Friday, February 27, 2009

Getting to Know One Another

Since we've been here our stereotypes of Mexico have been challenged as we learn more about the people and culture we've grown to love. One thing that surprised us is how long it has taken to get to know people. We noticed that many people generally seem happy and cheerful. And if you ask, "Cómo estás?" They are going to respond, "Muy bien gracias." If someone asks you the same question and you say something different it will most likely surprise them and they may not understand why you would give another answer. One of our language professors told us that many Mexicans function this way. They are happy and cheery in front of everyone, but when they are behind closed doors it is a different story. I don't think this phenomenon occurs only here in Mexico, but maybe it is more common. As we've been trying to deepen relationships here the idea that one is always fine (especially if you are a Christian) has been a roadblock. Thankfully this week we saw some progress. We had commented to each other that we wish this one family would open up to us because we know they are struggling right now and we'd like to talk to them about their situation. And it happened! Transparency! When we asked the famous question this week, "How are you?" finally the father responded "actually I'm really sad." He then began to open up about all the problems he had been having with his children and how devastated he felt because of all that had transpired the week before. Wow. We were shocked. And last night during a Bible study the same family admitted that they felt more comfortable around us and were glad that we could all share honestly with one another. Mainly, we've learned that if we are open and real with others, they are more likely to be open with us. Only in a community with a spirit of honesty can we grow. Sometimes it takes sacrifice on our part to humble ourselves enough to be honest about the things that we are struggling with in our lives. But lets be truthful...Isn't it freeing? We can only experience God's deep love for us in true Christian community. Have you ever experienced that? Are you striving for it?

Also, last night we celebrated our friend Jorge's birthday. Jorge and Erika have become good friends of ours. Why? Because they have opened their home to us time and time again. They've invited us out for tacos and invited us to super numerous times. They have been there for us when we've felt lonely and for that we are grateful! Jorge has his own salsa business and Josh has enjoyed helping him make them on a few occasions. Jorge's birthday celebration was special because his family didn't ever celebrate his birthday and to this day his mother doesn't even call him to wish him happy birthday. We were glad we could celebrate with him and bring a smile to his face. =D

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A full weekend

Last week was a special week because it was our last week of language classes in Guanjuato. Friday was a bittersweet day as we said good-bye to our teachers and several students with whom we had built relationships, but we look forward to our new schedule. We will meet with a tutor several times a week as well as meet with people every day to focus on conversation. Meanwhile, Josh is gearing up to start some English classes at the church and Jennifer is hoping to launch some ballet classes if she can get the details worked out. We are also looking at the possibility of starting a small group in our home, and we will continue our involvement in various ministries at the church and community. In addition, we are preparing to teach some theological education classes this summer for a ministry training program at our church. Yes our plates are full. =)

Thanks for praying for us and Blanca this weekend. Blanca is recovering, taking some time off of work this week and she is still very sore.

Saturday was a great day in spite of the fact that Friday afternoon Josh came down with a 24 hour virus and was very ill. We had to cancel our Valentine's date for Friday night and pray that Josh would be well enough for Saturday's activities. Thankfully, by Saturday afternoon he was feeling much better and was able to go to the youth Valentine's party and the couples' meeting. The youth group party went smoothly, and we think that those who attended were interested in our story. We hope we were able to connect with them and help them understand how important it is to have Christ in your relationships. Afterwards we were encouraged because we had several youth approach us and ask us some deep questions. Following the youth party we attended the couples get together. There we met some new friends and had a wonderful time of reflection and fellowship as we discussed the theme of complaining and how it is destructive in a marriage. Saturday was a late night as we stayed up late cooking for Sunday's big international potluck at church. Sunday morning Jennifer enjoyed helping in the kitchen and serving a variety of plates from the Americas. We are grateful for the way God worked through the various activities over the weekend!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quick Update

Good morning!

We just wanted to ask you to pray for our dear friend Blanca who had hernia surgery yesterday. She is a single mom who has had many difficulties come her way lately. We are thankful she came through surgery okay and that today she is supposed to be released from the hospital. Her two daughters are also near and dear to our hearts and as you can imagine they've been worried about their mom over the past few days.

Today is our last day at language school in Guanajuato and tomorrow we have a full day. After working with the children at Cañon de la India we are sharing our testimony with the youth group at a special Valentine's Day party and then we will be attending a couples meeting. Of course our testimony will be in Spanish so we are hoping it goes smoothly and we don't make too many embarrassing mistakes and that it makes an impact on the youth.

Thanks for your prayers and concern for these matters! We will update you again shortly.

¡Feliz día del amor y la amistad!

Con amor,
Josh and Jennifer

*Picture is of Blanca being baptized in January

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What is enough?

This week we've seen many reminders that we are living in the middle of a global economic crisis. While we remain rather disconnected from many of the repercussions that you are experiencing in the states, here we are surrounded by families who are deperately trying to make ends meet. The radio tells its listeners every morning that companies are letting people go by the hundreds and we know the job market is even more difficult than normal when we speak to our friends. Several friends have even commented that they are worried they too will be losing their jobs soon. The most noticible sign of Mexico's weakening economy is the inflation rate and the strength of the peso. When we arrived here in August the exchange rate was 9.5 pesos to 1 American dolar. This week the exchange rate soared to almost 15 pesos per dolar. As you can imagine the prices of produce and other items have gone up and people are struggling. The truth is that we will never know what it is like to struggle in the exact same way as some of our Mexican friends. We know that if there was an emergency and we had to fly home tomorrow we could make a phone call and fly home. What a strange and sometimes very unfair world we live in. We cannot offer money to every person who has a financial need, but we can offer the hope of a Savior who promises he is with us amid difficult times. God doesn't promise us riches or a life free from suffering, but he does promise us a life of freedom in him. We love the quote used by Compassion International that states "The opposite of poverty isn't wealth. The opposite of poverty is enough." What is enough for ourselves? What is enough for our neighbors? Often these questions are extremely difficult to answer, but they are ones that we must continue to ask ourselves as we try to live in a world where the reality is so many people are lacking "enough."


The dedication of little Nehemias. His parents have been a huge blessing to us!

A sunrise from our apartment window

Burros on a busy street outside of our language school in Guanajuato. A site in the middle of the city that never ceases to surprise us.