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!!


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.


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. :)


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.



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...



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.


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.