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.


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!


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.)



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.


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.


Two languages, two lyrics

My soul cries; my Spirit comforts

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

Sometimes, when my heart
speaks, it
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.


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...


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!