Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Warm Welcome and Warm Cookies

Today was a special day for the churches here in Mexico as we celebrated together the beginning of our relationship. Our field directors, Bill and Lydia Allshouse, and their daughter Ariel drove down from Texas where they were making preparations for the final work team of the Summer, and the president of the Mexico churches, Martin Salazar, and his wife Blanca and son Daniel, drove from nearby Irapuato to share in the moment. Today we were not just celebrating the beginning of our relationship with the churches of Mexico but also the beginning of a relationship between the churches and Dany, Carminda, and their son Samuel. Dany and Carminda are missionaries from Honduras who arrived to Mexico just days after us. We enjoyed meeting Dany and Carminda. They are wonderful people and we are excited to be able to work with them here in Mexico.
Later in the afternoon, after Josh played football (soccer) with some of the guys from the church, we had several of our friends over to our apartment to bake American Chocolate Chip cookies. We had such a fun time together baking, eating, and talking. It can be difficult sometimes to break the ice and to begin building relationships through the language barrier, but we are learning more and growing more confident in our Spanish little by little. Times like these are valuable for us as we want and need friends here in Mexico and are trying to learn the language well.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

And It Rained...

We are in the midst of the rainy season here in Central Mexico and boy has it rained! Wednesday evening we returned home after two hours of language learning under very gray skies. We knew it was going to rain, but we had no idea how much. When we visited Central Mexico and Leon in January 2006, we came during the driest time of the year when the mountains are brown and the skies are completely cloudless. We thought that it never rained here (kind of like in Southern California as the song goes). We were wrong. As we were preparing to leave for Wednesday night prayer meeting at our church it began to rain and the wind began to blow. We knew we couldn't go out in that kind of weather, so we tried to wait it out but 7:30 came and it was still storming tenaciously. We knew many people wouldn't yet be at the meeting due to the weather, but we also didn't know just how long it might rain before letting up. So, we decided to get our umbrellas and walk to our cars through the creek that used to be our street. Once we were in our car and our feet were thoroughly wet, we set off for church. We had no idea the roads would be flooded to the point that the curbs and the various speed bumps along the way would be invisible to us. There were times we were concerned about the water coming in through our doors, but it didn't and we made it safely to church and it's a good thing we did, because the torrential rainfall had completely overwhelmed the gutters of the church building and the top floor where our sanctuary is was flooded with water. When we arrived, several of our friends were hard at work with squeegies, brooms, mops, and whatever was on hand attempting to push the water towards the drains in the bathrooms. We eventually defeated the invading water with manpower and also by unclogging the gutters! Thankfully, no major structural or property damage resulted, and the new sound system we just purchased was fine.
We are learning more and more about Mexico and this great city and the language everyday. On Wednesday we learned that it does rain here and rain hard!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Gearing Up for Language Learning

Probably the most exciting news of the week is that we have found someone to be our PILAT helper (you may remember PILAT is the language learning program we studied in Colorado and it really works)! Friday afternoon we went to the capital of our state, Guanajuato (it's the beautiful city at the top of the page), to get more exposure to our surroundings and the culture. When we returned to drop of our good friend and guide, Rosi, we stopped in to talk some more. We were talking about language learning and the difficulties of finding someone to help in the process. Rosi is trying to learn English so she can speak to her family in the states, and, of course, we're trying to learn Spanish. Then it hit Jennifer and she said, "Why don't we ask Rosi to be our PILAT helper!?" Our language partnership would be perfect because we could help Rosi learn English and she could help us learn Spanish. This is truly an answer to prayer not only for us but Rosi as well. We are looking forward to our time together. Our first meeting is tomorrow afternoon.
Since our official language studies at the Universidad Tecnologia de Leon do not begin for another week, this past week we spent most of our time trying to listen to others speak and speaking what Spanish we already know as we go to the market, look for a place to exercise, and interact with those around us. Our church has meetings three times a week: Wednesday and Saturday evenings and Sunday morning/afternoon, and these times have been great opportunities to work on our ears. Our language learning plan is gradually coming together too! This week we began working with Vicky Castro (our pastor's wife) on some of the pronunciation rules and grammatical points of Spanish by reading and writing. We are excited to have time to focus on reading and writing in Spanish because we want to be able to communicate in this way as well as through speaking.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Giver of all Good Gifts

We arrived, after several long days of travel and one long drive from the Texas border to Leon, last Saturday morning at midnight. The next morning we were hard at work buying the many things we would need to furnish our apartment. We were pretty successful and now have everything needed except for our living room furniture! Through our move to this new land, we have seen and felt the provision of our Lord in many things. He has provided us a wonderful apartment in a secure neighborhood only a few minutes walk from Pastor Carlos' house and a few minutes drive to our new church.
The evening of the Saturday in which we arrived the church threw a welcome party for us at the pastors' house. Several of our brothers and sisters expressed their gratitude to God and excitement for us joining them here. They have been praying for years for laborers to join them and finally God has answered! God has given us to the church and He has given us a great family to be part of.
Thursday we went with Antares to the Technological University of Leon where we will be studying Spanish. She has set us up with the language department at the University so that we will be able to study Spanish for free by assisting them in their English program. This is a great opportunity for us to learn Spanish free of charge, make new relationships with young adults in Leon, and gain more experience in teaching. God has provided us with a school and a ministry already!

Us with new friends at church, with pastor Carlos, on the road to LEON, and the view from our apartment.