Love, prayer, and other good things.

So this week has gone really well. I'm learning to go with the flow when necessary, more and more easily. I've just really loved my life here lately. Spanish classes are cool too; I've got friendly teachers and classmates and I'm learning a lot. I've discovered how much I like Jaime Sabines, a Mexican poet. Fasting has been going well still too, and thanks to God's grace I haven't been especially short-tempered, just maybe a little stranger than usual. :)

Just good stuff this week, and looking forward to more good weeks to come.

While I was organizing papers the other day, I had one of those "I wrote that?" moments. I vaguely remember some retreat or something during Lubbock time when we were asked something about what love is and how that affects our prayer life. Anyway, it was good to read, and I thought I'd share it.

Loving is trusting.
In prayer, loving God is trusting his goodness and his response.
Loving is adoring.
In prayer, loving God is adoring him for who he is and what he's done.
Loving is surrendering.
In prayer, loving God is surrendering your will for his, your life for his.
Loving is growing.
In prayer, loving God is growing in your faith in him and your wisdom from him.
Loving is listening.
In prayer, loving God is listening to, valuing, believing and applying his word to your life.
Loving is respecting.
In prayer, loving God is respecting his role in your life and submitting to him.
Loving is revealing.
In prayer, loving God is revealing yourself to him honestly and completely, willfully and humbly,
remembering that he loves you regardless.


Ramadan Kareem

I debated about whether or not it was prudent to write this note for many reasons, not least of all because I believe that fasting should generally not be paraded about, but upon reflection decided that my motives are really to just challenge each other as neighbors on this planet earth. I love you, everyone.


Today was the first day of Ramadan. This is the second time I've observed this holy month. I've chosen to do so this year specifically because I really needed a concentrated, fixed time of fasting. I haven't fasted much since beginning the AIM program, ironically, and I can't think of once that I've fasted since moving to Mexico. It's just not as easy here, but that's not a good excuse, because fasting used to be (and I think rightly so) a very important aspect of my pursuit of God, my relationship with him.

Today during daylight hours I abstained from any sustenance (other than water; although this is not strict observance, I'm not Muslim and so I decided that I really do need to drink water). This has already challenged me to meditate on many things: God's strength in our weakness, my shortcomings that are normally masked by my desires being met, God being my only sustainer and my desire not to need anything else, how incredibly ungrateful I am in the simple things of life (I pretty much never think to give thanks before eating), my need to hunger and thirst for righteousness and Jesus' promise to fill us, and the reality of more than a billion hungry people around the world today. I can hardly imagine how an entire month of daylight fasting with these conscious meditations will transform me, by God's grace. This will be very healthy and beneficial for my spiritual development, I'm sure.

So why Ramadan specifically? Obviously I am not a Muslim. Being a Christian could make me shy away from observing any foreign holiday or holy month. First I want to say that I respect all Muslims as fellow human beings, neighbors of mine here on this earth we all share, neighbors like the ones Jesus told me to love as my own self. I have a few Muslim friends (one of whom I lost contact with a while back and still miss dearly) that I love very much. My friends Toby, Chutney and I got the opportunity to visit a mosque during the breaking of a Ramadan fast last year with my friend Eli, and although we made it abundantly clear that we are Christian missionaries, were treated with utmost respect and love. I felt a kind of peace there and am grateful still for that opportunity.

Simultaneously, my being Christian demands that I recognize Allah as a very different god than the Father/Son/Spirit Godhead that I worship. I am not celebrating the revelation of the Qu'ran seeing as I believe it to be false. I have no special respect for Mohammad as a prophet, again, seeing as I believe he was a false one. I believe that the Bible is the word of God and needed no correction or additional revelation, as Paul explains in Galatians and John in Revelation. I don't believe in multiple truths, and I have absolutely no expectation for Muslims, even my friends, to believe in multiple truths either. (See my note Coexist?)

