Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Where is everyone going?

Hello everyone. We hate to break the news to you, but it has been very warm and of course sunny all week. We are thinking of those of you who are braving the snow and ice right now!

On the way to classes this week (we have an hour drive) we saw groups and groups of people walking on the highway. Some were riding their bikes, but most were walking. We thought "where in the world are they going?" The person in the front of the group carried a banner or a glass box of a woman. The woman is the the lady of San Juan de los Lagos and every year at the end of January people from all over Mexico travel to the her Basilica in the state of Jalisco to view the statue of this virgin. It is the second largest pilgrimage in the country only second to the one held in December to Mexico City to the shrine of the virgin of Guadalupe. Below we have attached a wikipedia article if you are interested in learning more about the pilgrimage to San Juan de los Lagos. The sight of swarms of travelers carrying statues of a this virgin, knowing that they were going to be walking in the heat all day, was heart breaking. They place their faith in these statues and pray to them thinking that they hold power to heal and save. We know there is only one who has that power and no human or statue can take his place. These pilgrimages are examples of how some types of Catholicism have become very syncretistic here in Mexico.

Our language classes have been extremely intense over the past two weeks. Sometimes we leave class thinking "do we know anything about Spanish?" Somehow we are making progress. One example of the progress we've made: Josh preached last Sunday in Spanish once again and our pastor said his Spanish was much improved and that the errors he made were minor. Yahoo! We still have a long way to go though. Would you please pray for patience as we work and study?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Winter update...

We had another great week last week as we spent time with Josh's parents! We really enjoyed sharing Mexico with our family, the culture, sites, the food, our church and ministries.
This week we are back to our language school routine as we begin the last 5 weeks of class. Everything has changed at the school since Christmas break. We have new teachers (they're great just like our old ones) and new fellow students, and it's hard to believe that we only have 5 weeks left. We have made so much progress, yet the task of learning a language is never over and we realize as we study grammar and converse that we still have far to go. Little by little we are gaining confidence in conversation and our listening abilities are steadily improving. We truly feel more at home in the culture as we grow through our experiences here. Thanks for your continued prayers for us as we adapt and learn Spanish.

Also...Thanks for those of you who donated art materials for the children we work with. We were excited to see the big suitcase of materials Josh's parents brought with them for these precious children. The church is appreciative and so are we!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Christmas Gifts...

Happy New Year to everyone! We hope you had a great Christmas and a special New Year. Right now we are incredibly thankful for the week we spent with Jennifer's family after spending five months away from family. We showed her parents and her brother around León, did some sightseeing, and enjoyed each other's company. Before we moved we didn't realize how much we would miss our families. Having Jennifer's family here on Christmas day was a huge blessing and today we look forward to the arrival of Josh's parents. The Seitz's brought Christmas cards with them that many of you sent to our PO Box. Opening them on Christmas was quite a treat! Thanks for remembering us because we love getting mail from home!

Operation Christmas Child...
Did you pack a shoebox at your church to send to a child in need in another country? In the past we had a great time picking out toys and clothes to fill a box take to church for Samaritan's Purse's outreach "Operation Christmas Child." As we mentioned in our last post we had the unique opportunity to participate in a different way this year. Last night we went to a neighborhood where we passed out the shoeboxes and saw the smiling faces of over a hundred children as they opened their boxes of goodies. The church will be distributing the rest of the boxes they ordered in other neighborhoods this week. A large portion of these children are not fortunate enough to receive gifts for Christmas or for the Day of the King. It was such a joy to handout the boxes and see the end result of the thoughtfulness and hard work of those in the states. We wish you could see the the gratefulness of the parents and kids and enjoy the fruits of your labor. We wanted you to know that these little boxes make a big difference in the lives of children all over the world. =D