7:00. We ate some food with her aunt and grandma, met her brother's friends, and met people as they came. At about 8:20, we went upstairs to tell Ivana we needed to go. The baby shower still hadn't actually started, but we were both really tired and Chutney had a stomach-ache. But they wouldn't let us leave. "This is her baby shower, we haven't played games! You're going to go to sleep at 8:00??" haha. So we hung around until about 10:00 before insisting that we needed to go. We had fun, ate good food, and made a new friend. But the fact that it started 4 1/2 hours late really cracks me up. Yikes.

Again, can't wait until I can have an unbroken conversation. But I'm learning to be patient with myself. Hopefully we'll hang out with one of the girls in the youth group, Clara, this weekend. I'll invite our new friend Ave (short for a name I can't pronounce or spell). I like the fact that I'm actually making friends here. It's really hard, but it's making me feel more at home. I think something I didn't realize about the language barrier is that it prevents me from completely being myself. I'm looking forward to being able to joke, to explain myself, to ask deep questions, etc.etc.etc. But again, I just need patience. They're more patient with me than I am with myself.

In other news, two people got married this morning at church. Well, let me explain. In Mexico, if you don't have certain government papers, you can't get legally married. Because of that, and sometimes because people just don't want to divorce their previous spouse, there are many "married" couples that never were actually married. So we had a ceremony for two couples this morning. It was a beautiful service - I loved the fact that they literally tied a knot, and all the singles (first girls, then guys) played a sort of London Bridges game. There was a group from Kentucky visiting, and I'm pretty sure they thought I was Mexican. I take that as a compliment.

And finally, I cannot for the life of me figure out why Mexicans think it's ok to ask me why I don't have a boyfriend. Seriously, any time people find out I'm single they ask "Por que?" How do you answer that? Even the Mexican girls I worked with in Tulsa asked me that. Weird.

Ok, that's more than enough for now. First full week of 6-hour Spanish classes, coming up!

13.6.08

Communication

It's been awhile, a whole week. We finally got internet in our apartment yesterday, so that will help me update more often again.

The small group with the youth went well, but I wish I could get to know the youth better. I just have to be patient. The longer I'm here, the more I value meaningful communication. I know Spanish a bit, but I can't have a deep conversation, or really even a normal one. And there are periods that my brain goes completely numb to Spanish.

So! That means I'm really glad that Spanish classes started yesterday. Seriously, I am so very grateful to my supporters for giving me the opportunity to take these classes. They help a lot, I can already tell. And it's been cool to meet other people from the US as well as people from all over the world - Korea, Japan, Italy, Canada, Holland, Haiti, Russia...

And while I'm talking about being thankful, can I also take a moment to tell you how incredibly grateful I am to you guys who are praying for me? I don't know if you've ever experienced this (I sincerely hope that you have), but when I know that people are praying for me, I can feel it. If I start to despair about any given situation, that knowledge alone reminds me that God is with me and that I have a purpose. That's not to say that I feel happy all the time, but I definitely feel empowered and loved. And those two things can make all the difference.

Let me know how I can pray for you too, ok? God hears us - isn't that astounding?

6.6.08

I have a home!

So all the girls just slept in our apartment for the first time last night. :) It has 3 bedrooms (me and Tiffany share the master bedroom), 2 bathrooms, a nice kitchen, lots of living space, and a little backyard. When I first saw it I was amazed because it's better than the one we had in Lubbock, and I didn't expect that. It's definitely within our budget, and it will be perfect for having small groups or people stay with us or whatever. All of our furniture is pretty low to the ground, so it has almost an Asian feel. :) Instead of couches we're using these nice comfy (cheap) mats. I like it a lot. And we're planning on painting a mural in the living room, and maybe bits in other places too.

We still don't have our fridge delivered yet, so no food, and no laundry machine yet (laundromats here are all full service, so it's much more economical to buy a machine and do it yourself), but we have mattresses and we'll have bed frames soon too. We have a little pretty coffee table, and we're trying to decide what more furniture we should have. We're getting our dining room table from someone for really cheap, so that's a blessing.

I don't think any of us have ever had to start from scratch like this before, so it's been a stressful adventure. It feels gross to spend all this money on things I always take for granted, like brooms, trashcans, mattresses, etc etc etc. And when we all have to consider one anothers' preferences and our budget and so on, it's even more difficult. But it has been fun too - feels independent. And it was nice to finally unpack. :)

I'll also add that small groups have been really great too. Wednesday night we all shared some encouragement with one another. I read Colossians (of course haha) 1:3-6. We really felt like a family, and I think we learned from each other. Then last night we sang a lot. I was thinking a lot about 1 John 1:5-10, especially v. 9. Lately I've been discouraged about sins from the past, and so this verse reminds me that God is faithful even when I haven't been. When we walk in the light, Jesus' blood cleanses us. That's wonderful news.

2.6.08

Expecting the unexpected

Going to Sunday morning, feeling like you know less Spanish than you did the last time you were in Mexico.

Being the only AIMer back at the house, sitting in a room full of people you don't really understand...

Lo and behold, a mariachi band enters...

And once the rest of your team and basically the rest of the congregation come, you are dragged onto an impromtu dance floor with someone who was 5 seconds previous, a stranger.