One reason I choose to observe Ramadan specifically is because hunger is a tangible reminder to pray for people. I'm thinking of those in the world who would be severely punished for writing the words above. I'm praying for them. I'm thinking of those who are hungry and have no way of sustaining themselves. I'm praying for them. I'm thinking of those who have a different god or scripture. I'm praying for them. (I'm not just praying for them this month, but being hungry is abnormal for me, so I have a special focus.)

That being said, fasting, prayer, meditation, and scripture reading is not honoring Allah nor Mohammad for me, but honoring Yahweh, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit. I've already found Ramadan to be a beautiful time for me this year and may even make it an annual observance for me personally. I love and respect my Muslim neighbors. I'm praying for them. I will unite with them on what we have in common while standing uncompromised and unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is for you, God. Be with me; be with them; be with us.



So I moved in on Monday to the Calderon's room-for-rent, and I really love it. There are still a few complications - a slightly broken sink, no shower yet, a couple things to paint, buying a rack to hang up my clothes, and not exactly knowing renter etiquette when it comes to things like meal times. But I love having my own space and getting alone time more easily, love spending time with Wendy and Andrea and their family, love being challenged even more with my Spanish, just really love it.

I also love the life that happens here in Tlalpan that I'm just now getting involved in. Thomas, one of my former AIM assistants and mainly, a good friend, just moved here recently. His new friend Lalo plays music for a living, "troba" which is a type of Mexican music using acoustic guitar. He's really talented, and he happens to play at the coffee shop under where we meet on Sunday every Friday night. I think this will be good for me. I also went to a birthday party with Wendy and her friends last night where I learned a tiny bit more of salsa. Wendy and Andrea are really good dancers and their dad teaches salsa, so I think I'll be learning a lot from them (hopefully!) :)

Well it's time to go to church, so I'll be back later.



Today was one of those days when I'm so busy thinking about all the things I have to do, schedules and whatnot, that I couldn't really enjoy myself. We're really close to being done moving out of the apartment. Tomorrow I'm moving my things, Chutney and Tiffany are getting the rest of their things out, Alfredo is coming to get the furniture they wanted from us and to move the furniture the new guys want from us, and Sean is coming to get the furniture and other things we've borrowed from them. Tuesday I'll trade fridges with James and Lauren and we'll clean, clean, clean. Wednesday we give the keys to our landlord and it's over!

With all of that on my mind, plus planning out a new schedule for when I live in a different place and start going to Spanish classes again, I've kind of been going crazy. So this is my moment to look at the things that happened today that I may have missed at the moment.

Today was Oscar Paco and Oscar Hernandez' last Sunday before they move to Mexicali for preaching school. It will be sad to see them go, but it's great to see their excitement and listen to them talk about this next stage in life. Bryce's LST student Fabio came to church this morning. We gave away a lot of pantry items that we didn't want to take with us, and it was really cool to see everyone "shopping" for things that we otherwise would have had to throw away. Thomas is wanting to start a sort of revolution of "urban pirates" that I'm excited to learn more about. We ate delicious Thai food and had a cool conversation with the chef, a Thai woman with the dream of bringing her food and culture to this country.

It was a good day. There were probably more good things that I didn't even notice at all. I just need to remember to focus on the present more consistently and let the peace of Christ rule my heart.



I was really considering not blogging about this, because I didn't want anyone to worry about me, but I guess this is supposed to be about my life and this was pretty impacting.

So I've gone over a year with basically no problems from the opposite gender here in Mexico. I'd heard horror stories, but I've make it through just fine so far. Some guy once touched my butt and growled at me, but honestly it didn't faze me much because I was taking a video at the time, so I didn't have the chance to get upset, and it was mostly just strange. Whistles happen, of course, but not to me even as much as others. While it makes me angry, the feeling doesn't last long. Once we were walking down a street and I made the mistake of returning the "Buenos Días" of a stranger, which apparently translated "I think you're hot and you should follow me." It wasn't a big deal though because I was with two other girls and Toby, who valiantly told the man that we weren't interested, that's enough, go away. Eventually he did and all was well.