After some fun at the park, you meet some ADD teenagers who feed you chips that taste a bit like vomit and show you a video on youtube that makes you want to vomit...

All while being extremely brain-dead and tired...

And yet when you try to go to sleep, crying in your pillow for an hour instead, about things that had absolutely no relevance to the day.

Wake up the next morning, realizing that instead of leaving at 7:30 we're now leaving at 6:10 and you now have 30 minutes to get ready with three other girls and one bathroom.

Going to a preschool before your adventure at the high school, where all the kids run away from you...

and there's no toilet paper in the tiny bathrooms.

Going back to the high school to find something completely different than you had envisioned for their English day, not being able to hear everyone...

Where kids are acting out smoking joints for a skit about hippie culture...

And your teammate kicks a guy for getting too fresh. (haha)

And again, no toilet paper.

Go to a house, where there is toilet paper, but no flush.

Stab a mango with a spear and get yummy mess all over yourself.

Fall asleep on the long ride home and suddenly jolt awake to find a stranger next to you, to whom you decide to offer gum.

***

If you're feeling sorry for me, you got a very wrong message from all of this. Mostly these things made me laugh. (That mariachi band was priceless!) Mexico has been exhausting these past couple of days, but I'm growing to appreciate it even more than before.

I'm just very excited for our Spanish classes, haha.

1.6.08

A mystery

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. [...] that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. [...] At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison[...]
—Col 1:24-26, 2:2-3, 4:3

Our job as Christians, and even more so as "missionaries," is to proclaim this mystery - that Christ is in us, and this mystery is for everyone who responds to the gospel, God's word.

So for right now, most of us have very little knowledge of Spanish. And many people we talk to have very little knowledge of English. But even now, even before we take our Spanish classes, we can proclaim this mystery by being something different than the spring-breakers that stereotype Americans, by just being here and showing them that yes, even people from far away love you, our brothers and sisters.

Sometimes, in contrast to a relativistic world, I forget just how powerful encouragement really is. In Colossians 4:8, Paul sends Tychicus to Colosse "for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts." For right now, that's what we're doing in Mexico. And for right now, that's enough.

30.5.08

Cell phones, small groups, and stinky feet

So the last few days have been kind of hectic, but not too much. Since I'm in kind of a routine again, it's been easier to make time for devotion which is great. In the mornings we've still been doing devotions with Sean and Jeni, telling our life stories, and going through orientation.

Away from the house, we went to another small group. Toby really bonded with the toddler, Natasha. It was so sweet to see them playing. It's been good to be reminded that even if we don't know Spanish well, we still can make friends and make an impact. One of the guys we spent time with during our trip in February, Miguel Angel, was at small group last night. He's our first good friend, especially for the guys. He's thinking about AIM for next year, so pray for him as he tries to decide what's best. Also, pray for Israel and Nelly, the other missionary couple here. His grandma just died and it's been hard on them.

We also bought cell phones (which took a long time! haha) and have been looking at apartments still. All the walking has been great, but my feet stink a lot!!

Tonight there isn't a small group, so we're just hanging out at Sean and Jeni's. Tomorrow we'll hopefully finalize some things with apartments. I'm really excited for Sunday, and for Monday when we go to the high school we helped with in February. We're doing some kind of English tutoring activities. I had a great time last time we were there.

Until next time...

29.5.08

We're here!

Sorry about the mishap with the blog - at least it's fixed now. :) But we're here! And it's great!

Right now the girls are staying at our coordinator's (Sean and Jeni's) house. Their kids, Sarah (9) and Phillip (8) are always striving to entertain us. Right now I can hear their keyboard in the background. :) I love this family and am so grateful to be working with them.

The boys are staying at a house that they may end up renting, next to the house of one of the families at the congregation. We went to their small group last night. Norma will be our mom away from home, I can already tell, and Sara our grandma. We didn't get to meet their husbands yet, but Norma's son Oscar went with us to the high school when we were here in February. Last night was a good time of worship, discussing Scripture (Matt. 15:1-20) and practicing my very limited Spanish (our classes start June 11th, I can't wait!). Oh, and eating. :)

The food is great, of course. I am going to have to adjust to this food schedule though, mostly revolving around one BIG lunch. :) Mango juice is still my favorite. And the taco place we went to put lots of avocado on top, mmmm. Oh, and I tried cactus! I liked it at first, but then I wasn't so sure haha. Like sour green beans.

I guess I'll leave it at that for now. Pray for us as we continue looking at apartments. The girls may have found the right one. There's a LOT of room, but we're planning on having people stay with us often, and already are planning on hosting an LST (Let's Start Talking) girl for all of July. And Toby already is sick to his stomach, so remember us for that too.

Love you everyone!!

25.5.08

Our team video

This is the video we had during our cultural lunch presentation. It's pretty long, so it's in 3 parts.

1 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B78_XtzfV9s
2- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2ds8L1Zjl0
3 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FdbZScIOR8

This is the one with our pictures from Snyder, TX, our AIM challenge week location. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAJnF0a871o

24.5.08

It's been awhile

I haven't been a regular blogger in over a year, and it's been hard for me to write lately. But I want to do this - I think it's good for me and more importantly I hope others will appreciate what they read.

And so the AIMing in Mexico blog begins. :)