Today has been the worst by far.

It was 2:00 p.m. I was about to go to Starbucks to work on some classes and study the Bible, but our friend Ivanna came by with her baby son Emanuel looking for Chutney, so I was talking with her at the gate. Some guy on a bike rode up to us asking where Vaqueritos is. We were helping him, and I noticed he was acting kind of strangely, but didn't think much of it. I've seen lots of weirdos before. He was wearing shorts and scratching his thigh. After we explained how to get there, he then informed us that he was looking for the girls he heard of who hang out there, the ones you can pay "and, well, you know," he ended lamely. I was struck dumb when I realized he was looking for the prostitutes I'd heard of being somewhere around Tlalpan. Ivanna was asking him something and I realized that he was hiking up his shorts, and just in time I looked away as Ivanna gasped. He showed her his penis while she had her baby with her. I guess maybe that's sexy to some people, having a baby in a stroller. I just continued to look away and pretend to not pay attention. Realizing that we were not at all interested, he went on his way.

Ivanna and I really didn't know what to say to each other after that. She said that she just felt disgusted. I said I did too and tried to keep talking as if nothing happened. She said she was disgusted again, that it wasn't going away. I said I was sorry and that I was glad to see her again, that I hoped he didn't find anyone. She told me to be careful and we said goodbye.

I've heard horror stories, like I said, and comparatively speaking, I'm glad nothing actually happened to me. I think the most horrifying part of it all was to see someone acting like such an animal, like how a dog will hump just about anything that stays still long enough when it's in the mood. It was absolutely... horrifying. He can't be thinking of the fact that we have lives, we have families, we have souls, even when there's a baby there looking at him in the face. I think of his family and wonder about them, wonder if he's ever heard a thing about God before, wonder what in the world could go so wrong with someone that they would behave this way. I wonder if he's solicited prostitutes before or if this is new for him. I wonder if he'll find anyone today. I hope to God he doesn't find anyone today. I wonder what can change someone who has ruined their humanity so.

And I wonder why the reality of sex trade has never been so real to me before today.

Sometimes what was basically just statistics or facts kicks you in the face so hard that all you can do is sob. I hope to God he doesn't find anyone today, and wish there was a way that I could be sure.

God, save this world, and give us hope.


No apologies this time.

It's been months, but that's the way life goes sometimes.

(I keep typing the wrong words. It's weird.)

I think it's like, once you go so long without saying anything, you start to feel like there's nothing to say. But I know it's not true.

Swine flu disrupted an already somewhat hectic existence that hasn't quite returned to normalcy yet. I've taken sporadic Spanish classes, traveled to 5 U.S. cities and 4 Mexico cities, had visitors of all sorts, said goodbye to three teammates and hello to three more, gone through a ridiculously wide spectrum of emotions, and now am about to move.

Now that we've caught up...

I've got almost 4 months left, which some days feels too long but most times feels much, much too short. I'm planning to take another course at UNAM because I finally know what it is I want to do with my life: I want to study Spanish and English as a Second Language and teach. I don't want to teach in a school necessarily... I want to teach more privately so it can be more flexible when I have a family someday.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm trying to think of what I want to have done and accomplished with the rest of my time. I have four friends here specifically that I want to invest in as much as I can: Rocío, Grecia, Wendy, and Adriana. I want to visit Morelia if I can, and also visit the Anthropology Museum and the Sonora market. I'll for sure be at the next missionary retreat and am hoping to not be violently ill this time. I wanted to learn guitar, but I think Spanish classes are going to replace that desire for now.

I'm also trying to figure out how I want to live when I'm done here. But, I feel like this is getting boring (lots of "I's"), so I'll end for now. Pray for us. Love to everyone.